Posts Tagged ‘el capistan’

(Not Quite A) Pedalboard Feature: Jesse Quin

Posted by Angela

JesseQuin-800Multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Jesse Quin has some interesting and unexpected things to say as he talks about his approach to playing his various instruments, how he finds inspiration when songwriting, what he’s listening to and working on these days, and how he became a member of Keane. He even offers a bit of advice on how to make it in your chosen field. And oh yeah, pedals!

What kind of pedalboard do you have and what is your signal chain?
I have actually recently dismantled my pedalboard as I’ve mainly been recording and that has meant discovering new things that I’d like to be able to recreate live. I generally favour a simple set up. Tuner, something for basic crunch, something for lead, tremolo, delay. Sometimes more than one of each. I pretty much always use an amp with a spring reverb. I also have the odd wild card like a Guyatone backwards thing that’s pretty cool and also this great box by Audio Kitchen called Big Trees. I suppose the real difference between studio guitar sounds and live guitar sounds is that live I use pedals for distortion and in the studio I use more amp distortion.

When you first started out with Keane, you were on tour as a roadie. Could you tell us how you became an official member of Keane?
Well it’s a long story, but basically I knew the crew from a backline hire place I worked at years ago in London. When I left there I had a month without any work and happened to speak to my friend Dermot who was Keane’s production manager at the time. He asked if I’d like to come and do a three week arena tour as production assistant. I had no idea what that involved and was pretty useless at it but through doing that tour I ended up playing with Laura Marling who has the same (most excellent) management. When Keane decided to try working with a bassist I was the only person that the whole team knew who could play. So I was lucky! I guess the moral of the story is that as long as you keep taking opportunities in your chosen field you can probably get where you want to in the end!

What inspires you to start working on songs?
I’d say most of the time I just noodle on instruments and little ideas pop out. I’m terrible at sitting down and finishing things but I like to have a TV on in the studio with old films playing. The album I’m just finishing has had The Seventh Seal by Ingmar Bergman going on in the background on a loop for a couple of months. Needless to say, the album has turned out pretty depressing! I also just bought an old marimba which is actually a great instrument to write on!

How do you think differently when playing drums vs. playing guitar?
When I’m playing drums I try to make sure that I keep it simple but interesting. I think that sometimes the hardest part of drumming is how great an effect the part you play has on whether a song feels fast or slow. I don’t mean the actual tempo. I mean you can play two really different parts at 120bpm and one makes a song feel fast and one makes it feel slow. It’s the most important thing to get right. When I’m playing the bass I think about how the bass will be supporting the melody and which notes will be most important to lock in with while still sitting with the kick and snare. When I play the guitar I’m usually much more interested in sounds than parts. I usually think of a part and then decide which instrument to play it on. If it’s guitar then out come the pedals. I like sounds that aren’t too static so I’ll use subtle settings on two phasers chained together and things like that to keep the sound moving. Piano and keyboard stuff I think a lot about how much a chord voicing or inversion or whatever can affect how things feel like they’re rising up or backing down.

What projects are you working on right now?
Well I’ve just finished this solo record that I’m really happy with and I’m also working on a weird electronic album as well. In a couple of months we start recording the next Mt. Desolation record so I’m demoing a lot of songs for that. I’ve also been doing a lot of production stuff including some interesting things with a couple of the guys from Noah & The Whale and lots of new artists.

What current bands should we be listening to?
I’m not very good at keeping up-to-date with new music! This week I’ve been listening to the most recent records by Tame Impala, Wye Oak and Sharon Van Etten. They’re all very good!

To get the latest news on Jesse Quin’s new album and more, follow him on Twitter here.

This Week’s Preset – We Want to Hear From You!

Posted by Michael

Over the last few months, we’ve been cooking up new presets for BigSky, TimeLine, and Mobius to share with you on our blog series – This Week’s Preset.  The original idea stemmed from our desire toThis Week's Preset - BigSky Reverb connect with our friends and fans creatively – through new, exciting, often experimental sounds.

