Guitar FX basics: What is tape echo?

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

Click here for all Guitar FX basics videos.

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.


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