Electro-Harmonix Micro POG Review
The Micro POG (Polyphonic Octave Generator) has a simple job: it generates a two separate signals: one octave lower than your original guitar and other one octave higher than your original guitar. We’ll look at how useful this really is later, but let’s start with the basic features offered by the Micro POG:
This is a very important feature for any pitch shifting pedal. There are pedals out there only designed for monophonic playing which means if you strike a chord or play an arpeggio, you will hear glitches. The Micro POG was designed for polyphonic (more than one note at a time) so you can rest assured that it will work with whatever riffs or ideas you have.
Separate control for each signal
There are three main knobs on the pedal which gives you complete control over the mix. The first knob controls your dry tone’s level. The second controls the level of the tone one octave lower and the third controls the level of the tone one octave higher. As you will read later, this simple setup allows you to produce a wide range of sounds.
Two separate outputs
You have the option for two outputs from the Micro POG. One output bypasses the pedal and passes through your dry tone even when the pedal is activated and the other output sends out the effect. This means you could add the Micro POG to your signal chain and send it to a separate amp or effects chain without it affecting your main rig. I’ll go through this scenario later because it’s worth looking into.
Ease of use
This really is a simple pedal and they couldn’t have made it easier to use. You simply adjust the three level knobs depending on what type of effect you’re after and that’s it. Let’s go through a few different scenarios to see how easily different sounds can be produced:
12 string guitar effect
A 12 string guitar doubles each string with another string an octave higher (except the high E and B strings). This means you can use the Micro POG to simulate the same sound by adding a signal an octave higher into the mix. To do this you turn the SUB OCTAVE knob all the way down because you don’t want an octave lower to be present. Then you adjust the DRY and OCTAVE UP knobs to achieve a mix you’re happy with. You want the dry level to be slightly higher than the octave up level to achieve the best sound.
If you want to simulate a bass guitar you simply turn the DRY and OCTAVE UP knobs all the way down, then turn the SUB OCTAVE knob up. You will end up with a sound one octave than your original sound. The main riff to Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes is achieved with this same basic effect.
If you want to achieve a great organ tone, then I highly recommend checking out the EHX B9 Organ Machine. But before the Organ Machine was available, guitarists would sometimes use the Micro POG as a simple way to simulate a basic organ-like tone. Don’t expect anything as good as the B9, but if you want something similar this is a simple starting point. To achieve a decent sound, you want to play around with all three knobs so you have three tones for every note you play on guitar: one octave lower, original, and one octave higher.
Splitting your signal
One of the best uses I’ve seen for the Micro POG was a guitarist in a two-piece band who used the Micro POG to split his signal. He sent his main guitar signal to his amp using the DRY OUT output. Then he also used the EFFECT OUT with the DRY and OCTAVE UP knobs all the way down (to produce a bass tone) and sent it to a bass amp. The result was he could play riffs and achieve both a guitar and a bass tone without muddling up his tone with one amp output. He could then ‘turn the bass guitar’ on and off as he pleased by simply hitting the footswitch on the Micro POG. This also meant he could continue to use other effects for his main guitar sound.
For some riffs, he used a wah while other sections he used delays and fuzz pedals while still retaining a basic bass tone. The Micro POG was the first pedal (after his tuner) in his rig so the bass tone was unaffected by other pedals.
The above example demonstrates the potential use for this pedal. Of course, there are other creative ways you can use it, but being able to instantly double your tone with a simulated bass is a powerful way to thicken up your tone – especially if you’re in a two-piece band or play solo.
Using a bass guitar
It’s also worth mentioning that the Micro POG works extremely well with a bass guitar. I experimented with a bass and adding an octave up to the mix gave me plenty of inspiration for different riffs. You could even experiment with using an octave lower as a way to reach really low tones normally only available on five-string bass.
This effect produces a very basic sound and thankfully the tracking is spot on. You’re not going to notice latency while playing with the Micro POG. The best tones I managed to get out of the Micro POG was when I used it in combination with different effects. I’ll go through some of the interesting combinations to give you an idea of how versatile this pedal can be.
Micro POG (with one octave lower) & Big Muff Pi
I set the Micro POG to mix between the dry signal and an octave lower. Then I added a Nano Big Muff Pi (read my review on the Nano Big Muff Pi here) to add some fuzz to the mix. The results were gritty and gnarly. With a gritty gain on the Big Muff it was great fun to rip into leads and play thick chords. When I dialed the gain back a bit it came closer to the Super Colossal sound you hear Joe Satriani use (he actually uses a Micro POG in his live rig as of 2018). I recommend you listen to that song for a good idea on how to use the Micro POG to play both riffs and leads. Read through my guide on Joe Satriani here to learn more about the effects he uses.
Micro POG (with one octave higher) & Big Muff Pi
This time I turned the sub-octave almost all the way down and turned the one octave higher up in the mix. The intention was to create an effect similar to the Octavia which Hendrix used extensively throughout his career (read my Hendrix guide here for details on the Octavia). The Octavia basically mixes in a signal an octave higher and adds some fuzz distortion so using the Big Muff Pi with the Micro POG was a great way to achieve the same effect. Personally, I feel this combination is better than the Octavia simply because you have far more control over both the fuzz and octave mixing. If you’re a Hendrix fan, this is something worth experimenting with.
