Electro Harmonix Hot Tubes

This month we had an Electro Harmonix Hot Tubes pedal come in the shop and go right out again, pity as I freakin loved it.

It had that great 1970’s look and man oh man did it have the sonic goods to back it up. The Hot Tubes Pedal runs off a main power cable not batteries and I was going to take it apart and study it’s innards but alas it did not stay around long enough, bummer.

The Hot Tubes has three knobs, one for distortion, one for tone and one for volume. There are two outputs, one effected and one straight through and a Tone Bypass switch.

It can be used as a great volume booster and you get sustain but not much distortion, similar in many ways to a Z-Vex Super Hard On. Turn up that volume control and you get a HUGE boost in level that absolutely clobbered the inputs of the test Laney and Marshall amps bringing out their natural distortion character, cool!!

Cranking the distortion knob rather than the volume gets things really chugging along, it sounds like a really hotrodded Marshall, to my ears much much better than it’s stablemate, the Big Muff. The Big Muff has more mumbo in the Fuzz department, but the Hot Tubes really sounds more like a real amp distortion than an effects pedal. The tone control had a pretty wide sweep and can give you really fat bottom or thin fizzy top.

Bear in mind that cranked the Hot Tubes is not a cultured sound at all, it had a ratty edge to the sound that made it almost uncontrollable at full tilt but it was very satisfying in a low fi kinda way, it would be right at home at a Mudhoney or TAD gig.

By-passing the tone was a nice feature as it gives you an extra switch to play with, always nice (give me more knobs to twiddle goddamnit!!) but really it’s “bypassed” tone , whilst a little more “together”, was really just a variation on a theme, and that theme is GODZILLA.

Setting the distortion and volume knobs at more sensible levels (or at least Doug my business partner calls them sensible) the Hot Tubes yielded up sounds somewhat akin to a Ibanez Tubescreamer, but the distortion was grittier and not as smooth as a Tubescreamer. Of course the Hot Tubes could make the Tubescreamer look puny if it wanted to, simply crank that distortion knob and it ups the ante as it has way more distortion on tap than any Tubescreamer.

Summary, if you shoved Hot Vacuum Tubes up Godzilla’s ass he’d howl, but not as loud as mike Matthews’ 1970’s Hot Tubes pedal. I highly recommend this pedal to stompbox gearheads, The Electro Harmonix Hot Tubes is like most things from the 1970’s, subtle it ain’t. Two really big thumbs up for fun.

By Chris “Gearhead” Carr

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