As I mentioned a few days ago, I’ve been on a bit of an effect pedal binge the past six months, and I thought I’d share some of my experiences and, in most cases, sound clips.

I thought I’d start with a semi-review of the Electro-Harmonix Holy Stain, not because I like it, rather the exact opposite. First effect pedal I’ve bought that I’ve returned to the shop. I bought it yesterday as a frivolous birthday gift to myself (January 3, mark your calendars for next year). I figured it looked like a spot of fun and for $100, I had little to lose. Except that, for anyone but the most junior of novices, it’s of very limited use (I was initially going to say it’s useless, but it does have some utility contained within its blandness). Two boring distortion circuits (generic sounding, no control over fuzz, remarkably awful “dark” setting), two functional yet uninteresting reverb algorithms, a tremolo which, oddly and unnecessarily, mixes in reverb when fully wet, and a very limited pitch shifter.

I like multi-effects that offer something a little more than just chaining, some kind of interaction/control between the various stages, some kind of reason for these many effects to coexist, of which the Stain has none. It also only lets you mix wet/dry for the digital effects, so always passes through the fuzz/drive section unless in standby mode. Which would be okay for me if the distortion wasn’t so plain Jane.

I did like a few things on it – I found the distortion stage set to drive and warm had a pleasing quality (and made for some reasonable shoegazer fizziness when run into the roomverb), and I’d really like the pitch shifter if its range was at least +/- one octave (the pitch shift range is -4 to +3 semitones). I could see that 14-year-old kids learning to play electric guitar and on a limited budget would have a grand old time with the Stain, and I think that’s probably the target audience for this thing, so take my nay saying with some suspicion given that I’m old by comparison (and even older as of yesterday, hooray!).

No sound clips for this one, as I didn’t like what I recorded from it, and I’ve already taken it back to the shop. I exchanged it for the Boss PS-5 Super Shifter. I’ve never been big on Boss pedals, really, but playing around with the Holy Stain’s pitch shift reminded me that I could use one for my live rig and I’m familiar with the PS-5 enough to know that it will do the job I want it to. So on the plus side, I’ll likely do one of these entries for the PS-5, too.

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