Mile End Effects has made a replica Roland Space Echo RE-150 preamp circuit and housed it in a compact enclosure with a switchable JFET boost that lets you dial in some overdrive to the vintage preamp tone magic.
Vintage tape echoes are much loved in the world of electric guitar because there is something undeniably musical and charismatic about their repeats, not to mention the wonkiness that comes with mechanical tape over time, but also because they tended to pack something magical in the preamp.
While their fiddly nature and often prohibitive price makes them a little inconvenient for many of us, effects pedal companies have heeded the call with a number of standalone effects offering a tape echo preamp in a box.
These are ideal as boost pedals or always-on tone sweeteners – to guitar players what salt and pepper is to the chef. Pedals such as the Xotic EP Booster and Catalinbread Epoch Boost emulate the Maestro Echoplex preamp section which has been used to great effect by such tone wizards as Jimmy Page and Eddie Van Halen. And this is very much the spirit in which the Ronald PreAmp 150 is coming from.
Young Ronald has a simple enclosure. The Instrument Level dial controls the input gain, while you can think of the Output Level dial as a gain control that comes into play when the switchable boost +dB toggle switch is engaged.
You can run the Ronald PreAmp 150 between 9 and 18V DC and there is an internal trim pot to adjust the bias of the transistors and help you tweak it to best suit your needs. Under the hood, Mile End has used the same NOS JFET transistors as found on the original Space Echo units.
All this is handmade in Canada and costs $199 CAD. See Mile End Effects for more details. These tend to sell out fast but you can sign up for alerts for when the next run of pedals is completed.