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Rating and Reviews: EHX Black Finger Pedal

Get all the same functions of an expensive studio tube compressor in the form of a compact, durable stomp pedal. It utilizes a full 300 volts.

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"Essential piece" submitted July 22, 2012

By Aleksey K in Madison, WI
Overall
Sound
Features
Ease of Use
Quality
Value
Manufacturer Support
The Wow Factor
Musical Background: On and off, on and off :)
Music Style: Blues, folk, doom, black metal, melodic death metal. And just catchy tunes.
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Overall: This compressor pedal is much more than just a compressor. As a compressor it is really very lively, very warm, thanks to the red light you can see whether gain needs to be added or compression increased to have proper levels going. Besides the obvious purpose of being a great tube/speaker high voltage amp guardian against low frequency peaks and opening up the dynamic range of an instrument for more comfortable and sweet experience, It can serve as a great boost or on the contrary decrease the signal strength in the chain. It can add extra gain to the point of driving the tubes of the amp wild creating almost fuzz-like real tube distortion. It can't replace a proper fuzz pedal but the things you can do with this compressor could be very interesting. It flattens the dynamic range without loosing the richness of the guitar tone and is equally great for compressing bluesy improvisations from a single coil pickup as it is great for sorting through dark and dirty signal from active pups. SQSH mode, besides apparently being popular for Nashville country stuff, which I won't say much about for my own good, is great to create a very tight smooth signal. You would need to find that perfect relationship between pre-gain and post-gain settings, would be easier to do it with pickups that have more output but it still can be manageable otherwise. That signal would be great to enter the amps as is but I like to send it through EQ and add some lows, cut some mids and slightly increase the high frequency, but not too much not spoil all the work Black Finer just did. After that I send this beautiful mess through overdrive, which adds a little bit more compression, opens up the dynamic range for the amp and offers some great sonic assault juicy, sharp and punchy sounds. The lamp mode doesn't level as much high frequency which is great for screeching black metal and blues. Or recording vocals, never did but I really can see it being useful under such circumstances.. For tight punchy palm muted riffs LED setting is very good if a little more defined sound is needed. In terms of noise problem.. Careful manipulation of pre-gain and post-gain can help to reduce the possible Borris / Sunn O))) background ambiance to a harmless little hiss. It doesn't bother me as much as I have a good noise gate that for the most part takes care of mos of the noises. Sometimes it comes through during pauses between playing notes but it kind of sounds good, like a little slap across the face. Sometimes noise can be beneficial for certain music. Since I don't have to be as careful I like to turn tone knob on my overdrive all the way to the right which gives insane sharpness to the heavy distortion twisting that sound wave inside out. In other words, this pedal can be adapted for any chain. If a little noise is a big problem the pedal can be tweaked well enough to provide decent signal to noise ratio. Of course digital compressors in that sense much more manageable but so sterile. If you like vintage tube warmth Black Finger is the compressor to go to. At least I don't know any cheaper alternatives with the tube circuit. The tubes get a bit warm but not warm enough to melt the carpet, I would still rather keep the pedal on a board (or at least on top of the empty cardboard box it came with) and make sure nylon-covered jumper cables are not touching the heat source. Let's say you can touch it for a few seconds and then it would get too hot to keep a finger on. So it's not terribly hot. The built quality seems good, the on/off switch makes a loud click which I find a little funny for some reason. The pedal is actually quite light but takes place of three overdrives and requires its own special power supply. The aluminum casing makes sense as it gives off the heat very well. If stolen I would buy another one just like it. My next experiment would be placing it before some wicked fuzz effect for further sonic madness. It's great for clean sound too, by the way, just as much as it is good for everything else. If curious at least give it a try at a local guitar shop if they actually have it but be warned that it would take a couple of hours at least to get a good idea what needs to be done to create a particular tone so the first impressions will be very deceiving. A little is good and often enough with this one / goes a long way, this not one of the pedals that sounds good when all knobs are turned all the way. It's something that I particularly enjoy about Black Finger, room for experiments and a lot of trial and error experiments are required to become familiar with it but it's way more rewarding than getting a comp with two knobs, putting it into chain and forgetting about its existence. Where is the fun? Also, don't be afraid if your Black Finger will sound very trashy, noisy and uncontrollable at first. It needs a little taming and then you will be the best friends. Sorry for a little scattered review but I hope it still helps to get a general idea about what this pedal is about.
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