Danelectro ’60s Pedals – Back Talk, Psycho Flange, Sitar Swami – Brief Article – Evaluation
Byline: Mike Levine
Danelectro has long been known for making retro gear, and the company continues that tradition with its new line of ’60s effects pedals, which harken back to those psychedelic days of yesteryear. The three pedals are Back Talk, a reverse delay pedal; Psycho Flange, a high-octane flanger; and Sitar Swami, a sitar emulator.
The processing used by these effects is mainly analog, with the exception of the Back Talk, which primarily uses digital delay circuitry. All three share a similar design, featuring heavy-duty metal casing, ’60s-style graphics, and a metal on/off footswitch (and status LED) located below the parameter controls. Each pedal is powered by a 9V battery, but for live use you’ll want to spring for an AC adapter like the optional DA-1 ($9.95). Let’s examine the pedals individually.
Back Talk ($149) is designed to re-create the sound of audio tape played backward, and it’s a total blast to use. Like a typical delay, the pedal lets you control the mix, the delay time, and the number of repeats. The sounds that it outputs, however, are anything but typical. It sounds just like a backward tape, replete with violin-like attacks and reversed volume swells. One of the coolest effects I discovered was when I pushed the Mix and Speed (delay time) controls full out, set the Repeats to the lowest setting, and played an ascending major scale. After a split-second pause, what came out of my amp was a descending version of that same scale!
With the Speed set to its longer settings, I was able to do some really interesting sounding looping. By setting the controls less radically, I achieved more subtle effects (such as slapback) that were closer to that of a conventional delay. The only things I wished for were a longer total delay time (it offers 1.2 seconds) and, more importantly, a tap tempo feature, which would make it a lot easier to match the tempo of a band onstage.
All kinds of sonic possibilities exist with the Back Talk; I even plugged a mic into it and got backward-sounding words. I haven’t had that much fun with a stomp box in a long time.
a[ordinal indicator, feminine] Rating (out of 5): 4
Danelectro describes this pedal as “the thickest flange ever,” and it may be right. Psycho Flange ($149) has a warm, whooshy sound that features plenty of swirling motion. The box has three adjustable parameters: Speed governs the rate of the sweeps; Regen affects the amount of regeneration (and has only a slight affect on the overall sound); and Width regulates the intensity of the flanging. The controls let you adjust the Psycho Flange from thick to thicker. There are no subtle settings here, but if you like to flange it to the max, you’ll be a happy camper.
a[ordinal indicator, feminine] Rating (out of 5): 3
Billed as a “Sitar Simulator,” the Sitar Swami ($149) combines distortion, pitch shift, flanging, and slap delay to achieve its sound. You can’t, however, control those elements individually; there are only Level and EQ controls available.
So does the pedal make your guitar sound like a sitar? Not exactly, but it does succeed in re-creating the vibe of a sitar, especially that instrument’s characteristic “boingyness.” A lightweight Jim Dunlop glass slide is included with the pedal – presumably to help you simulate the droning sound of a sitar – but I had more success just using my fingers.
The effectiveness of the Sitar Swami’s emulation is enhanced greatly if you play authentic Indian-sounding melodies rather than rock ‘n’ roll licks. If you want to rock out, however, the Swami can also work as a novelty distortion device. Because of its unusual tonality, the Sitar Swami is the kind of pedal you’d only use selectively during a typical gig – unless, of course, you’re in a Ravi Shankar tribute band.
a[ordinal indicator, feminine] Rating (out of 5): 2.5
Danelectro Guitars; tel. (949) 498-9854; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org ; Web www.danelectro.com
To hear audio examples of the Danelectro ’60s pedals, go to www.onstagemag.com and click on ONLINEEXTRAS
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