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Electro-Harmonix Black Finger Compressor and LPB 2UBE Preamp

Electro-Harmonix has been building some of the most interesting guitar effects since the late 1960s, and two of the company’s newest boxes, the Black Finger compressor and the LPB 2UBE preamp, rank among its best.

What first struck me about the Black Finger ($298 list) was that even with the hardest compression setting dialed in, I heard no “click” signifying that the effect is engaging. It was smooth from the strike of the string-apparently due to its employment of an optical circuit, plus the two 12AX7 tubes (one for compression, one for gain) that power it. What’s more, the tubes take on a full 300 volts-much more than most circuits deliver-thus producing a sound even richer and warmer than what I’ve come to expect from tube gear. When set to “Squash” mode, one of the Finger’s two compression settings, it effectively removes the jangle from the tone and gives comping-style chord-work a gliding feel, but the sound remains percussive.

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