Guitar FX basics: What is tape echo?

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The Danelectro Reel Echo is an emulation of an old tape echo unit

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Getting to grips with guitar effects can be a complicated business and there are so many different types that it can be difficult to know where to start. This Guitar FX basics series of video lessons is a brief introduction to the most common effects.

This video lesson focuses on tape echo. Tape echo is a type - in fact it was the first type - of delay. Delay works by adding a copy of the guitar signal to the original, unaffected ‘dry´ signal after pausing for a certain amount of time. The resulting effect sounds like a sort of echo. Delay pedals also allow you ‘repeat´ the copy of the signal so that more than one echo is heard.

Tape echo differs from its modern day equivalent the digital delay in that a real tape loop is used to record the original signal and play it back a moment later. Modern tape echo units often only emulate a tape loop, but the effect is the same - a slightly warped sound where each echo seems to ‘decay´ in quality. You hear how this sounds in the video below.