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El Capistan logo in white with tagline dTape Echo

NOTE: This page is for a discontinued product. Click below to see the product page for the new version of El Capistan.

El Capistan

Magnetic Monster.

When we decided to develop an effects pedal that delivers the sound and feel of our favorite tape echo machines, we knew we must relentlessly study and faithfully recreate every last nuance.

We spent months in the Strymon sound design labs with an intense focus on capturing the warm, saturated, distinctive qualities of tape echo machines. The result is our hand crafted dTape™ technology. Utilizing a ridiculously powerful SHARC DSP, every drop of processing power is harnessed.

El Capistan dTape Echo pedal
El Capistan tape echo delay pedal

Extensive control.

El Capistan provides three different tape machine types in one, each with three unique modes. With ten parameters to tweak, you get extensive control over tape quality, machine health and tone shaping.

Go from the sound of a pristine, studio-quality tape machine to the heavily fluctuating sound of a machine in need of service. Get the full bodied sound of fresh tape all the way to the gnarled qualities of worn out tape.

Because it’s DSP driven, you get a range of tape experiences unattainable with a traditional tape machine. All of this without the headaches of tape machine maintenance and repair!


Audio Clips 1

Audio Clips 2

Synth Audio Clips

Tone Adjustment and Shaping

Press (+) for more info.

Front Panel Controls

El Capistan - Tone Shaping and Controls
  • Time controls the delay time according to the Tape Head type. With Fixed and Multi tape head types, the Time knob varies the tape speed. With Single tape head type, the Time knob varies the position of a sliding record head. The full range of the Time knob varies depending on the Mode you select.
  • Tape Head changes the selected tape machine / head configuration. See the Tape Machines section of the manual on page 3 for detailed info.
  • Mode changes the mode for each associated tape machine. See the Tape Machines section of the manual on page 3 for detailed info.
  • Mix controls the balance of your analog dry signal and your wet signal, from 100% dry at minimum to 100% wet at maximum. The mix occurs entirely in analog. 50/50 mix occurs when the Mix knob is set to 3:00.
  • Tape Age gives you full control over the frequency characteristics resulting from tape bandwidth and head-tape alignment. Older tapes have a lower bandwidth and a warmer top end. Misalignment of the heads can greatly reduce the high end. Go from clean, crisp, and brand new to old, worn out, and misaligned.
  • Repeats sets the number of echoes you hear. Set to zero to hear one repeat. Set to 100% and hear sustained infinite repeats and the accompanying regenerating saturated oscillation.
  • Wow & Flutter controls the amount of pitch fluctuations caused by mechanical imperfections of the tape machine. Lower settings equate to a finely tuned tape echo machine. Higher settings reflect the periodic, pseudo-random motor/mechanical imperfections. Wow & Flutter also tracks to tape speed. Slower tape speeds deliver more pitch warbling, faster tape speeds provide more dimensional depth.
  • Tap quarter notes to set the delay time. The TAP LED will flash to indicate the tempo. TIP: Holding the tap footswitch will result in infinite repeats.
  • Engages and disengages effect. Bypass mode is true bypass by default. LED on indicates that the effect is engaged. TIP: Hold the bypass footswitch during power up to change the bypass mode to analog bypass with trails (delay persist).

Secondary Functions

El Capistan - Secondary Functions
  • Spring Reverb controls the amount of spring reverb added to your signal. Go from completely dry to dripping springy goodness.
  • +/- 3dB Boost/Cut lets you achieve a plus or minus 3dB boost or cut when the pedal is engaged.
  • Low End Contour gives you control over the low frequency shaping of the echo repeats. Go from extended bandwidth to extremely high-passed, magnetic drum style repeats.
  • Tape Bias allows you to make tape machine bias adjustments, from under-biased to over-biased. Higher bias levels result in reduced echo volume and limited headroom. Lower bias settings result in the cleanest echos with the most headroom.
  • Tape Crinkle controls the amount and severity of tape irregularities, including friction, creases, splices and contaminants.

    Go from smooth and well-cared for all the way to chewed and mangled. Tape Crinkle characteristics track accordingly to tape speed.

Ins & Outs

Strymon El Capistan dTape echo
  • Input – Plug your instrument in here. Default is mono input. Can be used as TRS stereo input by switching internal jumper.
  • Exp – Connect an expression pedal and control any one knob with your foot. Or plug in a favorite switch to save and recall a preset.
  • Left Output – Connect to your amp, mixing board, other pedals, etc. Acts as a mono output when only one channel is being used.
  • Right Output – Connect to your amp, mixing board, other pedals, etc.
  • Power – Maximum 9 volts DC center negative, with a minimum of 250mA current.


Sound designer Pete Celi takes you on an in-depth tour of El Capistan.

In-Depth Demo Part 1

In-Depth Demo Part 2

Tape Machines and Modes

El Capistan has three distinct tape machine types, each with three separate modes.

Sound on Sound

Just like one of our favorite moving head tape echo machines, El Capistan gives you a Sound on Sound mode, but with some cool new features. When you enter the mode (Single Tape Head, Mode C), the machine is already recording, just like a traditional tape echo machine. We go several steps further by giving you instant tape splice and bulk erase functions. It’s like having a built-in tape-style looper! To set the length of your tape, press Tap once to set your splice ‘in’ point, and press Tap again to set your splice ‘out’ point. All of the tone shaping knobs are active and affect your loop as it plays back and re-records. Press Tap a third time to completely erase the tape. You get 20 seconds of tape in slow speed, 10 seconds in fast speed. Check out our video demo below.



One of the most ambitious and clever applications of DSP we've seen in a stompbox.
The Strymon El Capistan dTape Echo is one of the most outstanding delay pedals I’ve ever played and offers some of the most inspiring tape echo sounds you’ll ever find in a compact stompbox.
If you’re looking for the best tape echo delay pedal around, the El Capistan should be at the top of your “must try” list.
It really doesn’t get much better than this.
El Capistan’s unprecedented feature set, versatility, excellent sound quality, and capacity for hands-on real-time control put it in a class by itself, which is why it earns an Editors’ Pick Award.
Guitar Player Magazine
Barry Cleveland
Guitar Player
Hands-down the best sounding tape echo effect this reviewer has yet heard.
It’s a tall task to wrangle in and completely capture the expansive sonics, eccentric quirks and randomness of a tape echo machine, but Strymon’s El Capistan does a mind-blowing job.
El Capistan can – without question – hold its own among all of the classic delay units of yesteryear.
The tonal range and character of the repeats is very adjustable so you can have fairly bright clean-ish repeats or use the knobs, particularly tape age, to dial in something much darker and mushier that melts naturally into your sound.
All in all, a fantastic, great sounding little box that delivers on its promise with no exceptions.
... a joy to use, even under the pressure of a performance.
...signal-to-noise is an impressive 115 dB, so these double as a studio option.