november 2011

With the Whammy DT, Digitech builds on the simplistic, rugged design of the original while rearranging the control set a bit.

My first encounter with the DigiTech Whammy pedal was while listening to Pantera’s Far Beyond Driven album. With pitch bends flying every which way over the limit of guitar string tension it was clear that there was something more than Dimebag’s virtuosity was at work. And as bands from Radiohead and The Smashing Pumpkins embraced the effect in wildly varying ways, the effect became a huge success.

The original Ferrari red WH-1 was hard to miss on a pedalboard—with an expression pedal on the left and controls for Harmony, Detune, and Whammy effects on the right of the unit. Later versions added wah, auto-wah, and bass whammy, though the original remains highly sought-after for its straightforward simplicity. With the Whammy DT, DigiTech builds on the simplistic, rugged design of the original while rearranging the control set a bit. More importantly, it adds several controls and capabilities that enhance versatility, including expanded tuning capabilities and improved pitch tracking.

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Strymon says the TimeLine is inspired by studio-grade outboard delays, and the pedal’s super-functional and get-down-to-business control layout is a reflection of the muse.




At this point, most guitarists familiar with Strymon are accustomed to having the company knock their socks off. In the last couple of years, this Southern California-based group of hardcore pedal geeks has garnered raves in these pages for their Blue SkyReverberator (July 2010) and El Capistantape-delay emulator (November 2010). The company’s latest weapon for sonic tweaking, the TimeLine delay, is every bit as impressive. And if you’re a studio hound—home, pro, or otherwise—the TimeLine is worth your undivided attention.

Pure Function
Strymon says the TimeLine is inspired by studio-grade outboard delays, and the pedal’s super-functional and get-down-to-business control layout is a reflection of the muse. The gunmetal gray box may look busy compared to other stompbox delays, but given the enormous wealth of functions within, it’s actually quite streamlined. The seven knobs, arrayed asymmetrically on the right side of the pedal, modify the delayed signal in both basic ways (time, repeats, mix) and more radical ones (grit, filter, and modulation rate and depth.) An eighth knob accesses additional parameters for each effect. Twelve delay types can be selected with the Type knob on the left, which can also be pushed to save presets. The three footswitches serve dual functions, enabling you to activate two preset banks, control the looper’s play and record functions, and tap out tempos.

Worlds of Echo
There’s no way to cover everything the TimeLine can do in a single review, but while it’s a pedal of formidable power, its intuitive enough that you can jump right in and conjure about a trillion cool sounds immediately. The 12 delay “machines,” as Strymon calls them, include the dTape tapeecho simulation that’s at the core of the El Capistan pedal, the company’s dBucket analog- delay emulation, and a digital delay—all of which will delight discerning traditional tonehounds. But the less-conventional delays are where the real fun starts. Dual delay adds a second set of repeats that lend a spacious, reverb-like ambience that fans of Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien and Jonny Greenwood will adore. The Ice setting is similarly cosmic, though it does the cool trick of slicing and dicing the delayed signal and playing them back as though they were shards of a broken mirror. And with a capo on the 7th fret of my Danelectro Hodad 12-string, the simplest folk arpeggios became a celestial choir.

The Filter delays enable the addition of a synchronized low-filter oscillator to the delayed signal, as well as resonance adjustment that lends a synth-like tweak and a little mid-’70s Jerry Garcia vowel tone to the repeats. The Swell setting gives your repeats an almost volume-pedal like bloom. Trem lends a cool pulsating warble, while Reverse, when used on bendy, Eastern-flavored lines with a longer delay time and fewer repeats, is a vehicle for mind-bending psychedelic leads.

