Posts Tagged ‘HBE THC’

After the tragedy of frying my pedals last week, I needed to set up my board with backups. So I went into my “cold storage” cabinet to see what I had. I just needed three pedals: A reverb, a delay, and a chorus. The only decent reverb I had was an old BOSS RV-5. For delay, I pulled my MXR Carbon Copy. And for chorus, I had to dig deep and I found my old Homebrew Electronics THC (Three Hounds Chorus).

I took that pedal from my board a couple of years ago because the nut that held the Speed pot got stripped, preventing me from making adjustments because the pot was completely loose. At the time it happened, I didn’t have the patience to fix it, but as they say, necessity breeds invention, and I needed a chorus, so I bit the bullet, took off the backplate and jimmied a temporary fix that would keep the pot in place.

With the temporary fix made, and a little cleanup, I needed to test the pedal to see if it was still operating properly. So I plugged it in, connected my guitar, and voila! It still worked! And from the moment I strummed my first chord, I remembered why I loved this so much and why I performed well over a thousand gigs with this pedal on my board.

What sets this particular chorus apart is that its sound is FAT. Even at its most subtle settings, it creates a thick, rich and warm tone that can smooth out harsh trebles. I used to love using it with my Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster to help fatten its sound. I’d turn the Depth and Speed down and set the Width to about 10am. What I’d get is just a touch of chorus but the sound would be so much more beefy.

That sound check got me real excited to use it with my Taylor T5z yesterday at church. And it did not disappoint! And combining it with the Carbon Copy to do clean leads was almost a religious experience; or, perhaps I should say it really enhanced my religious experience since I was playing at church. 🙂

Yesterday, we did a song by Jared Anderson called “Amazed.” It’s a quiet, prayerful song with lots of room to do solo lines. My particular arrangement promotes using a fairly ambient tone. So I set the Carbon Copy to maximum delay with a small regen and about 70% mix. Then I added the THC. All I can say is WOW! With my daughter singing the lead, I was able to lay back and do short filler lines underneath her and in between phrases in the melody.

Honestly, I probably could’ve pulled it off just using delay, but the THC added that extra fatness and wet chorus tone that just took it over the top. And it wasn’t as if I had cranked up the depth of the chorus. I had it on very modest settings – not so much that it takes over, but just enough that y ou know it’s there.

And you know you’re playing a truly great pedal when without it, it feels as if something is missing. I forgot that it had that kind of effect on me. It was a very nice reunion!

Here are some clips I recorded for it that demonstrate how nice it is:

The first clip is an A/B where I’m strumming a chord dry, then engaging the THC. In this clip, the chorus is set to super-subtle to demonstrate how it fattens up the tone.

The next clip is also an A/B with the THC still pretty subtle but with slightly increased depth.

Remember I mentioned how great it sounds with a delay? This next clip demonstrates the settings I used at church the other day.

The THC can also create a Leslie-like tone by cranking the Depth and Width knobs. It’s a pretty cool sound that I’ve used for some cool Blues-Rock stuff in the past. You don’t get that pulse like you would with a vibe pedal, but it’s a cool sound nonetheless.

Finally, for years, I used the THC as the primary chorus for my acoustic rig, just adding a very subtle backdrop to my tone. The THC has a subtle effect that is akin to a flanger but without a heavy pulse – that pulse is there, but you have to be looking for it. Combine that with a delay and/or reverb, and the result is a real dreamy sound.

In this final clip, I play a progression on my Gibson J-45 starting with just a subtle THC added in. Then I activate my delay and play the same progression and layer in a solo over that using a large room reverb.

To be clear, I don’t have the THC on all the time. Chorus is that kind of effect that is best used with a light touch. And with the THC being a bit dark, I’ve tended to use it with sad or more dreamy songs. For instance, here’s how it sounds with Clapton’s Tears In Heaven:

Mind you, with my J-45, I’m going direct into my DAW, so you don’t quite get the rolling effect of the sound when it’s going through a PA.

Being an optimist, I always look for the silver lining. What I did to my board last week was truly tragic. Lesson learned to use the right damn power cord. But out of the ashes rose a phoenix called the Three Hounds Chorus. I’m really jazzed to have that in my chain again!

BTW, you can still find used versions of this pedal online for far less than what I originally paid for mine, which was around $250-$275 if I recall. They’re now more than half the cost. I think I saw one on Reverb for around $100.

