• Effectrode Helios Tube Fuzz review

    Helios Tube Fuzz review

    The fuzz pedal appeared in the mid 60s and with it the whole pedal revolution started. The recent explosion of clones and boutique pedals has given the old fuzz pedal a renaissance and while some stick to the classic designs, others are exploring new ground. Here’s my review of the Effectrode Helios.

    The term fuzz is often used to describe any noisy pedal but fuzz is a specific form of distortion or clipping. The tone is unmistakable and although it can appear crude and hard to tame it’s perhaps the most musical of all gain pedals. Learning the potential and secrets of the fuzz will open up a whole new world of sweet tones.

    The Helios is housed in a TRex sized chassis with a stage ready bright led, controls for volume and fuzz/gain, true bypass switching and operating on 12v for maximum headroom. On top of the pedal sits a mini-toggle for switching between normal mode and “Fire” for super saturated fuzz.

    The Helios is based on a vintage, hand-selected space-grade pencil tube and N.O.S. point-contact crystal diodes. This combo produce some incredibly dynamic fuzz tones, with a clarity and warmth that I’ve never heard from any fuzz pedal before. Most fuzz pedals, both germanium and silicon models, are often a tad too harsh, bright, thin or whatever but there’s none of that here.

    It’s always hard to describe a tone but the Helios is no doubt a germanium-ish fuzz characterized by its warm and dynamic overdrive tone. At lower fuzz settings the pedal provides a transparent clean boost. With the fuzz slightly above noon the pedal reminds me more about the Tube Driver than a fuzz. Maxing out the fuzz takes you right back to the late 60s, with an incredibly rich and fat tone and a sustain that rings on for ages.

    Switching over to the Fire mode adds a lot more gain and compression and the pedal sounds like it’s on the verge of blowing up. It’s a cool effect and it takes the pedal closer to a silicon fuzz or Muff but engaging this mode require some serious noise control so you’re probably better off with pairing the pedal up with a booster in standard mode for those smooth sustained fuzz tones.

    What makes fuzz so versatile and musical is its ability to clean up when you roll back the guitar volume. Depending on how hot your pickups are you can go from crystal clear cleans to full blast fuzz and anything in between. The Helios is no exception but while some fuzz pedals can lose some of its low end and mids when you roll back the guitar volume, the Helios stays perfectly balanced making it incredibly dynamic and versatile.

    The Helios is not an overly aggressive fuzz but make no mistake – it can do some serious damage. Based on what guitar your employ this single pedal covers a diverse range of tones from early Stones, Hendrix, ZZ Top and Sabbath to Jack White, QotSA and The Black Keys.

    So what about David Gilmour? Well, the Helios isn’t your typical Gilmour fuzz. David employed the germanium fuzz in the early days and a silicon BC108/109 on Pompeii and Dark Side. These are more vintage sounding, slightly more saturated and, the silicon in particular, closer to a Big Muff. However, the Helios easily cover most of those tones and the 1968-71 era in particular. Apparently, David also owns a couple Helios and is said to be using them for the ongoing recording sessions for a possible new solo album.

    So, what’s the verdict? Like all Effectrode pedals it’s a huge treat to be playing a pedal that not only sounds good but that makes your whole rig sound more dynamic and overall better. The Helios is not your average fuzz pedal and it might not be the obvious choice for your Dark Side of the Moon tones. However, if you want to invest in a pedal that’ll expand your tones, perhaps even eliminate one or two from a cluttered pedal board and that’ll work equally well on almost any guitar and amp setup then do yourself a favour and check out this beauty! See Effectrode.com for more details.

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70 Responsesso far.

  1. Troy says:

    Either by itself or even better – through the blue channel of the Blackbird which is the perfect combination. The latter combo is probably the best lead tone I;ve heard. With the Blue Bottle > PC-2A > Fire Bottle> Tube Drive going into in between the two there is such a rich palette oof combinations it is insane. There is also a Glass-A buffer just before the Blackbird The When I added the Leveling Amp after thatv lot it it sounds like the perfect recorded tone – coming out of my amp. I got so into Effectrode that I ended up dedicating a second PedalTrain Grande to them.. That lot is followed by a Phaseomatic Deluxe > Delta-Trem with a Diamond Memory Lane 2 in between them. There’s also a Chase Tone Preamp & a Sonic Research Turbo Tuner on there. Three Atomic power supplies powering that lot.

    The other PedalTrain Grande one has a Glass-A, Blackbird & Leveling Amplifier & when funds allow I’ll likely add a Tube Drive to it. That board has one Atomic power supply on it. It also has a real mix of other stuff Foxrox Captain Coconut 2 2018 > BK Butler Tube Driver (with Bias control & Yugo tube) > Thorpy Muffroom Cloud, > [Effectrode pedals go in here] >]Hartman Analog Flanger > Heptode Virtuoso > Chase Tone Secret Preamp > Foxrox Paradox TZF NOS 2019 > Prophecysound Pi-Phase> Korg SDD-300 > Diamond Halo Chorus > Neo Ventilator 2. The power supply for th non-Effetrode stuff on that is a Cioks Ciokolate.

    On a more transportable medium-size board (Warwick Rock Board, kinda like a PedalTrain, not mad about the gig bag that it comes in though) there are more compact pedals: Mu-Tron Boostron II (#1) > Mu-Tron Octavider > Mu-Tron Octavider+ > Mu-Tron Micro-Tron III > Mu-Tron Micro-Tron IV > Mu-Tron Boostron II (#2) > Foxrox AquaVibe > Foxrox Festival > Foxrox ZIM (A: BM > B: T+) > Carl Martin Dual Faze >Chase Tone Secret Preamp > Sonic Research Turbo Tuner > Mooer E Lady > Mooer Ensemble King > Catalinbread Belle Epoch > Catalinbread Echorec > Foxrox Paradox TZF2 > Mu-Tron Phasor III > Prophecysound Pi-Phase >Eventide H9 > Empress EchoSystem > Empress Reverb.

