Whatever is the instrument that you play, it’s always a good idea to have some additional effects to enhance your tone. Not too much, but just something that will help you in not sounding so dry all the time.
Of course, there are plenty of pedals out there that will help you get all the tones that you need. But what if you want to take it to a whole new level and get yourself a rack-mounted multi-effects unit? After all, this is something professional musicians have been doing for their entire lives, so it must be a good thing, right?
With this in mind, we decided to look more into one of the discontinued pieces by the legendary TC Electronic.
Generally speaking, it’s a unit that’s often used by instrumentalists, even for live shows. We’ve seen some of the biggest names in the world of the guitar using it, including Eric Clapton, Larry Carlton, Steve Vai, Alex Lifeson, and even Dream Theater’s John Petrucci.
Without further ado, here’s some exciting info about TC 1210 Spatial Expander & Stereo Chorus + Flanger.
First off, the TC 1210 is a rack-mounted product featuring a few onboard different effects. It is based on the company’s famous SCF Stereo Chorus/Flanger pedal but with a bit more features.
The whole idea behind the TC 1210 was to have a suitable effect for creating a solid spatial stereo image of one’s tone. In addition, there are some other effects that we will discuss here.
It is an entirely analog unit relying on the old bucket brigade device technology that people are still crazy about these days. There are seven different presets and effects to choose from: spatial expander, two choruses, two flangers, a doubler, and a stereo delay.
The 1210’s greatest superpower comes with its stereo features. Each of the effects can be used either in stereo or mono modes. In addition to this, you’re able to use two separate inputs as two independent channels and process them individually.
There are plenty of controls on there for separating these channels, using the same or different effects on them, and even using each of the dedicated outputs individually or as one whole audio image. All of the features and controls just wouldn’t fit into one brief review.
Inputs and outputs are located on the rear panel. There are two inputs and outputs for regular 1/4-inch jacks and additional XLR inputs and outputs.
Aside from that, there’s an input for bypass footswitch control and the “speed” footswitch jack that lets you choose from five different effect speed modes. There is also a “direct mute” switch that completely mutes the signal coming out of the unit.
Overall, 1210 provides a surprising amount of controls for such an old piece. The combinations are almost endless, and they’re all designed to provide you with some really spacious choruses, flangers, delays, doublers, and expanders.
Although not many will go to the lengths of looking into your rig, we could say that the TC 1210 seems pretty neat. Nothing too fancy, but it clearly shows somewhat of a vintage-ish ’80s and ’90s feel.
The writing on it is a bit too small, but when you get used to setting it up, you won’t have any trouble knowing where each control is. At the end of the day, not many will care about the looks of your rack pieces so there’s nothing to worry about here, really.
Just like its name would suggest, there is a lot of “spaciousness” feel to all the effects on it. But the TC 1210 is best known for its 3D stereo chorus.
Most of the guitar players who have used it over the years were able to create some really spacious feeling stereo tones through it. At some points, it could feel as if there are actually two instruments playing.
But whatever is the effect that you want to use on it, it provides a very 3D feel to it. In some cases, even when the sound coming from the left speaker is louder, you’ll get the impression that the tone is coming from the right speaker.
The illusion is created by delaying the signal to the left output. It is just one of the examples of how complex and detailed this piece actually is.
The analog feel is definitely noticeable with TC 1210 and it won’t sound like any of the standard sterile digital products you can find today. However, the whole operation is a bit outdated.
These days, you can get some pretty convincing (at least in our opinion) digital replicas of analog effects that would be a lot more easier to set up.
1210 will also provide stable operation for any kind of setup, whether you want to use it in front of an amp, FX loop, or in the standard rack configuration.
You can also send the signal to two amps or to separate it and go into an amp and a mixer. The options are endless, but it would take some time getting used to TC 1210.
One thing you need to know is that these are not exactly easy to find. TC 1210 has been really popular throughout the 1990s and these days you can find a used one for well over $1,000.
It’s an entirely professional vintage analog device that will provide some really “spacious” tones.
The TC 1210 is succeeded by some of the modern pieces, all of which are based on this old rack unit. For instance, there’s the TC 1210-DT Desktop Controller, which has a similar spatial expander effect on it.
But to conclude this review, this multi-effects piece is something those vintage seekers are crazy about these days. Aside from the guitar, it can be used for processing vocals or any miked-up acoustic instruments.
But if you’re a beginner and an average enthusiast, you’ll probably want to skip this one and go with something a little more simple and practical.
It seems that the craze for the old vintage effects will never die. Now, is this just hype or are these pedals really so good that they beat anything that modern brands have to put out there?
