EH Small Stone Nano review

January 11th 2007 | Posted in Reviews | 31 Comments

Electro Harmonix continues to invent new stuff and their new line of so-called Nano pedals is a welcomed alternative to the huge beasts that takes up too much space on a pedal board.

Guitars

The Nanos are basically the classic effects in a smaller, MXR sized, box for half the price of the bigger counterparts. The line includes; Metal Muff, Small Stone, Small Clone, Bassballs, Muff Overdrive, Dr Q and LPB-1. The Muff Overdrive is a new pedal, – a much milder Muff sounding like a muddy overdrive. The surprise is the LPB-1, EH’s first effect from ’68, a treble booster. The whole line is looking really good, although the jacks, knobs and switch are mounted directly onto the PCB (hence the price). We’ll have to see if that will cause any problems…

The disappointment is the Small Clone chorus is which has a ridiculous volume drop when activated, – even more than the original. However, EH seem to have fixed the problem on the Small Stone phaser. The effect is warm, with a slight crunch and I must say definitely recommended over the Phase 90 (stiring up the never ending debate).

I have made some clips using my Classic 50’s Strat (4. position, middle/bridge pickups) and GarageBand. The setup is clean with a hint of reverb and delay.

Breathe
– the Small Stone offers that super smooth tone inspiring to play a ’72 version of the song (rate 12:00 o’clock).

Brain Damage
– the Small Stone is a great alternative to a UniVibe or Leslie (rate 3:00 o’clock).

Have a Cigar
– the Small Stone adds that nice crunch on a mildly boosted tone (rate 12:00 o’clock).

Raise My Rent
– the Small Stone has a Colour switch giving a much wider sweep and although Gilmour used a Leslie on the track, the effect sounds cool on the instrumental from David’s ’78 solo album (rate 2:00 o’clock and 4 o’clock).

31 comments so far

  1. Alex Mircica says:

    Sounds great, perhaps I shall cancel that MXR Phase 90 order, Would you say it beats even the new ‘Script logo’ re-issue? I see it has completley replaced the MXR pedal in your board, that’s good enough for me!!

    [It’s really a matter of taste and who likes what. The battle between the Small Stone and Phase 90 ha sbeen going on since the early 70’s… I prefer the Small Stone for its smooth tone and I think the Phase 90 can be just a little too deep. David used the Phase 90 on the WYWH album and he had a Small Stone in the Animals/Wall board. – Bjorn]

  2. Alex Mircica says:

    As an aside I went back to listen to ‘Raise my Rent’ and it was only then I noticed how similar the first solo (0.59) is to the intro lick on ‘What Do You Want From Me?” Great example of David recycling!

    [Yep! He is a master of recycling himself. – Bjorn]

  3. Fred says:

    Probably you’re right. MXR/Dunlop stuff sounds light years away from their vintage counterparts.
    I can say that since I own a Dunlop Phase 90 and an original script logo Bud Box MXR Phase 90 built in 1974. The vintage pedal is smooth and gentle, the reissue is aggressive and violent, with a mid boost that’s really annoying. I own also the Small Stone, and I use it only for Any Colour you Like.
    If you can’t afford the original Phase 90 (which is the best phaser out there IMHO), buy the Small Stone reissue. Stay away from Dunlop/MXR!

    [Agree! – Bjorn]

  4. Agent Fox Mulder says:

    Wow !!! Thanks so much for sound clips.

    Well, I really love Phase 90 stuffs on WYWH Years. It’s one of the very classic effect from 70’s. But I heard that the reissue sound not quite good. Maybe Small Stone Nano is the better alternative way as you said.

    LPB-1 sound interesting for me, Do you know is it close to Coloursound PB ? Treble Booster is very hard to find in my country. Maybe I can order it from EHX dealer here.

    [The LPB-1 is a treble booster but I thought it sounded a little muddy and not what I had expected. I think you will have much more fun with a Colorsound or even a BD2. The Colorsoundcan be ordered from Macari’s. – Bjorn]

  5. Nate says:

    Sure, you have this review right after I get a phase 90 for Christmas! Ah well, I love how it sounds but of course you’ve planted that seed in my head that means in the next year or so I will have another phaser :-p

    [He he… well, there isn’t a dramatic difference between the two but the Small Stone is perhaps closer what the original 70’s Phase 90 sounded. – Bjorn]

  6. Roberto Lecchi says:

    What about the differences with the Russian Small Stone?