However, this time we want to hear from you!  Send us your own preset, whether it’s your go-to favorite, something you’ve been experimenting with, or one you came up with at 3AM during a Netflix binge.  It can be a preset or favorite setting from any Strymon pedal, and you can share it with us however you like – whether it be in our blog comments, on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, or by emailing

Our favorite presets will be selected to appear in upcoming installments of This Week’s Preset!

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TimeLine Looper Revisited

Posted by Michael

While I can’t say I possess the looping skills of the guy across the office (State Shirt), I am definitely a fan of looping – whether done live or in the studio.   This week, let’s take a look at some artists who are putting TimeLine’s built-in Looper to good use.

Mikhail Medvedev builds an amazing ambient song using just TimeLine and his guitar.

» Click here to read the rest of the article »

Pedalboard Feature: Daniel Tyack of Salvage Custom

Posted by Angela

IMG_6819Daniel Tyack has been building pedalboards since his high school days and when demand grew, he opened up his own shop Salvage Custom in 2012. Read more below to learn about Daniel’s pedalboard builds and about his own personal pedalboard.

What is the first thing you take into consideration when getting ready to build a new board?

If it’s a board we plan on listing for sale then it’s pretty simple, I just build something I would like. My overall philosophy is to build things that I like so it works out pretty well for me! If it’s a custom board I generally consider what would be the best bet for the customer. Often times people get pretty excited about a custom build and they want to pull out all the stops. I do my best to talk them down a bit and say no to stupid stuff. Simplicity trumps bells and whistles in the long run and I want customers to be happy for a long time! I also chat with customers about their other gear and try to find out what kind of vibe they like. My goal is to always match a customer with a rig that’s perfect for them.

Tell us a bit about your pedalboard crafting style.

My crafting style is self learned and a lot of techniques were either made up or the product of a series of fantastic mistakes. When it comes to a build I do however take a lot of care to hand pick timbers, lay out wood grain and match tweed finishes to different species of wood. We’ve made a lot of cutting and routing jigs to streamline the process but there’s still a ton of hand crafting involved. Everything starts from raw materials and Matt and I do all of the work in house.

Tell us about your personal pedalboard.

Oh man… This is a tricky one. My board changes almost every week and I have a couple different size boards that I use. There are a few pedals that are almost always on the board but generally everything is subject to rotation. The size varies from about 6 to 13 pedals and what gets used really depends on where I’m playing. More often than not I’ll want to use one pedal then I end up changing everything else up just to make the layout work. My El Capistan and Flint are staples along with a tuner and San B from Push + Pull Pedals. You’ll seldom see my board without a fuzz and I’ve been really enjoying weird modulation stuff lately.

Do you usually play a specific style or do you like to explore different styles? How does your pedalboard help with that?

I primarily play in church and I’m more than happy to play other gigs when I get hired out. Luckily the churches I play for all have fantastic musicians and I’m given a lot of creative freedom. It’s a heck of a lot of fun to work fuzz, ring mod and other aggressive effects tastefully into a set. If ever I’m getting the least bit bored my pedals are the first thing I change around. My pedalboard is a massive source of inspiration. Sometimes I’m content to just play with no effects on and sometimes it gets messy! Having options is great for inspiration.

What is your signal path?

Though my pedals change week to week the signal path stays pretty much the same. It’s generally something like this: Fuzz, Drive, Compression, Volume Pedal (buffered), Modulation, Delay, Reverb. I like keeping the dirt first in line to keep them as sensitive as possible to pick attack / guitar volume control and I very often leave a dirt pedal on and adjust how clean it is with the guitar volume knob. My current rig (see pictures) goes like this: FX-17 Wah, Sputnik Mini Fuzz, San B., SP Comp, Fairfield Circuitry Randy’s Revenge, Volume Pedal (Tuner Out), Chase Bliss Warped Vinyl, Earthquaker Devices Dispatch Master, El Cap (stereo), Flint (stereo). It’s powered with a Dunlop MC403 + DC Brick and wired with Lava Tightrope wire. The 20×13 board is made from a very special piece of English Walnut that was a gift from Bob Taylor and the case is our Bourbon Burst finish.




If you had to stick with one set up, what would it be?

