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Electro-Harmonix adds the STRING9 String Ensemble to their celebrated 9 Series guitar effects range

Electro-Harmonix STRING9 String Ensemble
(Image credit: EHX)

Electro-Harmonix’s 9 Series of instrument modelling stompboxes has been expanded again, this time with a unit designed to recreate the sounds of orchestral and synthesizer strings.

The new STRING9 String Ensemble bolsters EHX’s celebrated 9 Series launched in 2014 with the B9 Organ Machine (opens in new tab). The C9 Organ Machine (opens in new tab) appeared shortly afterwards.

The KEY9 Electric Piano Machine (opens in new tab) then appeared in 2015 followed by the MEL9 Tape Replay Machine (opens in new tab) in 2016, the SYNTH9 Synthesizer Machine (opens in new tab) in 2017, and the BASS9 Bass Machine (opens in new tab) in 2019.

As a keys player himself, Electro-Harmonix founder Mike Matthews is all too familiar with the struggles involved with transporting large synthesizers and organs. Suffice to say, the ability to recreate those sounds on your pedalboard makes life a hell of a lot easier.

Transforming your guitar signal without the need for any special pickup or modifications, the STRING9 String Ensemble’s nine modes include Symphonic, June-O, PCM, Floppy, AARP, Crewman, Orch Freeze, Synth Freeze and Vox Freeze.

While Dry and Effect signal volume knobs control the balance separately, each of the unit’s nine modes/presets/patches (selectable via a rotary switch) are bestowed with two controllable parameters (adjustable via the Ctrl 1 and Ctrl 2 knobs).

Here’s a brief rundown of each of the Electro-Harmonix STRING9 String Ensemble’s modes:

  • Symphonic:  Designed to replicate the sound of orchestral strings. Ctrl 1 acts as a tone control. Ctrl 2 adjusts sustain and release (fade out).
  • June-O: Recreates early ‘80s Roland Juno synth string sounds. Ctrl 1 provides tone control. Ctrl 2 allows selection of five octaves.
  • PCM: Pulse Code Modulation à la vintage digital synths such as the late ‘80s Roland D-50 and Korg M1. Ctrl 1 and Ctrl 2 adjust tone and vibrato, respectively.
  • Floppy: Mimics pre-recorded samples of ‘70s Vako Orchestron units. Ctrl 1 adjusts tone. Ctrl 2 adjusts sustain and release.
  • AARP: Approximates ‘70s ARP/Solina String Ensemble polyphonic synth tones. Ctrl 1 toggles Small Stone phaser on/off and adjusts rate. Ctrl 2 adjusts sustain and release.
  • Crewman: Recreates string sounds of late ‘70s Crumar Performer. Ctrl 1 adjusts filter sweep. Ctrl 2 adjusts sustain and release.

The last three modes feature Electro-Harmonix’s HOG/Superego Freeze algorithm which can be set to either automatic or manual using Ctrl 2. 

They are as follows:

  • Orch Freeze: Orchestral-style string sound
  • Synth Freeze: Synth string patch
  • Vox Freeze: Mellotron-style blend of strings and choir tape samples

Visit EHX (opens in new tab) for more information.

Rod Brakes is a music writer with an expertise in all things guitar-related. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a journalist covering artists, industry pros and gear includes writing hundreds of articles and features for the likes of Guitarist, Total Guitar, Guitar World, Guitar Player and MusicRadar, as well as contributions for specialist books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.