    Does anyone know MEK effects (http://www.uk-electronic.de) ? I read good things about them and they are quite cheap. Is there anyone who tried some of them?

    [I have a green Sovtek Small Stone and the volume drops quite a bit when it’s turned on…. – Bjorn]

  7. Yoda says:

    Hi Bjorn !

    Forgive me if it is out of purpose but I wanted to know if the analog delay of the DD20 is a real analog delay or just a simulation ?

    Thank you

    [It’s a sim but pretty convincing… at least for the price. Still, if I didn’t need storing for multiple delays I’d go for a EH Memory Man. Pure analog and the sound is sweeeeet! – Bjorn]

  8. yaniv297 says:

    I tried them both (phase 90 and small stone) at a shop, and I liked the small stone better, but none of them are the “Real” thing in my opinion… I once tried a FANTASTIC phaser (though slightly more expensive) called Homebrew Psilocybe, and I completely fall in love. This hand-made pedal sounds fantastic, unlike the MXR it is very versitile, true bypass, well built, it’s simply perfect… and another nice feature, since it’s custom-built you can choose what colour do you want it, AND you can paint/right anything on it with a bit more money. Imagine that – to have a phaser with the dark side prism on it…

    So thank you for the suggestion, but I have already found my perfect phaser… just got to get the money now.

    http://homebrewelectronics.com/

    Wow, reading it again, it sounds like an advertisement. No, they don’t pay me.

    [Well, the Phase 90 and Small Stone is definitely the real thing as they were some of the first phasers to appear and sat the standards for everything else… but I know what you mean. Thanks for the tip. I’ll check it out. The best Phaser I’ve heard is the “Moon Phaser” from Red Witch. Sounds like cream pouring out of your speakers! But, it was a little out of my price range for the moment. – Bjorn]

  9. Alex says:

    Thanks for the review Bjorn!

    Question for you: have you tried the new(ish) Little Big Muff? The ehx site has some pretty glowing claims about the pedal, but I’m curious to hear what you think as I have yet to try it myself..

    Cheers

    [I haven’t tried it myself but from what I understand it’s somewhere between the yellow and green Sovteks and the new EH US reissue. I need to try it out… Also, the Small Beaver from BYOC is claimed to be very close to the old ’73 Muffs. – Bjorn]

  10. Leandro says:

    Hey Bjorn, nice review! I have always said the Small Stone it´s better than the Phase 90…..

    I have an original one, the 2nd issue with orange lettering, and it has the same “volume drop” problem when it´s on, but it can be easily solved by adding a couple of resistors to the circuit….

    So congratulations…..it´s an awesome phaser you got there!

    By the way, try adding a hint of overdrive with your DB2, to nail the sound of Have a Cigar of Fort Worth ´77… :-)

    [Thanks! I’ve had the green Sovtek Small Stone for years and I’ve always loved it but it has a terrible volume drop. This Nano is perfect! – Bjorn]

  11. brett says:

    sounds great, hey i think your getting a little too many pedals there….maybe contest give away a few…..to airbag fans…..from canada……like me…….maybe…anyhow keep up the great work and research for the ultimate tone

    -brett

    [Suuuuure…. – Bjorn]

  12. Anders says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    Nice review. I’m thinking about replacing my Russian Small Stone with this one, since the old one has a bad switch and the annoying volume drop.

    However, I’ve heard that you can’t place this in a daisy chain with other pedals (power wise). It’s because the Nano pedals have positive ground, while pedals normally have negative ground. In order to use the pedals in a Daisy chain you need to run it on batteries or with a power supply with isolated outputs.

    This is the fact with at least the Nano Small Clone chorus.

    Does anybody know if this is true for the Nano Small Stone phaser as well?

    Anders

    [That’s strange. I use mine in a power chain and it works fine. – Bjorn]

  13. Pinkfloydfan1 says:

    what effects are you using for the second part of breath clip u made
    it cant be just the small stone if it is then wow it does a really convincing uni vibe sound

    [It’s just the Small Clone. – Bjorn]

  14. Anders says:

    Hi again Bjorn,

    Well, I’ve heard it about the Small Clone model (and maybe the muff?). It can be found on harmony-central. A couple of people at the AAGE forum has written about it as well (for the Small Clone).

    What power supply are you using for your pedals?

