Back From ’78 – The EHX Hot Tubes Overdrive Pedal

EHX - Hot Tubes

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Update: Here’s our video review and demo of the EHX Hot Tubes Pedal

Back in 1978, everything was a little different than it is now – especially in the world of guitar pedals. But one thing that hasn’t changed is EHX’s penchant for innovation – transforming the average guitar signal into something much better – always with the guitarist’s needs in mind.

In the late 70’s there weren’t many companies forward thinking enough to basically try and simulate any kind of amp sounds – but that’s what EHX was doing with the “Hot Tubes” overdrive pedal.

Here is what the Hot Tubes looked like back in the day:

Original EHX Hot Tubes
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It became popular for accurately reproducing the sounds of an overdriven vintage tube amp, and for its tonal flexability – offering everything from warm bass tones to treble tones that got about as edgy as you wanted.

So what’s not to love about this pedal? Why not re-issue it? That’s exactly what EHX has done.

The New EHX Hot Tubes

EHX - Hot Tubes
Click to Enlarge

These days, it’s next to impossible to get your hands on an original Hot Tubes pedal, most of them are over 33 years old, and current owners simply don’t want to give them up.

Demand for a reissue has been high, according to EHX Founder Mike Matthews:

“With the price of vintage Hot Tubes soaring, countless guitarists requested that we re-issue our 1970s CMOS pedal. We’ve done this using the exact same design and miniaturized it, too. And the guitarist-friendly price of the new Hot Tubes is only a fraction of the cost of a vintage unit, if you can find one!”

Thanks to modern technology, and probably a good bit of ingenuity, EHX has been able to squeeze all of that sound into a case that won’t take up too much real estate on your pedalboard. The case is standard issue EHX Nano die cast, and it can be powered by either a nine volt battery or an AC adapter.

The Hot Tubes pedal operates on CMOS technology – with an overdrive circuit that can reproduce the memorable sounds and sensitivity of a vintage tube amp, providing all the flexibility of the original unit.

What we end up with is a pedal that not only does a great job with the tones, but also is extremely effective at simulating the response and feel you’d get with an overdriven vintage amp. Tactics such as rolling back the volume, or picking softly are treated with a genuine response from this pedal.

The controls are the same as the original – albeit in a slightly different configuration due to the smaller case, so you’ve got volume, overdrive, tone, and a tone on/off, and the stomp switch.

The tone on/off switch provides a few more options for sound, it can add warmth and definition when it’s on, and when it’s off, you can enjoy a bigger, clearer sound.

The switching is true bypass as well, so it won’t color your tone in any way when it’s not in use.

List on the unit is $71.87 which is a hell of a deal considering the tone, response, and flexibility you’ll get out of this small, relatively uncomplicated pedal.



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Tim Monaghan

Tim has been playing guitar & bass since he was 12 years old and has been in Jazz, funk, rock & metal bands. Influences include Jeff Beck, Stanley Clarke, Doug Stegmeyer, Baden Powell, Steve Vai, and pretty much anyone else who has a unique style that expresses their individuality. One of Tim’s many hobbies is building, tweaking, and repairing basses and guitars.

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