Well, it depends on how you look at it really. Sure, there is probably somewhat of a nostalgia involved but there are also some pretty great pedals from the old days. And, of course, maybe it’s not about being “better” but it’s just that some guitar players prefer this particular sound.
Including some famous musicians, like Rage Against the Machine legend Tom Morello. Among the ton of effects he has in his collection, we can find one of those old pedals – Ibanez DFL Flanger.
Knowing the pedal is from his time, it might be that a guy like Morello is fond of this sound. And knowing that he uses one, it certainly draws our attention to check one out and see what the whole deal is. Shall we dive into it then?
Before we begin, this particular effect is kind of hard to stumble upon since the pedal was produced back in the 1980s. But if you do, it’s certainly an interesting piece of guitar history that is worth checking out.
This flanger, of course, has been highly valued among collectors and is often praised for its performance and the fact that it is actually the first ever flanger pedal to use digital processing. Prior to this one, guitar players usually had to rely on the bulky rack-mounted units.
There are five controls in total on the DFL Flanger – speed, width, regen, delay time, and the delay length mode switch. These are all pretty much the usual knobs and switches to have on a flanger pedal.
Speed is, of course, controlling the speed of the effect. Everything from the slow sweeping “jet engine” type of stuff, all the way to the unbearably crazy fast flanger. The width controls how wide the effect will go – the lowest and the highest point of the frequency wave.
The delay time switch has three modes – short, medium, and long, 4 ms, 8 ms, and 16 ms respectively. With the basic delay time switch, you fine-tune the delay time to the desired level.
The regeneration knob, also known as feedback, controls the amount of the delayed signal in the mix, essentially intensifying the overall flanger effect.
On the left side of the pedal, there’s a small black lever that lifts up the main foot switch and opens up the battery compartment. The DFL is powered by either a standard 9 volt battery or a 9 volt AC adapter.
One more thing that should also be noted is that the casing of the pedal is a really sturdy one, so you don’t have to worry about any potential serious damage to it.
Not to mention that any potential noise is less likely to happen since it’s shielded well. It does seem that it’s even stronger and more durable than the stuff we see today, but we could say that it’s a bit of an overkill.
This being from the 1980s, the design is definitely going to differ from what we’re used to seeing. First, the input and output are placed not on the sides as we’re used to but on the front of the pedal, left and right of the power jack.
Of course, we can see that the looks are different and that the footswitch is not taking the whole width of the pedal. And it’s somehow making it look unique, which might be important to some players who like to have vintage kind of stuff on their pedalboard.
The colors are quite interesting and remind us that this one was clearly made in the 1980s. If you take the well preserved DFL, you can see this particular shade of light green color and the orange pot caps, with the paint scheme kind of reminding us of Pac-Man. Definitely an interesting piece to look at.
One thing’s certain ñ having one of these will definitely make you sound unique. One thing that we can notice is that it adds somewhat of depth to your sound. The controls are responsive and the manual states that there’s an extra wide 8:1 ratio, giving you the option to have some really wide effects.
Overall, it works well both in clean and distorted situations, and can be useful for both rhythms and leads. Anything from bluesy funky stuff, to scorching heavy metal riffs and solos.
On the other hand, it does kind of give out a different impression compared to the flangers you can find today. After all, the pedal was produced way back in the 80s, so it does require some time and patience to get used to.
It would be a lie to say that this was not a great pedal. Works well, has its peculiar and unique tone, and is even a great sight for those vintage aesthetic lovers.
However, we do need to point out that this is an old effect produced in the mid-80s that’s not that easy to find. With this in mind, it’s only obvious that the price isn’t going to be comparable to an average modern flanger.
If you’re a guitar gear collector or are planning to be one, then Ibanez DFL is definitely worth it if you do get your hands on one of these.
Or, if you’re not a collector but just want to have a unique piece of history on your pedalboard – fine, get one.
Just bear in mind that there are many other alternatives out there that are way cheaper. In the end, it’s for you to decide and see what works for you. But it’s definitely an interesting little piece of the guitar gear history and a valuable collectible item.
When it comes to modern guitar effect pedals, and music gear in general, there are quite a lot of companies out making it. Some companies are large, and some are small. Some suck, some are great. We all know how it goes.
To the end user, aka the music gear consumer, there are advantages to dealing with both big and small companies, as well as cons.
On one hand, large companies are trusted and have years of experience doing what they do, and can back up any of their products (usually) with guarantees and warranties that protect the musicians buying them from lightning storms, jam hall fires, irresponsible siblings getting their slimy mitts on your pedal board, etc.
