The sound was great for smoky, nourishing, bluesy jazz moves—adding a little mystery and attitude to hanging octaves and half-step slides.
Strictly left-brain engineers must be positively confounded by tape delay freaks. Even now, as DSP power makes possible the emulation of the analog irregularities these weirdos love (and I count myself among this tribe), the hardcore remain steadfastly unsatisfied. Their skepticism isn’t entirely unfounded, of course. Most players with a half-decent ear can hear and appreciate the warmth of a wellkept Echoplex compared alongside a digital simulation. But for those that believe that digital emulation represents the pinnacle of audio evolution, the lack of love must be a bit upsetting.
The Orbit Electronix Psychoplex isn’t a tape delay. And for that shortcoming alone, it may underwhelm Echoplex fanatics. But by using a 12AX7 to drive a circuit derived from the Echoplex EP-1 and embracing bucket brigade analog delay technology, the Psychoplex goes a long way toward imparting the sweet preamp-style signal coloration that makes Echoplexes— and the tube-driven EP-1 in particular—so sweet and unique sounding.
Whatever side you choose in the great delay schism, you have to admit the Psychoplex looks the way a stompbox should look. Big, bright, and bold, it recalls a time when Morley and Electro Harmonix built the stompbox equivalents of a Buick Wildcat. Yes, it’s large. And if you’re already complaining that it won’t fit on your pedalboard, you should really ask yourself if you needed that third overdrive anyway.
The odd-looking, box-like metallic appendage on top of the unit houses the 12AX7 tube that’s the key to the Psychoplex’s tone, and the X-shaped vent helps keep the tube cool, while presenting a mysterious, somewhat menacingly glowing visage to your audience when the lights are low. The three controls on the face are logically arranged, easy to identify, and the white knobs are easy to pick out on a dark stage. And on top of the unit adjacent to the input jack, you’ll find a fourth control that switches between long and short delays. You’ll also find the 12V DC jack— important because the higher voltage drives the buffer that’s another essential element of the unit’s Echoplex-like voice.
One of the first among many of the Psychoplex’ pleasant surprises is that it can be subtle. With the big red pedal between a Rickenbacker 330 and a blackface Fender Tremolux, the Level, Repeat, and Time controls all at noon, and the Delay switch set to Short, the Psychoplex had a soft and subdued, but still distinct presence that give chords a little more movement and makes leads stand out a little more prominently. With the Rick’s neck pickup engaged and the Tone rolled off the sound was great for smoky, noirish, bluesy jazz moves—adding a little mystery and attitude to hanging octaves and half-step slides. When I switched to the Long delay, but left the other settings untouched, the Psychoplex became more prominent and spacey—perfect for languid, lazy Hendrix-inspired blues runs.
The two most reactive and organic feeling controls are the Level and Repeat. Both have great range and are sensitive to fine-tuning. Moving the Level control just a notch or two past the noon mark gives the repeats a cool volume swell before they start to taper. And you can combine that effect with shorter repeat setting to add a faint, but discernable backwards-tape sound that sounds doubly hip with a fuzz and some slow raga bends.
With a Fender Jaguar on the business end of the signal chain, the Psychoplex seems in a slightly more natural setting. The cutting Fender single-coils almost have an exciting effect on the stompbox—highlighting the circuit’s capacity to cut high end on repeats without ever sounding thin or diminishing harmonic complexity. Slapback settings at heavy levels are perfect for overthe- top Cramps-style psychobilly vamps and leads. Switching to the Long delay setting gave the super-clean combination of Fender guitar and amp a sweet, Gilmourish flavor. When I added an overdrive, it conspired with the Psychoplex’ 12AX7 to create a just-sizzling tone that sounds amazing for sustained bends and for tremolo-feathered chord arpeggios.
In each of these contexts, the Psychoplex displays a lot of genuinely tape-like characteristics. There’s a very organic presence to this effect when you kick it on. And it’s not at all antiseptic, though there’s still a mechanical regularity to the repeats that sounds more like an analog delay. You won’t notice that if you’re inclined to aggressively tinker with the repeats and level on the fly. To send the Psychoplex into oscillating feedback, you only have to move the Repeat knob just past two o’clock and crank the level up to about the same. Back the Repeats down a bit and you’ll hit a sweet spot where an almost reverb-like harmonic echo will linger like a drone under a lead or chord progression. It’s at these settings that the more Echoplex-like characteristics of the pedal come into play. Certainly, the 12AX7 is a major factor in this aspect of the Psychoplex’s performance. And it seems to not only play into the color of the tones you get, but the more Echoplex-like reactivity of the controls.
