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This article was originally published in issue #27
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A delay pedal is one of the most common effects used by guitarists - a 'must have' for any serious pedal board set-up. Shimmering cleans, scooped high gain leads, weird and wonderful sounds, all require a good delay pedal. With them being so popular, it's fair to say that the market isn't exactly short of options. That said, anything new on the market from Seymour Duncan commands instant attention. As we saw in our interview with the great man in Issue 26, Seymour has spent his entire life in sound - most famously developing some of the world's most successful pickups - but his Californian based company is moving into effects pedals in a big way, witness this new analogue ('analog' in US terms!) delay pedal, the Vapor Trial.
For this review I plugged straight into the Vapor Trail and then into my own pedal board as I wanted to see how it worked alongside other pedals, the output then went into the front of the studio amp. Be sure to check out the video as I spent some time before filming, dialling in a few settings to demonstrate the newcomer.
The first thing to establish is that the Vapor Trail is a true analogue, true bypass, delay pedal, that uses genuine bucket brigade devices. This type of device was developed in 1969 and consists of a series of capacitance sections. The stored analogue signal is moved along the line of capacitors, one step at each clock cycle - hence the term 'bucket brigade'. The use of this type of device in the Vapor Trail should give the pedal an authentic vintage sound with warmth, fullness and depth, which some players feel is lacking from digital effects.
The three main controls on this pedal are very straightforward. Mix - controls how much of the delay you want to be present in the mix. Repeats - adjust to go from one repeat through to runaway repeats. Delay - controls the delay range from 15ms to 600ms: the actual delay time being indicated by the translucent control flashing at the set rate. There are also Rate and Depth controls, which are a very nice addition not seen on most delay pedals (demonstrated on the video), and they are also nicely placed at the top for convenient adjustment during performances.
The controls were easy and straight forward to use. I love the flashing delay knob and the addition of Rate and Depth controls. Having these additional controls means you can dial in some far more interesting sounds rather than just your bog standard delay settings. It would have been nice if there was also a tap tempo option so you can quickly and accurately get delays going at the same tempo as the tune you are playing, rather than a bit of knob turning and guess work. Having said that, many delays sound best when they aren’t locked into the tempo, and just float over the top.
The pedal also has a TRS insert jack that allows you to add effects to the wet signal (loop the wet delay sound through a flange and chorus etc), which is a nice touch. I normally run all my effects such as delay and chorus through the effects loop of an amp, then have my crunches and drives going into the front of the amp. Running this pedal as described above directly into the front of the amp and through other pedals caused no problems at all. The tone was warm, full and responded well to the addition of chorus, or drive. The repeats were clear and didn’t lose definition or crunch as they tailed off. I spent a fair while playing around with this pedal trying settings that Seymour Duncan recommended and some of my own, and it really is a very versatile delay pedal. As I mentioned above having the extra Rate and Depth controls really does open it up to more possibilities. It's also a robust piece of kit, and a standard stomp box size, designed to take either 9v or pedal board power supply. There was a tiny amount of latency from striking the string and hearing the note on higher delay settings. This could have been down to the way I was running the pedal, or it may just have to be something you learn to live with.
Seymour Duncan is a name associated with high quality, robust, reliable equipment and the Vapor Trail doesn’t disappoint. Great engineering and technology plus some nicely thought out additions have created an authentic analogue delay pedal with a fantastic sound and feel to it. If you are in the market for a delay pedal or maybe an upgrade, then I would suggest going and trying the Vapour Trail for yourself.