You probably know – or at least know of – the legendary TC 2290 delay. It set the standard in delay processing way back in the 80’s. Well, TC is still on top of that particular game!
Delay may not be the most obvious bass effect you could ever think of. At least you’ll have to be quite creative to incorporate it as part of your groove (even though that would in fact be possible). But for solos, you could use it just the way a guitar player would, or for the occasional bass-only intro. It is within these two contexts that I’ll review the TC Flashback Delay & Looper.
There is one important thing that should be mentioned about the Flashback – the TonePrint concept. TC have taken some choices for the control parameters you have access to via the physical knobs – as have all pedal manufacturers. Now, being a digital pedal, the software operating below the surface allows for tweaking of hundreds of additional parameters. So TC decided to work with a lot of artists, who have been granted access to the underlying software, to create their very own custom sound – or TonePrint as TC call them.
While we bass players are used to searching the guitar market for effect pedals, more and more pedals tailored specifically for bass are now available. The neat thing about the Flashback and the other TonePrint pedals is that TC has also worked with bass players to create TonePrints that are suited for bass.
And the list of bass TonePrint artists is pretty impressive, including Duff McKagan, Gail Ann Dorsey, Troy Sanders, Richard Bona, Victor Wooten, Mark King, Nathan East and many more.
The second aspect of the TonePrint concept is that TC also has opened the platform to all of us who would like to get really nerdy with the effect parameters. The TonePrint Editor is available for Mac and PC as well as the iPad.
This way, you can tweak any parameter imaginable and you get total control of how they interact with each other and you are allowed to define the range of parameters when turning the knobs. When you’re done, you can save your very own TonePrint and upload or beam it to the pedal. Nice one TC.
In the primary round of sound examples, I simply set the parameter knobs in fixed positions: FX Level at 12 o’clock, Delay at 10-11-ish and Feedback at 9 o’clock. FX Level and Feedback is pretty self-explanatory and the Delay knob sets the delay time. The sub division switch was set to quarter notes. Then, I simply browsed through the 9 different types of delay.
In the beginning of each sounds clip (except Dry), I strum a few notes so you can hear the delay tail in detail.
NOTE! Please use headphones or ‘real’ speakers. You simply can’t judge low-end material on laptop, tablet or phone speakers…!
NOTE! If you are on a mobile device, please turn it to landscape mode to see the knob settings of the pedal for each audio clip.
With 9 different delay types, there is definitely a delay for everybody. But with the TonePrint artists and not least the editor in mind, versatility is beyond belief. Speaking of the TonePrint Editor, I will not delve into it in this review, but I may bring it up under ‘Tips & Tricks’ at some point.
Add to the many delays the built-in looper with 40 seconds of looping time, and there is yet another dimension to the Flashback. The looper is extremely simple, and you won’t get any help such as quantized noted, click track or anything else. It’s just you playing over you.
The main criticism there has been over the Flashback has been the lack of a tap-tempo option. This may well be a guitar problem first – I don’t miss it. And actually TC give you an alternative with the Audio Tapping feature that lets you strum or pluck a muted string while pressing and holding the footswitch. This way, the pedal detects the tempo you want to set and adapts to it.
The build quality is very good. I have had no issues with this one and I have been stomping on that footswitch more than I have on any other pedal lately – simply due to the built-in looper that is so much fun to play around with. Knobs feel firm and nice and it has an overall vibe of quality and sturdiness to it.
The design is good. The only small issue is that the switch for setting the subdivisions is crammed in between the two top knobs and is not easy to access in between two notes on the stage.
Today (2015), you can get a new Flashback Delay for around $150, which I think is not unreasonable. Yes, you can get much cheaper delay pedals, but will be hard pressed to find one with a feature set that comes even close to the Flashback – and that also delivers the same, great tone. Some money s required, but value comes in spades.
As you know if you made it this far, I like this pedal – a lot! Not much more to say about that. Great-sounding, versatile as hell, sturdy and good-looking. What’s not to like?
Amazing delay tones
Subdivision switch hard to access