In basic terms, ring modulation adds a harmony above and below the audio signal. You can “tune” these harmonies to a key—Ring Thing ($279 retail/$209 street) lets you do so automatically by playing a note and holding down the Preset footswitch—but it is not normally a “harmonizer.” These harmonies do not follow the main signal in a musical way, instead creating a metallic dissonance that can add aggression to overdriven leads or provide kalimba-like overtones to clean rhythm picking. Ring Thing uses these sounds as a starting point, adding numerous other effects of interest to the more traditional guitarist.
One function of the pedal’s large white button is Mode selector. Choosing Ring Modulation (RM) produces some of the sounds described above, as well as a variety of other effects. Turning to UB selects Upper Band mode, serving up just the upper ring modulated harmony. Similarly, selecting LB restricts the effect to the Lower Band. These two modes allow you to employ a ringmodulation effect that is somewhat less dissonant.
The last mode is true pitch shift: unlike other ring-modulator pedals, the Ring Thing will also act as a typical, consonant harmonizer, and with the addition of an optional expression pedal, a fullfledged Whammy-style pedal with a range of +/- two octaves.
But, as the man says, there is more— much more. With the Coarse-tuning knob set below 9 o’clock, I could adjust the RM, UB, and LB settings to deliver a variety of incredibly rich tremolo and authentic Univibe effects. The harmonizer’s tone proved natural enough to detune a Fernandes Stype into dropped metal-ville. Even without distortion to mask any glitching effects, the Ring Thing’s harmonizer performed admirably. Dropping the tuning to A turned a Fernandes T-type into a twangy baritone guitar that, while it might or might not pass muster for solo recording, I would use on stage or on a track in a heartbeat. Still in pitch-shift mode, I added just a little fine, rather than coarse, de-tuning to my signal to produce a beautiful chorus-like effect.
Ring Thing will provide all the spacey sounds desired by outside musicians—the type who will delight in its option to insert an external oscillator as a carrier signal. As someone who has been known to employ the occasional oddball effect, the range of stun gun and robot sounds offered impressed me.
But the more I thought about it the more universally appealing this pedal seemed. Providing all those effects that I might use on only a couple of tunes— Whammy, baritone guitar, Uni-Vibe, pitch shift—the Ring Thing jams over a grand’s worth of gear into one stellar-sounding effect. Add instant accessibility from nine preset slots and you have just the thing for an Editors’ Pick Award.
KUDOS Multitudes of sci-fi sounds. Great sounding harmonizer for chorus, drop tuning, and whammy effects. Authentic Uni-Vibe effect.
CONTACT Electro-Harmonix, (718-937-8300); ehx.com
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