    There’s a BCB-5 & BCB-60 with half a dozen Boss pedals each. Plus a whole bunch on the shelves in including wahs & vintage pedals that aren’t so “pedalboard friendly” (either big, very particular power requirements, less than ideal bypass or some combination of those, plus some that while excellent aren’t my top faves.

    Here’s a tip for maximising space for pedal hoarders like myself so that you can make room for recording gear, sofa, records, etc,I recently bought a whole tone of “cube” shelving designed in your homeland Bjorn: Ikea Kallax. I got a bunch of 2 x 4 “cubes” & 2 x 2 “cubes”. The “cubes’ are about 13” square/ Can stack the 2 x2’s above the 2 x 4’s. Warning: Ikeas hime delivery is really backed uo. I am still waiting for my final order to arrive weeks later. These are however the only thing that I have found that really hits the spot to clear up some floor space & maximise that. They are relatively inexpensive although of you get enough like I did it will add up.

    Ironically I will likely get a little Mooer carry board ir two for “backpack boards” as I picked up a whole bunch of those very cheap for just that purpose. Sometimes you just want to travel light! Even my medium board weighs a fair bit,

    Sorry. I was just going to comment on the Effectrode Mercury & ended up going in detail about the Effectrode board then thought I should add some balance as I like a lot of other pedals. Help some people out maybe with ideas for sugnal flow &/or pedals that they mightnot have come across I only set out to have one PedalTrain Grande, ended up with two & then some smaller ones. Let that be a warning folks! ;D

  2. Nathan says:

    Have you tried the Mercury fuzz yet? I never played the Helios but I bought a Mercury. You said the Helios is a more mild fuzz, I would say the Mercury is NOT! The Mercury makes my BC109 Sun Face sound like a mild overdrive haha! I have to back the fuzz down a click from full or it sounds like the tubes are about to explode! Mercury is definitely my favorite for the Echoes solo.

  3. Giovanni says:

    Hi Bjorn! I’m very interested in the Effectrode Mercury Fuzz! Since it is very similar to the Helios Fuzz of the same company (it is, actually, an upgradwe) maybe you could help me… Where would you put this fuzz pedal in the effects chain? Before the compressor? Or maybe in the “dirt section”? In the second case… You would put it before all the other gain effects or after them (before of my TopTone Shine Boost)?

    • Bjorn says:

      I’d place it first. That way it will respond more naturally with your (passive) pickups.

      • Giovanni says:

        Thanks a lot! I’ll pair it with the D.Allen Echoes that I’m going to buy for my birthday!

      • Troy says:

        My Mercury fuzz sounds great at the front end of the chain with the PC-2A Compressor following it. Allows for maximum control of fuzz dynamics from guitar volume knob & compressor after it gives the fuzz some added studio-style “pixie dust” (not that it needs it) should the mood strike to add it – adds a touch of the “Eddie Kramer” studio magic to the raw & visceral “Hendrix”-evoking fuzz magic going on you could say.

        I have heard an excellent audio recording comparison of the Mercury & the Helios. The Mercury is definitely darker (though still bright enough for most I would think) & fatter/more powerful sounding than the Helios. In a very general & over-simplistic amp analogy the Mercury is a bit more of a Marshall & the Helios a bit more of a Fender. Both sound very nice though.

        Effectrode sold out of the Mercury’s one-off run in recent weeks so you may find it tricky getting your hands on one Giovanni.

        • Giovanni says:

          Thanks a lot for your opinion about my question and also for your comparison between the Helios and the Mercury! In my opionion the Mercury is better than the Helios ’cause I like a lot the slightly darker sound produced by it (I think it would be a better match for my Peavey Classic 30)!
          Just yesterday I saw that Effectrode run out of the Mercury Tube Fuzz, in fact today I’m sending an email in order to know when (let’s hope it) it would be in stock again!
          Ah! I’ve a question about a difference between the Fire switch of the Helios and the Heat swith of the Mercury… They do the same thing? And exactly what they do? Raising the gain?

          • Troy says:

            Here’s what the maker of these pedals has to say about the Fire & Heat switches (also note that both pedals have a “Starve” trimpot but the “Bright” trimpot is only mentioned in the Mercury’s user guide):

            From the MERCURY user guide (“Heat” switch):

            Heat toggle switch allows the second tube stage to operate at reduced plate voltage to ‘starve’ the plate of electrons. This reduces both its gain and linearity. In starvation less germanium diode clipping occurs and more distortion occurs within the tube itself. The effect is to create warm, natural bluesy tones rather than just full-on fuzzed tones.

            The first triode tube gain stage in the MERCURY is biased hot and this is followed by a second triode gain stage, which is biased cooler. The plate H.T. voltage of the second tube is fully adjustable using the internal ‘STARVE’ trimpot. This simple and unique tube circuitry means the MERCURY can seamlessly blend tube overdrive and germanium diode clipping to produce some exceptionally smooth and full-bodied guitar sounds. The pedal interacts very well with guitar pickups and amplifiers to compliment their character and enhance your tone.

            A second ‘BRIGHT’ trimpot allows tailoring of higher frequency components above the 2KHz region. This is a first order filter with a very gentle roll-off rate and natural shelve characteristic. It can be used to create fuzz sounds with more ‘oomph’ or open out and add ‘air’ for solo work.

            To sum up, the MERCURY fuzz is a pedal with two completely distinct characters. On one hand it can generate rich, musical, fuzzed guitar sounds with endless amounts liquid sustain, and on the other, it can create a cheap, sputtering distortion with absolutely no sustain at all. Between these two extremes, lies a spectrum of classic and totally unique undiscovered fuzz sounds.