As much as I like to change things up this one is pretty easy and one I often go back to. Pedals and signal chain go like this: Push+Pull Pedals Sputnik Fuzz, Push+Pull Pedals San B., Origin Effects Cali76 (Comp), Volume Pedal (Buffered, tuner out), Strymon El Cap, Strymon Flint.

What is a good tip you can give people that are thinking about a new pedalboard?

Simple is better. Don’t put stuff on your board just to fill space. A crappy pedal that you don’t really like using is better left on the shelf. If it doesn’t make you happy to turn it on then take it off the board.

Frippertronics – A Retro Look at Sound on Sound

Posted by Michael

Although it was not the first account of experimenting with sound-on-sound tape looping, Frippertronics, the brainchild of guitarist Robert Fripp (and fellow artist Brian Eno), remains an important breakthrough in the practice of live looping.

Remember, you can enter the El Capistan’s Sound on Sound Mode by setting your TAPE HEAD switch to SINGLE and your MODE switch to C!

Artist Feature: Sound on Sound with El Capistan

Posted by Angela

El CapistanA few weeks back Hugo did a blog on Sound on Sound with El Capistan. I thought it would be fun for this Artist Feature to take a look at what you have been doing with Sound on Sound. Check it out below.

What better way to start off than to double up the looping! Here is Dennis Kayzer looping with TimeLine and adding in some fun Sound on Sound loops with El Capistan.

BigMachineWriting takes us on a musical decaying journey. Enjoy :)

Elias Checco put together this fun reggae jam with the added bonus of Mobius in the mix.

And you don’t have to just play guitar, check out this funky bass loop by Arthur Wouters.

Westlenz gets loopy!

Krayuns shows in 15 seconds how to drastically change your Loop

iamneff posted this loop

And then two hours later post of the same loop

Do you have a video or song featuring El Capistan Sound on Sound? Please share below.


Gear Guide: Sound on Sound with El Capistan

Posted by Hugo

El CapistanWelcome to the first installment of our new Strymon Gear Guide series!  I will be providing tips and tricks on using and understanding the various features of our Strymon pedals on a monthly basis.  Hopefully I can help shed some light on any questions you may have about using our gear and harness the full potential from our pedals.  Feel free to let me know what else you might want to learn about  our pedals in future posts in the comments or by emailing

For my first article, I’m going to cover the usage of El Capistan‘s Sound on Sound feature.

El Capistan’s Sound on Sound mode can be used to create loops of up to 20 seconds in length using a recreation of a sliding head style mechanical tape loop system.


Entering Sound on Sound Mode

To set El Capistan to Sound on Sound mode, set the TAPE HEAD switch to Single and the MODE switch to C.  Whatever you have recorded in modes A or B will still exist in mode C.

El Capistan - Singel Head Mode C   El Capistan - Bypass Switch

When El Capistan is set to Sound on Sound mode, recording is ALWAYS active when the pedal is engaged (BYPASS light is on).

Tape Speeds

There are 2 tape speeds available when adjusting the TIME knob:

Double Speed (10 sec. recording time) with the knob left of 12 o’clock
Normal Speed
(20 sec. recording time) with the TIME knob to the right of 12 o’clock.

El Capistan Time Left   El Capistan Time Right

Recording and Playback

Once you engage the pedal by hitting the BYPASS switch while in Sound on Sound mode, press the TAP switch at the same time you start playing to set the ‘In’ splice, then, press the TAP switch again at the end of playing your loop to set the ‘out’ splice and immediately start playing back from the IN splice.

At this point, El Capistan will be looping everything you played between the IN and OUT splice points. Keep in mind that it will still be recording, so anything you play will also be recorded an layered on top of the original loop.  The Repeats knob controls how many times the loop will play back.  Turn up the Repeats knob to 100% for the loop to play continuously with the fidelity of the recording diminishing over time.

Bypass Modes

Hitting the BYPASS button will cut the audio of the recorded loop, but it will continue to play as if the tape is still rolling with a mute button pressed.  Hitting the BYPASS button again will return the audio from recorded loop.

