I’m always excited about trying new guitar pedals. I know a lot of people are going digital these days, which can definitely make things easier and take up a lot less space, but pedals vs digital is kind of like vinyl or CD vs Spotify. There’s just something special about getting and holding that physical product, and there are even certain pedals that just really can’t be replicated by plugins and retain their magic, at least not yet.
I tested out two newly launched guitar effect pedals from Universal Audio: The Galaxy ’74 Tape Echo & Reverb and the Del-Verb Ambience Companion. Here are my experiences with and thoughts on each.
Universal Audio Galaxy ’74 Tape Echo
Admittedly, this was my first time really playing with a tape echo pedal. It’s not something I’ve ever had in my arsenal of gear, so I was excited and curious to give it a go. I read up and watched some videos on what a tape echo actually is and decided this was probably one of those pedals where you just need the real thing, or it isn’t the same. I also have to say, I’ve been impressed a lot these days by the trend of taking older styles of pedals and revamping them for the modern age. There’s some pretty neat stuff out there for sure based on legendary, coveted models from decades past. This one takes inspiration from the Roland Space Echo of the mid’70s, which I’ve never gotten the chance to play with, but I could tell straight away that this was a modern reimagining of vintage effects.
It’s cool to be able to take old-school stylings and pair them with modern gear and newer sounds, and this pedal is exactly for that. There’s definitely room for recreating sounds off of old records, but what excited me most about this pedal was the idea that I could make something sound modern and retro at the same time—something that’s pretty big right now, though it probably always is. Anyway, across this review, I might mention a few times just how clear this pedal sounds (and the other I got with it as well.) That spacey, dreamy vibe can fit in a lot of different genres, and these pedals are ones I’d like to find different, interesting uses for, rather than delegating them to one specific thing.
Being a tape echo and spring reverb combo pedal, I was happy that this unit does both sounds exceptionally well. I’m sure we’ve all had multi-effect pedals that just can’t seem to do any one thing great, like a restaurant with every cuisine under the sun on the same menu. These effects go exceptionally well together, and the ambient textures the Galaxy ’74 allows are fantastic. The reverb and delay are a match made in heaven, and I can’t wait to find ways to sneak this pedal into some of my own music.
Del-Verb Ambience Companion
Next up, we have the Del-Verb Ambience Companion, with more reverb options and some stunning delay effects as well. To be quite honest, if I were to choose only one of these pedals, I’d have to do some thinking, so I’m lucky I got to try out both. There is definitely some overlap possible with the two, but the differences in textures just open up more possibilities. What I have to mention about the Del-Verb is that the tones it brings out are truly immersive and easy to get lost in. For creating ambience, it’s the perfect tool, but it also comes in clutch in any situation where a nice reverb and delay are needed, and those are two things you can use in an awful lot of music. Getting into some ambient soundscapes is fun, but this pedal will also really heighten a lot playing styles and can just make your clean tones more interesting if you want to go that route.
Another thing I should touch on here is the builds of both of these pedals. I’ve had my share of flimsy pedals to save a few bucks in the past, and it’s not fun to always be worried you’re going to pull out your gear to find it broken. These are two of the sturdiest pedals I’ve ever used, and aside from an attractive presentation, the things are just tanks. I don’t imagine they’re in any danger of being stepped on too hard or anything like that. All in all, I’m having a great time with these units and have been hit with some inspiration to get ambient with it.
Manus Hopkins is a free-lance Toronto-based writer.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org