Well NAMM 2019 certainly did not disappoint in 2019. There were thousands of new products on the floors, and getting the chance to review them all was sadly an impossible task. But there were a few standouts for me as a guitar player, and one of those was the Strymon Volante.
Their new offering is based on the vintage tape delays of yesteryear, and does it in unequalled fashion. Think of iconic delays units of the past like the Binson Echorec and Maestro Echoplex.
February 11, 2019 | Story by John Bongiovanni
The Volante features three ”modes” magnetic drum echo, tape echo and reel-to-reel studio echo sounds. Additionally there’s a looper and vintage spring reverb. The pedal also comes with four onboard delay playback heads, with individual feedback, panning and level controls. And it’s foot friendly: tap tempo and even choose favorite settings with your foot, plus add an expression pedal if you desire. And of course, this is a Strymon pedal, so you'll also find stereo ins and outs, MIDI and USB ports, and selectable Instrument and Line input settings also.
All of Strymon’s pedals are known for delivering truly exceptional sound quality and this pedal follows in that lineage. The ease of dialing in a subtle difference or shade within each feature is breath taking. It’s got to be one on the most amazing authentic representations in the vintage tape echo arena to date.
The pedal is based around a "multi-head" layout which allows you to control the level and feedback for each of four individual tape heads for an exceptionally detailed and realistic tape experience. A record level knob can increase the gain of the JFET preamp for a wide range of organic-sounding saturation tones, much like the fabled preamp section of the EP-3 Echoplex.
At first glance you could definitely get overwhelmed, but I took special note of the tape echo mode and set forth on dialing each control in for some of the most expressive and sweet sounds in a pedal I have come across to date. It gives you the richness and sophistication of a classic tape echo - just so many options to really hone in that perfect warm slap or longer sweeping echo. Or, for example, each head’s playback level can be set for full volume, half volume, or off, and each head can be switched in or out of the feedback circuit.
Get creative with the “spacing” knob. What does this do you ask? Well, here’s the background - Some vintage multi-head tape echo machines’ heads were not evenly spaced, that created some unique sonic interactions when multiple heads were set to repeat. Volante created this totally on point, and easily tweakable; spacing is continuously variable for the entire travel of the SPACING knob, the available settings are - even, triplet, golden, and silver settings.
Pedal board real estate always comes at a premium as every guitar player is well aware. If you’re looking to clear up some space and up your game, this pedal is a no brainer… add the Strymon quality and versatility and flexibility and smile. The pedal’s street price of $399 USD is priced either direct from the company or via an authorized dealer - in a very sweet spot for everything you get from this amazing new offering.
There’s all kinds of videos on youtube at this point with lots of great feature reviews(which I myself have enjoyed immensely), and for more in-depth information, also including informative video demonstrations, visit Strymons Volante webpage here:www.strymon.net/volante/