            From the HELIOS user guide (“Fire” switch):

            Fire toggle switch allows the second tube stage to be operated at reduced plate voltage (starvation). Starving the tube creates a harder, more transistor- like sound for cheesy fuzz sounds. Starvation effectively under-biases the tube and at low voltages, of 40 Volts or so, the tube spends more time in ‘cut- off’. At this point it begins to function more like a diode and less like an amplifier to generate additional asymmetric distortion.

            The result is a whole host of analogue synth-like and cheap, farty fuzz sounds. At voltages of 10 to 20 Volts the tube is so under-biased that cut-off creates a noise-gate action, robbing the signal of any sustain that is normally associated with high gain distortion pedals. At these low plate voltages it is the guitar signal itself that is supplying the additional bias to make the tube conduct. You can actually hear the electrons hitting the plate in ‘clumps’ – a very sad kind of sputtering sound, not unlike like an old T.V. set or transistor radio perpetually burning out. The plate H.T. voltage is fully adjustable using the internal ‘STARVE’ trimpot.

            To sum up, the HELIOS is a pedal with two completely distinct characters. On one hand it can generate rich, musical, fuzzed guitar sounds with endless amounts liquid sustain, and on the other, it can create a cheap, sputtering distortion with absolutely no sustain at all. Between these two extremes, lies a spectrum of classic and totally unique undiscovered fuzz sounds.

            • Giovanni says:

              Thanks a lot for these useful informations! Now I’m sure I’ll buy the Mercury for my birthday, as it is still available in a music store in Italy (the country where I live), probably with the PC-2A Compressor (the best comp. pedal I’ve ever heard)!
              Ah! Just another question: how long the subminiature tubes in these pedals will last, in your opinion? These can’t be changed easily as they’re soldered to the pcb… However, can I replace them when their life ends? Maybe a pedal tech. is able to!

              • Troy says:

                I would do it if you can spare the coin Giovanni. There is something that I just find incredibly satisfying in these designs in terms of their harmonic overtones & balance within the frequency spectrum.

                Some feel the need to tweak the trim-pots on the PC-2A, I am still loving how mine are set-up & am fine with using the external knobs & switches, though I have tweaked other pedals trim-pots when I felt the need so I’m not adverse to doing that.

                I love how the Mercury handles chords & how the PC-2A enhances the Mercury & how well it reins in my MuTron 3X (Mike Beigel’s European branded TruTron 3X, he still has the MuTron name outside of the US) envelope following filter on my other board (i obtained a second PC-2A recently for that – & another Glass-A buffer & will get a second Blackbird for that one).

                In the past I’ve had the following compressor pedals:

                Boss CS-3 (tone control bugged me, no matter where it was set it detracted from my dry tone);

                Boss CS-2 (the best Boss comp, should have kept it, darker than CS-3);

                Boss CS-1 (good for one sound using its treble boost – Roger McGuinn/Byrds, unity gain only possible with all dials maxed out, crazy!);

                MXR DynaComp (original vintage ’74 “script” – still have this “off-board”, good for what it is: non-transparent, “character”-imparting comp that rolls off lows – I’ve used it for everything when recording in the past with compression set to minimum as a high-pass filter for mix-friendly parts);

                Rothwell Love Squeeze (still have this, plan to put on a “grab & go” small board, very transparent though tiny amount of high-end roll-off – see: http://www.ovnilab.com/reviews/rothwell.shtml ; downsides: does not respond quick enough to tame my MuTron 3X; “pixie dust” still not there).

                I thought that the Love Squeeze was about as good as it got sonically for pedal comps but the PC-2A is in another league – that of studio valve-optical compressors.

                Maybe an actual LA-2A would be the “go to” unit in a very well-equipped studio to process tracked parts but as a compressor to sit at the start or further along on a pedal board – or even when DI’ing to front end the recording & interface inputs the PC-2A has the magic pre-tracking. Ovni Labs review of the PC-2A here: http://www.ovnilab.com/reviews/effectrode.shtml

                As for the Mercury: The thing for me that is maybe more important than the sound of this valve fuzz by itself is how it sounds when being enhanced by the Blackbird’s blue channel set for light to lower-medium crunch (used as what some seem to call these days a “foundation overdrive” for stacking with other gain pedals, in the place of amp overdrive).

                This sounds so good that I don’t tend to use the Mercury by itself (as great as that sounds for a fuzz). Essentially using the same principle as Hendrix using an Fuzz Face or Mayer Axis Fuzz > cranked-into-overdrive Marshall JTM or Plexi – or DG using a Fuzz Face > Power Boost or Muff > Tube Driver.

                Leaving aside issues like using the wrong power supply, lightning, fire or flood these military-spec NOS sub-miniature valves should last decades. Chinese power amp valves would be at the other end of the spectrum time-wise (though some can sound very good, like the KT66’s in my Vintage Moderns).

                However should you ever need to change it due to failure I would send it straight to Phil “Effectrode” Taylor after contacting him. Here’s wishing decades to come of being willing & able to do so.

  4. Alvaro Carrion Roncero says:

    Hello everybody! Does anyone have the manual of the Helios Fuzz from Effectrode?? I’ve just sold mine, and I’ve kept everything, but I can’t find the manual, and it doesn’t exist anymore at effectrode.com. Thanks for your help!

  5. Brad Roller says:

    Bjorn, I like the new site! Thanks for all you do! I’m thinking about getting the new mercury fuzz, which is, from what I understand, the same as the helios fuzz. Can you tell me how the helios sounded with emg dg20 pickups? Since I play with those more than anything else, I’d like to get your opinion! Thanks man!

