The pure skill and mastery with which John Petrucci handles his guitar tone needs no special introduction. The man has proven what he’s capable of enough times by now. One interesting thing about Petrucci is that he keeps his gear fairly fluid. This especially applies to his effects. Lately, Petrucci has been a huge fan of TC Electronics. So much so that he has been working with them on designing several signature presets. With that said, it wasn’t long before they gave him an entire pedal. TC Electronic Dreamscape delivers the very essence of Petrucci’s modulation taste in a single pedal. Today we are going to check it out a bit closer.
TC Electronic Dreamscape Review
After the major shift back in the late ’80s and throughout ’90s when almost everything went digital, we have been seeing a considerable push back to analog. Sure we still have prominent digital effects pedals, but the it is the analog stuff that is held at high regard. However, there is one current that is going steadily against the stream. That is TC Electronic. They have completely detached themselves from pursuing analog pedals and focused mainly on pushing digital to the new level.
Most of their pedals feature TonePrint technology. In simple terms, this tech allows you to design your own effect presets, upload them and use them as you see fit. Where Dreamscape excels is TonePrint territory. Petrucci has basically designed modulation effects which he likes and uses. Then TC Electronic took his main creations and put them all in a single effects pedal.
In terms of design there isn’t much that is new. TC Electronic, similar to Boss, has a very uniform chassis that they like to use. Unlike Boss, TC Electronic’s chassis of choice has a very strong vintage, analog vibe to it. If you really think about it, it is a fairly smart move. Whether or not TC Electronic did it on purpose is yet to be determined, but their pedal bodies take the edge of the high tech digital circuitry that is hiding inside.
From a purely practical standpoint, there are a lot of good things to be said about TC Electronic Dreamscape’s chassis. It is robust and made of thick die cast metal alloys. Pushing the pedal to the limit on stage, treating it with little consideration and generally abusing it shows how solid this entire package is.
If aesthetics are an important fact of your decision making process, TC Electronic is usually one to deliver. Their pedals are always fresh with great graphics and awesome looking designs. One important thing to note is that their graphics are never impeding the functionality of the pedal.
Features of TC Electronic Dreamscape can be divided in two categories. We have a hardware component and a software component. That’s simply the fact of the matter with a pedal such as this one. Hardware features include both mono and stereo outputs, as well as five different controls. The top is dominated by four knobs and a switch. That is excluding the foot switch. The knobs are labeled as Speed, Depth, FX Level and Mode. The last knob we’ve mentioned allows you to choose between two flangers, two choruses, two vibratos and stock TonePrint mode.
As we have said before, all of the presets have been designed by Petrucci. The switch is where you select between TonePrint and stock mode in most other TC Electronic pedals. However, in this one it is quite different. Aside from fine tuning his modulation effects, Petrucci also wanted to add flavors to the overall tone of the pedal. Therefore we have the Bright, Normal and Dark modes as well.
Even with simple analog or digital pedals, there is plenty of variables to cover in regards to performance. When you start talking about a pedal that is as developed, complex and layered as this one, things tend to get extremely interesting. To start things off, lets get one major misconception out of the way. The fact that TC Electronics is all about that digital magic doesn’t mean that this pedal is a ‘gadget’ or a ‘fancy toy’. On the contrary. It is a highly capable piece of gear that delivers something that no other pedal does.
All presets that come with the pedal sound genuine. If you are a fan of Petrucci’s work, you will definitely see his influence oozing from the pores of each modulation effect. Different colors of tone also add to the whole experience. When you punch into the Dark mode, your whole tone will take on a more sinister appeal. On bright, it is somewhat cheerful. Best of all, you can go and design your own preset and evolve what comes as stock even further. That’s the beauty of most TC Electronic pedals, including the Dreamscape.
At the end of the day, Dreamscape is a pretty unique piece of kit. It is a multi effect pedal in the true sense of the word. Even if you are not familiar with Petrucci and you just want a whole lot of functionality packed into a single pedal, Dreamscape will work great. On the other hand, if you are a fan of Petrucci and you love that distinct Dream Theater vibe, this pedal will help you get there much quicker and with less pain in the process. The real conclusion we can draw from this experience is that TC Electronic could just be the glimpse of things to come. Sure, old school analog isn’t going anywhere, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t improve our current digital effects. Customization is what it all comes down to and TC Electronic has been mastering this aspect of guitar effects design for quite a while now. Not only are they one of the better names in the business, but more and more people are opening up to their unorthodox ways.
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