Throwback Thursday: Pedal Review: 70’s era Electro Harmonix Micro Synthesizer

Nick Reinhart and I just did a Reddit AMA for the cool guitar pedal subreddit where I got asked what my favorite pedal is. I do love my vintage Electro-Harmonix Microsynthesizer, so I thought I would do a Throwback Thursday for today's post on it. Enjoy!


There will always be pedals that will come to our attention and change how we approach making sound. The all analog Electro-Harmonix Micro Synthesizer forever changed what I do with my fretless bass. This pedal alone can transcend my instrument into a synthesizer. Though I have featured the Microsynth on PedalsAndEffects before, this vintage 1970’s Micro Synthesizer I found at Future Music is easily the most radical in terms of filters and enveloping and in this video, I think it will convince you that this is the best synthesizer pedal out there.

Starting in the early 90’s, my love for the Micro Synthesizer began and really spun my playing around. I had been using a few pedals like a fuzz, distortion, octave pedals and my Boss CS-2 compressor but no pedal really took my bass into new territories like the Micro Synth. My first Electro-Harmonix pedal was the Bassballs that I bought when I first started playing. I bought it primarily because of the name. Though I wasn’t too impressed with this effect, I became aware that Electro-Harmonix made effects pedals.

In the early 80’s I saw Michael Anthony, bassist of Van Halen, do a bass solo on the Women And Children First tour. I remember he hit some pedal and his bass no longer sounded like bass but sounded like a jet landing. At the time, I thought he was either not playing and Eddie Van Halen was playing a synthesizer back stage while he acted out a bass solo or Michael was running a synthesizer at the same time as his bass via midi. I found out later, he was using a Micro Synthesizer.

Cut to the early 90’s and my friend Manny and I have a band called Distortion Felix and Manny played a ton of guitar through his Micro Synthesizer so naturally, I had to try it myself. I bought a Microsynth through the Recycler and it changed my sound and what I do on bass. My fretless was now able to be a Moog Synthesizer. With fretless and a Microsynth, you can get all the modulation wheel slides.  A few years later, I made my first Vato Negro record with the Microsynth being the main effect on my bass (in fact, I used two Micro Synthesizers at a time on Bumpers) as well as many bass solos in the Mars Volta years.

Now that I own four vintage Microsynths, I hear that each era sounds a little different. When I found an early 70’s one at Future Music, I asked Jack, the owner of the store, if I could take it up the street to my studio to see if I liked it. Jack let me and within 5 seconds, I heard how radical the filtering was, drove back to Future Music and gave Jack the money for it.

Hear for yourself, the beauty of this effect. Whether on guitar, bass or keyboard/synthesizer, a vintage (not one of the new onesElectro Harmonix Micro Synthesizer will make any instrument huge, heavy and subby!