What is a Tape Echo Pedal?

A tape echo pedal is a type of effects pedal for electric guitar that emulates the sound of vintage tape echo machines. Tape echo was a popular effect in the 1950s and 1960s, used extensively in early rock and roll and rockabilly music, and has remained a popular effect to this day.

The tape echo pedal works by simulating the process of recording a guitar signal onto a loop of tape, then playing it back after a short delay. As the tape loop repeats, it naturally degrades, creating a distinctive and warm echo effect. The tape echo pedal emulates this process by processing the guitar signal with a combination of delay, feedback, and filtering.

Tape echo pedals typically allow the user to adjust the delay time, feedback amount, and volume of the echoes. Some models may also feature a “wow and flutter” control, which simulates the subtle pitch fluctuations that occur in vintage tape machines. The sound of a tape echo pedal can range from subtle and warm to intense and distorted, depending on the settings used.

There are several popular tape echo pedal models on the market, including the Strymon Volante, the Strymon El Capistan and the Electro-Harmonix Attack Decay. While tape echo pedals are commonly used in rockabilly, surf rock, and other vintage-inspired genres, they can also add a unique and characterful sound to a wide range of musical styles.

Tape Echo in Popular Music

There are many popular songs that use tape echo effect, particularly in the rock and roll and rockabilly genres. Here are a few examples:

  1. “Rumble” by Link Wray: This instrumental rock song from 1958 is famous for its distorted guitar sound and heavy use of tape echo, which creates a haunting and atmospheric effect.

  2. “Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash: This classic country song from 1955 features a distinctive guitar solo with a tape echo effect, adding a touch of grit and drama to the song.

  3. “Gimme Shelter” by The Rolling Stones: This iconic rock song from 1969 features a tape echo effect on the guitar riff that creates a sense of space and urgency.

  4. “Where Is My Mind?” by Pixies: This alternative rock classic from 1988 uses tape echo on the guitar and vocals to create a dreamy and ethereal atmosphere.

  5. “Black Hole Sun” by Soundgarden: This 1994 grunge hit features a prominent guitar solo with a tape echo effect that gives the song a psychedelic, otherworldly vibe.

The warm, vintage sound of tape echo continues to be a popular effect in many genres of music.