  6. Tedi says:

    Thanks Bjorn for being such a great resource.
    Regarding the Helios, I’m curious if you’ve played it after a buffer. If so, I’m interested in your thoughts/observations. Generally, I don’t place Fuzz after a buffer. However, my board will require major rewiring otherwise. I’m also considering adding a tone pot to make it a bit darker. Cheers.

    [It’s been a while since I’ve played it but I can’t remember having issues with buffers. – Bjorn]

  7. KEITH says:

    Thanks for the clarification, in the nearly 4 years of my daily Gilmourish “ZEN TIME”, I’ve rarely seen a mistake, so I just wanted to make sure it wasn’t something I should, but didn’t know. :) So, Patrick, I’ll attest to the great fuzz that is the JH-F1, or, if you want that same exact circuit,(whuch is the same pedal both Hendrix, and Gilmour used!), but in an MXR sized case, the 70th Anniversary JH-M1 Hendrix Fuzz Face is what I have on my board. Analog Mike gave the Dunlop Hendrix FF a big thumbs up in a post where he said he tuned his 108 Sunface as close to the Dunlop, which is tuned to Roger Mayer’s specs. Mayer was a tech who was basically Hendrix’s Pete Cornish! You can get friendlier fuzzes, and much more expensive ones, but you can’t get anything closer to what Gilmour used for the very reasonable prices of these two Dunlop FF’s. Also, the Blue mini is less than $100.00US, and is also the same circuit, but much more board friendly, than the F1, at 3 1/2 inches.$99.00 for the same fuzz Gilmour used? Yep! I have two of the 3, and they’re near perfect. If you have a bit more to spend, the MJM silicon, and Germanium London fuzz is a bit different, but the best sounding fuzz I’ve used! I hope that helps, and hope you don’t mind my little review Bjorn :)
    Happy 2015 everyone, Keith

    [Thanks for sharing, Keith :) – Bjorn]

  8. KEITH says:

    Hey Bjorn, in the suggestion to Patrick, did you mean the Dunlop Hendrix model, or the MXR 108. Is there an MXR Hendrix fuzz? The Dunlop Hendrix fuzzes are Hammertone blue, and have the big, and Mini, which I’m positive you already know. I was just curious if you just made a rare mistake, or if there were MXR fuzzes I hadn’t seen. I find it odd that it’s only been a year or so that you’ve been talking about Buffalo gear, and they’ve already quit building a 108 fuzz? Oh well, Happy New Year again, and thanks for the answers about the PD vs. TD questions.

    Great things will happen in 2015!!! Peace all, Keith

    [You got me there :) It’s the JHF1 Dunlop… which is turquoise I guess. I think Buffalo is updating the catalogue. They’ve announced new pedals for 2015. – Bjorn]

  9. Rob says:

    Happy New Year Bjorn!

    Have you had a chance to compare the new Effectrode Mercury Fuzz versus the Helios?

    [Happy new year! Never tried the Mercury… – Bjorn]

  10. Patrick says:

    Thanks Bjorn,
    Really apreciate! I´ll go foward
    With your suggestion and tips!

    [Cheers! – Bjorn]

  11. Brian says:

    they’re in stock at effectrode.com — or were as of last Thursday. Mine arrived today. Limited run of 200.

    [It’s the Buffalo fuzz :) – Bjorn]

  12. Patrick says:

    ÃŽve asked and he told me
    no longer making that one.
    And Check eBay they pop up
    from time to time


    [Oh… OK. The AnalogMan BC109 and MXR grey Hendrix model (both big and mini) are great and dead on David’s tones. Works nicely on the Blues Jr too :) – Bjorn]

  13. Patrick says:

    Hi Bjorn,
    No lucky, they don´t make anymore!
    Any other suggestion?

    [Send an e-mail to Steve and ask :) – Bjorn]

  14. Patrick says:

    Hi Bjorn,
    Thanks for your tips.. I’ve noted!!
    With my set-up, what would you choose between
    buffalo CVIII Silicon Fuzz and Effectrode helios?
    I know this is subjective but since you tried both,
    I would like to know your opinion.

    Long life to this site, Airbag and your new project!

    Cheers from Montreal, Canada

    [Thank you, Patrick! I’d go for the Buffalo. The Helios is a great sounding unit but it does sound a bit different to most fuzz pedals. If you want those classic tones and a pedal that works better on your amp then the Buffalo is a better choice. – Bjorn]

  15. Patrick says:

    Hi Bjorn,
    I really need your opinion! i love Fuzz but some of i had.. sound always bad with my blues Jr at home setup.. I play with 2 strat… vintage 57-62 and a black strat cs69 and ssl1c.
    I was thinking to buy a Helios or Buffalo FX CVIII Silicon Fuzz..
    What you think??


    [Fuzz pedals can sound pretty bad on low volume and bright amps. The Blues Jr is capable of handling fuzz pedals but you need to be careful with the treble and overall brightness. Keep the pre-gain low and the master high for a fat clean tone. Roll down the treble to between zero and point three and increase the mids. It’s also important to keep the volume on the fuzz quite high for it not to sound thin. Hope this helps. – Bjorn]

  16. Arn says:

    Hi Bjorn, great article!

    Wondering if buying this and a germanium by buffalo fx would be too much of the same thing?


    [Both are fuzz pedals so it depends on how much you like fuzz :) They’re really two very different pedals. The Helios has a distinct amp-like tone with lots of dynamics, compression and character. The Buffalo is a classic germanium fuzz, which is perhaps not as natural sounding but it’s IMO a better choice for authentic late 60s fuzz tones. It doesn’t mean that the Helios can do that also but it’s kind of a new direction for a fuzz pedal, with a unique tone. – Bjorn]

  17. Denis says:

    Oh my, simply amazing! The Weber Thames are simply that! Singing sustain, warm with just enough brightness. I’ve never owned speakers this good. It’s amazing what these speakers can do to your sound. I am ordering some more. Question : did you install the speakers to the inside edge or the outside edge of the cab?
    Congrats on the new album, I’m looking foward to hear it.
    Thanks again Bjorn!

