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MXR Carbon Copy, continued

I purchased the MXR Carbon Copy in August, 2013. Regretfully, I have not had as much use for it as I would have wished. I’ve recorded two albums since buying the thing and it has gone completely unused.┬áDelay pedals for me have always been the kind of pedals that other players can get great sounds out of, but whenever I try to use one, I just can’t dial it in. Either I don’t hear the effect at all, or the sound is completely washed out in delay repeats, no apparent middle ground. Just like multi-effects units, they are fun to play around with at music shows, in the store or when goofing off at home, but creative use for them is another kettle of fish. After several tries to get the Carbon Copy to work into the amp (i.e. before distortion), I have come to the conclusion that delay before distortion just doesn’t work for me at all, so maybe I’m not a delay person. The most use I’ve had with it is to set the feedback above noon and hit it until it self-oscillates, and then turn the delay time down for some hippy-trippy shit. Fun, yes. Creative, not especially.

Until now. In a recent post, I made a big shout-out to the guys at That Pedal Show on YouTube, and also referred to their take on the Carbon Copy. I was able to apply most of which the show has taught me on that very pedal. The first thing I did was to pop the back off the thing, pull out a screwdriver and switch on the modulation function. Then, I played, and I listened, and I tweaked, and I played some more, lather, rinse and repeat, et cetera, until I happened upon a level of modulation that actually sounded musical and usable. This, in combination with the fact that I’ve given up on distortion and delay (at least until further purchases eliminate the need for long cable runs), has given the pedal a second wind. Nay, a renaissance! Actually, the train of thought started with the pedal I bought at the same time as the Carbon Copy, namely the TC Electronic Shaker Vibrato. I bought a vibrato specifically so I wouldn’t have to buy a chorus. Then a year later or so, I bought a flanger in order to avoid getting that chorus. Last year, I finally gave in and bought the chorus (my fourth one, following a Boss CE-2 and two (!) CH-1:s!). But it still wasn’t happening! Thus, enter modulated delay. The analog nature of the Carbon Copy is what makes it work so well with the modulation. The repeats are gradually softened until there is only a wishy-washy veil of sound trailing behind my playing. It doesn’t drench my tone in chorus, it doesn’t smooth over my dynamics the way many chorus pedals do, but it attaches a dreamy edge to clean passages. It’s been a very long time since an effects pedal has inspired me to just sit around and play and play and play! In the space of just a few days, it went from “damn, why the hell did I buy that thing” to “I can’t live without it!” I’m very much looking forward to laying down clean guitar on the upcoming Namlar album with it.

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Posted by on 20 October, 2017 in gear, review

 

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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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