Raves about Strymon's El Capistan tape delay
simulator and blueSky reverb
abound all over guitar discussion boards,
and with TimeLine, its latest excursion into
ambience, Strymon is once again swinging
for the fences. This pedal features 12 types
of stereo delay and a 30-second looper, all
crammed into a gunmetal gray housing
that measures just 6e" x 4e" x 1e". The
nine knobs and three footswitches are easy
to use and have a sturdy feel. The top-row
knobs include Time, Repeats, and Mix,
along with Value, which handles all other
parameter values and serves to ﬁ ne-tune
the delay in milliseconds. The bottom four
knobs adjust various parameters depending
on which of the 12 delay types is selected
via the Type knob under the LED display.
Adjustments are easily made with a minimum of page layer searching.
Three footswitches perform multiple functions: selecting preset A,
preset B, and Tap
(tempo). Pressing A and B together scrolls
down, while B and Tap together scrolls up
through 100 banks for 200 user-programmable presets. The rear panel holds
audio and MIDI ins and outs, an expression
pedal input, and a switch that converts the
“Right” audio i/o into a loop for inserting
another effect pedal to modify the repeats.
I put the TimeLine through its paces by
placing it between a Fender Stratocaster
or Blacktop Jazzmaster and an Orange
Tiny Terror or an Egnater Rebel 30. Space
doesn’t permit describing in depth each of
the incredible sounds available, but let me
try to give you a sense of what this thoroughbred can do.
The dTape setting demonstrated why
the El Capistan is so popular: control over tape age, wow and flutter, crinkle,
low-end contour, and tape speed. It also
allowed access to a wealth of vintage Echoplex effects—though not
speaker-shattering runaway repeats (switch to the dBucket
mode if that’s what you’re after).
The clarity of the Digital and Dual Delay
modes kept classic U2 rhythms from becoming muddy, and helped my picking stay
time when attempting Albert Lee-style
dotted-eighth tricks. Pattern and Tremolo
delays converted pedestrian repeats into a
huge palette of rhythmic variations. Select-
able slice sizes in Ice Delay geometrically
multiplied the sonic shaping possibilities of
the setting’s Harmonizer-type pitch shifted
repeats. Musical mavericks will love the
gritty Lo-Fi delay that make blues licks
sound straight off a 78rpm record, complete with vinyl scratches.
I could rave on about the varied and gorgeous sounds, but I
have space for
the Looper, whose 30 seconds of high-ﬁdelity recording proved just one of its
TimeLine let me use any delay effect both
before and after the loop. Holding down
Tap entered loop mode, where stepping
on Switch A started “record.” I swelled in some chord pads,
sans volume pedal,
the Swell Delay. Pressing A again to overdub, I switched to the Ice setting for
with repeats shifted an octave up, then
changed the parameter to an octave down
for another layer—all while the loop was
running! If I changed the delay time of a
preset while playing, the Looper recorded
that glissando pitch-shifting effect as well.
I could then change the location of the
Looper to pre-effects, still without losing the
loop, and run the entire layered soundscape
through a square wave LFO ﬁlter effect.
Using a MIDI foot controller and expression pedal maximizes the
potential of this
amazing pedal, allowing more Looper controls (reverse, half, and double speed)
well as easier program access and realtime
parameter control. But with or without
MIDI, the TimeLine’s variety and quality of
sounds, solid construction, and ease of use—
all at a reasonable price point—more than
qualiﬁes it for an Editors’ Pick Award.
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