easy to discern and also made the pedal
more useful and musical in more extreme
Dressed up like a can of Orange Crush,
the Shaker tends to be about as subtle as it
looks. Timid settings on the pedal, which
includes controls for Rise Time, Speed,
Depth, and Tone, tend to be relatively ineffective unless you’re looking for the most
subtle vibrato wash for chords. Once everything is set to about noon, however, the
Shaker comes alive.
Even at these settings, the Shaker imparts
a queasy kind of modulation that’s actually quite lovely on suspended chords and
open tunings with droning doubles, which
take on a kind of waterfall shimmer. The
Shaker works best with chords, and it really
becomes most effective for lead work when
you crank the speed a little bit. There’s
no real way to dial in choppier, tremolo
channel-type vibrato with this pedal, if that’s
what you’re looking for. Nearly every setting
has a distinct tape-warble quality that’s generally musical, but a little confining.
The Shaker has a cool Latch feature
that enables you to hold the footswitch for
momentary applications of your vibrato
setting—great for short bridge sections and
accents in the context of a song. It’s also a
function that’s integral to the Bumblefoot
Latch Vibrato TonePrint, which features a
very aggressive, but unique vibrato that’s
colored with feedback-laden, peak filter-style spikes at the top of each modulation
wave. It’s hard to imagine using this particular TonePrint for the duration of most
songs, but it works great as a texture you
can insert into a song or lead for a moment
of intensity or drama.
The Petrucci Clean Vibrato was a more
subtle variation on the standard vibrato
voice, with a more intense modulation
somewhere between tape flutter and a
rotary speaker—a great addition to dreamy
chord passages. This also served to illustrate
how TC’s TonePrints can very subtly, but
effectively (and if need be, temporarily)
change the basic color of the pedal with
very little effort.
Certain old-school guitarists will
always want to keep their stompboxes as far away from a computer
as possible. Others won’t find the
current selection of TonePrint artists very appealing (though TC
says more than 30 TonePrints—
including from Audley Freed, Jerry
McPherson, and Brian Nutter—will
soon be available). But as we discovered, you can do very interesting and un-Bumblefoot-like things with a Bumblefoot
TonePrint. And really, you shouldn’t necessarily look to the TonePrints as tools for
emulation as much as for inspiration.
Guitar players who don’t view the web as
an anathema to creative playing will really dig
having the ability to search for new sounds
online and quickly switch between them—all
for only the initial cost of the pedal itself.
And every TonePrints page links to your
Facebook page, so you can share comments,
tips, and settings with your friends.
The key to the success of TonePrint
pedals over the long haul may be how effectively TC Electronic expands the TonePrints
library and how varied the added voices
are. At the very least, TonePrint pedals give
players the ability to explore sonic modifications on a whim and get a quick dose
of inspiration. These pedals may not turn
you into the next Orianthi, but they can be
avenues to some cool and unexpected surprises at a very reasonable price. That’s why
most folks look to stompboxes anyway, and
why TonePrint pedals are a very promising
evolution of the form.
you’re intrigued by the notion
of regularly adding new voices
to your pedals.
you like to go with what you
know on your pedalboard.
Street $170 Flashback Delay and
Looper, $130 Corona Chorus, Vortex
Flanger, Shaker Vibrato
or use a mobile device to download
audio clips of the pedals at