    Anders

    [Mostly Boss adapters. Seems to be working fine with the Nano… – Bjorn]

  15. bernhard says:

    hey bjorn,

    thanks for the great review and the clips, I was glued to my computer yesterday reading and listening. never tried a phase 90, but I have long been using line6’s pod xt pro and the mm4 more recently and the phase 90 sim there is gorgeous.

    anyway, you def. made me wan to check out the small stone, so that’s what I did today ;). first tried it in the shop, fantastic already. took it home and fooled around with it. I def. see the difference between the phase 90 (well, sim, but perfect imo) and the small stone. both have their character, and I have to say I appreciate both of them, maybe in different contexts also.

    cheers, b.

    [Ever since they both got released in the early 70’s there’s been an ongoing “war” between those who prefer the Phase 90 and those who want the Small Stone. Kind of like our “Gilmour vs Waters” thing… To me, the Phase 90 is thicker and perhaps a bit wider than the Small Stone. I don’t know, I like them both, but the Small Stone has that super smooth sound that I like. Eddie Van Halen used the Phase 90 of course and so did Gilmour on WYWY and on most of the ’74-’75 tour. I even have some live recordings where he’s using it on Echoes! Sounds wierd… Still, the Small Stone was a bigger hit in the 70’s and apparantly sold much more than the Phase 90 and it was EH’s most popular product. – Bjorn]

  16. Ernest Peske says:

    Wooooh Bjorn! It is a really convincing uni vibe sound! I will order one myself, thanks for the great review, and very, very nice sound-clips! Good work. Maybe I will try one of those new small Muff’s from EH. I’ll let you know ;-))
    Ernest

    [Thanks! Keep in mind though that the Muff Nano isn’t actually a Muff… it’s more an overdrive. The Metal Muff sounds like Metallica on speed. – Bjorn]

  17. Kjetil Gilje says:

    Wow. Sounds really nice and smooth. How do you think it will work for Any colour you like?

    [Yeah… You could use the Brain Damage setting… maybe a little faster. – Bjorn]

  18. stratochuck says:

    Bjorn,

    Thanks for posting your review. I’ve done a review of sorts myself. The small stone vs. phase 90. I’ve used both the regular and nano stones as well as the block logo and evh phase 90’s. This was done with a 2002 american strat, regular small stone, nano stone or block logo 90 or evh 90, fulldrive and big lloyde dee-layer into a fender pro junior. I also put each phaser before and after the fulldrive for more comparison. Either way, with my rig, the evh 90 on script mode sounded full and lush at any setting, very pleasing especially after the fulldrive. The block setting was harsh. I guess that’s why I did the r28 mod to my old block logo phase 90 before I sold it. The regular small stone was just about right on except for the volume drop. The nano stone seemed like it was trying too hard, but couldn’t quite keep up. Thin and brittle with the colour switch down. With the switch up, a cool funk but over the edge.

    So I guess for my rig the evh 90 in script mode is what sounds best to me.

    My advice after twenty-some years of playing is try out the new toys with you own gear before you drop the hard earned cash.

    ps
    I still need to try the psyllocibe and the b.y.o.c. phasers.

  19. Simeon says:

    Bjorn !!! I just saw the Pompeii DVD at a friends house and we were wondering …

    Gilmour is doing friggin huge bends on that version of Pompeii … I doubt he was Stringed with 10’s in them days.

    What kind of string gauges were available in them days ? what do u think Gilmour used in Pompeii ?

    [I assume he used 0.10. There’s shouldn’t be any problems bending the strings with that gauge. Just a little practise… – Bjorn]

  20. o says:

    Just heard a PF 77′ bootleg,,think it was from oakland or something… Oh my God, “pigs” was so awesome i don’t have words to describe it!! Gilmour was on fire!!

    Bjorn, should i buy a 50′ or 70′ mex-strat ?
    I can’t try them out before buying, but i’m not so experienced i really know what i’m looking for anyway…
    I like Gilmour’s 2006 sound just as much as early 70′,,,,so maybe the one who can do both best..?

    If you HAD to pick just one,,witch would you choose?

    [The Oakland, In the Flesh/ Playes the Animals, bootleg is awesome! Definitely one of my favourite Floyd concerts! About the guitar, – I would go for the 50’s. It’s a very nice guitar with the characteristic 50’s V-neck and the pickups are very versatile for any Gilmour periode. It’s been my main axe for 10 years and I still love it! – Bjorn]

  21. Grish says:

    Hey!
    I was checking the site and noticed that there are some setting for the boss processor.

