TC Electronic TonePrint Pedals

August 1, 2012
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THESE DAYS, IT SEEMS ALMOST EVERY product interfaces with our smartphones to make our lives easier and more productive; musicians in particular are enjoying the fruits of the “iLife.” TC Electronic has recently entered the ring with its new line of TonePrint pedals, which feature the studio- grade quality effects they’re famous for, and benefit from new technology that puts a huge range of expansion capabilities in the palm of your hand.

The Corona chorus, Hall Of Fame reverb, Flashback delay/looper, Vortex fl anger, and Shaker vibrato pedals are all welcome additions to their categories, but the new Tone- Print feature makes them stand out among the pack. Each pedal has it’s own user adjustable parameters—but also features a bank for holding TonePrint sounds created by TC in conjunction with top artists. The signature tones are easily downloaded to the pedal through the supplied USB cable, or through the free TonePrint app for iPhone or Android. Before attempting to use the app, you’ll need to make sure the pedal has the most recent firmware update—a simple process that requires you to connect the pedal to your computer and download the update from the TC Electronic website. Once updated, the app will “beam” any of the TonePrint sounds to your pedal, and because the sounds are all stored within the app as a magnetic impulse, an internet connection is not required. The TonePrints can also be downloaded from the TC website without the app.

While these pedals are not bass-specific, their frequency response is full-range and leaves the precious bottom end alone, and all models allow for either true or buffered bypass. Coupled with the already stellar factory presets, TC’s package of bass TonePrints (created in tandem with players like Nathan East, Juan Alderete, and Justin Meldal-Johnsen, among others) really make this pedal group shine for us low-enders. Watching the video demos of each artist developing their TonePrints with the TC crew, you’ll see that each patch was created using the full processing power of TC’s editing suite, allowing the artist to manipulate effects parameters not available to consumers. The app lets you save your favorite patches in a convenient Favorites list so you can easily change your TonePrints in between songs.

The stereo Hall Of Fame reverb features Room, Hall, Spring, Plate, Gate, Modulated, Lofi , Tile, Ambience, and Cathedral presets, all with adjustable decay times, effect level and tone control. While groove oriented players may not fi nd much use for reverb, bass soloists will glory in the Valhalla-like atmosphere the Hall Of Fame can provide, and for funksters, a Tile reverb with a short decay can give your thumping and popping just the right ambience to stand out in the mix.

The Flashback delay is a full-featured digital stereo unit with up to seven seconds of delay available. The presets range from the pristine playback of the TC 2290 Digital Delay to the warm and fuzzy response of analog pedals. There is an emulation that really captures the signal degradation of the old tape delay systems, as well as Lofi , Dynamic, Modulated, Ping Pong (stereo only), Slapback, and Reverse delays. Controls for delay time, feedback amount and effect level let you dial in your sound to perfection, but the delay time can be easily synchronized to a tempo with the Delay Audio Tap function. Simply hold down the pedal footswitch and strum muted quarter notes at the right tempo to automatically set the delay time. With subdivision switch, you can set the delay for quarter, or eighth note rhythms, or both. And if this isn’t enough, there is a Loop setting that allows you up to 40 seconds of mono loop time (20 seconds in stereo).

The chorus is a much-loved effect for bass, and the stereo Corona is a prime example of the species. In Chorus mode, the pedal models the classic TC Stereo Chorus Flanger that has been a pedalboard mainstay for many years, while switching to Tri mode creates a more lush triple chorus effect. The FX LEVEL control is designed to give you a 50% wet/dry mix when fully clockwise; the SPEED control ranges from slow and subtle to chipmunks on meth. Depth controls the range of modulation, and Tone affects the overall brightness of the chorus. The Corona can add swirling motion to harmonics, or create a Leslie effect that turns your bass into a Hammond B3 (almost).

The Vortex flanger is a versatile unit that captures both modern and classic tape-based flange tones. Tape mode is a “through-zero” flange that simulates the original flange technique of running multiple tape decks while offsetting the speed. Flange mode gives uncolored digital response that makes the higher harmonics pop with clarity. With SPEED, DEPTH, FEEDBACK, and DELAY TIME controls, the Vortex can produce effects from the insane warble of Janek Gwizdala’s “Family Of Rats” TonePrint, to the sibilant sweep of Mark King’s “Sweet Minger.” Another hidden feature of the Vortex (along with the previous four pedals) is a kill-dry function, which removes the dry signal from the pedal output. This works well when using your pedals in a parallel effects loop.

Out of the bunch, the Shaker vibrato may be the least likely candidate for bass use, but it can get you close to a rotating Leslie effect, and may prove invaluable for Spaghetti- Western soundtracks. It has a handy Latch function where the on/off button acts as a momentary switch—a unique way to create dubstep-like rhythmic effect slices.

One of my personal “grail tones” is the Leslie/rotary speaker effect, and one of my favorite practitioners of the art of “B3 Bass” is Roscoe Beck. Naturally, I went straight for Roscoe’s “Sonic String Modulator” Tone- Print for the Corona chorus. While I had tried to dial in something like this on my own, this tone was built with forces that were beyond my control. Having beamed the Toneprint into the pedal, I was hooked. The EQ, effect mix, speed, and depth were perfectly tuned to make my 6-string Ken Smith sound like Jimmy Smith. I’d buy this pedal just for that one sound. But the Corona also sounded great in more subtle applications, and there are several excellent artist TonePrints online.

I saw Janek Gwizdala play at BASS PLAYER LIVE! 2011, and in addition to his fluid musicality, I was knocked out with his delayeffected soloing tone. As it turns out, he collaborated with TC and made that sound one of his TonePrints (romantically entitled “Sausage And Beer”), and once again—it was the one sound that I wanted most from that pedal. Lucky me. The Loop function was pretty handy for on-the-fl y loop creation and overdubbing—40 seconds and unlimited overdubs is enough time to have fun, but set the effect level high enough to balance the playback with your live instrument. Loops can’t be preset or saved, so while great for spontaneous jams, serious loopers should look for more dedicated hardware.

The overall performance of the entire group of TC pedals is excellent, with each one a top contender in its category. The TonePrint concept, in particular via the free app, greatly expands the range of these pedals, and you may just find your favorite sounds there.

TECH SPECS HALL OF FAME REVERB
Street $149
Reverb types Room, Hall, Spring, Plate, Gate, Mod, Lofi , Tile, Ambience, Cathedral, TonePrint
Controls FX LEVEL, DECAY, TONE, reverb type, PRE DELAY SHORT/ LONG, true/buffered bypass, kill-dry

FLASHBACK DELAY/LOOPER
Street $169
Delay types 2290 (digital), Analog, Tape, Lofi , Dynamic, Modulated, Ping Pong, Slap, Reverse, Loop, TonePrint
Controls DELAY time, FEEDBACK, FX LEVEL, delay type, true/buffered bypass, kill-dry

CORONA CHORUS
Street $129
Chorus types Chorus, Tri-Chorus, Tone- Print
Controls SPEED, DEPTH, FX LEVEL, TONE, true/ buffered bypass, kill-dry

VORTEX FLANGER
Street $115
Flange types Flange, Tape, TonePrint
Controls FEEDBACK, DELAY TIME, SPEED, DEPTH, true/buffered bypass, kill-dry

SHAKER VIBRATO
Street $129
Vibrato types Vibrato, Latch, TonePrint
Controls SPEED, DEPTH, RISE TIME, TONE, true/ buffered bypass, kill-dry

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