    [Hi Denis! Mine are installed from the back… – Bjorn]

  18. Denis says:

    Hey Bjorn, this may be a subject that is not talked about too much here =Guitar speaker cabinets… Where the Wem cabs David used closed or open in the back? Do you use an open or closed cab yourself? I have both an open and a closed cab, don’t know yet which I will use for the Webers. I find myself that closed cabs are very punchy and bassy but lack a bit of clarity with cleans.. What’s your take on this?

    [The WEM’s had a closed back but they were quite bigger than the Marshalls and similar cabs so they would leave a bit more air for the speakers. The Weber’s are heavy duty and can sound a bit too boomy and saggy with open backs. I find that speakers with this output and tone needs a closed back to keep them tight and punchy. Like the old Fane’s they’re very bright so I don’t have a problems with the chimey upper harmonics really… – Bjorn]

  19. Denis says:

    Hi Bjorn, just ordered my Weber Speakers ..ceramic 80watts high power series. Can’t wait to shime on it. . Forgot to mention several weeks ago a friend of mine told me some of the members from Italian Pink Floyd cover band “Pink Size” where here in my city staying with him. So I told my friend to drive them over for a jam at my studio. Served them a couple of beers and Astronomy Domine we went. Matteo the guitarist tried my set up, he sounded very good. Anyway, just thought I mention my cool time with them. . .

    Hope Keith gets well soon.
    Free games for May just days away.

    [Hi Denis! Congrats on the Webers :) I’m sure you’ll be very pleased. ALways nice with a good jam! Cheers! – Bjorn]

  20. james t says:

    dear bjorn … sorry but .. little confused ,when I asked about using the helios w/ the fire bottle ………. you said my buffalo powerbooster would be fine ………..ok so now i don’t need the helios…. my question now is will my tone be better with the fire bottle and the powerbooster ??? tele , boss tuner, firebottle ? yellow pig muff .. buffalo powerboost , elec lady , delay , peavey classic 30…………. your review of the firebottle is stuck in my mind ” desert island ” countless guitars and amps ” makes everything sound better ” sounds expressive and expensive “………….don’t you use both in your pedal chain ??……………………… AIRBAG ROCKS by the way , very musical !!!… allways with respect and thanks – james t

    [Hi James! Perhaps we’re misunderstanding each other. The Fire Bottle is a booster so in that sense, you’d have an overlap between the Powerbooster and the Fire Bottle. The Helios is a fuzz and cover different tones. That being said, the Powerbooster serve both as a clean booster and overdrive. So does the Fire Bottle but I don’t think the Fire Bottle goes that well as a booster for other pedals like a Muff. I’d use the Powerbooster for that. The Fire Bottle is meant to be used as a pickup booster, placed first in the chain. This will add character and life to your tone and bring out the subtle nuances of both your guitar and amp. Hope this made sense :) – Bjorn]

  21. james t says:

    hi keith … sorry to hear about all that .. that’s sad news for all of us here … ive have read most of your posts .. and rants , lol … you know your stuff for sure … a real gearhead .. i bet your band throws a hell of a party onstage .. go boston bruins ! ….. peace .. jt

  22. Keith says:

    @James T, last time I spoke with Lindy was in November, as I’ve had a few deaths, and a horrific auto accident to deal with, and he’s been up to his eyes with a new product build, and launch,(Gibson mini humbucker). I plan on stopping by the shop in the next few days or so to refresh his memory. In our last conversation he said he would be sending Bjorn the set of Bjorn’s choosing, and I relayed Bjorn’s choice to him, but then the Holidays, and utter chaos entered my life, and I let it get away from me. I’ll post an update as soon as I speak with Lindy.
    Peace all, Keith

  23. james t says:

    thank you bjorn , I had recently read your tips section on tone , and buffers .. that’s why I haven’t decided which guitar tuner to get .. could a boss tuner after my tele be sufficient as a buffer ? that’s with 6 pedals in my set up including the tuner …….. also … I know you use 2 buffers – first and last in your chain … if I only use one , where would I place it for best tone …. by the way I really like your occasional van halen comments on flangers , phasers , etc …..sorry I know way off topic but have you ever tried to capture the elusive EVH brown sound ? pre 1984 album .. eddies early rhythm tones still give me chills !! if ive learned anything here im guessing you would plug into the clean channel etc .. lol….. much respect for your time , thanks again .. james

    [Hi! The Boss tuner would do nicely. I’d place it first, after your your guitar. The reason I have two, is that although one buffer is capable of driving the signal alone, having one at the end of the chain, will balance out any conflicts between the pedals. I’ve always been a huge Van Halen fan and although I can’t really say that he’s influenced my playing, I’ve always had great respect for the way he createst his tones and his philosophy on playing guitar. That slow Phase 90 tone is something I’ve done many times and even on some Airbag stuff. Love that tone. – Bjorn]

  24. james t says:

    hey keith , any updates on the fralin pickups ? ….. peace to all in Gilmourville … james

  25. james t says:

    hi bjorn .. amazing tone , one of the sweetest sounding clips yet ! …. would the helios work well with the fire bottle ? do you recommend both ? I know they are different , ones a fuzz , the other a booster … telecaster ,tuner – not sure what tuner yet , I need a new one, fire bottle , yellow pig hoof, buffalo power booster , moer eleclady , delay , peavey classic 30 … do I need a buffer with this many pedals ? ….. bjorn I believe you are saving the world, one bar & club band at a time from crappy ,harsh guitar tone ., no matter what style they play … many thanks , james

    [Ha ha, thanks James! The Buffalo Power Booster should be enough. It’s perhaps not as dynamic and amp-like as the Fire Bottle but more versatile and works better as a booster for other pedals as well. I do recommend a buffer since you got a fairly large board. It’s well worth it. – Bjorn]

  26. David says:

    Hi Bjorn! i’d like to share with you two backing tracks i “made” using other existing BT’s, the thing is how do i send them to you? do yo use E-mail? well if you take a look at them later you’ll decide whether you put them on Gilmourish’s backing track section (i’d be really greatful if you did). cheers ;)

    [Plase send them to post(at)gilmourish.com and I’ll have a listen. Thanks! – Bjorn]

  27. Vincent says:

    Thanks for the awesome demo for this pedal as always!
    Can you please describe how this pedal is voiced?
    Since it doesn’t have a EQ section, I wonder how mid in this pedal react within a mix.

