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Monthly Archives: August 2013

Review: MXR “Carbon Copy” analog delay

The MXR Carbon Copy is an analog delay pedal with up to 600 milliseconds of delay time and a selectable modulation feature. The pedal comes in MXR’s usual small form-factor, World War III-ready chassis, has three dials, a button and the obvious footswitch. There is no tap tempo feature whatsoever, but if you open up the back of the thing, there are two screws for adjusting the depth and width of the modulation.

It is not often that I try a pedal and just go, “wow”. But I did this time. This pedal just shines when you use it the way I’m forced to: before an amplifier, before distortion. (Well, I do have an effects loop, but that’s another story for another time). The TC Electronic Flashback sounded very nice, but I could never get it to balance clean and distorted sounds; I would have needed two of them. The Carbon Copy just nails the sound I want out of a delay pedal. It sounds warm and organic and just fantastic. It is also remarkably fun just to play around with! Set the regen parameter to maximum and it self-oscillates and you can go all Yngwie Malmsteen with the delay time knob. The modulation feature is a little hot right out of the box, but I am personally not planning to use it any time soon, so I don’t worry about it. As I said previously, it can be adjusted with a minimum of fuss.

One of the nicest things with the Carbon Copy is that MXR have been rather generous with the delay time. Traditionally, analog delays have had fairly short delay times, the classic Boss analog unit has 300 ms and some recent copies don’t fare much better. Double that, like with this pedal, and you get true flexibility: everything from slapback to Gilmour-like soundscapes.

One thing that might discourage the casual user is the price tag. It is a lot of money. And you don’t get the bells and whistles: no looping feature, no tap tempo, no 6 seconds of delay time. But you do get a damn well-sounding delay pedal that just works no matter how you use it. I personally prefer the slightly dirtier, warmer sound of analog to the pristine, clean digital stuff, and would rather pony up the extra cash for something that can live on my pedalboard long-term instead of being sold off within the year. Yes, and I just bought one.

 
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Posted by on 24 August, 2013 in gear, review

 

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Review: TC Electronic “Shaker” vibrato pedal

The TC Electronic Shaker is a vibrato pedal in TC’s celebrated Toneprint range. The first time I had the Toneprint function explained to me, I had to laugh. If you don’t know what it is, here’s a quick rundown: First, you download the TC Toneprint app to your smartphone. Then you use the speaker on the smartphone to upload settings to the pedal through the pickups on your guitar. But what you upload is not just a set of fixed settings. The Toneprint redefines what the controls on the pedal actually do. It won’t make a chorus pedal out of a delay pedal, but you can get one pedal to perform two different functions, provided you want to bend down towards your pedalboard in the middle of a gig and flick the little toggle switch on the pedal. And, of course, whipping out your phone mid-gig to change settings might be a cool thing for those who are into that sort of thing.

A bit about the background: I love phaser, but I have been looking for a cool modulation effect to complement it, and the natural thing has always been chorus first and flanger second. But then I plugged into one of those TC Electronic demo pedalboards and decided to give the Shaker a spin. Man, did I love it! I have nothing against chorus or flanger. Fact is, I might add one or the other later. But vibrato just felt more natural, more classic, less obvious. I immediately dialed in a cool mid-70s Camel tone, and further exploration of the settings led to a warbly Beatlesque Leslie-type sound. At once, I put the pedal on my wish list and today I finally got around to buying it.

You can indeed get chorusy-type sounds out of this pedal so long as you keep the rate fairly slow and the intensity low. I’ve also seen that you can download a Toneprint that gets even closer to chorus. However, be advised that vibrato is a fairly rhythmic kind of effect, and adjust and play accordingly.

One of the coolest little features with this pedal is the latch mode that is selected via the three-way toggle. In latch mode, the effect is only on so long as you keep the footswitch down. Here is where the “rise time” control comes into play. In “vibrato” mode, this control apparently does nothing. In latch mode, it controls the amount of time that passes before the effect kicks in. So you could conceivably also use the pedal as an ersatz vibrato bar. Pretty nice if you’re like me and block off the Stratocaster whammy bar but still want that shimmer from time to time.

Oh, and it’s orange!

 
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Posted by on 24 August, 2013 in gear, review

 

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