Seymour Duncan is just about the biggest name in aftermarket pickups. That focus doesn’t reflect the bounds of the company’s know-how, though. The company has built guitars, amplifiers, and a bunch of effects over the years. They’ve reenergized their pedal-building efforts over the last year, and one of the latest products from the Santa Barbara workshop is the Vapor Trail, an analog bucket-brigade delay that also incorporates a chorus-like modulation section. Despite its small size, it sounds huge.
The Vapor Trail is a pretty simple affair on the surface, but the compact control set gives you a lot of sound-shaping power. The delay controls are pretty conventional, with knobs for mix, repeat, and delay.
The clear delay knob, however, serves a cool double function by working as a delay rate indicator via a flashing blue LED that illuminates the knob. The two smaller rate and depth knobs control the modulation section.
Input and output jacks are located on the crown of the box and a wet insert jack is mounted on the left side. This function can be used in multiple ways. You can attach an expression pedal to alter the delay repeats, create a wet parallel loop with a Y-split cable, or run the purely wet signal out to another amplifier/input.
No Smokescreen Here
The main attraction of the Vapor Trail may be the ability to blend in modulation, but the delay is excellent on its own. And though the 15 to 600 ms delay range isn’t as expansive as what you get from digital units, the Vapor Trail covers classic analog delay textures with ease. You can dial up slapback tones readily with the repeat and delay around 9 o’clock—just make sure to roll off the modulation rate control, unless you want that, “Who spiked the punch?” feel—a trick the Vapor Trail does very well.
Though the mod can also run alone by turning the delay time to zero, it’s less effective by itself—sounding mostly like a mild chorus. Mixing the modulation with delay, however, can produce cosmic soundscapes, subtle tape wobble-like modulation, or approximate the chorus/vibrato textures of a Deluxe Memory Man. Spacious, Uni-Vibe-like Dark Side of the Moon colors surface with the rate and depth around noon. Slowing the rate way down turns chords into a ghostly, swirling earful—especially when you nudge the modulation depth and dial in a long delay. Shorter delay times give the pedal a Leslie-like resonance that sounds great with a really wet mix—a setting that can be unforgiving to delays or modulations with thin voices.
You can extract a surprising range of sounds and effects from the Vapor Trail. It invites tweaking and experimentation. But at its foundation, the Vapor Trail is a really solid analog delay with a deep range of voices. The wet insert jack is cool little perk that adds additional value and tweakability to a package that already does a lot for a little analog unit—especially considering the very reasonable $150 price tag.
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