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This article was originally published in issue #36
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If you’re struggling to find a bass player and drummer to play with, or you’ve fallen out with your existing band mates then DigiTech has come up with the perfect solution for you in the form of the Trio Band Creator pedal. This is one of those pedals that you plug into and then struggle to understand how what it achieves is even possible, since its purpose is to listen to what you play and then, like magic, build a complementary bass and drum part to match your chords and time feel. With multiple on-board genres and styles the Trio can take on everything from straight ahead Rock, to Reggae, Jazz, Funk and Blues with many variations and multiple time signatures that should cover almost any musical scenario you find yourself in.
The pedal itself is pretty easy to operate given the number of controls and potential complexity of all of the LED’s and options available to the user. You’ll need to read the manual to really understand the full potential of the Trio pedal but there is nothing here that should confuse even the most tech-phobic guitarist. The main idea is that you put the Trio into listen mode and then play a sequence of chords. The unit then analyses your chord sequence, figuring out the key and any non-diatonic chords and comes up with the most appropriate bass line and drum part to match what you played. Remarkably the process is instantaneous, the unit playing back your bass and drum part as soon as you hit the footswitch after playing your chord part.
The Trio’s chord recognition is superb, although DigiTech recommend that you only play basic triads or 7th chords with only one chord per measure to get the best results and we can confirm that this will often yield the most accurate results and since only the bass and drums are performed by the pedal, you can perform more complex voicings once your bass line is playing.
If by any chance the pedal misinterprets your style or rhythmic feel (this happened quite a few times during our review video) you have a wide range of options for tailoring the bass and drums after the fact, thanks to the genre and style controls. The genres on offer are Blues, Pop, Alt Rock, Rock, Country, R&B and Jazz with each genre having twelve sub-styles or variations, nine of which are in 4/4 time and three in ¾ time. All of the sounds on offer are convincing, with appropriate grooves and a realistic sound for both the drums and bass. From time to time the pedal will interpret the groove in an odd way, producing a result that doesn’t always resemble the time feel you were going for, but it seemed almost impossible to confuse the unit chordally and it always produced an appropriate bass line for the chord part played and it’s very easy to alter the groove afterwards with the genre and style controls to achieve what you need. An Alt Time switch allows you to select between standard, double time or half time feels depending on the style or genre selected and a tempo dial will speed up or slow down the groove without affecting sound quality at all.
Up to three separate parts can be recorded and easily selected using the small part LED buttons at the top of the pedal. With the optional FS3X footswitch you can select parts and grooves/styles with your feet as opposed to having to operate the dials and buttons on the pedal for a more seamless, musical approach. DigiTech has also included very useful mix controls for the volume of the bass and drum parts, allowing you to remove either part or produce a bass or drum heavy mix as desired. Cleverly, the company has also included the ability to split the outputs of the Trio giving you a few options as to where you send the guitar and band signals. Using the Amp output you can send the guitar and drum/bass mix to your amp and the band is EQ'd to match your amplifiers speaker. Using only Mixer output the pedal will apply an amp and cab simulation to your guitar so that you can send the entire signal to a PA or mixer for live use or recording. The Guitar FX button can be engaged to apply some appropriate FX to your guitar signal for each style. Alternatively, you can send your guitar to your amp via the Amp output and send the band signal to a PA/mixer with a Stereo TRS or mono cable for the best sound quality. A USB port is included for future firmware updates and a headphone out is located at the top of the unit with a dedicated volume control for practice sessions. It’s also built like a tank and feels very high quality in operation with both the Trio and FS3X footswitches being very smooth thanks to the use of non-latching switches.
The Trio is a massively impressive pedal that performs a very unique function that I’m sure will appeal to many guitarists - especially those who do solo gigs or need to try out ideas quickly in practice or writing sessions without the hassle of getting a band together. It can be a little unpredictable at times getting the pedal to interpret your groove and time and this would make me a little nervous about using the Trio for live purposes, but as a practice and writing tool this could be invaluable. The FS3X is a very useful addition if you want to get the most from the Trio and an essential buy if you want to use it live. The Trio is a great achievement from DigiTech and is well worth checking out, especially at the very generous asking price.