Nano Small Stone Phase Shifter review by Electro-Harmonix

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Ease of Use: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 8.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.1 (16 votes)
Electro-Harmonix: Nano Small Stone Phase Shifter

Price paid: € 55

Purchased from: Guitar Shop, Bucharest, Romania

Sound — 9
My setup is quite comprehensive - see my profile, - while the pedalboard is small enough to ensure a natural sound. The EHX Small Stone found its place right after the chorus, at the very end of the chain. Between the chorus and the Small Stone, though, I've plugged an MXR MicroAmp, a move which made me also buy a Lehle Sunday Driver SW, which found its place in front of the whole chain, replacing the MXR. The reason behind these changes is the signal drop when using the Small Stone: it's no way a catastrophe, as mentioned by other comments, but it exists and should be prevented. The reason I bought the EHX Small Stone is the fact that I play Progressive. I also do a lot of Pink Floyd covers, and Small Stone is an effect widely used by David Gilmour in his early years. It does its job perfectly, the Nano version offering exactly the same specs and sound as the old chunky pedal. The color switch allows you to dig deeper into the abyss of blending dry and delayed signals, offering a more authoritarian phased sound. The pedal is surprisingly versatile for such a simple configuration. It can be successfully used for Progressive Rock, Blues or Funk. Turning the color switch on and the rate button at 9 o'clock results in a deeper texture of your heavily distorted sound, as well. Small Stone's sound is very good, as I said. It's clear, rich and harmonic. EHX have managed to pack all the charms of the old pedal into a small package. It also gets well with the other pedals in my chain.

Overall Impression — 9
As I've already mentioned, I play Progressive, Classic Rock and Blues. I own 5 guitars, a Vox Night Train plus cabinet, and a small pedalboard (fed by a Dunlop DC Brick). I've tested the Small Stone against an MXR Phase 90, because of the price tag, and I have to say I disliked the MXR for its harshness and narrower dynamics. I feared EHX was playing dirty tricks, by selling a new modeling crap under the universally praised moniker of Small Stone, but no, they did the right thing. The signal loss is something common to any phase shifter and even Pete Cornish is confronted to it when making pedalboards for David Gilmour. You can solve the problem by plugging the Small Stone into a booster. In return, you get a sweet, creamy sound, which becomes bassy when turning the color switch on. If anything bad occurs to the Small Stone, I'd buy a new one again, its sound being extremely satisfactory. All in all, it's one of the best phasers a common player can find nowadays. The signal drop isn't so dramatic, compared to other phasers, while its dynamics and harmonics are excellent. When properly used, it provides a whole new horizon to your guitar playing.

Reliability & Durability — 8
It's too early to talk about reliability, but, being simple and sturdy, I assume the Small Stone will last for many years without noticeable troubles. Since it's not a pedal I'll put at work very often - phase shifting is not a feature we are using everyday, - I don't need a backup for it neither. But I depend on it, that's for sure. It's impossible to perform "Breathe", "Dogs" or other Pink Floyd stuff without it. I'm also trying to put it at good use when playing Blues: until now, it sounds rather oddly, but I don't give up. I feel the "Resonator" sound of old Blues records is somewhere near...

Ease of Use — 7
Another simple, yet effective pedal. It has only 1 Rate button and 1 Color switch. The first one controls the rate(s) of phase shifting, while the second one adds or cuts off the bassy edge of the sound, by blending the dry and the delayed signals. The manual is as basic as the tool itself, and unfortunately it hides a few secrets you should know for properly using the Small Stone. My unit has been bought new and it came with a 30% discount 'cos I also bought another more expensive device at the same time. To make it clear, we are talking about the Nano version of the famous Small Stone pedal. It's much smaller (about a half of the previous version) and it also sports the newly added color switch, in case you might need a creamier tone. It's a feature I appreciate, although it cuts off a good slice of the signal (and that's something the manual should have pointed clearly, IMHO).

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