These big, established companies that have household names make pedals that are the go-to gear of working musicians, and the cycle of rock continues.
On the other hand, you have companies that run a slightly smaller, tighter ship, but have more creative freedom, and are able to experiment.
They also have the ability to keep a meticulous eye on everything that goes on, and their customer service has the potential to be a lot better, as they can offer things the big companies can’t, and come up with technology that is mind-blowingly inventive.
A company of this sort that is small but spunky would be T-Rex Engineering, a company out of Denmark who manufacturers a number of guitar pedals, including distortion/overdrive, tremolo, looper, delay, reverb, octaver, wah, and more.
They also make power supplies, boards, bags, cables, brackets, and tape cartridges.
Basically, TRex makes a lot of what your average musician will need to get through the next show, plus a bunch of stuff that a lot of musicians wouldn’t mind getting for their birthdays if only their friends, family, and loved ones knew a thing or two about cool music gear.
Lars and Sebastian, childhood friends who both have a passion for music, and who founded the company back in 1996, always make sure the components with which they use to make their pedals and gear is of the utmost quality. They have a small but dedicated team who work together to keep on top of things.
Being music gear nerds here at YTMS, and fans of boutique guitar pedals and crazy/cool effects, we managed to set up a little Q&A with TRex, with the hopes to get a better idea how their business works, and also so we can learn more about their pedals, which we are big fans of!
You gotta figure, if their stuff is good enough for the likes of Steve Lukather (Toto), Marc Tremonti (Alter Bridge), Martin Gore (Depeche Mode), Carl Verheyen (Supertramp), Patrick Matera (Katy Perry) and Luke Potashnik (Katie Melua), they must have their shit together.
And in the following chat, we find out exactly how TRex goes about things! Enjoy!
Can you, in a nutshell, describe what TRex Engineering does?
We design and manufacture effects, amps, power supplies and accessories for guitar players, as well as other musicians that need useable tools for real-world applications.
What inspired you to get into the effects pedals business?
Lars (founder) is an electronics guy and for his graduation project, he made a switching system for pedals, so they could be turned on and off in presets. Sebastian (childhood friend, founder) did the digital part, since he was also graduating in electronics, although back then, you did either analog or digital.
They had both between the two of them, so it worked quite well.
A few players saw it and wanted to buy it, so the guys started a small production.
So really, it was as simple as a “good idea” that people bought into, which is still very much the philosophy around here – ask and listen to the players and see if you can come up with stuff that they feel is useful, not just impressive or “en vogue”.
How was the guitar effects pedal world different back when you guys started in 1996?
First of all, there weren’t that many competitors (or should I say colleagues?). The boutique thing was just happening and things were still pretty old school regarding the setups/rigs.
Nowadays, programmers can make the planet rotate the other way using a chip that costs 0.02USD, it seems.
In many ways, the pedal world hasn’t changed one bit since Hendrix tracked “Hey Joe”, because there seems to be an incredible interest in “classic” effects and sounds, but at the same time, we embrace new technology like there’s no tomorrow.
The requests we get are sometimes physically impossible to meet, but I get why the question is asked because from the outside world, it certainly looks like anything’s possible.
One guy wanted a pedal that could detect what key the band was playing in, so that he could pick the right harmonica for the song – I don´t want to put the guy down at all, but a book on music theory is 5 bucks and needs no power.
In short, we are all a lot closer to each other now and manufacturers must listen harder and react faster on the market demands.
What are some of your top sellers these days…and why?
The Soulmate Acoustic and our tape echos are doing pretty well right now. I guess they serve a purpose that players can relate to.
With the ASM, it sort of takes out all the guesswork of playing live with an acoustic, because everything is there – effects, signal conditioning, pre-amplification, D.I. box, etc.
The tape echo units seem to be “fun” and offer something completely different to what else is out there, good AND bad. But most customers like them for the exact same reasons.
Shoot, who doesn’t like to press a switch and watch stuff turn, roll, slide and blink? And then it also puts out sound!!
We all connect to our inner 3-year old child when we see such a thing, which I think complements the precise, predictive and controlled nature of a modern DSP-based effect.
These speak to the grown-up part of our brain and provides safety in use, but they are not as lively or random.
I think music that has some irregularities in it speaks a bit louder than something that’s maybe slightly too polished, and I guess that’s why there’s room for a tape echo on the market, also.
You’re obviously into more than just pedals.For those who don’t know, what other stuff do you make?
We make some power bricks called FuelTanks, that share a common topology but differ in size, total power and in the various options for powering pedals.
We also make ToneTrunk pedalboards, which are also available in various sizes.