The dTape and dBucket machines have their own unique set of functions that are assigned to the Filter, Grit, Depth, and Speed controls. For instance, in dTape mode, the Filter control becomes a Tape Age emulation, while the Speed control emulates Tape Crinkle at various levels of decrepitude. Other delays use the Filter, Grit, and Depth, and Speed knobs in a more straightforward manner. But they are highly editable in other ways through use of the Value knob, which can be depressed to give you access to another level of performance-modifying options. The Ice mode, for instance, has a an Interval control that enables to you to tailor the pitch intervals of repeats from one octave down to two octaves up, with everything from major thirds and minor sevenths in between. I used this function to craft very song-specific harmonies. All such settings can be stored as presets, as well.

The Verdict
While the TimeLine is an amazing tool in live contexts, many players will find it incredibly expressive in the studio, too. In addition to the deep functionality of the unit at the most immediately accessible levels, each delay machine can seem almost infinitely tweakable to suit a musical situation. All this processing power isn’t cheap, but given that this Strymon may lead you to abandon every delay in your collection except perhaps your bar-gig unit, it could well be worth every cent over the long haul.
Buy if...
you have a producer’s ear for delectable delays and an insatiable appetite for echo in all its forms.
Skip if...
simply using your existing delay unit’s tap-tempo functionality makes your brain hurt.
Rating...


Street $449 - Strymon - strymon.net

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Brad Paisley knows a thing or two about writing hooks for general music fans while still throwing in enough guitar pyrotechnics to keep his guitar-playing audience happy, if not slightly stunned.

Diary of a Player
Brad Paisley and David Wild
Howard Books


Brad Paisley knows a thing or two about writing hooks for general music fans while still throwing in enough guitar pyrotechnics to keep his guitar-playing audience happy, if not slightly stunned. He applies that same formula to Diary of a Player, a book he’s described as a “love letter to the guitar.”

Paisley is sometimes described as the wunderkind who crashed into country music with more than enough talent to spare, but that’s not the way he sees it. Sure, the passion was there, but so was the practice. Using the superhero universe as a metaphor, Paisley describes himself as Batman—a character with no particular birthright for the cause, who is also human, flawed, and actually lacks the kind of power that guarantees other superheroes of keeping their jobs.

Paisley’s history as a player would make a good Disney movie. He started with a Silvertone electric. He admired his grandfather, who was a pretty good picker, but regrets showing off in what he now realizes was the moment they both knew he was a better player. He felt the need to stop playing for an entire summer. He went from playing a church picnic to playing any gig he could find, which included nursing homes and fire-station Christmas parties. He worked hard to keep audiences interested, even resorting to playing the theme from Sesame Street or “The Hokey Pokey” if the situation called for it. He struggled with the decision of whether or not to perform his own material once he started playing bigger stages. He opened for other acts for years and once was even doused with beer while standing too close to a frustrated Vern Gosdin who was having issues with his monitors. Paisley even auditioned for a gig at Opryland and had a deer-in-the-headlights moment when they said, “Show us you can dance.” He did the moonwalk.

Paisley got G.A.S. at an early age, like the rest of us, so it’s interesting to read his recollection of gear acquisitions. After the Silvertone, he got a Gremlin acoustic before moving up to a Hondo Strat copy and then a Tokai Strat copy. He refers to his first vintage AC30 purchase, a direct order from a music store in England, as “The Great Vox Amp Crisis of 1987.” He had to make several trips to the hardware store to get it configured for US power and to replace blown fuses. Regardless, Paisley says that was the moment “I had discovered my sound. My tone.”

Paisley’s Diary of a Player lacks the addiction battles and contract scam stories that usually characterize books penned by famous guitarists. Paisley hasn’t misstepped and has no axes to grind, which leaves more room for tales about playing with John Jorgenson, hanging out with Little Jimmy Dickens, and sneaking into the recording studio at Belmont and literally playing all night.

Paisley never dwells on amp settings or Blues Driver mods, but there’s certainly enough guitar-specific insight to set this book apart from your typical rock star-penned musings. The 39-year-old country star has accomplished a lot in a short time, but he’s most proud of being a player, which is what this book explains.
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