    [It’s pretty scooped but never thin sounding. A hint of mids boost on your amp should do the trick. – Bjorn]

  28. Keith says:

    By the way Bjorn, an AIRBAG saved my life! ( Bad pun intended!).

    Cheers, Keith

    [LOL! – Bjorn]

  29. Keith says:

    Hey Bjorn, didn’t know if you got the photos of my totalled truck in the email, and was curious if they got past the filter? I’m much better, but busted something in my elbow,( my fretting hand side!), and will find out this week if the tendon to my pinky is partially detacthed. If so, I won’t be playing until surgery, and a couple of months in a cast. And right when everything was coming together. All the pedals I wanted are purchased, and I’m right in the middle of my home studio build. Well, if I can’t play, at least I can set everything up so it’s ready for when I can! :)
    Peace, Love, and Gilmourish

    [Hi Keith! Never got the pix. Hope you’re feeling better :) – Bjorn]

  30. David says:

    Okay Bjorn you win :( hahahahah i recently found something that dropped my jaw to the floor.
    At last, a great shot of the Animals Tele, on this one i am certain there is no light coloring of nothing so finaly my search for “the truth” LOL is over and you win. Clearly you see its a tobacco or brown or whatever you want to call it sunburst and not the “cherry sunburst” i thought it was so my apologies hahaha. Now i guess i´ll order a tele like that or buy any tele and send it to a paint job. Cheers!!

    [Ha ha… told you :) – Bjorn]

  31. alex.loudass says:

    1. Great video, awesome playing and tone on Echoes!!

    2. Kevin, I used to do lots of recording and mixing… and I always recommend Reaper. The built-in effects don’t have a fancy GUI but are good quality. The virtual instruments are not as good as the ones of the big boys’ DAW’s… But the mixer and engine and editing functionality are so powerful. Unlimited number of tracks. You can route everything to everything. Unlimited number of busses. You can download it for free and if you decide you like it, buy a private license for (I think) $60.- and enjoy the full unlimited version of that software. http://www.reaper.fm

  32. Brad Roller says:

    You know Bjorn this is a very different sounding fuzz to me…sounds great but deffinatelt different and unique. Btw I was thinking the other day how cool would it be if a company tried to tackle the sound of Gilmours yamahas in a simulator? “The Stone” ;) haha that’d be cool. I keep dreaming of such a thing…and also someone to make a very good clone of the mistress.

  33. Dave E. says:


    I love your spot-on rendition of the 1st solo in Echoes as played in Live from Pompeii. That is my favorite version of Echoes, more melodic than the Meddle version or the other live performances I have heard IMO. In fact it is better than Gilmours thanks to Helios and the better recording quality.

    I just received my Helios, it sounds great. I have to learn that solo to give it a good workout.


  34. Kevin says:

    Ok, so I’ve had the Helios Fuzz now for a few days–first impressions…

    The BEST thing I can say about this pedal, is the manner and quality in which it interacts with your guitar and amp. Your sound is intact as if you’re not using a pedal at all. I’ve never had a pedal act in such a transparent way. It’s lovely. And in that way, it’s unlike any pedal I’ve ever had (granted, I’m not a huge “pedal guy.” I tinker, and try things, but I like the unfettered sound of a good tube amp and guitar). This pedal has a much richer and more articulate sound when compared to the fuzz pedal it’s replacing (the Swollen Pickle). No comparison really. But that said, it’s also different–so perhaps not a fair comparison. As far as fuzz pedals are concerned, this one seems more subtle and as Bjorn mentions in his review–it easily doubles as an overdrive (though if you push it, it can get you that screaming sustain that some are after). I’m really liking it. And it interacts quite differently with each of my amps and guitars. This is a keeper! -Kevin

    [Thanks for sharing! – Bjorn]

  35. Mike says:


    Frankenstomp did a nice review of the Vick Audio 73 Ram’s Head

  36. Keith says:

    Thanks a lot Scooter! I’m trying to build a decent home studio, but totaled my truck Monday, so it looks like all my plans will have to wait a couple of months! But I will persevere!!!
    Thanks, Keith

  37. crimson says:

    anyone ever tried one of these from vickaudio? the do models of a 73 rams head, a russian and a triangle (and some more).


    no retailer in europe – so maybe our us-friends tried?

  38. Scooter says:

    Hey Keith, Cakewalk makes several different PC DAWs. X3 is their premier, very powerful lots of options also but not as simplistic as GB. But they have several other programs too. Live is a good one and it’s multi-platform very powerful I think it’s kind of geared towards dj mix. I think sony offers something. Then there’s Reason it has a lot of guitar recording based stuff in their daw software they’re partnered (so to speak) with Line 6 and it is cross platform Mac or PC. I would look into it.

  39. Alan Day says:

    Really!!?? No boosting? Just the Helios with added Delay and verb in Logic? That’s just awesome! Thanks for the demo – great delivery!