If you want the recorded loop to continue playing back without adding any additional layers of recording, you would need to hit the BYPASS button to stop recording as the loop is playing back.  Please note that the bypass mode of El Capistan would need to be in Trails mode.  To change between True Bypass and Trails modes, you just need to press down and hold the BYPASS button as you plug in the power supply to power up El Capistan.  Check out the following video showing you how to change the Bypass mode of the El Capistan:

Finally, to clear the splice points and recordings, a third press of the TAP footswitch while the BYPASS light is on will perform a bulk erase of the tape so you can record a new loop.


Want to learn more?

Check out the blog post below.

El Capistan Sound on Sound looping tips


Pedalboard Feature: Andy Othling

Posted by Angela

AndyOthlingAndy Othling is a guitarist from Albuquerque, New Mexico who writes and records his own music under the name Lowercase Noises and plays with bands Archabald and Future of Forestry. He runs a YouTube channel and a site called Reverb Nerds that focuses largely on ambient guitar playing and sounds. Let’s learn a bit more about his current pedalboard!

What type of pedalboard do you have?

I’m using a Pedaltrain PT-3. It gives me enough space to have a good amount of pedals without getting overwhelming.

What is your signal path?

this1smyne buffer
Walrus Audio Deep Six
Electro Harmonix Micro POG
Walrus Audio Mayflower
Earthquaker Devices Bit Commander
Xotic EP Booster
Ernie Ball MVP (with Boss TU-3 on tuner output)
Electro Harmonix Superego
Malekko Ekko 616
Dr. Scientist Tremolessence
Strymon El Capistan
Boss DD-5 (in hold mode for stutter/glitch effects)
ZVex Instant Lo-fi Junky
Strymon TimeLine
Strymon BigSky
Disaster Area DMC-3 XL controller is connected to both the Timeline and BigSky via MIDI
Two this1smyne mini expression knobs are also controlling different parameters on the Timeline and Bigsky


How many variations have you gone through on your board?

Oh man, definitely a lot. It seems like I’m usually doing at least two or three different projects at the same time which all require different sounds/styles, so I’m always trying to figure out ways to make my board more versatile. Sometimes I entertain the idea of splitting things out and making different boards for different occasions, but that just seems more complicated. I also just like to leave room for experimentation and weirdness… things outside the standard overdrive/delay/reverb sounds.

What are some important tips for putting together an Ambient board?

Well obviously having some solid reverbs and delay are key. A volume pedal is pretty important if you want more synthy/swelly sounds, and I like having a compressor on board for added sustain and fatness. A lot of people are confused when they see multiple delays on my board, but honestly one of my favorite things is to stack two or even three delays to get a big soupy sound. I’m also a fan of the more textural side of ambient guitar, which to me is about very non-guitar and even non-musical sounds to fill the space and provide a complement to the more standard ambient sounds. The Lo-fi Junky, Micro POG, Superego and even the wacky modulation on the Ekko 616 can provide sounds like that.

You get to play with a lot of pedals. What’s the first thing you usually do when you get a new pedal?

Usually when I get something new it’s to serve a pretty specific purpose, so the first thing I do is see if it actually does that thing well. But whether it does or not, I always take the time to really explore all the possible sounds from the pedal. I’ve had it happen where a new pedal didn’t actually do what I originally wanted all that well, but ended up sounding really cool in some other setting or for some other purpose.

Tell us about

I’ve been making ambient guitar related YouTube videos for about 6 years now, and last year I really started feeling like it would be beneficial to make a place outside of YouTube where I could put all this content together, make it easier for people to peruse and digest, and really just provide a single place where people can go for tips specifically about ambient guitar. So far it’s been a great success and people are really getting a lot out of it!

Lowercase Noises Order Lowercase Noises new album “This is For Our Sins” here.

Artist Feature: Strymon + Keyboards = <3

Posted by Angela

What do you get when you combine Strymon gear, synths and some creative minds? Check out some artists we have enjoyed recently with their mad keyboard and synth skills.