These differ from the competition by being two-tiered, so you get to turn on a pedal in the back row without hitting knobs or switches on the goodies in the front row.
I know you take pride in your components.From where do you source the materials?
It depends. Where “standard” stuff gets the job done, we use it.
If a certain design calls for some special component, we try to track one down that might fit the purpose or simply have them made according to our specs.
So the philosophy is that the customer should only pay extra if extra is needed.
We have several custom made parts in our products – some are from Danish manufacturers, others from the US or Asia. It all depends on who can make it for us.
We source mechanical parts for the tape echo locally (because of high tolerance), we make custom knobs right at our factory in China, and our custom made transformers and coils come from our transformer supplier in Denmark.
What’s the main factor in making a more durable pedal?
Obviously, the parts have to be connected tightly and the parts that see the most stress should be up to the task.
Honestly, I don’t think there’s much more to do for mankind here – do we really need a design that can be run over by a truck and still work? I mean, who plays gigs involving running their equipment over by trucks? (I’d love to go see this band, though).
Basically, it’s about sticking to the laws of physics. Making sure that the parts stay connected during use.
As for the components, humans don’t even know how long, say, a resistor will last, because they haven’t been around long enough for us to even know.
Some drift or fail, but as a component “species”, they work forever (so far) as long as they don’t run too hot. So staying cool is always preferred.
And then you test, to try and catch the “lemons”.
Maybe if we all stopped kicking those poor circuits they would last longer?
Pedals are about the only piece of delicate electronics that are purposely made to be stomped on all the time. Food for thought.
Is there one type of pedal you feel that you specialize in?
I don’t think we necessarily excel at a certain type of effect, but I do believe we have gotten pretty good at finding the sweet spot between “one trick pony” and “it can also make you a smashing café au lait and take your kids to school”.
Musicians can’t always manage 200 choices at a gig/rehearsal when they feel something ain’t quite right, but a few choice options are quite valuable because you wanna get the music going, not fiddle around for hours on end.
But for a certain effect TYPE, I don’t know. Delay? We’ve had good success with the Replica.
What do you think is your dirtiest pedal of all?
Easy: Michael’s Mudhoney. Or his Soulmate. Both have seen numerous stages and, being Michael’s, it shows. Not even a chisel helps. It’s like a superman mix of beer and epoxy glue.
Even Mike doesn’t know how he did it…
Seriously, I would pick the original Mudhoney. Not in terms of gain levels but in terms of “sound”.
What do you consider to be your niftiest pedal?The one that strikes you as being most ingenious?
That would probably be the tape echos.
We sort of made them because we couldn’t help ourselves, but I think we managed to incorporate some not-seen-before features, making them not only a fresher version of some long forgotten technology but also something that peeked into the new millennium.
Then there was the Spindoctor, which had motorized pots for preset storage of settings. That was pretty “nifty”.
How has Danish music in general influenced your approach to making guitar pedals?
The Danish music scene has changed a lot, too, since T-Rex started out. I guess it’s not that much different from the rest of the western world.
We can’t ignore the power of “computer music” or the change in gear requirements – it´s been ages since I’ve seen a 4×12 stack in a club, for example.
But that fuels the creativity at the same time, because there´s a need for new gear.
And we’re not about to do another TS clone, so for us, it’s cool.
How often do you sell out of certain products?
It’s actually a situation that one tries to avoid, because it means you can’t send out products to your distribution chain.
But it has happened many times, mostly because we misplaced our crystal ball that we used to keep track of future orders.
It’s like buying beer kegs for your backyard party – if you don’t know who’ll show up and how much beer they can drink, how will you know how many kegs you need? And again, you definitely don’t wanna run out before midnight.
What do you think are the advantages of being a relatively smaller company in this day and age of mass production?
It’s easier to change a few little things here and there, design-wise or work-wise in the process and the very same developers that created the products are also somewhat involved in the sales/marketing side of things, which creates the glue that holds it all together.
Also, people would be surprised how many hats we all wear here.
We have to, being this small. It makes coming to work a lot more fun, because you can be an R&D guy one day, and a warehouse guy the next.
And this creates a mutual understanding of the whole organization, which I believe is a positive thing.
What do you think keeps certain artists like Martin Gore, Steve Lukather, and Carl Verheyen coming back to T-Rex Effects?
The coffee. It’s shit, but we have loads of it!
No, first of all I think the artist relationships we have ARE based on relationship rather than actual gear.
It’s not like those guys have their cases stuffed with T-Rex gear front to back, but they (and their techs) are always up for checking out our stuff and hear what we’ve got cooking.
