The Crazy World of Electro-Harmonix

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The Crazy World of Electro-Harmonix

Electro-Harmonix will go down in history as one of the great innovators in the music industry. Who can deny the impact their creations have had? Imagine Robert Fripp without his 16 Second Digital Delay or Frequency Analyzer. How about early Carlos Santana without his Big Muff? How about the hundreds of garage bands that relied on EH stuff as an inexpensive means to achieve their sounds? The list goes on and on.

Lately, though, I've been taking a good look at my collection, and the one thought that keeps popping into my head is: What the heck were they thinking? I mean, sure, they made some great stuff and some, like the Big Muff, are considered classics. But what about The Other Stuff? (; ), Al P.) Although I'm sure EH had good intentions, they just couldn't help but make a few things that just weren't very practical for guitarists or musicians in general.

domino          petlite

How about the Domino Theory (circa 1978)? This was a red plastic tube about 8 1/2" long and 1 3/8" in diameter. Inside was a circuit board with several components and an array of 15 LEDs (3 x 5). By means of a small microphone mounted on the board, the Domino Theory would light up in different patterns when it detected sound. A trimpot protruding through one of the end caps allowed for adjustment of the sensitivity. Pretty cool when used with your stereo, but not for much else. Here's a CLIP of it in action.

There was also the budget version: the Pet Lite.  Sporting a scant 5 LEDs, it's pretty much the same as the Domino Theory with 1/3 the LEDs. 


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There was also the 3-Phase Liner (circa 1979), an electronic necklace with a circle of 6 LEDs. It was a small plastic box about the size of a 9v battery with a string attached for wearing around your neck. When the unit was worn or placed in an upright position, the LEDs would light up and appear to move in a circular pattern. It used a #PX27 battery originally, but since this is no longer made you must use (4) #86 watch batteries in series with a small ball of foil to complete the circuit. Don't be like EH designer Howard Davis and wear yours to a disco. The string is very easily broken and dancing feet are not kind to these strange items. I purchased the green one on Ebay in 2004. I had never seen one like it before but the seller, who was in Singapore, had 2 of them. Mike Matthews says that while most of them were black, there were a few colored plastic ones. You can see how I used the 4 watch batteries and a ball of foil to make it work. The original battery was 5.6v, but these add up to 6v, which isn't a problem. Click HERE for a short AVI of the 3-Phase Liners in action.


 

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Would an AM guitar transmitter fit in this artcle? Maybe so. The Wireless Wizard was actually made by UMI, another early effects manufacturer, but appeared in EH stock lists in 1972-73. Mike Matthews recalls carrying these items, but was unsure of just where they came from. To quote Mike: "I bought these, but I don't remember from where, maybe the company was bankrupt and I bought all the stocks at auction, BUT I am not sure. I just thought it was a cool idea so I got them and then sold off about 1,000 pcs."

Regardless, for $39.95 you could play your guitar through any AM radio whether it was yours or not. Kind of like a Mr. Microphone for guitar. Instead of just saying "Hey good lookin', we'll be back to pick you up later!", you could just hit a few bars of "Foxy Lady". Better just hope they're tuned to the transmitting range of the Wizard if you want this to work.


 

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The Corona Concert was a high-voltage device similar to the "Lightning Balls" you see at Radio Shack, Spencer Gifts, and other places that deal with "unusual lighting effects". Simply turn the unit on and adjust the controls for the effect you want. Too bad it's not made to react to sound like the Domino Theory.