    [What you hear is just the Helios. No boost :) – Bjorn]

  40. David says:

    Bjorn sorry!! but i forgot something, regarding to the question about the Gilmour´s Mistress, appart from the noise, how he managed to have nearly none volume drop if not no volume drop at all?. thanks! my apologies…

    [Again, I don’t know the details of the modifications but Cornish has said that he modified it after the Animals tour and I’m sure he fixed all the bugs and maybe fitted it with buffers etc for his board setup. – Bjorn]

  41. David says:

    Hello Bjorn!! look, i cant help it i fell in love with David´s Animals sounds both on tour and studio, mostly the modulated, so here are my questions: This might be obvious by some but unknown to me, How did david managed to get no noise from the Electric Mistress 18v?? i suppose it was heavily modiffied by phil taylor or pete cornish but i certainly dont know. second, when i try to replicate the Yamahas´s sound with my D.E.Mistress it doesn´t sound quite chorusy for me so i was thinking of buying the Boss RT20 so tell me, in a scale of 1/10, how close can you get to the Yamahas with the RT20?? thanks for the support!! in a few days if i have the time i´ll be sharing something, i hope you like the Dogs Fast solo enought ;) Cheers!

    [Hi! David didn’t use the Mistress until the Animals tour, so it’s not present on the album. That’s all the Yamaha. There might be some Mistress on The Wall but not on the main lead and rhythm tones. Again, that’s the Yamaha. I don’t know whether David’s first Mistress was modified – the one lying onto of the Animals stage board. Cornish has said in an interview that it was modified when he, after the tour, built in into the board. I’m guessing it got a noise filter, which the pedal originally didn’t have. The Mistress is a flanger so you can’t really use it to replicate THE rotating Yamaha tone, which is much more subtle and chorusy. The RT20 is an excellent alternative for the Yamaha. It’s more of a very deep chorus than a rotary sim but that’s what makes it great for this application, as the Yamahas sounds more liquidy than a Leslie. – Bjorn]

  42. Kevin says:

    Thanks for the response and suggestions, Bjorn!
    Happy to report, I actually found one of these (in Austin, TX). Can’t wait to check it out! As for the sound I’m trying to achieve…yes, more or less, Gilmour circa 1970–1971 — think Obscured by Clouds, Meddle, Atom Heart Mother. To me, that’s the most raw, yet musical sound he ever had (actually, a lot closer to how he sounds again today–oddly enough). I play a ’97 CIJ Strat through an old (’68) Silverface Princeton (and sometimes a DRRI–and occasionally, when recording, through a Victoria 518). I like to keep the pedals to a minimum and only use a Fuzz and an echo/delay unit (currently using a MXR Carbon Copy and Way Huge Swollen Pickle. I’ll be swapping out the Swollen Pickle for the Effectrode Helios–curious how dramatic that change is going to be).

    Keep up the great work! Tremendous resource you’re providing here. Cheers, Kevin

    [Thanks Kevin! – Bjorn]

  43. Hud says:

    Bjorn, you make it sound SUPERB! Even with the fire switch on (and I know how untameable fuzz’ can get) there isnt a hint of choking when you dig down hard with the pick.

    I was about to buy the Earthquaker Hoof, for a closer to muff sound, does this pedal cover the Hoof’s ground and more?

    [Thanks! I wouldn’t say that it replaces as Muff. It is a fuzz and a fairly mild one as well. The Hoof Fuzz is an excellent Muff in the Sovtek territory but with a vintage flavoured twist :) – Bjorn]

  44. Keith says:

    Hey guys, and gals, didn’t know where to put this, so I figured it would be seen quickest here. First, Uncle Ebb’s guitars is on hold because my shop fell through, but as soon as a suitable location is found, watch out, there’s a new guitar in town, and you will love it! The main purpose of this post however is DAW recording software, and this question is for Bjorn, and everyone else. Does anyone know of a program that is as easy, powerful, and inexpensive as Garageband, but for PC? I’ve spent my life savings for three straight years, and can’t afford a Mac, so even though I’ll still need a new PC,( mine is approaching 9 years old.), a good PC can be had for half the price of the least expensive MAC, of the same memory, and hardrive specs. I see lots of sites promising Garageband for PC, but they all turn out to be junk. If you know of a similar program for PC, please let me know!
    Thanks, Peace, Love, and LONG LIVE GILMOURISH! Keith

    [I haven’t got a clue about software for PC… only Mac :) Anyone? – Bjorn]

  45. Gabor says:

    Hi Bjorn,
    Thanks for the brilliant review!
    I have got it already, and I love it indeed!
    The new for me, acting as a clean boost? Whit which settings?
    I should try it. The place in the effect chain in that case?
    I would appreciate your detailed comment, and proposals!
    Thanks for this awesome website:-)
    Kind regards from Budapest, Hungary!

    [It’s not a substitute for a clean boost but setting the volume at around 3:00 and the gain at 10:00 or lower, depending on how hot your pickups are, will give you a nice tube clean boost. I’d place the Helios first in the chain, allowing it to interact and respond to the dynamics of your pickups. Cheers! – Bjorn]

  46. Scooter says:

    Hi Bjorn I just to pass this on ( because of Dave E.’s post) after I received my Helios I wasn’t sure whether to put the Helios first or the Fire Bottle since the instructions on both said to place first. So I emailed Effectrode and asked them which one should be first. To which I received a reply from The mad tube scientist himself Mr. Phil Taylor stateing “ALWAYS PLACE THE HELIOS FIRST”! So you are correct Sir !-)

  47. Kevin says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    How did you get your hands on one of these? I live in Chicago (USA) and I can’t find one to save my life. Even online, everyone is out of stock. This is going to be one hot item. I really want to hear it with my rig. If this hit the ’69-’71 Gilmour sound–that’s EXACTLY what I’m after (I want the sound David used to get in his live solos in Fat Old Sun from 1971 era. THAT IS THE SOUND.

    Sunshine in a box!

