“We thought of a couple extra variables you could use to craft your perfect EP-3 experience”: Catalinbread adds the versatile Epoch Bias preamp pedal to its Echoplex-inspired lineup

Catalinbread Epoch Bias
(Image credit: Catalinbread)

Catalinbread has launched the Epoch Bias, a pedal emulating the preamp featured in vintage Maestro EP-3 Echoplex units, and used by the likes of Eddie Van Halen and countless others as an always-on tone-sweetening weapon.

The Epoch Bias joins a range of Catalinbread pedals inspired by the EP-3. You can go the whole hog with tape echo emulation and add the Belle Epoch Deluxe to your pedalboard, use the Belle Epoch Tape Echo if you just need a reliable platform for old-school repeats – with mechanical wow and flutter at the touch of a dial. 

And there’s the Epoch Boost, which offers that classic EP-3 preamp tone-shaping mojo via a simple two-knob pedal. 

The Epoch Bias is similarly only interested in the preamp side of the EP-3 and what that can do for your electric guitar tone, but it has a couple of new features that offer more control over your tone, giving players the chance to dial in the sort of unit-by-unit variances that can be found across the vintage Echoplex units that inspired the pedal.

As with the Epoch Boost, the Epoch Bias comes with Preamp and Boost controls. The Preamp control acts just as the volume control does on an EP-3, which is to say that it is not your common or garden volume control.

Catalinbread Epoch Bias

(Image credit: Catalinbread)

On the original Echoplex tape echo units, volume controlled the wet/dry mix, and enhanced your tone in the process.

Here the Preamp dial acts as a volume until it gets around noon, whereupon it’ll replicate that frequency enhancement of the original. Catalinbread says it won’t get any louder after two o’clock on the dial. The Boost dial adds more gain and volume. Fully counterclockwise, and the pedal acts as an emulation of a stock EP-3 circuit.

Now we come to the new features, which make this a neat twist on the original Epoch Boost. The Bias control replicates “out-of-spec parts” of the original tape echo machines, allowing you to shape the “base gain and body of the EP-3”. The Filter, meanwhile, acts as  “a tasteful treble cut” that allows you fine-tune the pedal to your rig.

Catalinbread Epoch Bias

(Image credit: Catalinbread)

These two features might be subtle but they make this EP-3 preamp emulation a lot deeper, allowing players to use the Filter to dial in a sound like the brighter-voiced first-run Echoplex units, which had a very subtly brighter tone, then to roll off some of that to better mimic later units, and then of course to find the sweet spot for your rig.

And that is what this endeavour is all about. These pedals are are all designed to help you find a sweet spot and stay on it. 

Catalinbread described the Epoch Boost as a “mastering pedal”, something always-on at the end of your signal chain, adding that final bit of gloss, just as many players did with the hardware Echoplex when they didn’t need the tape echo feature. And that's what we've got here, only its more versatile still.

The Epoch Bias is available now priced £/$179. See Catalinbread for more details.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.