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Amazing Pedal Alert: The EHX Superego

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EHX dominates my recent posts, this time with yet another cutting edge product just released. The Super Ego represents the next step in products that give guitarists worldwide the kind of sustain power and layering of effects that keyboard players have long been able to enjoy as part of their everyday musical experience. This amazing creative pedal allows you to make music in ways previously unavailable to us as guitarists. I am drawn to products/effects that I can consider an extension of my instrument and the Super Ego qualifies!

In an older post, I covered the EHX Freeze (click the link to read the post).  The Freeze allows you to capture a moment in time of your playing, whether a chord or a single note, and sustain indefinitely. You can choose to set it so that the Freeze functions in the same way as a piano sustain pedal: as long as you have your foot on the pedal the note or chord will sustain.

Now when you sustain the strings of a guitar indefinitely, the sound is quite unexpected. We, as guitarist are used to hearing our strings decay at different rates. Hearing all strings sustained at original volumes has a very organ-like (Hammond B-3) quality. The kicker is that with the sustain, the pedal allows you to continue playing over the chord, just as a piano player does, sustaining chords and then playing lines. A perfect example of practical use of this pedal is a song such as Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing.” The structure of the song, in the intro is “chord” followed by “lick.” The Freeze allows you to play the chord, sustain it under your subsequent lick. In power trio situations, the resultant effect is “Hey man, who’s playing the organ under your guitar licks in that Hendrix song?”

So now you can picture the practical use, take it up a notch! Enter the Super Ego. I used the Freeze with various rotary pedals to get that swirly Leslie sound on my sustained patches. I settled on a very cool marriage of a Freeze and a Tech-21 Roto-Choir pedal. I am not kidding when the B-3 player in my organ trio had a big smile on his face as I kicked in the Leslie Speed on the Roto-Choir over the sustain Freeze guitar part.

The one wish I had with that setup is to have been able to process the sustained sound with the Leslie effect, but solo over it using a different effect such as an Overdrive pedal. So now Electro-Harmonix has made my dreams come true!

The Super Ego is basically the big brother of the Freeze coming in to save the day with a built-in Effect Loop! Now I can process the sustained tone with the rotary effect, while leaving my original signal clean. In addition, with the Super Ego, I can now control the balance of those two signal paths—maybe a slight organ patch in the background over a single chord groove and then an overlaying solo at a substantially higher volume with my subsequent clean tone going through a different effect such as overdrive, wah, etc. Can you dig the possibilities?

The Super Ego also allows you to “Latch” the sustained sound, so that you don’t have to keep your foot on the pedal for each chord or note you wish to sustain. Just one click at the point of sustain and you will sustain until the next click. A double click shuts off the sustain feature.

So you might ask: with the amazing technology we have today, why can’t a pedal just have a mode that allows it to detect whenever you play a new chord or note and add that to the previously sustained material? And the answer is: The Super Ego has this mode! It  is called “Auto” and when this mode is selected, the pedal detects each new note and chord that you play and it sustains it automatically for an adjustable length of time (Speed/Layer knob). Just tap once and hold on the foot switch to stop the input of new material, allowing you to solo over sustained material with a different effect.

So you can see the amazing potential for musicality with this pedal. I have found great practical application for my specific performance situation. Oftentimes, I play in the trio format, and since I love traditional sounds, the ability to emulate a B-3 for me is key. But as you can imagine, with many other options of sounds and effect pedals that you can plug into the loop of the Super Ego, the possibilities are exponential. Not to mention, plugging more than one pedal into the loop in a chain, or using it in conjunction with other Super Egos, or even a Freeze … your imagination is the limit!

I specifically wrote this review from the perspective of the application of the pedal with a need to emphasize how this pedal works for me in the context of playing music, making art. Again, I consider it an extension of my instrument. (Not in the same way as some consider looping devices, since this pedal allows for the subtleties and dynamics of playing, layering and sustaining in the moment, as does a keyboard player with multiple keys.)

Of course for more of the technical info and videos you can visit the EHX website. In my humble opinion, any product that allows me more creative tools with which to enhance my live music performance in a non-gimmicky, transparent, no learning curve kind of way is an AAAAAAAAA+ addition to my setup. Bravo, EHX! Thanks for taking the next step.

In the future, I will post videos of live performance with the pedal in action in a performance situation. In the meantime, here are a couple of videos demoing the pedal.

About
Born in the UK, and raised in the West Indies, Thaddeus Hogarth is an Associate Professor in the Guitar department at Berklee College of Music.
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