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Strymon Lex Rotary Pedal Review

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Strymon Lex Rotary Pedal Review

Super Smooth
While it’s easy to get caught up in the plethora of frills and tweakable parameters that the Lex has to offer, it’s also really difficult to get it to sound anything other than totally cool. The combination of a 2008 Fender American Telecaster and a Bogner Barcelona combo, and the Strymon on Fast mode with the controls set to noon was a match made in heaven. The Lex gave each note of a gingerly-picked chord melody weight, bounce and texture that sounded shockingly like a real rotating horn. There were no sharp edges to the virtual rotation or any hints that DSP was at work—just round, full and flat-out cool sounding pulses. Thanks to its high processing power, the Lex is capable of producing some really fast rotary sounds—topping out at more than eight rotations a second that never sound clipped, harsh, or angular.

Moving from Fast to Slow speed provided one of the most startling displays of how authentically the Lex can replicate the mechanical workings of a rotary speaker. Rather than simply flipping over to a slower speed in a cold and unnatural way, the effect actually tapered in real time just as a decelerating rotor would. To my surprise, the voicing of the tone changed noticeably as well. And the quick, pulsating, underwater bursts were replaced with an utterly flooring, phase-like sweep that felt like it was an integral part of the whole guitar tone, instead of just sitting on top of it.

That kind of variable effect on tone color is one of the Lex’s real strong suits. The Horn Level parameters in particular were most impressive—offering subtle and extreme shifts in tone textures as I scrolled through the knob’s sweep—and the Cab Direction control's ability to select front or back opened up even more options. Using the Mic Distance and Horn Level controls together really helped me find the perfect voice for my more trebly Telecaster. If I needed more bite on the upper end of the rotary effect, I just brought up the Horn Level and backed off a bit on Mic Distance to lend some expansiveness to the detail.

The Lex gave each note of a gingerly-picked chord melody weight, bounce and texture that sounded shockingly like a real rotating horn. There were no sharp edges to the virtual rotation or any hints that DSP was at work—just round, full and flat-out cool sounding pulses.

I figured that I could muddy the Lex if I boosted the internal preamp gain to its maximum setting. But even at this extreme setting, the Lex was amazingly forgiving. The Preamp Drive control has quite a bit of overdrive on tap, though it probably won’t replace your overdrive pedal if you need more modern or aggressive grit. It’s voiced with a bouncy, clear midrange, with a smooth, rolled-off top end—similar to that of a cranked low-watt amp like a ’60s Fender Princeton. On top of sounding great, it was also super responsive to my pick attack. Even the higher output of a Les Paul failed to obscure the detail of the rotary effect. And blues and blues-rock enthusiasts that love the sound of a barking tweed or blackface should give the Lex’s internal overdrive a shot before plugging in their beloved vintage overdrive pedals—it really sounded that rich and natural.

The Verdict
Even if a real rotary speaker cabinet wasn’t a huge pain to carry around, maintain, and store, the Lex would still be rather formidable opponent. Its ease of use and flat out killer tone put it in the upper echelon of rotary emulators. And after playing with the pedal on a single setting for over several hours, I had really forgotten that I was working with a pedal emulator—it just felt and sounded that real. It’s a trick that Strymon has pulling off with great success of late—no mean feat when it comes to the complex sounds of a rotary speaker.

Watch the video review:

Buy if...
you want one of the most authentic rotary emulators on the market today.
Skip if...
you prefer paying a crew of ten roadies to haul your Leslie.
Rating...


Street $300 - Strymon - strymon.net
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