These new offerings from Electro-Harmonix include a maxed-out delay, a reconsidered reissue of an original classic and a cheeky revamp of a competitor’s popular distortion. All were tested with a Les Paul and a Novo Serus J into a Friedman Small Box head and 2x12 cab.
GRAND CANYON DELAY & LOOPER
First, a minor detraction: I had to wear my reading glasses to have even a slim hope of discerning the legends and functions on this bountifully loaded pedal, but I guess that’s my problem. Let’s just say it’s a small price to pay for the power and the glory that is the Grand Canyon Delay & Looper. Upping the ante on 2017’s Canyon Delay & Looper, the Grand adds new effects to achieve a full dozen delay and echo types, along with a boatload of bonus functionality. In terms of controls and I/Os, it tops out at seven knobs, six pushbuttons, two stomp switches, stereo outputs, and 1/4-inch connections for both an expression pedal and an external one-, two-or three-button foot switch. Amazingly, it all fits inside a rugged die-cast aluminum box that measures just 4.5 x 3.5 x 1.5 inches.
There’s not enough space here to detail every function, but those numerous control features include several noteworthy bells and whistles. The tap divide button offers a wealth of options, including quarter, eighth and 16th notes, along with triplet and dotted versions of each. The four illuminating pushbuttons above the control knobs let you select ping-pong delays (when using the pedal in stereo), tails (the echoes continue after pedal is disabled), moment (which alters foot switch functions in creative ways) and an Exp mode (which governs expression pedal performance). In addition, two mini knobs alongside the delay-type selector provide alternative parameters for each delay effect, such as distortion and flutter depth for the tape echo, and filter and mod depth for the shimmer. The delay is a digital circuit capable of anywhere from 5 ms of slapback all the way to a whopping three seconds of delay. The looper, on the other hand, can achieve a full 16 minutes of recording time and offers several other bonus functions of its own. The pedal is powered by a 9.6-volt center-negative supply (included) but can run on any standard nine-volt power supply.
Of course, none of this would be of any use if the Grand Canyon didn’t cut it sonically. Suffice to say, it sounds clear, has a low noise floor, features impressively realistic emulations of classic analog delay units, and offers a tremendous amount of creative tweakability. The Grand Canyon Delay & Looper is a ridiculously cool offering, and all the more so at this price point. It easily earns our Editors’ Pick Award.
The Flatiron Fuzz is Electro-Harmonix’s take on the classic ProCo Rat 2 symmetrical hard-clipping op-amp distortion, along with what its engineers think are some improvements in overall tone and performance. The pedal’s face features a graphic of New York City’s iconic wedge-shaped Flatiron building, which was down the road from EHX’s headquarters in the ’70s. Like the pedal on which it’s based, the Flatiron Fuzz has knobs for distortion (here called drive) and volume, as well as for filter. This last is a tone control of sorts that uses a low-pass filter with a moveable cut-off frequency, which has proved extremely effective for balancing low-and high-end content in the classic distortion pedal. The sturdy and compact die-cast aluminum pedal is true bypass. It comes with a nine-volt battery but also accepts a standard center-negative supply (not included).
Soon after firing up the Flatiron, I was reminded how versatile this circuit can be. Lower drive settings achieve more overdrive-like gain levels, while higher levels take it from thick distortion into robust fuzz. All of this is relatively smooth thanks to the circuit’s symmetrical clipping, yet it’s also just gnarly and jagged enough to cut through the mix, and the filter knob is wonderfully adept at dialing in just the right balance of body and cut. It’s a sound that positively screams late-’70s and early ’80s rock, while remaining impressively open and dynamic for plenty of contemporary uses. In short, the Flatiron Fuzz easily reasserts the original’s iconic status, made more accessible and usable for today’s guitarist.
TRIANGLE BIG MUFF PI
Introduced in 2018 for Electro-Harmonix’ 50th anniversary, the Triangle Big Muff is a re-creation of the original Version 1 Big Muff Pi circuit of 1969, the archetypal four-transistor fuzz with soft-clipping stage. The new pedal adds a useful status LED, true-bypass switching and center-negative connection for external power. It’s also housed in a more pedalboard-friendly, die-cast aluminum box.
Named for the layout pattern of its volume, tone and sustain knobs, the Triangle provides a quick trip back to the sounds of this formative American-made fuzz pedal, along with a reminder that the first iteration was a little different from the arguably more familiar Muffs that came afterward. Compared to some later iterations, the Triangle is slightly smoother, rounder and perhaps somewhat warmer, while it offers both a little more body and thickness and more razory cutting power when desired, thanks to the sustain knob’s bountiful gain and the wide-ranging tone control. Full bass-ward rotations of the latter can be overly dark and wooly, while maximum treble settings are thin and strident. Some may even dig the overly bitsy and mondo-saturated sound of the sustain control when maxed. But set the tone control in the middle reaches and the sustain knob between 10 o’clock and three o’clock, and this thing has guts and muscle aplenty. It’s fun stuff, and a fine return to form for the hallowed original.
Grand Canyon Delay & Looper
PRICE $249 street
EFFECTS Modulated delay, multi-tape, echo, Deluxe Memory Man, tape, reverb, pitch, shimmer, sample/hold, drum echo, doubling, looper
PRESETS 13, one per delay type
MAX DELAY TIME 3 seconds
LOOPING TIME 16 minutes
KUDOS A ridiculous number of great-sounding delay types, bonus functions and impressive looper controllability in a relatively compact and affordable pedal
CONCERNS The legends are tiny. Bring your readers if you’re optically challenged
PRICE $73 street
CONTROLS Volume, drive, filter
KUDOS A good-sounding and surprisingly versatile fuzz pedal at an easily accessible price
Triangle Big Muff Pi
PRICE $99 street
EFFECTS Fuzz, overdrive
CONTROLS Volume, sustain, tone
KUDOS A handy and affordable reissue of the fabled Triangle Muff sound