BRAND: TC Electronics
MODEL: Alter Ego Delay (Flashback). The Alter Ego is essentially the same as the Flashback but with two different presets and different paint job. Only available at proguitarshop.com. This review is for the Alter Ego (although very applicable for the Flashback delay)
COST: $165 (PGS) $169 for the Flashback.
DO I OWN IT?: Yes
PROS: Versatility. The Alter Ego comes with 10 presets. It also comes with a looper mode and Toneprint, which allows you to download almost endless artists designed presets. You can download these Toneprints either via USB from your computer or (and this is very cool) through your smartphone directly to the pedal through your guitar… no USB! It’s built tough and solid so it’s a pedal that should last on your rig for years to come. The Alter Ego doesn’t have tap tempo, but it has “strum tempo” which I found to be more useful and at times less distracting that the “click, click” of tap.
CONS: While the Alter Ego is versatile, it’s not great on the fly. You have to bend down to switch between presets and then you’ll most likely have to redial your settings to match the preset, unlike pedals such as the TC Nova Delay where you can easily switch between presets and save their specific settings. In addition, while the Toneprints offer you almost endless options, you can only store one at a time. So if you really want the PGS Ep-3 tone print on one song, and a rythmic delay print on another song, you’re out of luck. Using the smart phone to switch settings on the fly might work in a club, but in a church worship setting is not a reality (the process makes a sound like your old dial up modem).
Let me at this point add a word about loopers. Loopers are a flashy selling point in delay pedals, and bands like Minus the Bear do some very cool stuff live with delay pedal loops. But for practical purposes, most loopers on delay pedals aren’t super easy to operate and you can’t use your delay pedal since it’s now your looper. If you want a looper, I just by a looping pedal. Honestly, they come with features that (to me) make them useable for a live/worship setting whereas the looper on a delay pedal may only be useful for messing around at home.
HOW WOULD YOU USE IT FOR WORSHIP?: For Hillsong/CCM style digital delay alone the Alter Ego is worth the price of admission. The TC Electronic 2290 delay is part of that classic U2 sound (Coldplay uses one to) so the 2290 preset will get you the sound you want. While it’s a great preset, I actually preferred the AE’s analog preset over the 2290 for the same purpose, but that was just personal opinion. The Echorec preset will give you a classic drumhead style tape delay that was heavily used by bands like Pink Floyd. I found it to be very useful for songs that are in minor keys and have a certain brooding to them like “Our Great God” and “Sing Allelujah To the Lord” or songs that don’t have a lot going on musically like “Breathe“. The DMM and Reverse settings I found to be very good for finger picking for adding subtle bits to songs where the guitar wasn’t needed much.
Those are just the Presets. I mentioned the TonePrint function earlier. Recently, I was looking for the right atmosphere for Revelation Song. I tried, all the preset and nothing was working for me. It was either too little or far to much, so I went to the TonePrint app on my iPhone. I looked at a few different tape delay options, and about 3 or 4 tries later I stumbled upon TC’s own RE-201 preset. If you were in the church you would have heard a “That’s it!” yelled from the sanctuary. The TonePrint Feature takes the Alter Ego to a whole new level of practicality and possibility.
FINAL VERDICT: The Alter Ego is a very solid pedal for worship music. Whether you’re playing Hillsong, CCM Pop, Modern Rock, Country, or a more old school 80’s style Maranatha/Vineyard style of music, you will find a place for it in your sound. The Alter Ego is only available at Pro Guitar Shop, and it’s worth the wait as the Echorec and DMM presets are superb. But if you a deal on ebay or craigslist, or don’t need the special presets then the original Flashback delay is just fine, and more useful than the other delays of it’s price range (Boss DD-7, etc).
If you only need a basic but versatile delay, I recommend this pedal. If you need something more (presets, etc) the TC Nova Delay or Boss DD-20 might be more up your alley. If you’re only interested in tape delay then get the Strymon El Capistan