Electro Harmonix #1 Echo Who’s the Boss!

Anyone who regulaly reads this blog will know I am a huge critic of the mighty Roland/Boss corporations pricing structure when it comes to established pedals. If a design is decades old why pay premium, especially as a basic Boss DD-3 Digital Delay pedal is still priced at most retailers even now for about £105.00 new. Ive always thought this to be shocking as the DD-3 is now a 28+ year old design and was only about £150 to buy new 20 years ago (Its predessor the Boss DD-2 was the first Boss compact Digital Delay pedal and had the chip out of the legendary SDE 3000 rack unit which were like nearly a grand, but back then it was really expensive cos of the chip price in 1982, so was your ZX81 for the same reason) But in 2010???? No this is taking the piss Roland corp.

EH #1 Echo

This thought came to me again recently when I decide to have a “serious” look at my guitar rig. Although essentially in mothballs for the last 2 years, recently with my intentions to relocate looking likely, my thoughts have turned to perhaps playing again and enjoying the vocation of being a musician.

Live pedalboard March 2008

My rig has been pretty simple this last decade, however the TC Electronics Novadelay was far too fiddly to use live. So was sold on. My secondary delay need was really pretty simple, just a useable simple digital delay, no bells or whistles. Something I could synch up with my primary unit (The legendary Line6 DL-4 Delay modeller) for some rythmic echoey fun.

After toying with the idea of a Boss DD-3 and deciding it was (still) overpriced, I tried out a number of EH’s new compact pedals. Id originally set my sights on a “Memory Boy” based on the EH Memoryman+ analog delay. However, it just sounded too quirky for me, for some people it would be absolutely ideal, but I guess I just wanted something simple with the minimum of fuss. More buttons doesn’t always mean more useable tones.

The #1 Echo certainly is with only 3 controls for blend (fx level) Delay time and feedback. overally its a simple unit, the controls are perhaps not as accurate to set up as a DD-3, but at nearly half the retail price I didn’t mind spending more time on setting it up.

Using the shops test guitar a Yamaha Pacifica Mike Stern signature, I was able to get some lovely rythmic delays and built some pretty impressive lines out of a few simple parts. All those Dave Gilmour/Edge/Alex Lifeson/John McGeoch type delays are here, plus its warm and musical.

After 10 minutes of me grinning like an idiot, it dawned on me that this pedal had inspired me to play new things, which is always a good thing. So out came the plastic and the #1 was mine.

Overall Im pleased, its much warmer sounding than the cold delays of the 80′s….Im old enough to remember…

Twenty years ago I used to use a Yamaha DDS20M pedal as a secondary delay (borrowed off a singer who thought he was Jim Morrison crashing a Sinclair C5 into Simon leBon) with my much missed Boss BE-5 (probably one of the earliest multi FX units from 1988 with compression/overdrive/chorus/delay and a noise gate for £199), the BE-5s own delay was ironically the same basic circuit as the Boss DD-3 and was brilliant. The Yamaha DDS20M was awful, just spikey and harsh sounding. I only used it for a couple of points in the set and when I later upgraded to a Digitech RP-1 multi FX 2 years later (the first high end programmable rackmount quality unit built into a floor FX processor, the RP-1 used to run on AC Power and get incredibly hot on the left hand side live, so mine was built into a wooden board made from a tool drawer. Its reverse LED function made it light up like an Xmas tree, so In 1992 local musicians thought I had skylab on the floor and were quite jealous I recall ha ha!) the Yamaha was returned to its owner.

But back to the #1 Echo If Im being critical, the footswitch is ok but could be a bit tougher, but its true bypass and Ive had no noise issues using it either in an FX loop or direct into an amp. It comes in a sexy orange box and has a 9 volt -DC adaptor included. It was £67.99 and if I’d looked around online some places are doing them for £64.00. It says its made in NYC, which considering the strength of the dollar makes the Boss DD-3 look even more overpriced.

8/10