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Guitar synths have been around for decades, but were not something easily integrated into a traditional guitar rig. A few years back Electro-Harmonix figured out that making individual pedals that captured specific keyboard flavors was the way to go. Now as a complement to their C9, B9, and Mel9, the Synth 9 captures classic synth sounds in a pedal.
Nine of the most classic ’70s and ’80s synths are emulated here; ARP, OBX, Prophet, Moog, Korg, as well as Electro-Harmonix’s Mini Synth. Output-wise, there is a synth out, as well as a dry out. This gives the options to send the synth to a PA system, and the dry signal to a regular guitar amp. Each output has its own volume control, as well. The only other options are two control knobs that have various functions that respond differently, depending upon the synth being modeled.▼ Article continues below ▼
Sound-wise, it certainly delivers plenty of functional synth emulations, and tracking is not an issue for even extremely fast players. Any fan of progressive rock music and any of its sub genres can find useful sounds easily with this unit. Start with the OBX mode, and hit an F# chord in 7/8 and you can start thinking of adding Rush’s “subdivisions” to your set list (if your drummer can handle it, that is).
For guitar players who want to put synth sounds down, but don’t want to go with a traditional, more expensive, as well as cumbersome, guitar synth rig, this can be an easy solution. Simply for not having to call a keyboard player to come in and play on a demo, the street price of about $220 is well worth it. For players in a band with two guitarists, this gives the ability to expand the sound without having to add another band member. It can easily make the rhythm player a lot more expansive tonally, and take a band out of their usual sonic (comfort) territory. Even just being able to put a simple layer of synths down in the background for some texture, without any hassle of a keyboard player wanting their sound further up in the mix. While it won’t make a keyboard player obsolete, it does make a guitar player’s tonal palette a lot more colorful.
The big thing to consider when using a pedal such as this, is the approach to chords and their voicings. Depending on the mode, and controls, certain fingerings may or may not work. Sometimes simpler is better, and some lower strings might get a bit flubby. It’s a “your mileage may vary” situation, depending upon the desired effect. Melody lines should be thought of as musical passages, not as patterns on a neck. The physical differences and approaches of guitars and keyboards can be very noticeable, so a lot of its authenticity depends on the player’s ability to translate those types of parts to the fretboard.
plenty of functional classic synths; excellent tracking.