The history of delay pedals begins with analog circuitry. Those first models had vibrant and distinctive tones that impacted the way we perceive music today. However, as the equipment and circuitries started developing and it all got occupied by digital signal processing, things changed quite a bit. Digital delay pedals started substituting analog ones, as they offered way more versatility and flexibility. Yet such tendency did not envelop all the musicians. Many remain loyal to the beloved analog delays till this day.
If you are someone, who belongs to the latter group, you are in the right place. But if you are an aficionado of digital pedals, then I will have to try harder to impress you. Either way, today we are going to talk about one of the best analog delay pedals – Seymour Duncan Vapor Trail. This pick-up-related and quality-oriented brand has surprised us with its amazing stompboxes numerous times. And it continues to do so with this model as well. I am dying to dive right in and give you as much information as I can, so let’s get started!
Even though Vapor Trail might seem like a typical deal at first glance, its capacities and tonal character prove us wrong. Though things are pretty simple and easy to nail, this pedal is definitely a jack of all trades (a.k.a. as versatile as an analog delay pedal can get). As I have already mentioned, it operates using the analog circuitry, which is comprised with BBD (Bucket Brigade Devices) chips and modern noise-reducing electronics. They pack the whole essence of such construction and deliver the feel that all analog-seekers are longing for. What is more, Vapor Trail delay time ranges from 15ms to 600ms, which is more than enough for most players?
The transparent Delay knob flashes with LED and displays the delay time. Though this might be a minor feature for some, it can be a real asset during live performances on poorly-lit stages. It also features true bypass that leaves your signal alone when the pedal is disengaged. This way you can easily avoid tone sucking and achieve refined results. Vapor Trail can be supplied with batteries or DC adapter, which is not news to anyone, I guess. Apart from standard input and output, this bad boy also has a Side Wet Insert Jack.
This TRS type socket can be utilized for separating wet and dry signals, controlling this stompbox with other pedals or chaining it with other units. I would also like to mention that the construction quality of Vapor Trail is extremely nice and can even withstand liquids (if we believe the boast from my friends).
The control section of Vapor Trail is not filled with mystery. Everything you see when you first pick up the pedal is what you get. The set of knobs we get here consists of all the essentials and offers maximum customizability. Through all these encoders, it can be tailored to your preferences, playing techniques or musical genre. The main thing is what you are looking for and how you like to tweak your delays. Not to bore you with my mumble, let’s move on to underlining the capabilities of each control.
The first big knob is labeled as Mix. This fella blends your original (dry) and delayed (wet) signals, allowing you to mess around with the saturation of the effect. Repeats does exactly what it hints on, meaning that it modifies the number of repetitions. Delay alters the time of your delays and allows you to go from fast slap to slower variation. Now, when it comes to the smaller knobs, Rate sets the speed of oscillator swings, while Depth modifies how much effect will be added to your original signal. These knobs are topped with a footswitch that either activates or disengages the pedal. Judging solely by the control section, we can say without hesitation that Vapor Trial is one of the easiest analog delay pedals out there.
Seymour Duncan Vapor Trail Sound
And the best part of an analog delay pedal is of course the sound. This is where Vapor Trail shows off its full potential. If you take your time and play around with it, you will quickly understand just how much versatility this simple pedal can host. As you rotate the big knobs slowly, you are surrounded with slow, but rich delays. They are steeped with analog warmth and have a touch of darkness that enhances their definition even more. As you crank up the settings, you slowly get inundated by the floods of slow, but intense swirls. If you cut back the delay time, you are left with rhythmic slaps and movement.
When talking about the tonal characteristic of Vapor Trail, I have to mention the clarity it carries. Those advertised low-noise electronics do make a lot of difference and spare you from that annoying hiss that follows many analog pedals. This is a big step forward since you can get as extreme as your heart desires, but still maintain the natural and organic character of your sound. Vapor Trail can be diversified even more with the help of onboard modulation. Using it in conjunction with delay can give you fantastic results with thick textures and ethereal layers. And if that is not enough for you, you also have the ability to shove this pedal in the chain with other effects and add them to the delayed signal only. Finding the perfect combination of those wet and dry signals may be your lifesaver since it adds an interesting touch to the whole performance. Even though Vapor Trail does not have tap tempo, it’s features and sound easily make up for this downfall.
Hopefully, I managed to convince a digital aficionado or two of the capabilities of analog pedals. If not, that is okay too. We all have our strong opinions about musical devices and since our preferences stem from our individuality, we should definitely embrace our differences. But one thing that cannot be denied is that Vapor Trail knows perfectly well what your sound needs and how to accommodate it with delays. Good luck, my friend, in this wonderful and lush world of delays!
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