May 28, 2013
This week we have a very special guest reviewer – Mark Hunter, the lead guitarist of up-and-coming hard rock band Setting Fire to Stacey, a band that is currently making waves in the local music scene with their first single “Something Out of Nothing”, currently airing on radiowaves near you…
Hey folks! Let me start off with an introduction – my name is Mark, I’m the lead guitarist of the hard rock band Setting Fire To Stacey. (yeah yeah I said that already, hahah. ~thesamurai)
I’m a huge John Petrucci fan, and I recently bought his new signature pedal from TC Electronics – ‘The Dreamscape’. While it may be a cool sounding name (and damn cool looking pedal!), it’s pretty useless at hinting as to what the pedal does. Well done guys. So, let’s start with explaining that mystery…
This is TC Electronics’ first artist signature pedal, for which they partnered up with Dream Theater’s John Petrucci to create a pedal that combines chorus, pitch vibrato and flanger effects tailored specifically to his tastes. Considering that Petrucci has a reputation for using huge rackmounted rigs, it’s pretty interesting to see what would have gotten him excited enough in a single pedal to want it as his signature pedal… Though I’ve heard that it’s basically Petrucci’s favorite settings from the TC Electronic SCF (Stereo Chorus Flanger) crammed into one smaller pedal with the added benefit of TonePrints. As you can see, the SCF is kind of an unwieldy looking pedal, so it’s pretty natural that he should want it streamlined a little bit for ease of use.
The effects are split in to 3 sections.
Section 1 and 2 have Chorus, Flanger, and Vibrato. Section 1 is voiced to work with clean tones, while section 2 is designed to work with distortion. Section 3 is dedicated to the TonePrint functionality.
What do you get in the box?
It’s a rather unassuming box, with a picture of the pedal, and a photo of Petrucci quite obviously in major agony based on his facial expression.
The box contains the pedal, a USB cable for connecting the pedal to your computer, a TC Electronic sticker and a little booklet advertising their other pedals.
Right… Let’s play it then!
Well, not so fast. First things first, the firmware on the pedal needs to be upgraded to the latest version. Which is a simple job of downloading the software from the TC Electronic site and running it up with the pedal connected via USB. I’d assume depending on when your pedal leaves the factory they may start coming out with the latest version on them, but mine didn’t.
The controls are all pretty basic with, Speed, Depth and FX level all doing exactly what you would expect of them. There is a small three-position switch in between the knobs for changing the eq of the fx between Bright, Normal and Dark. I have found that bright was the most useful setting for me. The only control, which requires a bit more attention is the Effect selection control.
This is the chorus designed for running in to a clean amp, it’s reasonably traditional sounding although does a nice job of adding character without the excessively obviously circular sweep that some choruses have.
This first part of this demo is using the piezo output of my Musicman JP6 and I’m playing the intro section of Pull Me Under by Dream theater the second part is showing it in a more traditional way playing Message in a Bottle by the Police. (ha it sounds more like Floods to me ~thesamurai)
The Flanger 1 setting is actually quite tame in the scheme of flanger effects, you aren’t going to get the OTT jetplane effect here. But what you will get is a nice useable and musical flanger. This example is using the piezo output mixed with the neck magnetic pickup. I’m playing the intro of Peruvian Skies:
Now, don’t get this confused with the more common tremolo effect. While tremolo manipulates the signal’s volume, this is actually altering the pitch instead.
The depth and speed of this effect are quite wide and can go from being very subtle to a mind numbing shaking sound. This demo is using my Ash Customworks Heilo with Rio Grande pickups. You should be able to recognize the tune as the intro to Soundgarden’s Black Hole Sun.
Now we have changed to the effects voiced for use with distortion. An important thing to note here, is that these effects have been carefully voiced to work either in front the amp, or in the effects loop. This was a major deciding factor in my buying it, as I don’t want to have to run the extra cables on stage to use pedals in the effects loop. I have tried various other modulation effects, which I’ve never been happy running before the preamp. This demo is just playing a couple of arpeggiated chords, which is what the manual claims is the best used for this effect.
This is claimed to be the effect to use to get Van Halen’s Unchained tone. While it is a great sounding flanger effect, and works well in front of the distortion, you might be disappointed if you bought this pedal based solely on that claim. Listen for yourself anyway.
I have to be honest with this one. I’m yet to find a use for it. The best I could come up with is using it in to a lightly distorted amp to add a little bit of a warble. But any more than that and it all got a bit out of hand. I’m sure someone will find an awesome use for it, but as yet, I haven’t.
What about those TonePrints?
I’m going to assume you know what TonePrints are, and the basic concepts of how they work. If you don’t know… um, go Google it. (They’re basically like artist presets which you can zap into your pedal using a smartphone)
There are some great tone prints available for The Dreamscape from some pretty big names such as Guthrie Govan, Bumblefoot, Joe Perry and John 5 (Plus heaps more). Using the iPhone app they are simple to apply to the pedal and they are great for flicking through when you are looking for some inspiration for a new sound. One of my favorites is the Chorus setting by Orianthi which is based on TC Electronic’s TriChorus.
You should also keep in mind that this can be connected to your computer with the TC Electronic Tone Print Editor software running. Here you can make your own prints.
I really like this pedal, and because of the TonePrints it offers a huge amount of flexibility. A lush sounding yet still somewhat subtle sounding chorus effect had evaded me for sometime until stumbling across The Dreamscape.
One thing I’d love to see added would be the ability to switch TonePrints on the fly with a midi pedal or similar. But for now, I’ll carry on changing the settings in between songs when it’s needed.
I’m not sure if I’m allowed to use the Patented Samurai “Fuck-yeah” rating system. But screw it… I’m going to anyway. I’d give this a solid 4 out of 5 Fuck Yeahs. (yes, you can – that’ll be $5 thanks. Fuck Yeah. ~thesamurai)