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Homebrew Electronics Three Hound Chorus

Summary: All-analog, thick and rich chorus capable of produce subtle to dripping wet chorus to organ-like leslie tones.

Pros: Warm, rich chorus tones – never gets bright, so it might not be for everyone, but I LOVE IT! Width knob is the “secret sauce” of the pedal that physically alters the width between the wave forms.

Cons: None.


  • Depth – Controls the depth or wetness of the signal
  • Speed – Connected to the LED indicator light which flashes with the rate of the chorus – very helpful.
  • Width – As mentioned above, controls the width between the wave forms. The effect is subtle, but provides another dimension for tweaking.
  • All Homebrew pedals feature true-bypass switching, heavy duty metal enclosures, chassis-mounted switches and pots.
  • All pedals are hand-built. Even the enclosures are drilled by an actual person, not a machine.
  • Lifetime warranty

Price: ~$189 – $200 Street

Tone Bone Score: 5.0 ~ I’m blown away by this chorus! It has such a beautiful tone! I was looking for a chorus to use with my acoustic rig, but this pedal has so much versatility, that I will be using it for a variety of settings (though it’ll mainly be used for my acoustic rig).

I Love Surprises…

Actually, saying I was surprised by the THC is actually an understatement. I needed a chorus pedal to go with my acoustic rig yesterday, because I was tired of using my BOSS CE-2 on both my electric and acoustic boards. Plus, the CE-2, at least for me, has always sounded better with electric because of the gain boost which I dig with my electric rig. But for acoustic, I just want something that turns on, doesn’t give me a jump in volume, and doesn’t add any brightness. So when I auditioned a couple of chorus pedals yesterday – the other was an MXR Micro Chorus – I could not believe how absolutely SWEET the THC sounded!

Mind you, the Micro Chorus sounded killer to me, but it was much closer in character to the CE-2 as it is a fairly bright chorus. For acoustic, I needed a much thicker tone, and I found that in the THC. I will mention that I was going to also audition the Red Witch Empress Chorus, which is hailed as just about the best chorus on the market today. But at $400, there was absolutely no way I was going to get it, so I didn’t bother auditioning it. Also, the Red Witch has 4 knobs and two toggles. I didn’t need that kind of tweak-ability. I know, it’s also a Vibrato, but I just wanted a chorus.

Fit and Finish

All Homebrew Electronics (HBE) pedals are hand-built: And this means all the components, drilling and even the painting are done at the Homebrew shop. But the cool thing is that HBE. My experience with them has been that they’re built like tanks, and the THC is no exception. The pedal feels solid. There’s nothing loose. I also absolutely dig the bright green paint job. Reminds me of a Granny Smith apple! 🙂

Ease of Use (read: How easy is it to dial in great tone)

This is where the THC really shines. What’s very helpful in this regard is the LED, which flashes with the according to how the Rate knob is set. I found myself setting this knob first, then setting the Depth knob for the wetness, then setting the width, which I mentioned is a very subtle feature, but it changes the character of the chorus, which is really cool. Note that it’s not something that I can’t really explain because at least to me, the change is more felt than heard.

How It Sounds

As with all gear that I give 5 Tone Bones, the THC sounds AMAZING! With a high rating like this, the tone really has to move me emotionally. Other gear that gets a lower rating, even gear with a 4.75 sounds great, but there’s something that “bugs” me. Not so with the THC. It’s one of those pedals where I can close my eyes, put a smile on my face, and just let my fingers do the talking. It’s that good!

I recorded a few clips of the pedal to demonstrate how it sounds. All clips were recorded with my trusty Squier CV Tele 50’s (middle pickup position) into my Aracom VRX22 and a 1 X 12 with a Jensen Jet Falcon:

All controls dead-center

Subtle: Depth at about 10am, Rate at 12pm, Width at 10am (added a touch of reverb)

Leslie: Depth at 2pm, Rate cranked, Width about 2pm

Heavy: Depth at 4pm, Rate at 1pm, Width 11am

With this clip I wanted to see how well it played with both delay and reverb, and it plays quite nicely. 🙂

Overall Impression

This is one of those pedals that I actually had never seen before. I’d heard of it, but went into the audition completely cold. If you have a dealer near you that carries these pedals, I encourage you to check it out. You won’t be disappointed.

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