november 2016

This tiny stompbox recorder enables real-time riff capture and fast file sharing via Bluetooth.

TC Electronic’s Wiretap Riff Recorder might seem like an answer to a problem few have considered. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great idea. It enables the capture of ideas right in the middle of a jam—without ever breaking stride or sacrificing a magical mood or moment. And with Bluetooth and USB connectivity, and a clever file management app, it facilitates fast sharing of musical ideas.

If you guessed at the intent of the Wiretap, you might think it works something like a cross between your smartphone’s audio recorder and a looper. You wouldn’t be too far off. Like a looper, you just hit the bypass switch while you’re playing and it begins recording. You can play back the recording through your amp. But the real upside comes via the downloadable app, which enables file naming, organization, and fast sharing.

There’s no limit to file length, save for the eight-hour ceiling on the unit’s memory. You can also play back recorded sections and scan through them using the simple, tape-recorder-like 3-switch array. Wiretap may seem like a solution to a problem you thought you had sorted. But few methods for capturing ideas are as easy or immediate.


Ease of Use:



Read MoreShow less

A classic wobble box, revised and expanded.

Here’s a scary campfire story you can use next time you’re out in nature with young guitarists. First, shine the flashlight upward into your face for demonic effect. Next, intone these words:

“Long ago, in a dark, distant century, there was a soulless time when most players and manufacturers forgot that tremolo was bitchin’.” [Pause for horrified gasps.] “Tremolo was a rare feature, even on cool little combo amps. And that wasn’t the only thing.” [Make ’em wait for it.] “It was nearly impossible to buy a good, vibey tremolo pedal!”

You can stretch it out from there, but don’t end on an entirely dismal note, or no one will sleep. Add this: “However, there were a few lights in the darkness. A few plucky companies built tools to make tones tremble the way Leo and God intended. Manufacturers like James Demeter, with his brave little Tremulator!” [Your audience will visibly relax at this point. Time for s’mores!]

Carrying the Trem Torch
It’s been nearly 35 years since the original TRM-1 Tremulator debuted. Back then, when a flanger was a must-have and tremolo was deemed old-hat, the TRM-1 was the perfect remedy for trem-less amps. The pedal became a mainstay for players including Ry Cooder, Richard Thompson, Jonny Greenwood, Michael Landau, and Ben Harper.

Demeter recently updated his design with the Tremulator Plus. The good news is that it duplicates the sound and features of the beloved original. The other good news is that the added features are cool, usable, and highly musical. (Bad news? Why does there always have to be bad news?)

Read MoreShow less