Attack of the clones! Today’s vintage pedal of the week is the Electro-Harmonix Clone Theory! The Clone Theory is a combination chorus/vibrato pedal that was made popular by Peter Hook (of Joy Division and subsequently New Order) and defined the sound of the 80’s new wave.
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Like all older analog EHX pedals, the original Clone Theory came in a very large enclosure. There were three knobs, one to switch between chorus or vibrato, and then rate and depth. The 70’s Clone Theory featured an “Edge On” switch on top of the pedal that was essentially a volume boost, the 80’s models had a Chorus/Vibrato switch similar to the older Deluxe Memory Man delay pedals.
These “reverse graphic” versions are especially rare
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The vibrato setting of the Clone Theory while similar to the Deluxe Memory Man, has variable intensity but the all analog hardware really brings out the dynamics of the vibrato. While not as nuanced as the BOSS VB-2 Vibrato, the Clone Theory’s vibrato ranges from subtle inflections to other worldly psychedelic soundscapes. The chorus is what the pedal is known for. The Clone Theory all over 80’s new wave records. Peter Hook used this pedal almost exclusively on his bass on all of Joy Division’s records. The analog warmth of the chorus provides for some great modulation, and really adds an extra layer of depth to your clean sound. The Clone Theory also perfectly captures that “clean guitar” tone that was ubiquitous in the 80’s any time there was a slow section, also perfect for ballads. When run through distortion or fuzz it really thickens up your tone. The more intense settings can even emulate what sounds like frequent sliding on a fretless instrument.
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These pedals are very sensitive too, so if you’re playing live make sure you have a reliable road case for your board so it doesn’t move around too much. These old EHX Clone Theories came with a hard wired cable for power supplies, no separate power adapter or ability to use external power. For that reason, the Clone Theory can get very loud and emit a very loud hiss when bypassed, although it varies from unit to unit. From what I can tell many people these days use the Clone Theory strictly as a studio pedal. Many will argue that a studio setting is the Clone Theory’s time to shine, as great artists have recorded almost entire discographies with the Clone Theory being featured on every record to some capacity.
Photo credit: codydescehenes
The Clone Theory has been reissued by Electro-Harmonix time and time again, with stereo and compact versions on the market. While there are many clones of the , your best bet is to go straight to the source of the original clone! Nowadays these pedals are super rare, but they don’t run for too ridiculous of a price…yet. So don’t sleep on it!
If you think you’ve stumbled onto a one of a kind pedal that no ones heard of, or if there’s a vintage pedal you want to hear more about, email us at email@example.com The market is always changing, so that hidden gem or cheap pedal you found in a pawn shop might be worth more than you got it for. Regardless of price it’s all about how much a pedal is worth to you, new, old, cheap, vintage, reissue etc. You can check Reverb, eBay and Craigslist for the Clone Theory. Happy hunting!