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The Electro-Harmonix B9 Organ Machine: B3 in a Box

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I love a great story around a pedal. I recently received an Electro-Harmonix B9 Organ Machine by mail. I picked it up at the Berklee mailroom during my lunch break. Shortly afterwards I was on my way to teach my Retro R&B/Funk/Fusion class. We do vocal tunes from the 70′s like Stevie Wonder’s “Too High” or the Crusaders “Street Life”.  I didn’t have time to make it back to my office, so I decided to take the pedal with me. Well as it turns out, the keyboard player for my ensemble called in sick and so that day, the only polyphonic instrument we had in the ensemble was a rhythm guitarist with a Stratocaster. When we started rehearsing in the class, there was an obvious gap in the frequencies needed to support vocals with challenging harmonies on these tunes (Light Bulb!). I cracked open the box and offered it to my guitar student in the group. We fired it up and voila, we had guitar and organ sounds supporting the grooves! What a great way to test drive a cool pedal!

My guess is that most will find this pedal practical for similar situations. I do a lot of power trio gigs (bass, drums and guitar). Often I can use additional color in the palette of frequencies to keep things interesting. Some moons back, I wrote a post about the EHX super Ego. The Super Ego, with the right combinations of pedals in it’s loop, can give you some very convincing organ sounds.  You also have the ability to sustain a pad while soloing over with some other effects exclusively on your guitar solo sound. What EHX has done with the B-9  is to offer you those cool, guitar-driven, organ sounds in a single pedal.

The B-9 gives you independent control knobs for the dry sound/organ sound as well as separate outputs for each. This allows you to either use 2 amps or process each signal in different ways before recombining at the amp input(s). There are 9 selectable authentic sounding organ patches on the B-9 and the “mod ” knob controls modulation characteristics that are  specific to each patch (vibrato, tremolo and chorus). The pedal operates with a 9v ( center-neg) included power supply.

How does it sound? Well…Given a blindfold test I would be hard pressed to tell the difference between a keyboard organ and the B-9. Run this pedal through a Leslie (my next plan) and I bet the die hard B-3′ers would be equally challenged! (ok ok, I know guitarists play specific “guitaristic” voicings so it might be a little easier for you keys cats to tell) . But just in case, the B-9 even has a control knob that adds in varying degrees of the B-3 percussive “Click”. Ha! This pedal offers you some great sounding practical organ sounds in a package that is very, very easy to use.

Tracking is quite spectacular and sustain is also quite impressive. The bypass is buffered which is quite fine with me!

Electro-Harmonix as been around for quite some time. I still remember my first 2 EHX pedals, the Electric Mistress and the Big Muff Pi from back in the 70′s! I think it is great thing when a company with a great longstanding tradition of good products continues to innovate and stay on the cutting edge of tech, providing working musicians with the practical tools they need to go out and make the music they make! AAAA+++

Here is an entertaining video from EHX demoing the pedal for more info check out http://www.ehx.com/products/b9

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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