Pro Audio

Engineering the Sound: EHX Spruce Goose

60s Marshall drive, modern pedal convenience for a little bit of breakup…or a whooole lot.

We had a look at the brand new Electro Harmonix (aka EHX) overdrive pedal, the Spruce Goose, named after the derisive name critics gave to eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes’ enormous wooden aircraft of the 40s.

What we’ve got here is an overdrive pedal based on the break up sound of the 60s Marshall Bluesbreaker amplifiers, what I believe to be the only good sounding Marshall amplifiers. I’ll see you in the comments section!


Creative pedal juggernaut Electro Harmonix was founded by Mike Mathews in the 1967, bloomed throughout the 70s, crumbled in the 80s, then came back full force in the 90s with a brand new valve manufacturing set up before diving back into the pedal game, first with reissues of his old classics, and now steaming forward with a world of pisces, new and vintage inspired.

Now, Marshall makes their own Bluesbreaker pedal, but this here is a more fully featured piece. Along with Volume and Gain controls, we’ve got separate bass and treble knobs, plus a lift switch in the middle.


This pushes the input volume into the pedal. Down low it gives a nice touch of drive, in the middle it pushes harder, and switched to the top it’s a creamy, rich vintage distortion.

On top of this, you can use the clickless footswitch to your advantage and hold it down for a quick distortion boost rather than clicking on and off.


A lot of the time when I’m doing these videos I bust open the pedals to see what’s pushing them. There’s usually a bit of guesswork, and today’s the same. I reckon what we’ve got here is a JFET distortion thanks to this TL072 IC, and some extra push with the LM4558 IC over here.

And check it out, it even comes with a battery featuring company founder Mike Matthews on it.

And there we have it, the Electro Harmonix Spruce Goose. It’s taken a whole lot for me to not start talking about the wild history of Howard Hughes, or the maybe even wilder story of his fake biographer Clifford Irving and his incredible book The Hoax. But sometimes you’ve gotta focus I guess.


The Spruce Goose is a good, solid overdrive unit with enough variation and settings to make it incredibly usable and not just your standard dull overdrive, and it’s simply got a great vintage tone that’s hard to get to sound harsh, or bad.

It’s the kinda thing I’d actually be quite happy to add to my pedal board. The lift switch and thew separate bass and treble controls really help this thing stand out


The Spruce Goose retails for around $320 Australian, and is available from all reasonable pedal shacks. If you wanna find out more about it head over to the EHX website.