Truth be told, I’ve never played a real tape delay. In fact, I’ve never even seen one up close. But after following Dan & Mick’s many forays into various types of delay—not least their time with a vintage Echoplex (https://youtu.be/baUwLRiy15w)—my Strymon Timeline has scarcely left the tape delay setting. This week, however, my delay addiction may have moved into even more uncharted territory.
Dan & Mick hosted Michael Pagaard of T-Rex Effects. Among the many T-Rex pedals loaded on the TPS board was the Replicator Junior, a bona fide, pedalboard-sized tape delay. Modern yet vintage, familiar yet innovative, Pagaard and the team at T-Rex have proved that sometimes the best new gear concepts are in fact fresh takes on old technology.
While Dan spent most the episode awestruck at the delay pedal (and for good reason!) and Mick managed to keep it (mostly) together, the forty-five minutes with Pagaard included conversations on the story behind the Replicator Junior as well as some insights into some other happenings at T-Rex headquarters in Denmark.
The Making of a Modern Tape Delay
As Dan & Mick recalled, it was a few years back at NAMM that the T-Rex booth featured the full format Replicator MKI. While other booths were filled with the latest innovations in analog and digital circuitry, the Replicator stood out with its tandem spindles and roller-coaster of true tape that pinged and ponged the delays into the warm, warbly distance. As Dan commented this was not only bold for reclaiming tape as a modern medium for creating echoes, but for its marriage of that technology with a pedal format.
As Pagaard noted, “the Classic [MKI] has been out for two years and we have learned a lot from that…but we wanted to strip it down and make it more simple.” Not only is the Replicator Junior packaged with a pedalboard in mind, it’s design also provided the opportunity to streamline the circuitry, scale back the voltage requirements (12v), and rework the tape echo system so it functions off a single head. The Replicator Junior is analog in the best sort of way, with the only digital section set to control and communicate the tap tempo. As a result of these evolutions in engineering Pagaard commented, “I think you’ll hear that this version is breathing better, it is a little more clean.”
While Dan & Mick are no strangers to pedals of all-types, Dan commented that “There’s just something about tape…Every time we’ve turned on a real tape machine, something happens.” Pagaard agreed: “I have plenty of digital delays, I love them, but once you hear this, it’s analog and it’s tape, it is just a total other feeling.”
Other Happenings at T-Rex: Bringing Production Home to Denmark
Pagaard recalled the beginning of T-Rex. “We started making pedals twenty-one years ago, and the very first pedals we did were the Alberta, the Mud-Honey, and the Tremster. And now, we just wanted to do it again.” As with most companies in the industry, the demands of growth required moving the production off site and out of country. “It still sounds good, but something always said in the back of my head: ‘My old Mud-Honey and old Alberta just sound better.’”
After some A/B testing, Pagaard’s suspicion was confirmed. The original had a darker edge, an unparalleled tonal quality. A week after the initial conversation and testing, the decision was made: T-Rex effects would be designed and built on Danish soil. “We [decided to] make them from the original components and everything, custom made in Denmark at T-Rex headquarters…It just feels right, it feels better. We can go from just an idea to the physical product in a short amount of time because production is right next door to research and development.” So starting with the Alberta, Mud-Honey, and Tremster, expect to see T-Rex pedals shipping with a “Made in Denmark” sticker proudly placed on the box.
Moving Beyond Tape? Pagaard on Prototyping a Next-Gen Echorec
A while back on TPS, Dan & Mick toyed around with a vintage Binson Echorec (https://youtu.be/kzgllPfulP4). Both were amazed and the physicality of the spinning drum echo unit and the embodied and emotional experience of playing that form of delay technology.
As Dan & Mick looked back at the most recent NAMM, they asked Pagaard about another prototype that was nestled atop the T-Rex booth. As Pagaard commented, T-Rex is continuing their innovation of vintage delay technologies by advancing this prototype through research and design: “We’re still working on it. It’s up, it’s running, and I tell you, you’re gonna wet yourself. It’s something completely different.”
With all the developments and investments made in the Replicator Junior Pagaard was optimistic that T-Rex’s take on the Echorec will appear in the year ahead. Just where will it debut? Apparently, Dan & Mick get first dibs. Pagaard said “I promise, you’ll be the first ones to check it out.” So watch out for big things coming from T-Rex in the year ahead and keep an eye out here for new developments as they’re shared on TPS.
TPS Rig Rundown
Guitars: Fender Custom Shop ’63 Telecaster, Fender American Vintage ’62 Stratocaster, Fender Highway 1 Texas Telecaster, Gibson Custom 1958 Les Paul Standard.D’Addario Pedal Tuner, T-Rex Mudhoney, T-Rex Alberta, T-Rex Replicator Junior, T-Rex Tremster, T-Rex Room Mate, Walrus Audio ARP-87 Delay.