And then we show up at shows and give them some support through our channels.
I have to give serious credit to my colleague Michael who is our A&R guy, because I think he manages to keep things on a “friend” level, and I think that is the main reason why guys like those you mention stick around. It’s all very down to earth.
Sure, they play bigger stages than the average guy, but the common interest in the biz, gear or life in general prevails.
And they are just so nice, friendly and helpful on all levels, and that´s the kind of people you want close by, right?
Kirk Hammett is by far one of the most influential guitar players of our time. As such, you can trust his gear choices to be the right ones. When it comes to effects pedals, Kirk is one of those guitarists who have a very fluid setup.
In other words, their search for the optimal setup never really ends. One of the more standard pieces of Kirk’s gear has got to be the MXR EVH117 Flanger.
This pedal is the second iteration of a very famous MXR design, which has been turned into an Eddie Van Halen signature piece. Today we are going to check it out and see whether it can be something you will find useful.
Even though it is used by one of the best, MXR EVH117 exists today because of Eddie Van Halen. That isn’t to say that EVH gets to claim all flangers. Not at all.
He gets to claim this one because the original MXR design is exactly what he used to shape up his tone for both the ‘Unchained’ as well as ‘And The Cradle Will Rock’. Because of that, this particular pedal comes with one EVH specific feature. More on that as we get into the review itself.
MXR is far from being a boutique brand. Especially ever since they became a part of Dunlop corporation. However, MXR did take on the overall design vibe of modern boutique pedals.
In other words, you are looking at a double wide chassis that features agraphically engaging finish, large knobs and an overall vintage layout. Purely from an aesthetic point of view, MXR MVH117 looks all kinds of good.
One thing that many will argue is much more important than looks is the build quality. The chassis, despite looking great, is also pretty tough. It features thick aluminum build that is no joke. If you were wondering whether or not it could take the beating of everyday use, there is no need to even worry about that.
This bad boy can take whatever abuse you are capable throwing its way and that says a lot about it. Another thing worth mentioning is the overall shape of the pedal in relation to mounting it on a pedalboard.
Even though most modern pedalboards are designed to work best with your standard pedals, most will accept a design such as this one just fine. In other words, the shape isn’t so unique that you might have trouble mounting it. On the contrary, ti is pretty standard.
When it comes to features, EVH117 is very similar to other flangers for the most part. On the inside it is all about the bucket brigade design, very precise electronics and good components.
As most of us are used to by now, the controls are pretty familiar. You have your Manual knob, followed by Width, Speed and Regen. All of these are fairly responsive and precise, allowing you to be quite specific with your tone.
One feature that is quite unique to this pedal is the EVH button. Since this is a signature model, MXR wanted to capture the essence of EVH’s flanger works.
Needless to say, they did a very good job with it. Once you press that button, your tone will gain a very familiar outline that has made EVH a legend he is today.
Be assured that MXR copied the exact flanger settings from Eddie when they designed this feature. You aren’t getting a simulation of his setup. No, you are getting the exact same sound. That’s the type of thing that sets MXR’s flanger from the rest.
Truth be told, that is also one of the reasons why this pedal is priced the way it is.
Aside from Eddie’s signature setting, is MXR EVH117 really that good? Is it worth the extra bucks you are asked to invest? We definitely think that it is. As a matter of fact, this might just be the best overall flanger made in the past 10 or so years.
Our reasoning behind this claim is very straight forward. To start things off, we have to say that it is extremely transparent both when in and out of use. MXR’s bypass is pretty spot on with this model.
In terms of raw sound, it has a very analog feel to it. There is plenty of range in there which is what allows just about anyone to find just about any setting they like.
The precision of the knobs is also something worth mentioning. MXR even included rubber caps which you can slip over the control knobs. What these are for is quite interesting.
They are mean to make it easy to apply changes with your feet. In other words, if you are in a middle of a song an don’t feel like bending over to change your flange, all you have to do is reach with your feet.
Is this even viable? I guess it depends on your dexterity, but it sure beats working with a flange that doesn’t fit ormuch worse – not playing in order to fix the pedal.
Overall, MXR EVH117 offers the type of experience a novice and a pro can find useful.
What makes this pedal so amazing is hard to put in one sentence. Sure, it has that EVH sonic profile everyone’s raving about, however it is much more than just that.
The pedal on its own is pretty powerful. When compared even to its direct competition, it comes ahead with a slight edge. In our opinion, if you were to have one flanger until the day you depart this earth, EVH117 is the way to go. It is simple, sounds awesome and packs a mean punch.
On a purely bang for the buck level, it is a solid performer.