The EHX Germanium OD has just been released and we got our first shipment of them in this past week. I had a chance to play one and here are a few product details as well as my observations and thoughts.
When I first saw that EHX was releasing this my first thought was “oh good – another overdrive pedal” (insert sarcasm here). However, after using it for awhile it’s fairly unique and with the Bias and Volts controls it really allows you to get some unique and interesting tones that most OD pedals on the market just can’t hit. Cosmetically the Germanium OD has a cool sunrise graphic and is built in an unfinished die-cast chassis that gives a vintage vibe right out of the box. Some people may not like this, but in my opinion it tends to make me less concerned about getting nicks, scratches, etc. on the pedal since it already has a “used” look to it.
As EHX describes it – “Classic ’60s Germanium transistor overdrive and more.” With the Germanium transistor you get not only OD sounds, but also a little bit of a vintage fuzz sound with certain settings. First things first – this is a VINTAGE style pedal, so it’s not made for high (or even mid) gain.
Controls: The Gain control adjust the amount of input signal that’s fed to the Germanium transistor. It also does adjust the overall volume (you can really hear this in the first two sound clips below where the gain is set to 10). The Bias control adjust the current gain that’s sent to the Germanium transistor. It works specifically with the Germanium transistor. The Volts control allows you to control the amount of volts applied to the pedal. At the max setting it’s a full 9 volts. At the minimum setting it’s 3 volts. This control can mimic the voltage sag of a dying 9v battery, but it can also be used to get some really cool sounds out of the Germanium OD. The Bias control and the Volts control are very inter-dependent. Adjust one and it directly impacts the other. Also, this is a true bypass pedal – ie, it completely bypasses the pedal when it’s switched off.
Playing around with this for a bit I was impressed with the great sounding light OD sounds you can get with it. The OD is a little different than most light OD sounds I’m used to due to the Germanium transistor. The transistor gives it just a hint of a fuzzy tone while still retaining a distinct OD tone.
Where I really like this pedal is when using it for more of a light fuzz tone. Adjust the Bias and Volts controls so that they’re causing the signal to start to break up and almost cut out and you get a very cool sounding light fuzz tone that’s quite unique but also usable.
(*note: all clips were played using a Washburn P3 electric with a Seymour Duncan SH-2 Jazz in the neck, and a SH-4 JB in the bridge position. All clips were recorded direct with no amp. All clips also have a section of a clean signal with no effect at the beginning to give you a reference point).
Sound clip 1: All knobs are set to 10, bridge pickup. You can hear how the Germanium OD really allows your playing dynamics to cut through. Play lightly and the tone is very clean (even though the Gain is maxed out). Play harder and the OD really kicks in and sounds great.
Sound clip 2: All knobs are set to 10, both pickups. The same basic clip as clip 2, but with the guitar pickup selector switch in the middle.
Sound clip 3: Gain 8, Bias 4, Volts 3, bridge pickup. This is where I find the Germanium OD the most interesting. The Bias and Volts controls are very inter-dependent. You can get some really cool vintage sounding fuzz sounds out if you play around with these. In this clip the guitar signal almost cuts out and/or sounds like a torn speaker, (but in a very cool “intro riff” sort of way I think).
Sound clip 4: Gain 5, Bias 10, Volts 6, both pickups. A classic sounding OD with a little bit of that “torn speaker” tone that EHX describes.
In summary I found the EHX Germanium OD to be a very usable and nice sounding pedal. It’s not the most amazing pedal in the world, but it does what it does well. As with many EHX products they’ve created a pedal that’s incorporates standard features with some new twists.
Interested in buying one? We’ve got them for sale here.