Harmonic Percolator


September 25, 2012 by tonetribune

Harmonic Percolator

This elusive little device was a rare circuit devised in Milwaukee by Ed Giese in the 1970’s.

It was designed to suppress odd order harmonics and pass on even order harmonics that are supposedly more pleasing to the ear. This is ironic only in the sense that it has been popularized by Steve Albini, who is responsible for some of the most dissonent (although very pleasing to my ear) tonalities ever created by guitar.

If you are interested in sounding like Albini (I am not) do not think that this pedal will be an “in a can” solution to your sonic mimicry. There are far more interesting attributes to this amazing little device and it can be used in many applications.

My favorite is to set the balance slider just above unity gain and keep the harmonics slider below half way. These settings yield a very pleasing sizzle to your signal that seems to grab hold of the initial attack of your note and release it slowly in to a bloom of harmonic bliss that sustains much like a perfectly dialed-in vintage compressor.

Pass the halfway mark of the harmonics slider and you are rewarded with a thick, muscular fuzz-tone that is not missing frequencies anywhere in the tonal spectrum making this a must for bass players and synth abusers who want a unique overdrive or fuzz.

If you want a unique and classic stompbox that runs away from the pack and sounds great through tube and solid-state amps, this is a great option. No annoying, anemic, mid-humped, nasal whine or low/high-end loss here.

The originals are as elusive as the proverbial rocking horse monkey tail, so if you want a spot-on repro like the one I have here you can see if Chuck Collins will build you one at this link. http://www.theremaniacs.com/percolator.html

Here is a demo of one of my upcoming projects where the only distortion content is coming from the Harmonic Percolator…..

2 thoughts on “Harmonic Percolator

  1. James Noonan says:

    There’s also this Fredric Effects version of the perc, which has the same parts as the other clone but in a small box and with a switch for more tone options.

    • tonetribune says:

      Thank you for the heads up James. Good to know I can get a backup/smaller modded variant here in the UK. The clipping disengage switch is particularly interesting.

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