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Electro-Harmonix EHX Tortion review

Retro dirt from this boostable overdrive

  • £142
  • €149
  • $198
There are four gain stages, most of which are engaged by the pre-gain knob. However, hitting the boost adds another layer

MusicRadar Verdict

A flexible vintage-style drive that apes cranked-amp tones - if you haven't tried a FET-based overdrive before, start here.

Pros

  • +

    One of the most natural overdrives we've played. Solid build. Flexible controls.

Cons

  • -

    Not ideal for high-gain/heavier styles.

The latest pedal in the barrage of Electro-Harmonix drives, EHX Tortion, is a JFET overdrive with switchable boost, which promises huge versatility and dynamic response.

"You can ably transition between a convincing hint of break-up and Page-esque 'Plexi' sounds"

Three JFET stages provide the bulk of the tones, controlled via input gain and four pre-gain settings (low full, low tight, high full and high tight), then tweaked using the three-band EQ and volume control.

Activating the boost circuit using the left-hand footswitch adds a fourth gain stage, tweaked with the central volume and gain knobs. You also get an XLR DI output with cabinet simulation, buffered bypass and nine-volt battery or power supply operation.

Sounds

The EHX Tortion's core tones focus on low to medium drives, and they're hugely responsive - by varying your picking dynamics, you can ably transition between a convincing hint of break-up and Page-esque 'Plexi' sounds.

You won't get much distortion out of this side, but kicking in the boost ramps the gain up, offering a hefty chunk at 12 o'clock. Anything past that, and the treble gets a little harsh, but up the volume, too, and the EHX Tortion blends beautifully with boosted amps for fat, punchy dirt.

For low-to-mid gain styles, the EHX Tortion is among the most natural overdrive pedals we've played. While it won't be your first pick for heavier styles, it's perfect for vintage dirt.

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of GuitarWorld.com, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism, and has spent the past decade writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as a decade-and-a-half performing in bands of variable genre (and quality). In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.