It is such a rarity for a company to create products or technology that has the power to push it's entire industry forward. Strymon, has been able to accomplish this and create products that are truly exceptional and unique, as well as highly sought after. The self-proclaimed 'left-brain artists and innovators' at Strymon have crafted very carefully thought out products that cater to even the most frivolous needs of the modern day guitarist. To put this into simple terms for consumers and pedal builders, the bar has risen.
So what makes a Strymon? Unlike a vast portion of the guitar world, they didn't try to reinvent the wheel, and their pedals are not clones of others. Instead they embraced technology and created their high-powered SHARC DSP processor and dTape circuitry. What these incredible technologies allow them to do, is create pedals that truly capture the nuance and subtleties of analog pedals. As Strymon explains in their tech blog “The SHARC processor is dedicated to recreating the entire signal path of an analog BBD chip, on a transistor level of detail.” What that means for us... Is all those excellent modern day amenities that are common place on “digital” gear, like tap tempo or expression pedals for example, can be utilized on a pedal that sounds just as pure and articulate as the real thing.
The pedal that originally interested me in the Strymon line is the El Capistan. For those like me that yearned for a tape delay with tap-tempo and greater control, this is a dream come true. The functions of this pedal, are truly innovative. The sounds, are well beyond what you would think are capable from something in a pedal format. On the top of the El Capistan, you will notice five knobs, time, tape age, repeats, wow&flutter, and mix. In addition those five knobs all have secondary functions to even further shape your dream delay sound. The secondary functions will allow you to add or subtract 3db of volume, add spring reverb, tap bias, and tape crinkle.
You'll also find three modes: Fixed head, multi-head, and single and an A/B/C switch. In Fixed, the switch changes tap subdivision along with selecting a different head from the fixed machine. In Multi, the different head combinations are selected but tap subdivision remains ¼ notes. In single, the tape speed changes from fast to normal (A to B), while tap subdivision remains on ¼ notes. All of these modes deliver lush, majestic delays and in conjunction with the time-mode that is selected, sometimes delivers different tones entirely. For example, the multi-head delay will utilize different heads in different time modes. In single mode on mode-C, the El Capistan is a tape-style looper featuring instant tape splice, bulk erase, and two tape speeds. For the ambient, textural guitarists in the world... Sound-on-Sound is a setting that absolutely needs to be experienced. Hearing your notes loop around the tape for the first time is jaw-dropping and inspiring. I find myself frequently experimenting with all of these different modes, they are all exceptionally great and very usable.
The El Capistan also features a TRS stereo-input, stereo-outs, and an expression pedal input (which also doubles as the input for their Tap/Favorite switches, if you would like to save a preset sound). The pedal itself is a shape-shifter, it is able to sound like a brand new, fresh out of the box analog delay, or it can be adjusted to sound like an old, worn out, dirty tape machine that has been used to cut countless records. Having the ability to recreate that at your foot-steps in conjunction with the flexibility of being able to truly use it in a live setting with tap-tempo and having a preset saved on a Favorite switch is liberating.
Guitarists have been searching for a pedal that could easily create these types of tones in a live setting for years and while I don't want to paint a bad picture for other manufacturers... Prior to knowing of Strymon's existence, I wasted a lot of money in my own tone quest only to end up with inferior products that do not sound nearly as great as the El Capistan and were not anywhere nearly as functional. $299 is a small price to pay for a delay pedal that always works and sounds consistently good every time you plug into it. All of these features justify how this pedal quickly became such an important staple on many artist's pedalboards. I think an often over-looked aspect of guitar equipment, is inspiration. Tweaking the pedal down to the smallest detail is rewarding. Figuring out you can make your delays shake your house by adding that 3db boost, dialing in your favorite delay from 'The Dark Side of The Moon' or shaping your own new sounds and making music with them, is not only a lot of fun and easy to do, but also pleasing in a sense that you can really shape something totally unique for yourself. 'Limitations' is not a word in Strymon's vocabulary.
Each pedal in the Strymon line is note-worthy. From the titans that are the Timeline and Mobius, to the Ola (chorus) and the Flint (tremolo and reverb), there is something for everybody and they are all equally as impressive and inspiring as the El Capistan. Their innovative technologies and ideas in conjunction with their impeccable craftsmanship and materials make for some of the greatest experiences in modern effects pedals (all Strymon pedals are made in house in their Southern California facility, by the way).
Strymon is one of the few companies that everybody at Eddie's Guitars agrees is out of this world good. And when we are sitting in a shop that is filled with all the latest and greatest equipment the world has to offer day in and out, it isn't hard for us to pick preferences over one another. We brought Strymon into the Eddie's family in October of 2012 and upon our first experiences with them, we were quickly able to determine that the gear we had in our hands was special. Fast forward to June of 2013, and there is at least one Strymon pedal on all of our pedalboards at Eddie's. Whether you are playing in a band or strictly at home for your own enjoyment, the best equipment to own and play, is that which inspires you and never holds you back. Strymon truly excels in that department and I believe that is the mark of something truly special.
If anybody has any questions please do not hesitate to drop me a line!
Thanks for reading!