    I think it would be nice to publish some settins for the Line 6 pod xt lieve =D

    [That’s the plan. – Bjorn]

  22. Pavan says:

    Hey Bjorn,

    nice new pedals. Quick question… Do you recommend getting an Electric Mistress and a Ibanez DE-7, or just a Boss DD-20. Im kinda torn over it right now…

    Thanks

    [Well the Mistress is a flanger, but I’m sure you’re aware. I would go for the Mistress + DE-7 and save up for the DD-2 later. The Mistress is a must! – Bjorn]

  23. o says:

    Vote for Gilmour : http://lister.vg.no/?do=show&id=2484
    he’s only nr 12 now…

  24. David Bebernick says:

    Hey Bjorn,

    Oh my God! A toss-up! I own an MXR Phase 90 reissue. I did the script mod on it though but the problem with those pedals is that they aren’t true-bypass.

    At first, I was looking into the Script 90 Phaser from http://www.buildyourownclone.com (check out that website for those pedals are based on some of the famous circuits like the MXR Phase 90, the Dunlop/Vox Wah Wah, the Ibanez Tube Screamer TS808, the ProCo Rat just to name a few) but now after hearing the EH Small Stone Nano clips, I might just go with that pedal instead. Thanks again and keep rocking!

    David

    [The BYOC pedals are really great. It’s a matter of taste… Some swear by the Phase 90 but I think it’s a little too deep, – both the script and block models. I have always loved the Small Stone and this Nano is the best version I’ve tried. – Bjorn]

  25. fabien says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    i have seen a DynaComp from 1979 on ebay. Do you think it’s a good choice to ad this compressor with my Boss CS3 compressor/sustainer?

    [Definitely! The Dynacomp is brighter with great sustain… – Bjorn]

  26. Barney says:

    Great review! By the way, you need a new pedalboard.

    [It’s getting a little small… Any suggestions? I was looking at Pedaltrain. – Bjorn]

  27. Barney says:

    Im looking for a new pedalboard too.
    I used to have a Pedaltrain but I didn’t like it much because it was slanted and I prefer my pedals flat on the ground.

    Im looking for an ATA Case company that can build me a board like this.

    A&S Case Co. Is way too expensive. I know I can find another company that will make me a board like that for cheaper.

    My other choice would be Angstrom Cases (Canada). They have an Ebay store. Great customer service too.

    Then I would suggest http://www.nycpedalboards.com

    [Thanks for the tips! – Bjorn]

  28. Kjetil Gilje says:

    Hey Bjørn. I got a Nano Small Stone today. I’ve only used modelled phasers before (PODxt, Tonelab). I’ve just tried for an hour, but I have to say I like it a lot. Thanks a lot for the recommendation. Bought it for 700 from a guy who had ordered it from the US. You’re using the color switch in the down position in all clips except the last one right?

    [Glad you liked it! The colour switch is down yes. – Bjorn]

  29. Pierre says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    Thanks for the great review and the clips.I worked hard to find a Nano Small Stone clip! I’m enjoying yours clips and all the site. From now I nails my choice on the Retro-Sonic phaser (175$US) or the Tone Factor Nebula (139$US).

    I’ve just send an email to Brad from Tone Factor that said: “…concidering the low price, how is the EH Nano Small Stone? Is it real that this one is true bypass (a very important criteria for me)? With the “color switch” put completely down, you’re supposed to have lesser effect, so is it comparable to the natural and transparent beautifull tone of the Nebula or Retro-Sonic?”

    Bjorn, you just give me the answer with your beautifull clips! For the price the Nano is the best choice, maybe a little bit less transparent than the Nebula and the RS, but man it’s so good.

    Tanks a lot, from your pals from Quebec, Canada

    [Hi Pierre! I like it very much… I’ve always prefered the Small Stone… Glad you liked it too :-) – Bjorn]

  30. Javier says:

    Hi, what do you think about the ross ( r-99) phaser, would it gilmourize your tone ? or do you need the exact pedal he used?

    thanks for the great website!

    [I haven’t tried the Ross phaser but Ross is basically MXR clones… well not clones, but the company made more or less identical pedals to the MXRs in the 70’s. Some also claim that they sounded better than MXR. In other words, the Ross phaser is “identical” to the MXR Phase 90, which David used from 1974-1981. The company shut down in the late 70’s, so the phaser is quite a collectors item. I also recommend the Electro Harmonix Small Stone. – Bjorn]

  31. Sezer says:

    Hi Bjorn,
    Thats a good review make me buy small stone! Does the nano small stone make that volume drops?

    [Thanks! No. they’ve managed to fix it! – Bjorn]