Electro-Harmonix Ripped Speaker: What is it?
Once upon a time, pedalboards were not really a thing, fuzz and overdrive pedals were bleeding-edge tech beyond the reach of the world’s guitar players, and some adventurists had to seek out workarounds.
Players looking for a dirt in their electric guitar tone could undertake drastic, irreversible procedures on their guitar amp setup, taking an HB pencil or razor blade to their speaker cone to create a similar effect.
Link Wray was one player who subscribed to that ethos. You would have been unwise to lend him your amp. Ray Davies of the Kinks was another speaker ripper, his weapon of choice a razor blade.
But this is 2022, and we have come full circle, whereupon some of guitar effects pedals’ leading lights are recreating this damaged speaker cone vibe with drive and fuzz pedals that ensure your rig retains its value and you don’t have to explain in your Reverb listing how, honestly, this ‘50s Premier tube amp combo you are selling is in great shape just so long as you swap out the speaker.
The Electro-Harmonix Ripped Speaker is here to help, and it is helpfully helpful in that it arrives in a nano-sized enclosure and is surprisingly versatile for a pedal inspired by the ultimate set-and-forget tone procedure.
It is all about lo-fi distortion and rough-housing fuzz tones but offers you plenty of control over those sounds, with dials for Volume, Tone, Fuzz and, wait for it, Rip. Volume is self-explanatory, as is Tone.
Though as we will soon discover, the active Tone control does a lot of heavy lifting here. Fuzz dials in the amount of gain in the signal while Rip acts as a bias control, dramatically controlling the clipping waveform. And at its extremes, it does not hold back.
Electro-Harmonix Ripped Speaker: Performance and verdict
The Ripped Speaker is respectful of pedalboard real estate and is powered by a 9V battery or a standard 9V pedalboard power supply. All that is well and good but what we are here for is a sense of misbehaviour, a sense of anarchy in our sound. The Ripped Speaker provides all that and more.
• Electro-Harmonix Op-Amp Big Muff
Those after that particular Smashing Pumpkins experience will find it here, in a reasonably priced compact pedal from the original manufacturer.
• Earthquaker Devices Colby Fuzz Sound
Vintage fuzz revamped to be splendidly versatile and slot right into a modern pedalboard.
Set the Fuzz low and it its sounds are old-school distortion, a little scratchy with your single-coils, a little bit of skronk for garage rock.
The Rip and Tone controls are key here. The Tone behaves as an active tilt control, and is flat at noon. Turn it counterclockwise and the high-end drops out of the signal and the lows are given some oomph. Very handy for fattening single-coils, or for adding some wool and a side of beef on humbuckers. Clockwise and the reverse occurs, adding some teeth and claws and sparkle to the fuzz sound and leavening the bottom end.
Rip behaves similarly, and is neutral at noon. Turn it counterclockwise for more open and smooth fuzz sounds, and turn it clockwise for more gated splutter. Fuzz is one of the most subjective effects on the ‘board so it pays to spend a little time experimenting with the Rip control until you find the response that you like, then adjust Tone and Fuzz to taste.
Be warned, the Ripped Speaker is not for the faint-hearted. You can choke the life out of the fuzz, dial in a riotously OTT sound, and find tones that hollow out your guitar and make it sound… Just alien, in the best way, adjusting the harmonic response. You’ll find sweet spots for sure, and so too some crazy sounds that are just too much. But those are easily corrected with a turn of the Rip dial, or pulling back on the gain. You could not to that to the speaker you’d just slashed, or punctured.
MusicRadar verdict: Leave that speaker alone. The Ripped Speaker offers a safe and fun way to dial in time-capsule distortion and fuzz tones, and it’s got a wild side that’s capable of ripping more than just the speaker. It is a lot of fun.
Electro-Harmonix Ripped Speaker: The web says
"Across the arc of the Rip knob you’ll find there’s plenty you can exploit with playing dynamics: tightly wound chords, spitty note clusters and sitar stylings. To the left, the gating is smoother and less hooligan, and while it can do extreme spluttery, there are subtle musical variations just left of centre."
"We can get close to that You Really Got Me scuzziness by turning the gain right down. But the real fun, as is so often the case, lies in the opposite direction, where maxing out the fuzz brings a hint of the velvety sustain associated with EHX’s Big Muff family of muck-generators."
Electro-Harmonix Ripped Speaker: Hands-on demos
The Guitar Geek
Electro-Harmonix Ripped Speaker: Specifications
- ORIGIN: USA
- TYPE: Fuzz pedal
- FEATURES: True bypass
- CONTROLS: Volume, Rip, Tone, Fuzz, Bypass footswitch
- CONNECTIONS: Standard input, standard output
- POWER: 9V battery (included) or 9V DC adaptor (not supplied) 10mA
- DIMENSIONS: 70 (w) x 111 (d) x 50mm (h)
- CONTACT: Electro-Harmonix