Micro POG & Eventide H9
There are some great effects on the Eventide H9 (read my review on the H9 here) and a lot of them worked really well with the Micro POG. From simple reverb effects to dramatic modulations, playing around with the three knobs gave me plenty of inspiration for songwriting and just jamming. If you ever feel like you’re stuck for ideas then this combination is a really quick and easy way to get the creative juices flowing. It doesn’t hurt that the H9 has incredible sound quality either!
Micro POG & Ditto Looper
This is a basic setup but very useful for songwriting or jamming on your own. Set the Micro POG to only play one octave lower then record a loop of yourself playing a bass line. Then bypass the pedal and you have a bass track you can jam over using your normal guitar tone. It’s a very simple way to brainstorm ideas. I used the Ditto Looper (read my review of the Ditto here) but you can use any looper.
Micro POG & Wah
Mixing in an octave lower with some overdrive and a wah is a great way to create a gnarly tone that feels incredible on simple riffs. I used the Original Crybaby wah (read my review of the Crybaby here) and experimented with slightly mixing in an octave higher to add some extra harmonics and range. If you’re looking for a way to spice up your tone when using a wah, using the Micro POG to subtly (or not so subtly) enhance your tone is a great way to bring something new to your tone.
There are plenty of other combinations to experiment with, but hopefully you can see why the Micro POG is a worthwhile buy thanks to it’s versatility.
Sometimes pitch based pedals have a horrible digital feel to them. Fortunately, the Micro POG doesn’t give you a digital feel. Of course, if you crank the higher octave up you might feel like it sounds digital, but that’s simply because shifting the pitch up an octave is always going to sound a bit unnatural.
The pedal has a nice strong chassis and the three knobs feel very secure. Unlike the POG2 which has small sliders, I don’t feel like this one is going to cause any problems even after years of abuse.
The Electro-Harmonix Micro POG is a simple pedal with a simple effect. To be honest I didn’t really think that I would find many uses for this effect in my playing but after experimenting with it and using it in combination with other pedals, I realized the POG’s potential. It’s an incredibly useful and versatile effect that can be used in a wide range of styles and situations. Whenever I feel like I’m running out of ideas or feel low on creativity, now I can tweak the three knobs and straight away come up with something new.
There are a lot of pitch based effects out there and I really feel this simple effect is worth its place on most guitarist’s pedalboards. It won’t suit every guitarist but if after reading the above examples you feel you could make use of the Micro POG, then it’s definitely worth the money.
- Split output options allow you to run two separate rigs
- Polyphonic tracking means you can play anything without having to worry about glitches
- Simple controls
- Fantastic quality sound
- Fairly expensive for a basic effect
- Doesn’t offer detuning options like other pedals
Who is it for?
I recommend this pedal for most guitarists simply because it can be used in a wide range of situations. Being able to simulate a bass guitar on demand is a great option every guitarist who writes music should have. Laying down your own backing bass track with a looper pedal can really give you freedom in songwriting and jamming. There are plenty of songs that use this effect and it’s a great way to try something creative so I really recommend the Micro POG for most guitarists.
Who isn’t it for?
The only time I wouldn’t recommend the Micro POG is for any guitarist looking at using it to produce an organ-like tone. You will read and hear that a lot of people do use the POG for that use, but that was before the B9 Organ Machine came out. If you want a pedal to create an organ tone, the B9 Organ Machine should really be the option you consider. While the Micro POG can achieve that sound more or less, it’s nowhere near as good as the Organ Machine.
How to get the most out of the EHX Micro POG
Experiment with combining the Micro POG with different pedals. I had so much fun using the POG with different effects and tones and that’s how I learned to get so many different sounds out of it. You’re going to get the most out of the POG by learning how to use it in different situations.
For example, start out with a dry signal and slightly mix in an octave higher just enough that it’s subtly noticeable. Now connect a wah pedal after the POG and listen to how the wah responds to your tone now that you have mixed in something an octave higher. You’ll be impressed with the difference it makes to your tone.
As another example turn the higher octave off and mix in an octave below but keep it fairly low in the mix. Use a heavy distortion pedal and listen to how the octave below gives you a wider tone. Adjust the lower octave mix up and down and find the sweet spot that suits you.
Messing around with different options like the two examples above is how you will get the most out of the Micro POG.
Alternatives to the Micro POG
There are plenty of similar pitch based effect pedals out there, but here are two good alternatives to consider.
- Electro-Harmonix POG2 – this gives you far more flexibility and options (eg: also has an option for 2 octaves down)
- Electro-Harmonix Nano POG – Same features as the Micro POG in a tiny pedal and lower price
- DigiTech Whammy DT Drop Tune – the Digitech Whammy isn’t quite the same as the POG, but it does offer a great pitch based effect with an expression pedal (something missing from the Micro POG)
If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, I strongly recommend avoiding any pitch based pedals that are offered at a price lower than the Micro POG. I’ve used quite a lot of pitch based effects over the years and almost every time I use a cheaper pedal, I’m horribly disappointed with the end result. Think of the Micro POG as the lower limit to getting a quality tone for a cheap cost. Pick up a cheap pitch based pedal and you’ll immediately hear why I recommend avoiding them as soon as you strum a chord.
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