This is a very distinct difference between a player having a distinct style and a distinct tone. There are many legendary guitars players that have a very distinct style but a very common Les Paul/Marshall tone or Stratocaster/Fender Twin tone.
This doesn’t make them any less the great players they are. Still there is something amazing when you hear the likes of Brian May, Zakk Wylde or Steve Vai. These are players that a single note through their rigs instantly identifies them.
One of the most distinct tones in the history of modern guitar has to be Frank Zappa. Know by many for his outrageous antics and questionable prose. Mr. Zappa’s sonic stylings are some of the most sought after tones in the history of guitar. Give a listen to Frank Zappa play Rat Tomago from Sheik Yerbouti if you have no clue what I am talking about.
Frank Zappa’s unique guitar tone was driven by onboard parametric equalizers in his famed Gibson SG and Yellow Strat. Under Frank’s foot also driving the tone was the white whale of stomp boxes -The Systech Harmonic Energizer. The Systech Harmonic Energizer if you can imagine was a smashup of a notch filter, parametric EQ and an overdrive.
So you are reading this thinking no big deal if I want to get that Frank Zappa tone I will just pick up a Systech Harmonic Energizer. Slow down junior… it’s not so easy. Systems & Technology in Music the company that made this magic box was short lived. Therefore there were not too many of these boxes made and they were made 40 years ago. If you even found an original Systech Harmonic Energizer, god knows what you would pay for it if you were lucky enough to win it on Ebay.
So what are your options if you want one of these sought after pedals. There are some DYI build your own clone kits of the Systech Harmonic Energizer. The ones I have heard come close to the tone of the original Systech Harmonic Energizer but are a bit noisy.
I did finally find an original Systech Harmonic Energizer, the retailer wanted $995.00 for it “as-is”! Personally I was becoming frustrated with my quest for this pedal when I found Godlyke Distributing. Godlyke is the distributor for Totally Wycked Audio the maker of The Triskelion Harmonic Energizer.
The Triskelion Harmonic Energizer takes the concept of the original Systech Harmonic Energizer and brings it into the modern era. Totally Wycked Audio’s version of this classic is an upgrade on all fronts. Let’s start with the obvious, the look of the box.
Most early guitar pedals it looked like lab equipment, the original Systech Harmonic Energizer was no different. The Triskelion Harmonic Energizer on the other hand has a cool red metallic finish with bright gold knobs. Making the pedal even cooler is a triskelion graphic in the middle of the box that glows as you play and tweak the guitar pedal. The knobs are labeled with very readable white graphics for the controls.
Sonically the box is a mind blower. The original Systech Harmonic Energizer gave a modest bit of overdrive and boost, it would give your amp a nice kick. The Triskelion Harmonic Energizer does the same but also has an “engage” button. When I hit the “engage” button I can hear Captain Picard giving the command as my guitar kicks into warp.
I demod this pedal with my Ibanez Iceman outfitted with a Seymour Duncan Dimebucker going through my Marshall…holy shit! I was pealing the paint off of the walls. The Triskelion Harmonic Energizer has more than enough overdrive to play the hardest of rock or metal. The harmonics and sustain that this beast delivers is unbelievable.
The Triskelion Harmonic Energizer gives the guitar so much depth and gives the player so much control. I was tweaking the knobs I accidently dialed in Ram Jam guitarist Bill Bartlett’s tone from the 70’s classic rocker Black Betty….I was riffing! This is a fun box to play with.
I could have shred all day long with the Triskelion Harmonic Energizer but I needed to do a deep dive on the functionality of the guitar pedal.
I plugged in my Gibson SG and played a few Frank Zappa tunes. It was the closest I have ever gotten to Frank’s tone. If you add a bit of slow sweeping flange you got Mr. Zappa nailed. Finally the holy grail of tone.
I finally settled down a bit tried the Triskelion Harmonic Energizer with my Jazz setup. My other Ibanez Iceman outfitted with a Fishman pezio pickup and a TV Jones Classic going through a 1972 Fender Quad Reverb. My acoustic tones with the Fishman pezio pickup were bell like. The notes rang out forever giving me a dynamic I have never experienced before with an acoustic guitar. When I dialed in the TV Jones Classic pickup my world changed.
Clear beautiful sustain and harmonic tones – crystal like. Those of you that play jazz and blues know how it is frowned upon to bring an overdrive or god forbid a distortion box into the mix. The Triskelion Harmonic Energizer will work in these applications without offending the purists on your gig.
This guitar pedal is also a cool upgrade for you Maximum Metalheads looking for something a bit beefier that your Kerry King Q-zone. If you want to cut through a mix this is your guitar pedal. I am talking full on assault if you need it.
To sum up this pedal I had a friend play through it and rate it. He said “I give this guitar pedal a 9.5. I am taking off a half point because I am jealous I don’t have one.”
I am giving the Triskelion Harmonic Energizer a perfect 10 because I now own one and it is never coming off my board. This is not a Systech Harmonic Energizer clone, this is the Systech Harmonic Energizer evolved.