Gear Review: Empress Tape Delay

BRAND: Empress

MODEL: Tape Delay

COST: $249

WHAT IT IS: The Empress Tape Delay (ETD) is an outgrowth of the Canadian Effects Company’s Superdelay unit. The ETD focus’s solely on the sounds and feel of Magnetic Tape Delay units of days gone by, with much more control and “tweakability” at your fingertips.

It’s hardly fair, but the ETD will live or die in it’s comparison to the Strymon El Capistan. In this regard it’s probably to say that this pedal will always be the “kid brother” for many people but I am not one of those people. I was very inclined towards apathy in regards to the ETD when I first borrowed it for a multi-church outreach, and I ended up falling in love with it and was very sad to give it back. My regard for the pedal is good enough for you, then stop reading and go buy it, but if it’s not (and why should it be) then keep reading to find out why.

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Brand Breakdown: Analog.man

The Evil Twin of “The Electric”, the Brand Breakdown is meant to give an overview of the companies that make the gear we use. We’ll talk about everything from their standout products, to build quality, to whether I like their graphic design or not, and how it all applies to church musicians and music we make. 

THE RUNDOWN

Analog.man effects is one of the oldest and most respected effects pedal builders around. Part of their unique place in the guitar world is that they are also a dealer, selling other companies pedals as well as their own. Not content to stop there, Analog Mike and his team are also some of the most respected “moders” of effects pedals in the industry.

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The Electric: Worship Guitar Amplifier Buying Guide

In this series I try and address different aspects of the practical side of playing electric guitar in church music. This week we’ll continue the conversation about finding the best amp for worship.

 

Last week I gave some thoughts about finding the best amp to use for worship leading (HERE).  This week I thought it might be helpful to write out a check list or buyers guide of sorts that you can use as a tool in your search for you amp. The goal of this tool isn’t to tell you what to buy but to help bring clarity to your decision process.

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The Electric: Amp In A Box

 

Amp In A Box Style overdrive pedals are a slightly controversial concept. Some feel that they are pointless. Others think they are a waste of money and time. Still many more think they are a welcomed addition to our guitar effect arsenals. Today we’ll look behind to the current to find out just what an Amp In A Box OD is, If they make sense as a pedal genre, and if they make sense for us as worship guitarists.

WHAT ARE THEY?
As the name implies, an Amp In A Box pedal is trying to emulate or capture the sound and feel of a guitar amplifier in stompbox form. Some pedals like the Mad Professor Sweet Honey Overdrive have a generalized, non-descript “amp” feel to them. While others, like the Wampler Black ’65 (Fender Blackface Amp), the Catalinbread CB30 (Vox AC30) or the JHS Superbolt (Supro tube amp) have a very specific sound in mind.

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Gear Thoughts: Line 6 DL4

This article is part of The Month Of Delay at the Real World Worship blog. All throughout the month of March we will be looking at different aspects of the delay effect in worship music.

Editor’s Note: Normally, I wouldn’t do a write up on a piece of gear that I’ve never played. Even if I have played or used something, if I haven’t had enough time with it I won’t review it because I really want to know what I’m talking about. But since we are in the Month of Delay, I’m making exception and writing down thoughts on delay pedals that I’ve only played a few times or have only heard YouTube demos of, so please take these for what they are.

LINE 6

I hate Line 6. One of these days I’ll sit down and write out fully why this is so, but for now, it’s fair enough just to say that I do. This isn’t news to anyone who has read this blog for any length of time. What might surprise you is that I don’t hate everything Line 6 has ever made. I don’t hate the DL4. It was actually the 1st delay pedal I ever owned. I got a lot of use out of it and I really enjoyed the creativity it allowed me. That’s not to say I would buy it again. It died on me out of the blue and I choose to go a different route in replacing it.

Normally I would write an actual review of a pedal that I owned for several years, but it’s been several years since I owned it and I didn’t think I could do it justice, so you get my thoughts instead.

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Which Delay and Does It Matter?

This article is part of The Month Of Delay at the Real World Worship blog. All throughout the month of March we will be looking at different aspects of the delay effect in worship music.

 

We’ve covered the three main types of delay (Tape, Analog, and Digital) in previous posts. But which one should you put on your board? Is one better than the other? Will anyone in my church notice the difference?
WHICH ONE SHOULD I CHOOSE?

If you are only going to put one delay on your pedalboard then I would recommend the one that gives you the most options. Either the Nova delay or the Alter Ego, both by TC Electronics would be my recommendation, depending on what you want/need and what your board space is (the Nova for larger boards, the AE for smaller space needs).

