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Review

Electro-Harmonix C9 Organ Machine

Issue #39

Since the Vox 'Guitar Organ' back in the 1960s, guitarists have been trying to get their hands on the unmatchable sound of an electric organ. Sam Bell thinks Electro-Harmonix has finally cracked it.

Electro Harmonix is really pushing up the bar on analogue style pitch shifting, modulation and instrument simulation pedals just now. The C9 Organ Machine does what it says on the tin, it’s a modestly sized pedal featuring nine classic organ sounds that can be manipulated in many ways using the easy to use controls found on the upper half of the pedal. Let's take a look at the features:

This pedal needs nine volts and comes with a power supply. There is one input for your guitar and two outs, one named ‘dry’ and the other by the name of ‘organ’. The dry output can send your signal to another amp/destination of your desire, leaving your signal unaffected by the organ pedals sound, the organ out sends the organ signal out to your amp or PA system. For this demo we decided to keep it really simple by sending the Organ and Dry outputs straight into a DI box into the desk so we could really hear the difference between the dry signal and the organ signal. However, in a practical situation you could perhaps send your dry signal to a driven/clean amp and the organ signal to a clean or very slightly driven amp.

The top left two control knobs control the volume of the Dry and Organ outputs separately, this way you can really delve deep into how much of each signal you hear from the outputs. You could however run this pedal in front of your amp just using the organ out to get the effected signal when you desire, using the organ volume as a ‘level’ control. On the top right, we have two knobs named ‘Mod’ and ‘Click’ these generally change purpose depending on which of the nine organ sounds you are using. Modulation will affect how much modulation effect you will hear on the selected organ sound, some of the organ sounds have Chorus, others have Vibrato and other modulation effects. The Click knob controls how much attack the organ sound will have at the start of the note, or in some of the pre-set cases, it controls the swell of the note.

All this leads us to perhaps the most important of the knobs, the tone wheel! This has nine classic organ sounds which are based of famous classic prog/rock/pop organ sounds used by many bands from the '60s through the late '70s. The first preset its named ‘tone wheel’ and this gives us a general organ sound, but moving on we get organ sounds inspired by bands such as Deep Purple and the Doors, to more psychedelic Melotron sounds inspired by The Beatles and The Moody Blues. In the video review of this pedal I take you through each one and talk more in depth about their characteristics and qualities. Go and check the video out to hear it and believe it!  

The Sound

I had so much fun with this pedal whilst getting used to how it worked, it really changes the way you play, I came up with a lot of new '70s inspired prog riffs whilst playing with it! It reacts very quickly to how you play and you can play densely voiced chord inversions that cover all six strings and it will still follow exactly what is being put through the pedal. However, to get the most genuine organ sound, you need to know some organ style chops on the guitar in order for it to shine. This isn’t too hard to emulate however, if you start with smaller chord voicings and play around with a bit of voice leading, you will end up getting very familiar classic organ sounds. It also sounds great when you want to do a lower riff in the style of Deep Purple to get those heavier sounds.

It's not really designed for super shred playing as the quality of each note doesn’t last long enough for the pedal to react and give it the full tone, however that’s fine! This pedal is designed for riffs and chordal parts and more melodic playing. Think like an Organ player and you will be fine. The pedal does a fantastic job of sustaining chords as well, if you hold a chord it will keep it sustained for as long as you hold it. I feel it is best used with a clean sound if you wish to go direct into your amp, however the dry output can be utilized if you want to get the full sonic separation with an overdriven guitar and the organ pedal for that Rainbow/Whitesnake vibe!

I think this pedal has some superb sounds, it’s easy to use and looks great. It was really inspiring and fun to ‘play’ around with, it really sparked up some great riffs and chords, you can get really lost in the sounds. I can imagine this would be a brilliant tool if you are in a functions band without a keys player and wanted to fill out the sonic landscape in a fresh way that suits the prog classics you are covering, or if you are in an originals band and have no keys player and wish to do a similar thing. You could even take this into the studio to emulate some organ sounds if you can’t get that Hammond organ budget in time. It’s a fun and inspiring pedal, go and check one out now and get lost in its classic sounds! We also think it is very well priced considering the huge potential it offers.

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Issue #51

Wolf Hoffmann

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