The bottom line: The Psychoplex is a beautiful-sounding analog delay. And if you’re a devotee of tape delay tones you’ll be thrilled with what this thing can do— particularly in slapback settings and more radical tweaking where the clock-like analog repeats are less likely to betray the lack of actual tape.
The most Echoplex-like aspects of the Psychoplex are the way the onboard 12AX7 interacts with the circuit, the pedal’s controls, your amplifier, and your playing. That’s nothing to shake a stick at, because even at its mellowest, the Psychoplex can enliven an otherwise clean tube amp tone in very cool ways that are distinctly tube tape echo-like. In the absence of tape, the Psychoplex is unlikely to send nitpickers scrambling to sell their EP-1s on eBay. But for most applications, this pedal will get you about 80 percent of the way to a truly authentic Echoplex tone. And given how elusive that can be we’re pretty impressed with what Orbit has pulled off with the Psychoplex.
you don’t want to risk gigging with your Echoplex anymore, but can’t stand the thought of playing with a dinky analog delay.
you like digital predictability and compact pedal designs.
Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the release of the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses. The new Relentless P and Relentless J series pickups feature the Relentless cover designed in collaboration with Billy Sheehan.
As with the Relentless pickups, we removed all the hard edges from the standard P Bass and standard J Basspickups, and added an arch to the top of the pickups to bring the sensing coils and pole pieces closer to the strings. These improvements increase the dynamic range and make active circuitry unnecessary.
The Relentless P and Relentless J pickups incorporate Neodymium magnets and produce 70 percent more output than traditional passive pickups, and they’re dead quiet due to the incorporation of metal covers and foil-shielded cables. To dial in (or fine-tune) the individual string output, the Relentless P and Relentless J include eight adjustable pole pieces. These pickups also have a broad magnetic field so you can even bend notes without volume dropout.
DiMarzio’s extra shielding makes the Relentless P and Relentless J better for both recording and stage performances. We’ve mounted them onto robust .09375” thick circuit board base plates to eliminate the annoying protruding mounting screws — ultimately creating a more comfortable and consistent foundation to rest your fingers on.
The new Relentless P steps beyond the traditional P-Bass sound and can only be described as massive. It has more of everything: more volume, beefier lows, a growling midrange, and crispy highs with better individual string definition.
The Relentless J incorporates a new invention, (patent pending) parallelogram-shaped coils, offering an expanded mid-range punch, snappy highs, precise lows, and a new dimension to the sound of the Relentless series pickups.
Relentless P and Relentless J pickups will breathe new life into any bass, increase playability, and work well for any style of music from Motown to metal.
DiMarzio’s Relentless P, Relentless J Bridge, Relentless J Neck, and Relentless J pair are made in the U.S.A. and may now be ordered for immediate delivery.
Suggested List Price for the Relentless P is $169.00 (MAP $119.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Bridge and Relentless J neck is $155.00 (MAP $109.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Pair is $296.00 (MAP 209.99).
For more information, please visit our website at dimarzio.com.
Mystery Stocking is coming soon! Sign up for PG Perks below so you don't miss it.
Sign up for PG Perks on the form below to make sure you don't miss the launch announcement!
About Mystery Stocking
Each year, Premier Guitar likes to put out these mystery boxes as a part of bringing some fun to the holiday season. Remember, this is supposed to be a fun holiday treat! If the contents of this box will ruin your holiday, deplete the last of your bank account, or end your ability to see the good in humanity, it may not be for you.
- This year's Mystery Stocking will cost $44.95. ($39.95 + $5 Flat shipping)
- Each box will be guaranteed to contain $40 or more in value.
- US only. (Sorry World.)
- Make sure your shipping address is correct.
- Have your credit card ready to go before you refresh the page. Paypal is not available. Autofill may not fill in your information.