But really any type of delay will accomplish the same goal, which is to created repeated copies of the notes you play. (See why we use delay HERE). Ultimately I will all come down to personal preference so test out a lot of options before you make your decision.

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Gear Thoughts: The Malekko Ekko 616 Analog Delay

This article is part of The Month Of Delay at the Real World Worship blog. All throughout the month of March we will be looking at different aspects of the delay effect in worship music.

Editor’s Note: Normally, I wouldn’t do a write up on a piece of gear that I’ve never played. Even if I have played or used something, if I haven’t had enough time with it I won’t review it because I really want to know what I’m talking about. But since we are in the Month of Delay, I’m making exception and writing down thoughts on delay pedals that I’ve only played a few times or have only heard YouTube demos of, so please take these for what they are.

Malekko

Malekko makes some really well made and innovative pedals. They also like to make things that go crazy, which is awesome of bands trying to push the limit, but not always awesome for church players who want to build a tone but not become the center of attention. I’ve found that every Malekko pedal I’ve used for worship has required a subtler approach.

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Digital Delay

This article is part of The Month Of Delay at the Real World Worship blog. All throughout the month of March we will be looking at different aspects of the delay effect in worship music.

“Understand that something may be true for one type of effect or piece of musical gear but not for another”

WHAT IS IT?
The last of the three main types of delay to hit the market, Digital Delay pedals use microchips and digital processing to convert your analog signal and create almost limitless repeats. In addition to creating crisp, clean and clear digital repeats, digital delay can be used to simulate or emulate the sounds and characteristics of the other two types of delay: Tape and Analog.

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Tap Tempo

This article is part of The Month Of Delay at the Real World Worship blog. All throughout the month of March we will be looking at different aspects of the delay effect in worship music.

TAP TEMPO IS THE BEST THING EVER

There are some who won’t touch a delay pedal without Tap Tempo. It’s a really great feature. You can now sync your delay time with the tempo of the band. Sure you could pre-set it, but if you’re not using a click track or if the song has multiple tempos in the arrangement you’ll need to adjust on the fly.

Another great feature of Tap Tempo is the ability to throw yourself out of sync in a very musical way. I have often times tapped out a tempo way faster or slower than the actual song to create an effect almost like a tremolo that can fill in the space very nicely.

TAP TEMPO IS OVERRATED

One of the things you’ll hear from older guitarists is “back in the day, we didn’t need tap tempo to set our delay” or “the Edge got along fine without it” or something to that effect.

There’s actually quite a bit of truth in that sentiment. There are many ways of using a delay pedal where a tap tempo is fairly irrelevant to the sound. Then there’s analog delays with tap tempo that are unsuitable to many worship situations because of the “warble” that happens when you tap while playing.

When using a pedal like my Kilobyte delay (see review HERE), I rarely feel like I need a tap tempo. I think it happened once, and it was because another guitarist was using it who didn’t know how to set a delay without tap tempo. Don’t let tap tempo keep you from being able to dial in a delay setting on your own.

CHOOSE WHAT WORKS BEST FOR YOU

As with anything, choose what’s best for you and not what the hyped or trendy choice is. There are some really great, gold standard delays like the Deluxe Memory Man that don’t feature Tap Tempo and it would be a shame if someone didn’t at least consider a pedal that well designed because they’ve been told that they “have to have” tap tempo on any delay pedal they own.

Like any other feature, tap tempo is a skill to learn, but we shouldn’t let it be a barrier to learn other skills in dialing in a delay pedal.

HERE COMES THE BUCKET BRIGADE: ANALOG DELAY IN WORSHIP

This article is part of The Month Of Delay at the Real World Worship blog. All throughout the month of March we will be looking at different aspects of the delay effect in worship music.

WHAT IS ANALOG DELAY?

I’m not going to bore you with the technical details, but a truly analog delay uses a Bucket Brigade Chip set up (BBD) to create a delayed repeat of the notes you play. An analog delay is way more portable than a tape delay and since it doesn’t have moving parts, far more reliable. It’s easy to see why pro level guitar players made the switch and why the average guitar player embraced the technology.

Analog delay is known for it’s dark and warm tones and repeats. Great for just about any style of music, the only real limitation for a BBD style delay pedal is how long the delays can go for (usually around 400-600 ms).

The delay sounds on early U2 records are just a EHX deluxe Memory Man with a Ross style compression before it, going into a Vox AC30. (see example HERE) Ofcourse in the world of P&W, guitarists like James Duke use analog delays like the Boss DM-2 or EHX DMM all over the place.

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