Electro-Harmonix Holy Stain

Holy Stain Batman!

This is my first foray into the effects world.

If you have read my other posts, you will know that the amplifier I bought, thus starting this deep spiral into GAS does not have reverb.

So I needed a reverb pedal. If you’ve ever played through an amplifier without reverb you’ll know that it is one of those effects that you don’t particularly notice until suddenly it’s not there. When using the Marshall G15R-CD (the amp I had before the Laney) I always had reverb on. I didn’t always have a lot, just enough to notice. It didn’t really occur to me that you could turn it off, or not have it. Since having an amplifier without it I have been missing it greatly.

Reverb or reverberation is an effect that emulates playing in a large room, so it is an emulation of the echo that you would get playing in a large space. There are a few different kinds of reverb, the two present in the Holy Stain being room and hall. As the names would suggest they emulate playing in a room and a hall (being a larger space than a room). Room reverb tends to repeat and echo sooner as the sound doesnt have to travel too far before it is being repeated back to the listener. A hall reverb will have a longer time between the sound repeating as the imaginary walls of the hall are further away therefore meaning that the sound takes longer to get to the walls and bounce back to the listener.

The Holy Stain is  a bit more than a reverb pedal. It is a multi effects pedal. It has four different settings to select using the left hand switch. Room reverb, hall reverb, pitch shift and tremolo. It also has three distortion settings. Clean, fuzz and drive with bright, warm and dark voicings. According to the literature that came with the pedal the voicing can affect the sound slightly even when on clean. I can’t hear a noticable difference when on clean but can whilst changing the colour on a distortion.

The volume knob can be useful, to set the pedal as a bit of a boost or dial it in so that it colours the sound with reverb, but there is no discernible volume difference when switching on/off. With the Stain being a pedal I tend to have always on I have dialed it into the volume of my amp. With other effects such as overdrive or distortions I would use it as a bit of a volume boost.

The holy stain seems to be a very well put together bit of kit. Solidly made with positive clicks to all of the buttons. It is quite large. Not the biggest effect to put on a pedal board but it does take up two spaces.

I only wanted it to use as a reverb, and did not buy it for the dirt section. I bought it on a slight whim, and although I’m happy with it at the moment, I will probably swap it for a standalone reverb pedal.  The dirt section of the pedal is its downside. It’s not really fuzz or distortion you can control. The colour affects the sound a bit, but not enough to make it useful to most people, the same can be said for the tone, it alters the sound but the dirty side of the pedal seems to be a bit all or nothing.

I tend to leave it on clean, and mess with the reverbs. All four sections of the reverb side of the Stain are easily tweakable and useful effects. The pitch shift is a bit hit and miss for me. Sometimes I like the sound of it, especially when it’s shifting down but I think that’s down to personal preference. As a reverb unit, and as a foray into the wild world of guitar effects pedals I think I could have done much worse.

As I use the pedal at home, and don’t gig it fits my needs and it isn’t a problem to tweak when I want to try out different sounds. For a gigging guitarist I can’t see this pedal working as well. If you want to switch different effects the settings you have will be the same. The settings you want for a reverb are unlikely to be the same as the ones you want for tremolo, meaning you would probably want a secondary tremolo pedal. It is also  less useful for the gigging guitarist as you can’t easily switch the dirt side on the fly. There is an input for an expression pedal, but I haven’t got one to use the Stain with, and am not sure what parameters the expression pedal changes.  An expression pedal might make the Stain more usable in a gig setting.

All in all it’s a larger unit than I need, has a dirt side I don’t want or use and would not be great (in my opinion) for a gigging musician.  But it was not too expensive (I paid £60/$75). It seems to be well made. It has at least two effects I use regularly (the reverbs and tremolo). If I split it down and said I got two effects pedals out of it for £60, £30 each for a reverb and tremolo that both do a cracking job is good going. As a first effects pedal I think I could have done much worse. Its staying on the board for now, until a better reverb comes along. I might have done better buying an EHX Holy Grail and a tremolo later down the line. But I suppose hindsight is a wonderful thing.

 

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