- There will be NO REFUNDS given.
- There has been a huge demand for these in the past. We really did sell out in less than 4 minutes last year. When they are gone, they are gone.
- One per household, one per person.
Q: What's in the Mystery Stocking?
A: It wouldn't be much of a surprise if we told you, now would it?
Q: Will I definitely get my money worth?
Q: Can I return it if I don't like it?
A: Nope. All sales final.
Q: What if I live outside the US?
A: Sorry, US only.
Q. How much is it?
A. $39.95 Plus $5 shipping
Q. When will it ship?
A. On or before December 10, 2022.
Q. What form of payment do you accept?
A. Credit cards only. Sorry, no Paypal for this.
Q. Can I ship to a different location than my billing address?
Q. I tried last year and didn't get one. Will I get one this year?
A. There is an overwhelming demand for Mystery Stocking. Be sure you have a fast internet connection and be ready when they go on sale. Last year we sold out in 3 min 33 seconds.
Q. I want to buy 5. How can I buy 5?
A. You can't. This year, we're limiting to one per household, so more people can get in on the fun!
For part two of our crash course in harmony for bassists, we’re talkin’ triads.
As bass players, our job is often to indicate and support what is happening rhythmically and harmonically in the music we’re playing. And to do that, it’s important for us to understand the basics of tonality and how it works. In fact, every bass player must have a strong knowledge of harmony to do their job correctly. This month, we’ll continue last month’s harmony crash course with some more ways to brush up on your ear skills, in italics below, so you can do your low-end job effectively.
The basic building block of harmony is the dyad, which gives us our basic intervals. But the basic building block of tonality is the triad, a grouping of three or more tones (root, 3rd, and 5th) that give us the four chord qualities—major, minor, diminished, and augmented—which you’re probably already familiar with.
Just as with intervals, we should train our ears to recognize chord qualities instantly. Start with two qualities (major and minor). Once you can identify those two correctly about 95 percent of the time, add another. Keep going until you can identify all four qualities consistently.
Another great exercise is to take a melody (either major or minor) and convert it to the opposite quality. Start out with something you know well, like “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” This may take a while at first, but the goal is to keep on doing these until you can convert most stuff on the fly instantly.
“This feeling of resolution, in some ways, is the whole point.”
Each chord quality has its own distinct sound, but major and minor are related, and both feel very grounded. Because of the 5th in each, our ears can easily hear which note in the chord is strongest (the root), which gives major and minor a sense of gravity. This feeling persists even if we change the order of the notes (invert the chord).
Have a friend or an app play inversions of major or minor triads. Find the root of each chord by singing it. Work towards being able to identify these triads in root position (root in the bass), first inversion (3rd in the bass), or second inversion (5th in the bass).
Pay attention to bass lines that land on a root, 3rd, or 5th on the first beat of the bar and then practice coming up with your own examples.
Diminished and augmented triads are much more ambiguous. Without a perfect fifth (diminished has a b5 and augmented has a #5), no tone in particular sounds strongest. Thus, both chords lack gravity. In fact, to most of us, every tone sounds equal, like being lost in the woods where every direction appears the same. Both seem to want to move towards something else more stable. When this occurs, it gives a sense of release, or resolution. This feeling of resolution, in some ways, is the whole point.
The top part of a dominant seventh or V7 chord is a diminished triad. For example, a C7 consists of the notes C–E–G–Bb. If you remove the C, we’re left with an E diminished triad. This is where the moving sound, or the desire to resolve, comes from. The important takeaway is that we’re making something very stable—a major chord—and making it less stable when we add the b7, because of the diminished sound, which in turn sets up the need to resolve.
Listening for V–I: On a guitar or keyboard play any major chord, then add a b7 (transforming I to V7) and try to hear where the progression “wants” to go next. Move to the new key (a fifth down) and repeat. After twelve V–I progressions you’ll arrive back at the original key.
The Dominant Gateway: On bass, try playing a walking bass pattern over the cycle of fifths, strategically using a b7 to move to the next key. This foreshadowing is a great voice-leading skill.
That's all for our crash course in harmony. If you take your time with these exercises, you should notice not only your ears improving, but your bass playing too!