1970s Electro-Harmonix Switch Blade Channel Selector

Model Description:

During Electro-Harmonix’s original existence between 1968 and 1984, the company released a number of now‑iconic effect pedals made in NYC. One of the less well known and less collectable pedals was the Switch Blade Channel Selector, introduced in 1977 and which stayed in production until 1983. The pedal comprises Electro‑Harmonix’s original familiar 2‑piece pressed steel enclosures and screen printed branding. The Switch Blade isn’t actually an effect pedal because its sole function is to route a signal via a very basic passive analogue circuit comprising just 2 switches and 3 jack sockets. The Switch Blade can be used either way round, for instance to switch one input into two outputs (standard) or to switch between two inputs into one output. To say that operation is not particularly intuitive is an understatement for such a simple device with no bells or whistles. So, how does it work? With the slide switch set to ‘Alt.’, the footswitch alternates the signal from the ‘Instr.’ Jack between ‘Amp.1’ and ‘Amp.2’ outputs. With the slide switch is set to ‘On.’, the ‘Amp.2’ jack socket is always set to on and the footswitch alternates the ‘Amp.1’ socket on and off. The modes remain the same when used in reverse (thereby contradicting the labelling in the process). With a little imagination, it could also be used as a crude effect loop. Confused? I’m not surprised. Why Electro‑Harmonix didn’t stick to a straightforward A/B switch only the designers will know. While intended for guitar use, there is no reason why it couldn’t be used for other electric instruments. Modern ‘reissues’ of the Switch Blade are, thankfully, a bit more logical and easy to use. While the original Electro-Harmonix Switch Blade is not very common and arguably not very exciting, it is also not particularly collectable, meaning that good condition vintage examples can be picked up relatively cheaply.

Pedal Description:

Just for you, Electro‑Harmonix’s early Switch Blade Channel Selector, dating probably from the late 1970s. There are no dates to be found anywhere, so one can only go by the feature set during its 5‑6 year tenure. There are no aural effects going on in here, just a couple of basic switches to route a signal. It is entirely passive, so there are no LEDs to indicate what’s going on and no batteries or buffers to worry about. Long before today’s cramped and arguably over-stuffed pedalboards, things were a lot simpler and space was not at a premium. So it was that Electro‑Harmonix released their A/B switch housed in their familiar, sturdy but over‑large enclosure. Despite its limited functionality, it isn’t the easiest of switchers to live with, which may partly explain its limited success and practical application. A genuine vintage icon, this is not. However it does its job, albeit in a roundabout fashion. This example is in stunning, pristine condition for its age and one has to look very hard to tell that it isn’t brand new. It is not quite immaculate museum grade but it is extremely clean and works just as it should. It also comes with its original cardboard box and instruction sheet, which is always a bonus for vintage pedals. One suspects that it may have lived most of its life stored away in its box before arriving at CRAVE Guitars. Compare the Switch Blade’s sparse feature set with the BOSS PSM‑5 Power Supply & Master Switch and one can tell that quite a bit of development took place after the rudimentary Switch Blade. However, both of these pale when put alongside today’s highly technical and smoothly sophisticated effect management tools. So, all in all, a modest, minor entry in the grand canon of 1960s to 1980s stomp boxes but it fills a gap. Just don’t expect any of Electro‑Harmonix’s customary arcane electronic wizardry.


  • Made in New York, U.S.A. probably in the late 1970s
  • The ‘Alt./On.’ switch selects the way in which the input signal is routed to one, other or both outputs
  • The standard footswitch toggles the channel selection dependent on the ‘Alt./On.’ switch setting
  • Single ¼” input (Instr.) and two ¼” output (Amp.1 and Amp.2) mono jack sockets. NB. can be used in reverse with ‘Instr.’ as the output and ‘Amp.1’/’Amp.2’ as dual inputs
  • No LED status indicator
  • No battery required (passive circuit) and no compartment in the base of the unit
  • Four Philips screws on the top of the pedal secure the enclosure
  • Original cardboard box and instruction sheet

Detail Gallery:

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