In this Strymon El Capistan review, we’re going to be discussing the pedals features, tone and performance to find out what makes this delay pedal so highly regarded.
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When designing the El Capistan echo delay, Strymon spent months altering every nuance until the pedal recreated the sounds of a classic tape echo machine. The El Capistan incorporates Strymon’s dTape technology which has allowed them to recreate the warmth and distinctive qualities found on old tape machines. In this review, we will look at the features of the El Capistan to find out if it is the best tape echo pedal on the market.
Features and controls
The El Capistan is perhaps the most ambitious tape echo delay recreation to date. It features five knobs to manually control different parameters of the sound. These are time, mix, tape age, repeats and wow&flutter. Additionally the El Capistan includes three tape machines in one enclosure.
The first, ‘fixed head’ allows you to set 1/16 1/8 or 1/4 length delays depending on the respective setting of the ‘mode’ switch. ‘Multi head’ activates two separate playback heads at once, and ‘single head’ alters the tape motor speed.
Watch this video by Strymon explaining displaying the sounds of the El Capistan dTape delay.
The El Capistan’s features go far beyond the face value controls on the face of the enclosure..
Holding down the bypass and tempo switches simultaneously will access the secondary function mode where the knobs control new parameters. The ‘time’ control becomes a reverb, the ‘tape age’ becomes a low end roll off and the ‘wow&flutter’ turns into the ‘crinkle effect’, which enhances the imperfections of tape delays. Additionally the mix control becomes a volume boost in the secondary function.
And theres more! Strymon have also incorporated a looper into the El Capistan. Whilst selecting mode ‘C’ you can use the tap tempo button to activate the looper and record a passage of guitar which will then loop, allowing you to play over the top of the original recording. This is a great feature when considering how expensive individual looper pedals can cost. Furthermore, you can alter the tone and delay of a looping sound by manually turning the knobs.
Tone and Performance
Despite the quality of the sounds provided by the Strymon El Capistan, the concept of the pedal is to move away form the pristine tones found on quality digital delay pedals. In fact, whist using this pedal I found my self utilising the controls to degrade the sound and really explore the analogue qualities that the El Capistan brilliantly recreates. Much of this is controlled through the ‘tape age’ knob which performs well in altering the tone of the delay depending on how aged you desire the sound to be.
For me, the most fascinating feature of the Strymon El Capistan is the ‘Wow & Flutter’ control which really captures the idiosyncrasies of old tape delay machines. Essentially this produces a warm modulated tone which is unique to tape delay and brilliantly recreated by Strymon, really adding authenticity to to the character of the El Capistan.
I also found the tap tempo function to perform exactly how I wanted it to, allowing me to easily program the right tempo for a subtle depth in my guitar tone. Interestingly, this added more of a reverberated tone rather than an obvious delay which was pleasing to the ears when A/B with my dry bypassed fender tone.
Customer Review Rating
The Strymon El Capistan is rated 4* out of 5* on Amazon – Check Out The Review Here
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