Effect history (Part 3): The 70s – The revolution of modulation-effects

Effect PedalIn the 1970s numerous pedals have been invented. The first OP-amplifiers made the development of guitar-effects much easier. Therefore even the more complex ideas of modulation-effects like phaser, chorus, Auto Wah and flanger could be implemented.


Electro Harmonix Small StoneThe probably most famous phaser was invented in 1974: MXR Phase 90. Almost at the same time Electro Harmonix put the Small Stone on the market. Both phasers got 4 levels, but the Phase 90 is based on FETs – the Small Stone on an OTA. The Phase 90 always sounds a bit more “dirty”, while the Small Stone creates a pretty clean sound. Both are still produced today.

Boss developed its first phaser at the end of the 70s. In 1976 the Boss CE-1 Chorus was put on the market. Already a year before Roland used the same wiring successfully in the Jazz-Chorus 120 amplifier. In those times this pedal was known to be a non-seller because of its price and its big size. But today it is in great demand.

Another pretty interesting pedal of this time was the Mu-Tron. The Envelope Filter (Auto Wah) surely was of significant importance for the funk music of the disco-era.

The first overdrive pedals

The Boss OD-1 and the Ibanez TS-808 were put on the market at almost the same time. Even their wiring is nearly similar. Maybe because of its additional tone-pot the Ibanez Tubescreamer became most famous. The rest is history. Countless guitarists still use the Ibanez Tubescreamer because its certain haunting mids prevail well in the context of a band.

Boss DS-1The Boss DS-1 and the MXR Distortion + were the first distortion-pedals. Both have been invented at the end of the 1970s and are still produced today. These pedals were fundamental to the – in those days – brand new heavy metal sound because they produced far more gain than an overdrive and their sound was quite more differentiated than a Fuzz-pedal. Das  und auch das  waren die ersten Distortion-Pedale.

Other important pedals

The perhaps best flanger was the A/DA Flanger, built in 1978. He was able to create absolutely new sounds and could transform the sound up to self-oscillation. The first flanger built by MXR in 1976 was less extreme.

Electro Harmonix Big MuffWith their innovative ideas Electro Harmonix has always been and still is one of the top pedal-manufacturers. The Big Muff has been and is still one of their most famous pedals. Although the rumor, widespread by company founder Mike Mathews, that even Jimi Hendrix used a Big Muff never has been approved, the Big Muff of Electro Harmonix founded a totally new kind of overdrives.

While fuzz-pedals with their two transistors create a less compressed and rough sound, the Big Muff has more sustain and its sound is more compressed. So the Big Muff has to be classified in the middle between fuzz and distortion.


Effect history: part 1

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