Peter Dyer joined us here at the Strymon shop and brought with him a ridiculous arsenal of cool keyboards. When he arrived his car was loaded up with a Dave Smith Prophet 12, Nord Stage 2, Korg Volca Keys, Arturia Microbrute, and the Therevox ET 4.3. We had a ton of fun recording these sound clips with him, and enjoyed hearing the many unique sounds he put together with BigSky.


Seif Sherif – Musician and visual artist Seif Sherif shared this picture of his Korg MS-20 and El Capistan.


Dylan Thomas
Check out this great tour photo that Hillsong United’s Dylan Thomas sent us.


Jonì Velásquez
We came across this picture that Jonì Velásquez hash-tagged us on and enjoyed all the Strymon synth goodness going on.


Yasmin Hadisubrata
Yasmin Hadisubrata hash-tagged us for this one which was shot while he was getting ready for his tour with Ivy Quainoo.


Scott Brown
Scott Brown took this atmospheric picture while experimenting with some drone sounds, hope we get to hear some of it!


TimeLine, BigSky and 5 Novation Bass Stations, yep you heard us right, 5 Novation Bass Stations. Got to check this out.


Edwin Lucchesi
Well this might be cheating putting this in the Keyboard/Synth feature, but it is crazy cool and we live in the digital age now and this Virtual ANS is a software simulator of the Russian synthesizer ANS. So that’s fair! Enjoy :)


Tim Oliver
Tim Oliver’s Roland Paraphonic-505 is full of wonder and that just builds up with the addition of El Capistan. Get taken on a wonderous journey while you listen to this one.


Jon Carolino
Jon Carolino’s videos have a way of soothing you into a nice calm. This one especially can help bring your heart rate down and you can just sit back, close your eyes and relax.


We’d be pleased if most of our “just noodling” turned out this beautiful. Noodle away zibbybone, we could listen for hours.


Trygve Stakkeland
Simple, beautiful and can we say even a little haunting.

Vintage Guitar is giving away an El Capistan dTape Echo!

Posted by Ethan

Enter to win an El Capistan at Vintage GuitarLooking to add some vintage tape echo sounds to your rig? This month, our friends over at Vintage Guitar magazine are giving away one of our El Capistan dTape Echo pedals.

Head on over to the Vintage Guitar website, register to be a member of their site and to enter to win. Good luck! :)

Enter to Win!

More about El Capistan:

Tape Op review of El Capistan and blueSky

Posted by Ethan

Tape Op logoRecently Alex Maiolo of Tape Op Magazine had a chance to spend some time with our El Capistan dTape Echo and blueSky reverberator. Here is what he had to say:

El Capistan and blueSky

On Strymon:

“Strymon, while certainly being boutique, have unabashedly embraced the digital age – using modern technology to fix age-old problems and eliminate impossibilities. ”

“Fans of good design will notice that Strymon pedals are unique looking. They are beautiful and original, while still retaining the familiar qualities of good ol’ classic stompboxes. The layout is well thought out, and the construction is solid. The footprint is relatively small considering the controls but doesn’t seem crowded. All of the I/O is in the back panel, which is very handy if you have more than a few things on your board. I don’t think they could have done a much better job, aesthetically or functionally.”

On El Capistan:

“I went to both ends of the spectrum with these controls, which allowed me to hear what a machine new off the shelf probably would have sounded like, as well as one that was brought back into use after propping up a table for 30 years, with no servicing before powering up. After tailoring it to my needs, I used the unit for at least eight live shows with three different bands, and found it to be a joy to use, even under the pressure of a performance.”

“All in all, a fantastic, great sounding little box that delivers on its promise with no exceptions.”

On blueSky:

“The real reason to buy the blueSky is because it goes way beyond what other reverb pedals can do, almost into rack territory. When the left toggle is switched to Mod, a light chorus effect is added that is both subtle enough to not sound like you’re rehashing dated, ’80s sounds, but strong enough to add some interesting depth. It’s hard to describe what happens when the same switch is in Shimmer mode. As the reverb decays, harmonics develop and ‘bloom’ – the longer the decay setting, the more intense the harmonic development and overall effect. It’s very unique, usable, and can take things in an almost synthy direction.”

