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Beer of the Bass

Tape echo emulation - any suggestions?

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For several years now I've been using a Melos tape echo on guitar. When it's working well it sounds great, but it's a little too touchy to be an entirely dependable proposition live. I use it for several different sounds, a short slapback, a longer more atmospheric echo and dubby sounding things where I strike a chord and then crank it into feedback. The latter has become a bit of a signature sound in the band I play in, so it's a pain in the bum if I turn up for a gig and find that the Melos isn't behaving that day. I've spent a surprising amount of time fiddling with it and figuring out how to load fresh tape into the cartridges, so that at this point I'm convinced that it's as dependable as it can ever be.
So after resisting this for ages, I'm starting to look around for alternatives. It needs to be a not-entirely-clean repeat, ideally with some sort of modulation to simulate the tape wow and flutter, and it needs to do good dubby feedback noises when the repeats are cranked up. Is there much out there that does this without spending a fortune?

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The Wampler does sound good in the demos, though would be a touch more than I was hoping to spend. Some of the Catalinbread pedals look great too. I think GuitarGuitar in Edinburgh have quite a few of those in stock, so I should really pop round and try some things.
It's interesting, most of the BBD analogue delays I've heard are too dark sounding for what I have in mind, so digital of some sort would appear to be the way. A tape echo can be quite bright, just not in a clean sounding way. Adjusting to a pedal might be tricky, as I've got into the habit of putting the Melos on top of my amp and turning round to tweak the knobs regularly. That's a bit harder to do with something on the floor! I might have to look at using some sort of loop switching pedal with it so that I can still do that.

Edited by Beer of the Bass

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I would have thought the two main candidates would be the Strymon el Capistan and the Boss RE20 Space Echo. Alsp the new 'Bright' MXR Carbon Copy is worth a look - the repeats are much brighter-sounding than the original, and it has modulation if you want it.

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The Boss RE20 does sound very good in the demos - I'll have to go and try one out. I had a Roland RE201 a few years ago which I really, really regret selling, and it seems like the RE20 captures a fair bit of that sound.

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Ah, I'd forgotten about this thread.  I ended up with a Catalinbread Belle Epoch, which was the closest sounding thing I'd tried to my old tape echo.  It behaves a little differently, since my old Melos got darker as the tape speed was slowed, and the BE is simulating the Echoplex which uses a sliding head instead (so keeps a consistent tone at different echo times).  But the feedback sounds and modulation on it are spot-on.  

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10 hours ago, aitkenaudio said:

did you ever move the melos on? was it one of the cartridge based ones?

I'm hanging on to the Melos, it's just not coming out for gigs.  I have two of them, one I was using and another tucked away waiting for me to refurbish it if I ever get around to it, both the silver-fronted cartridge based model.  

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11 hours ago, Beer of the Bass said:

I'm hanging on to the Melos, it's just not coming out for gigs.  I have two of them, one I was using and another tucked away waiting for me to refurbish it if I ever get around to it, both the silver-fronted cartridge based model.  

fair enough, they're great when they work

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I  use a Tech21 Boost DLA and like it a lot, the tone control can get you into analogue tape arena and the flutter control helps too.

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Just get the Dunlop EP103 Echoplex.  Superb pedal, lots of adjustment and you can add another switch for tap tempo (that gives up to 4 seconds delay).

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On 04/10/2015 at 21:39, JapanAxe said:

I would have thought the two main candidates would be the Strymon el Capistan and the Boss RE20 Space Echo. Alsp the new 'Bright' MXR Carbon Copy is worth a look - the repeats are much brighter-sounding than the original, and it has modulation if you want it.

Bought a secondhand Strymon Volante off the bay..... no regrets!

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2 hours ago, paulmcnamara said:

Bought a secondhand Strymon Volante off the bay..... no regrets!

Good score. The Volante wasn't around when I commented in 2015!

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Yeah, the band I was so heavily reliant on tape echo in isn't even around any more! Though I ended up being pretty happy with the Catalinbread Belle Epoch, with the only downside being having to crouch down to tweak knobs instead of leaning over to a box on top of my amp.

I recorded twice with that band, first time with the Melos, second time with the Catalinbread, and if anything I like the way my echo sounds came out on the second one slightly more.

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I'm old enough to remember the old technology...... in the 70's our guitarist got a secondhand Wem Copycat........ it was always breaking down! But its great to have the old tech in a more modern format with more reliability.......

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Posted (edited)

Weird to see the Melos unit getting so much love.

When I was first looking at delay devices in the early 80s, you only bought the Melos because you couldn't afford the better alternatives.

Edited by BigRedX

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It's limited and not the most reliable, but if you're using a tape echo for its interesting character, they have a lot of that. They're certainly crude next to something like a Space Echo, but I've owned a Roland RE201, a solid state WEM Copicat and the Melos, and the Melos does have its own charm for shorter echo times with dirty sounding repeats.

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