Strymon El Capistan Review (October 2023) | Guitar Effects Pedalz 🥇

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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.

Strymon El Capistan

Strymon El Capistan Review

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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 sounding 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 time of a looping sound by manually turning the knobs.

Strymon El Capistan

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 on the pedal board, 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 Cap 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.

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Customer Review Rating

The Strymon El Capistan is rated 4* out of 5* on Amazon – Check Out The Review Here

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FAQ: Strymon El Capistan

1. What is the Strymon El Capistan DTape Echo?

The Strymon El Capistan DTape Echo is a highly acclaimed effects pedal that emulates the sound and characteristics of vintage tape echo machines. It offers a wide range of tape echo effects, from short delays to longer repeats, providing musicians with authentic tape echo sounds in a convenient stompbox format.

2. What are the key features of the El Capistan V2?

The El Capistan V2 includes various features that enhance its performance and versatility. Some notable features are the tape speed control, the ability to emulate different tape machines, the tape bias adjustment, the tape age knob, and the low-end contour control. Additionally, the pedal offers 300 MIDI preset locations for easy recall and has a discrete Class A JFET preamp input for pristine signal quality.

3. How does the El Capistan compare to other Strymon pedals, like the BlueSky Reverberator?

While the BlueSky Reverberator focuses on providing lush reverb effects, the El Capistan is specifically designed to deliver authentic tape echo sounds. Both pedals excel in their respective categories, but the El Capistan is the go-to choice for musicians seeking the warmth and character of vintage tape echo effects.

4. Does the El Capistan offer MIDI functionality?

Yes, the El Capistan V2 includes the addition of MIDI, allowing for precise control and integration with MIDI-enabled devices. It supports MIDI control change commands, providing musicians with enhanced flexibility and creative possibilities in their setups.

5. How does the El Capistan achieve its realistic tape echo sound?

The El Capistan achieves its realistic tape echo sound through a combination of advanced algorithms and high-quality components. It utilizes a new ARM DSP chip, an analog JFET input circuit, and a discrete Class A JFET preamp to faithfully replicate the characteristics of a vintage tape echo machine, capturing the warmth, saturation, and modulation inherent in the sound of tape.

6. Can the El Capistan simulate the sound of a worn-out tape?

Yes, the El Capistan allows you to adjust the tape age knob, which emulates the degradation and worn-out characteristics of an aging tape. This feature adds extra authenticity to the tape echo effects, providing a range of tonal possibilities from pristine to vintage and degraded.

7. Is the El Capistan easy to use for beginners?

Despite its powerful capabilities, the El Capistan is designed with ease of use in mind. Its intuitive interface and straightforward control layout make it accessible to both beginners and experienced players. Whether you prefer to dial in presets or like to tweak settings on the fly, the El Capistan offers a user-friendly experience.

8. Can the El Capistan be used with acoustic instruments?

Absolutely! The El Capistan is suitable for use with a wide range of instruments, including acoustic guitars. Its tape echo effects can add depth, warmth, and character to your acoustic sound, enriching your overall tone and musical expression.

9. Does the El Capistan produce any noise or signal degradation?

The El Capistan V2 incorporates ultra-low noise discrete Class A JFET technology, ensuring a clean and transparent signal path. This design choice minimizes any unwanted noise or signal degradation, allowing you to fully enjoy the pristine sound quality of the pedal.

10. Does the El Capistan have a USB connection for updates?

Yes, the El Capistan V2 features a USB Type-C port, which allows for firmware updates and future enhancements. The USB connection ensures that your pedal stays up to date with the latest features and improvements, guaranteeing a reliable and optimized performance.