Check out the full review below:

Read the review!

TimeLine, blueSky, and El Capistan – looping nerdery

Posted by Ethan

When I’m not busy making videos, audio demos, and doing all of my marketing stuff for Strymon, I spend lots of time in my home studio making my own videos and nerding out with music gear. Basically, I’m just always nerding out with gear. :)

This video started out as a way to test out some new looping software (Circular Labs Mobius), but I ended up getting carried away and wrote a new song. I’ve got El Capistan and blueSky on my guitar, as well as TimeLine and an old Boss DF-2 on my vocals. I’ve been using TimeLine quite a bit for vocals—for this video, I’m using primarily the TimeLine Ice and Lo-Fi machines. Hope you dig it :)

Nate Walcott from Bright Eyes

Posted by Ethan

Nate Walcott's pedalsNate Walcott is an arranger, composer, keyboard player, and trumpet player. He is a member of the band Bright Eyes, and also plays in Conor Oberst’s Mystic Valley Band.

Nate recently sent us a few photos of his live setup. He is utilizing a blueSky reverberator in his Hammond pedal board, and an El Capistan and Ola Chorus & Vibrato in his Rhodes pedal board. He will also be adding a Lex to his setup over the coming weeks.

In addition to his time with Bright Eyes, Nate has also toured with Lullaby for the Working Class, the Autumn Defense, Rilo Kiley, and the Glenn Miller Orchestra. In the studio, he has contributed arrangements to artists such as Maria Taylor, Pete Yorn, Cursive, The Faint, Rilo Kiley, Rachael Yamagata, and The Concretes.


Here’s a video of Bright Eyes performing Jejune Stars live at Lollapalooza, August 5th, 2011:

Configure a Taylor SolidBody, enter to win.

Posted by Ethan

Contest has ended. Stay tuned for other giveaways!

Taylor SolidBody ConfiguratorOur friends over at Taylor Guitars are giving away a great gear package. Head on over to their website and try out their new SolidBody configurator. Using their configurator, you can explore different body style, color, pickup, and pickguard options and build a virtual model.

All you need to do is configure your SolidBody electric guitar, submit your design, and you’ll be entered to win the guitar, an El Capistan dTape Echo, blueSky Reverberator, a Tiny Terror electric amplifier from Orange, a 1-year subscription to Guitar World, and other Taylor guitar accessories.

El Capistan and blueSkyGiveaway ends June 30, 2011. Read their rules here.
Due to strict giveaway laws in many countries, their contest is open to residents of the US and Canada (excluding Quebec).

Enter to Win!

Interview with pedal steel guru Jon Graboff

Posted by Ethan

Jon GraboffJon Graboff has been very busy over the years, recording with artists across genres and across the planet. Possibly best known for his work with Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, he has also recorded and/or toured with the likes of: Willie Nelson, Norah Jones, David Byrne, Carrie Underwood, Joan Osborn, Yo La Tengo, Ben E. King, Harper Simon, Phil Lesh and others. Recently we had a chance to chat with Jon and talk pedal steel, effects pedals, his musical experiences, and all sorts of other fun.

Can you tell us a bit about your formative musical experiences?

Well… when you’re from New York City, and there’s everything around you from jazz to hardcore, from afro-Cuban to Bollywood… it all gets inside you one way or another and informs your musical outlook. My mother was a very talented classical violinist and my dad was an artist and illustrator who played a pretty wicked clarinet. There was music of all kinds going on around me pretty much all my life.

What drew you to pedal steel guitar?

Jon Graboff pedal steel - with remote Strymon switchI’m not sure what attracted me to the pedal steel guitar but I remember the first time I heard one… even though I had no idea what it was at the time. I heard the first few notes on the Byrd’s album “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” and I clearly recall being captivated by the sound of it. A few months later, I was in a roadside diner with my family. We were going somewhere and someone played “If Teardrops Were Pennies and Heartaches Were Gold” by Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner on the jukebox. There is a pedal steel intro on that too and I thought, hey, that’s the same instrument! Interestingly, they were both played by steel guitar great Lloyd Green.

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