My sound has featured delay (read echo) for a very long time indeed and as my guitar setup has evolved, has become a key feature of my playing. I have owned many delays originally wanting to achieve that Jimmy Page sound and hence lusted after an EchoPlex but they were always really expensive and couldn’t afford it.
So, I started off with a solid state Watkins Copycat, then to a HH EchoTape delay, KORG SDD2000 and finally the mighty TC 2290. As an aside I found this lovely interview with Charlie Watkins who was probably the grandaddy of all echo units.
As soon I plugged this in I was in love. Rich, deep delay with the fantastic ‘ducking’ feature, that reduces the volume of the effect return based upon the level of input and further avoids the mess than can be caused by too much delay.
Considering how old it is you immediately notice the lack of hiss and the actual delay ‘sounds’ lovely. It has a fantastic array of facilities and the main inputs and outputs are electronically balanced.
Whoever designed this was clearly a guitarist into flexibility.
Of course, it also has loads of great time based sounds and can be used as a basic looper, but for me, the delay is king and for general use I tend to use mostly 400mS and ‘slapback’ 120mS delays. Of course for specific songs I use delays based on the tempo.
Due to its age it sadly doesn’t respond to MIDI command control changes, just program control changes, which limits its modern world flexibility, but what it looses here, it more than makes up for in tone!!
I recently bought an Eventide Eclipse hoping to replace the 2290 with a more feature rich unit in a smaller 1u package, but it just doesn’t cut the mustard and have ended up adding this to the rack along with the Lexicon PCM70 and 2290.
So, 2290 for delay, PCM70 for reverbs and Eclipse for harmoniser and more bizarre effects.
The way I route the echo is really important and have found that using a unit at the front end, or even in an effects loop of your main amplifier, detracts from the punch and definition.
My thinking to solve this problem was to use a separate amp for the echo/time based effect return, so the direct signal comes out of your amp and the effect signal only comes through a separate amplifier system.
It doesn’t however work well for everything. Chorus and flangers rely upon being mixed with the original signal to have the desired effect, hence to hear the full effect, you have to be: a reasonable distance from your rig when on stage, or rely on monitors! But of course the most important people, your audience, will hear the wonderful tone you are creating!
If you read any of my articles about a search for the perfect tone you can read about the whole convoluted journey, but if think about it, any time based effect need to take its source following distortions etc, and as I primarily use amp drive, my latest rig iteration uses a custom built DI / mixer unit from Steen Skrystrup.
Steen chose to use the ‘external speaker outs’ from amplifiers as the input to the unit; logical as virtually all amplifiers have this type of output. It can use simultaneously up to three amplifiers out of my current selection of BludoTone Bludodrive, Van Weelden TwinkleLand, Fender ProReverb, Ampeg Reverberocket or Germino JTM45.
The unit isolates all the input grounds and converts the mixed signals to a pair of line level, balanced, feeds for the 2290, Eventide Eclipse and Lexicon PCM70 then summing the stereo outputs to feed an Amcron D75 driving two 1×12 EVM 12L Two Rock cabinets. It sounds complex but the sound it fantastic and worth the expense, hassle and lugging around!
So there you are, a bit of an overview of the 2290 and the other time based effects!