I do have to admit that I’ve had a love and hate relationship with some EHX effects. I once grabbed a delay of theirs and had really fallen in love with it until the true bypass had decided to store some power and every time I clicked it on it would POP. That damn pop would repeat and repeat…. The lesson here is, don’t get sucked into the true bypass mentality because there are a number of effects that need a buffer to avoid issues. Anyway back to EHX.
As you know I have one other pedal of theirs on my board, the Bug Muff. I can’t really explain why I haven’t fallen into the EHX brand but I find they do some things great and others just OK. The Holy Grail is one of those great pedals, and here’s why.
There isn’t really anything overly impressive with the presentation of three tonal options and a single depth control. However, in the simplicity comes amazing possibilities. The three reverb types are Spring (amp simulation), Hall (Room simulation) and Flerb (flanger mixed with the spring).
The Spring setting does a great job of recreating a spring reverb canister on most American amplifiers. The biggest issue musicians run into with some amp models is that the reverb section is not available on the pedal control for the amp, and it’s not really an option to have to migrate over to the amp just to turn a knob during any performance.
The Flerb setting has an interesting sound and I haven’t really found a great use for it as of yet. I find using a flanger difficult in most cases anyway so having to find a spot for a reverb version hasn’t been successful at all. Nevertheless, the tone of the Flerb is unique to EHX and I’m sure will inspire other musicians to great entire recordings just to have their Flerb out.
The Hall setting is what I really love about this pedal. The thickness of the reverb when slowly rolled up emulates this sound of the guitar fading deeper and deeper into a a grand hall. I also found this setting really copied the reverb I used to create room dynamics on the album, especially the fade and re-entrance on “Love“. What also spurred me to grab the original version was the large single level control. I can easily control the pedal with my foot to get the large reverb build which I can’t usually get without the use of another foot controller.
What also drew me to this pedal was again its use on Frusciante’s board. You may wonder why I come back to John’s board frequently and the answer is very simple, he really had an interesting taste in effects that at most points didn’t break the bank for purchasing. I guess you could say he has a regular musicians board (unlike the Edge’s in comparison).
When it came to the album, this pedal found some use in texturing on “Red Sky” and “Love“. I find I prefer the use of the Cubase onboard reverbs primarily because I can match the space and not create an artificial room/instrument feel. You can hear the stellar room sound on the solo for “Bitter Wine” which used a little of the Holy Grail and the mastering reverb.
Currently the Holy Grail doesn’t come in the large and in charge size pictured in this post, but rather a smaller more subtle mini housing. There has been some debate, like the Muff, that the housing does influence the dynamics of the effect. I haven’t had a chance to use the new version but from sound samples online, I do notice a slight difference, but I would credit that to the current circuit manufacturing and not the housing. If you can find one of the originals like mine, I would suggest grabbing it. But be advised you’ll probably have to change the foot switch because for some reason they just go on these units.
The last thing I should probably mention is the location of this pedal. Going back to my post on my Board A you’ll notice I mentioned reverbs are usually placed in the final slots before the amps. Here however I have the Grail leading off my modulation section. In playing around with the delays and reverbs I found having one reverb upstream of the delays could provide some great options. You can basically kick the reverb into the delay allowing a great swelling effect into the delay and this weird ghostly echo trail. It also causes a tremolo effect. Try and see if you like it!