They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If this is so then the air above the battle field of pedal manufacturing must whistle with compliments flung ad nauseam between gangs of soldering iron wielding engineers, each with eyes on beating the next to the hearts, wallets and ultimately pedalboards of riff warriors everywhere.
While pretty much every such hoard makes their attempt at the truest interpretation of any given design, it is the variation between these takes that keeps us, the audience, coming back to the trough, hungry for more of whatever it is they’ve dished up this time. Some companies focus on one specific brand of textural torture, while others like Danish battalion TC Electronic keep a well-stocked armoury of just about every device of sonic warfare you can imagine. The newest addition to their sonic smorgasbord is the Gauss Tape Echo pedal.
Tape Echo is one of those funny effects where the malfunction of devices originally designed to deliver it is essentially what players crave. Any studio bound audiophile will attest to just how embarrassing and annoying an original Roland RE-201 Space Echo can be if and when it decides to pack up mid-take, and not to mention fiddly to repair. However, when they do work, the lush, womb-like warmth of the repeats emanating from those temperamental tape heads is the stuff of dreams, hence why there are so many pedals on the market that aim to emulate it. Some definitely go over the top with hiss and crackle and introduce quickly crescendoing self-oscillation to the table, but to me this complicates an already complicated echo sound. This is where the Gauss steps in.
Three knobs and a simple switch control the bare necessities atop the spare, army green chassis. Delay controls the time between repeats, sustain the number of times they appear, and volume is a welcome blend of effected and dry signal. The mod on/ off switch instantly ages the ‘tape’ at your behest, peppering your signal with a subtle amount of dreamy warble and almost chorus-like sheen.
TC has done well, as they usually do, to keep this design as neat and tidy as possible, shying away from the imitation vintage grime that most other manufacturers use to gussy up their models.Gauss gives you the kind of healthy warmth and cleanliness a tape machine would have had straight out of the box rather than acting like a broken down version, which makes for a much more user-friendly tonal fingerprint. There is less mud and inescapable hiss and much more headroom, rendering it perfect for either before or after your drives and other effects.
There is a sense of Scandinavian cleanliness and efficiency in the output of every TC Electronic pedal I’ve been lucky enough to try. They have a real knack for taking something that so many other people do and polishing it up, knocking off all the rough edges to add a sense of order and clarity even when the opposite is what is called for. The Gauss is one of the most easy to listen to as well as dial-in Tape Echo pedals I’ve tried.
Hits and Misses
Distinctly Scandinavian cleanliness and efficiency in both tone and controls
No expression pedal jack