    [Effectrode was kind and sent me one :) I think they have a high demand for these. David used a germanium NKT 275 Fuzz Face for the early stuff. I’ve managed to get very close with the Helios but you should also consider an AnalogMan SunFace NKT275. I don’t think you can get any closer than that… depending on your amp and guitar that is :) – Bjorn]

  48. Bo says:

    Great review and a highly anticipated one!

    I’m really excited to see if David is going to feature this fuzz on his awaited new album. It’s great that you found this pedal to work on a variety of guitars and amps. Effectrode doesn’t seem to miss. I’m curious if this would be given the golden stamp of a approval for bedroom setups 10/10?? I bit on this pedal and purchased as soon as i heard David had acquired one himself. I’ve a Tube Driver and the Throbak Overdrive. What would be your boost settings to compliment the Helios for an all-out fuzz warfare? :) Perhaps you could devulge your latest Blues Jr amp settings as well. I’ve the Cannabis Rex speakers using TU crazy diamond pickups through a strat. What a great world we live in…Piles of new Fuzz pedals falling from the sky! Thanks for the wealth of infomation. This website is unbelievable. Thanks for the review!

    [Thanks Bo! The Helios will be featured in the next BGG update :) I don’t really feel it needs boosting but I’ve tried it with the ThroBak and it works great. Usulayy I just keep all the controls on the ThroBak at noon, with the master at around 1:00. That’s more like an EQ but it adds a nice bit and character to the fuzz, Muff or whatever :) – Bjorn]

  49. Will says:

    Nice review Bjorn! I wonder when Effectrode are going to release that Echorec delay they’ve been working on? Talking of delays, I can’t wait to see the delay buyers gear guide! I just bought a T-Rex Replica, should receive it in a few days :)

    [Thanks Will! I’m working on the delay BGG… just don’t have enough hours a day to finish it :) – Bjorn]

  50. Dave E. says:


    I already have an Analogman BC108 Sunface, but am thinking the Helios still might complement my pedal board sitting somewhere at the front of the chain as a stand-in for a Germanium Fuzz , a front-end Tube/Boost pedal for my Muffs and ODs, and perhaps an alternative to the Buffalo PB to add some nice tube tonal quality to my clean tones. I would probably want the CS-2 in front of the Helios for cleans and then go to the CE-2 or DEM.

    Do you think it would be mostly redundant or give me significant diversity in my Gilmourish tones?

    And, how does it handle buffered pedals in front and downstream, do I need to bypass some pedals like I do with the Sunface? Where would you place it in the chain to accomplish the 3 above mentioned uses and have a minimum of pedal position swapping?

    Current chain:
    Strat with EMG DG20 pups:
    Sunface-> CS-2-> RS Rat -> Red Muck -> SUF Civil War -> BD-2 -> Maxon OD808 -> Buffalo PB -> CE2 -> DEMistress -> TC ND-1 -> MXR Carbon Copy -> Blues Jr (M12 Greenback)

    [I can’t tell you whether it’s redundant or not. You have to decide for yourself :) I think it’s a versatile pedal that’ll give you a wide range of tones and not just Gilmour. It goes well with buffers but you might experience a slightly brighter tone. I’d also place it first, before the CS2, for the pedal to interact with the pickups. -Bjorn]

  51. Scooter says:

    Forgot to add I can’t wait to here what Mr. Gilmour does with the Helios I’m sure it will be incredible! Maybe a little old schoolish or maybe something really raw fuzzish? Hope we get to hear it soon!!!
    Thanks Bjorn for your patient and hard work

    [Cheers, Scooter! – Bjorn]

  52. Scooter says:

    Hi Bjorn love the review and this pedal! It has a ton of tonal possibilities and I find it works great in any genre. A little pricey but I think it is well worth it . It does the early Floyd sounds spot on IMO anyway :-)>

    [Great pedal! – Bjorn]

  53. Francesco says:

    Hello Bjorn

    thanks for this brilliant website!
    I just wanted to ask if the powerbooster from buffalo fx works good at bedroom setup, especially to have better cleans and to boost my muff
    I’ve got an American standard and a fender blues junior; if this doesn’t work, what pedals do you suggest to achieve the best result?
    Thanks again

    [I think it does… mine do at least :) – Bjorn]

  54. Hunter says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    Great Article! When you say the Helios could save some pedal board real estate and eliminate a couple pedals, which kinds are you referring too, exactly? Thanks a lot!


    [Depending on what tones you’re looking for, it could replace an overdrive and fuzz/Muff. Personally I like (and need) a wide range of pedals on my board but if you want to scale things down, the Helios can cover a lot of tones. – Bjorn]

  55. Andy Mckay says:

    Hey Bjorn,


    A genuinely awesome sounding review, I love the Pompeii era fuzz!
    Effectrode pedals are excellent, having the mini tube certainly adds warmth and compression.
    Having retired my Dunlop JHF1 I bought a Sun Face BC108, this and my Electronic Orange Pig Hoof Mk2 with Banana Boost are all the gains I need right now… but… oh it’s so tempting. lol

    Can’t wait to hear what David’s been working on!

    Best wishes as ever mate :@)

    [Thanks, Andy! – Bjorn]

  56. manuel says:

    “this video is private” :(

    [It’s public now :) – Bjorn]

  57. Huy says:

    Great review as always. You manage to cover so much without writing a massive essay. Effectrode makes me gas. They make such wonderfully inventive pedals. It’s no surprise Gilmour is interested in them as he has always been adventurous with quality.

    On Effectrode, have you tried their tube drive? I’d imagine it would be different from a Butler Tube Driver but also whether it can still be used as a Gilmour pedal so to speak. Been eyeing the Effectrode Tube Drive for a while now. A review or your thoughts would be great.


    [Thank you, Huy! I haven’t tried it yet but I hope to do so one day :) – Bjorn]

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