By Scott Auld
Sometimes you want it all, and sometimes you want a little more than that. The fine folks at T-Rex Engineering (t-rex-effects.com) in Denmark sent us two nifty little effects systems to look over, the two-channel Yellow Drive and the new Tap Tone Delay, and I have to admit, I have been in “have it all Heaven.”
Like most guitarists, when I gig out, I have my clean tone, my moderate overdrive tone and my guitar-solo tone. I like to have each all set to go so that mid-song switches are quick and easy. This is normally accomplished with two pedals, one for OD and one with a bit more punch and gain for solos.
Clearly, our friends at T-Rex are guitar players themselves, because they realized that having both of those guitar sounds in one single pedal would save work and money. The new Yellow Drive does exactly that.
The Yellow Drive gives you two separate channels full of the classic T-Rex gain tone. The left half of the box, labeled “A” is a nice mellow mild overdrive, and the right side, called “B” is a soaring, singing distortion, perfect for guitar solos. I found that setting my amp just on the edge of breaking up, then goosing it with the A channel put me right into that chewy rhythm zone. The amount of gain available on channel B seems to pick up right where channel A leaves off – so you are always ready to launch.
The pedal is very smartly laid out, with GAIN, LEVEL and TONE knobs on each side. Naturally, you are able to set the amount of gain for each channel, but also provided are individually tuned tone controls – one for each channel. The flexibility provided by the controls means you can find exactly the sounds you hear in both sides of your head.
T-Rex also sent us the Tap Tone Tap Tempo Delay. Before I talk about the great features on this delay, let me start out by saying that the SOUND of the repeats hit me like a ton of bricks as soon as I turned it on and started fooling around with it. The sound of the repeats is the key in determining if a delay works for you, and T-Rex nailed it. They are warm and lush when you want them to be, but the Tap-Tone has a secret weapon: the BITE control.
Like any delay worth its salt, the Tap Tone has the standard controls you’d expect: the DELAY knob controls how loud the delay repeats are, compared to your normal signal. The FEEDBACK knob determines how many repeats are played before they fade away. And the TIME control naturally selects the speed at which the repeats occur, from very quick repeats to long-range massive delays.
But that wonderful BITE knob controls the personality of the delays themselves, without affecting your dry signal. I found that turning up the BITE knob made my delays cut through a band mix spectacularly – the Edge needs to try this pedal, he just might toss out his beloved vintage gear. I was half-tempted to see if there was a tube inside the pedal – it’s really that warm.
The TAP button on the bottom right of the pedal allows you to tap in the tempo of your song, so that the delays match up with the beat. If you’ve never tried a tap-tempo style delay, the Tap Tone is a must-buy. And if you’re already familiar with tap-tempo delays, the SOUND of the Tap Tone is almost guaranteed to be an upgrade over what you’re using now.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that playing the Yellow Drive’s OD channel into the Tap Tone Delay yielded a nice, clear, strong signal. Often times, delays muddy up overdrive signals, but these two brothers really seem to play well together. And switching the Yellow Drive over to the “B” channel yielded some really flamethrower-type solos.
Together or separately, the Yellow Drive and the Tap Tone pedals NEED to be on your pedalboard.
NOTE: Yellow Drive and Tap Tone are two in of a series of T-Rex pedals developed through a partnership with Guitar Center, and are available exclusively at Guitar Center stores or guitarcenter.com. Prices are $159.99 for Yellow Drive and $169.99 for Tap Tone.