The EHX String9 String Ensemble lets guitar players create electronic-string sounds, in full polyphony and without requiring a special pickup – just plug in and you’re on your way to orchestral maneuvers.
Like other pedals in EHX’s 9 series, the String Ensemble has nine pre-sets offering variations on the theme. There are independent Volumes for the Draya guitar signal and wet Effect level, while Control 1 and 2 let you tweak parameters for each preset. There’s also a Dry output to maintain unaffected guitar tone, as well as three Freeze functions that mimic holding keys down indefinitely.
Among the famous sounds and keyboards replicated are Symphonic (lush strings), June-O (’80s strings), Floppy (think Mellotron), and AARP (polyphonic synth with built-in phase shifter). The three freeze options are especially cool, furthering the potential for expression; playing technique is important, as clean fretting and a crisp picking attack will make the String9 sound substantially better.
Sonically, the String9 reflects some of the lo-fi aspects of vintage string keyboards, but that’s historically accurate – even the iconic Mellotron was rather noisy. For several pre-sets, it’s worthwhile to increase Dry volume and mix it with the strings, which gives a bigger, better tone.
If you like proggy strings, EHX’s String9 could be an indispensable part of your pedalboard – and you could fire your keyboardist!
This article originally appeared in VG’s January 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.