Prog rockers, ambient fans and brave sailors of the sonic seas will revel in this spacey new three-in-one pedal. Review by Martyn Casserly.
Electro-Harmonix may not be the first company you think of when the words multi-fX units are mentioned. The New York legends are of course more famous for classic stompboxes such as the Big Muff Pi, POG, and Deluxe Memory Man. But over the past few years the company has begun to dabble with devices that incorporate two or three of its solo units in a single frame. The Holy Stain started the whole thing off back in 2008, combining reverb, pitch shifting and tremolo, alongside drive and fuzz. Now we have the epitome, which boasts three sections based on the Holy Grail Plus (reverb/delay), electric Mistress (flanger/chorus), and one of our all-time favourites the Micro POG (polyoctave generator). We have the distinct feeling that this will be a lot of fun.
Keeping to the compact form that has graced many of the modern eH pedals, the epitome has a solid metal rectangular chassis about the same size as two Boss pedals side by side. The first clue that this is a more complicated unit is the collection of nine dials that populate the upper half of the casing. There’s also the mysterious Shimmer button hidden in the Holy Grail section to tease the imagination. Thankfully eH has seen fit to separate them into distinct sections via a three-colour paintjob which also makes the pedal look pretty cool. Three footswitches line up below to trigger each effect type independently – very handy – and the pedal also features stereo inputs and outputs, plus a 9V power input for the supplied adapter.
Like many electro-Harmonix products, this isn’t really a plug and play device. It takes time to coax some usable tones out of the epitome, but then that’s also one of the fun parts about the pedal – it requires you to tinker.
The Holy Grail Plus section is probably the easiest, with its selection of Spring, Hall, Room, and flurb reverbs. A little experimentation will take you from slapback to deep atmospheric layer in no time at all. Push the Shimmer switch and the epitome transforms into a delay, with an ambient drone slowly swelling in the background. It’s great for Radiohead style intros, although you’ll need to turn the AMT dial down if you want it to stop in a musical fashion, as hitting the footswitch kills it dead. Flanger and chorus aren’t our most-used effects, but dialling in a small amount can thicken out a weedy Strat and gently add a lush edge to the tone.
Then there’s the Micro POG, which is still an incredibly fun pedal to play with. White Stripes fans will immediately be grinning, as the Jack White signature tones are here aplenty. Add some overdrive and you can also turn yourself into Jon Lord, as the pedal produces a convincing organ sound. The achievable possibilities of an 18-string guitar awash with delay and flange should also quicken the heart of any prog players. The Shimmer control comes into play here as pressing it changes the signal flow, meaning the reverb acts on the POG’s wet signal to create some very interesting spacey sounds.
The epitome is not for everyone. It’s a brave guitarist that introduces these tones into their palette, but they’ll be all the richer for it. There’s so much fun and so many hours of noodling to be had here, especially if you’re a more rhythm-based player. The price is hefty alright, but we’d pay it for the Holy Grail and Micro POG sections alone.