We've already reviewed TC Electronic’s Flashback Delay pedal and were impressed by its versatility and sound quality, so we were expecting great things from the new Vortex Flanger. TC have an innovative approach to digital guitar effects and claim that this little stomp box will transform your guitar sound into a fighter jet taking off from an aircraft carrier, or into a wibbly 'bathroom' echo, coming from somewhere underwater. We plugged in to find out...
Feedback: the Vortex incorporates both 'positive' and 'negative' feedback settings, both of which alter the short modulated delay that causes the flanging effect. There's an impressive amount of difference between the two extremes: at the far end of the negative scale the guitar signal vanishes behind a squall of jet-engine whooshes, while at the positive extreme a sharp sci-fi car alarm bursts out, but doesn't totally mask what you're playing. In between, the sound swings smoothly from tube sounds to more traditional studio-like flange.
Speed: the clue's in the name. This alters how fast that jet plane takes off from your fretboard, from a slow and steady swoop to a demented steel drum wobble straight out of the Twilight Zone.
Depth: this controls the intensity of the effect, allowing you to experiment with more subtle almost chorus-like rhythm settings or jump-out-of-your-skin lead tones. You can also use it for fine tuning the signal so that your final effect doesn't make the guitar sound out of tune.
Delay: sometimes called 'manual' on other flangers, this knob affects how far up the sweep of the flanger goes. Crank it up for high intensity tones with a trebly, metallic edge, or keep it dialled down for lower and smoother sounds.
There's also a three-way switch that allows you to choose between flange, tape and tone-print sounds. 'Flange' is the standard setting covered above; 'tape' will give you that classic 'Voodoo Chile' analogue sound, complete with signal cuts and lovely tube hissing.Tone Print
In addition to its core sounds, TC incorporates a clever system that lets you connect your pedal to the internet and download presets created for TC by some of the top guitarists out there, including Paul Gilbert, Orianthi and John Petrucci, so you've got even more playing options. The tones are stored in a built-in memory slot and accessed via the 'Tone Print' switch.
They've done it again: this is an excellent flanger at a very competitive price. We particularly liked the vintage effect that the 'tape' setting offered, and combined with the pedal's great range of other sounds, its ease of use and solid build quality, it all adds up to a little box that's well worth having in your arsenal. You'll want to start wearing psychedelic floral shirts and staring at lava lamps for hours, but hey, it's a small price to pay.
Epiphone 335, Vox AC30
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