Lesser Known (and Euro) Tape Echoes?

Discussion in 'Pedal Pushers Forum' started by BohemianLikeMe, Nov 22, 2020.

  1. BohemianLikeMe

    BohemianLikeMe Gretschie

    361
    Apr 18, 2020
    Prague, CZ
    Everyone loves an echo... an echo ... an echo, right? I'm jonesing hard for an old tape echo machine (used to have a whole variety of Space Echoes back in the states, RE-101, RE-150, RE-201, etc.) for live and recording use here in Europe, but prices on the older Rolands are through the roof right now (1500+ for an RE-101). So it's time to look at other options. I figured I'd take a look at some of the other tape echo brands like Klemt, Echolette, Dynacord, WEM/Watkins, etc.

    I'm mostly interested right now in the older tube models like the Klemt NG51, Dynacord Super S62/S65, or the Watkins Copikat mk. II, but I'm not opposed to solid-state models, if they've got good, interesting pre-amps like the Space Echos or Echoplexes. I'm even tentatively looking at oddball stuff like the old Czechoslovak Tesla tape echoes (because I speak Czech) and older Soviet/East Bloc tape echoes too. Mainly I'd like to have one to serve as a preamp for recording/adding grit to guitar sounds, self-oscillation mayhem, and for use on vocals for home recording. I'm not really worried about live use yet.

    So, anyone have any favorites or tips? How does the build quality and maintenance on some of these older German models compare to the Echoplexes and Space Echoes?
     
  2. wabash slim

    wabash slim Gretschified

    Age:
    71
    Feb 10, 2010
    lafayette in
    Those are all really as rare as hen's teeth here in the colonies.
     
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  3. BohemianLikeMe

    BohemianLikeMe Gretschie

    361
    Apr 18, 2020
    Prague, CZ
    I know. But if it makes you feel any better a silverface champ goes for $1400+ here. :D
     
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  4. hcsterg

    hcsterg Friend of Fred

    Feb 13, 2012
    France
    Hi @BohemianLikeMe,

    I have a good friend here in Lyon / France who specializes in restoring / repairing Binson Echorec, Wem Copicat, etc... among other vintage equipments like amps and keyboards.

    So many years ago, I was the one who helped him take his first marks in amp repair and building. He also works with recording studios and backliners now... ;)

    https://fr-fr.facebook.com/SagarraAmp/

    https://leshop-lyon.fr/fr/

    Maybe he has some tape echo for sale these times ? I don't know...

    So contact him on my behalf : Bruno - from France. His name is Jordan Sagarra, and no issue : he reads and speaks English very well... :)

    A+!
     
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  5. wabash slim

    wabash slim Gretschified

    Age:
    71
    Feb 10, 2010
    lafayette in
    I've been looking for info on an English made Bird combo organ for decades. Found one o their amps, but that's it. I saw/heard one once at a Tremeloes concert in the '60s. Two manuals, and the sides were egg shaped (bird, get it?) but I haven't seen or heard of them since.
    I lived 30 miles from a Selmer horn factory, but never saw or heard a Selmer amp. Go figure. We saw lots of Italian accordions, but that was it until the mid '60s and Farfisa combo organs started appearing in the US. Same with Vox amps. I've only seen a couple of Burns guitars in person. It may be a global market, but lots of gear never makes it across the pond.
     
  6. BohemianLikeMe

    BohemianLikeMe Gretschie

    361
    Apr 18, 2020
    Prague, CZ
    Thanks Bruno.
    Thanks Bruno! I'll definitely send him an email. :D
     
  7. BohemianLikeMe

    BohemianLikeMe Gretschie

    361
    Apr 18, 2020
    Prague, CZ
    I get that with things like tape echoes, there's little reason to see European ones on the US market. You'd have to do a fair amount of mods to get them to work on US voltage probably.

    That said, I'd rather pay 450 EUR for a tube tape echo than 1400+ for a beat up RE-201 that also needs service, that's for sure. :D
     
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  8. BohemianLikeMe

    BohemianLikeMe Gretschie

    361
    Apr 18, 2020
    Prague, CZ
    Mainly, to keep things on topic, I'm looking at five different "lineages" of tape echos:

    1) Klemt NG-51/Echolette 5 (and the successors Dynacord Super 62/65/Echolette E51) - these are all-valve 3 head systems that use standard 51cm tapes
    2) Copicat Mk. II-IV - some tube some not, though the transistor ones seem to be the cheapest and also most reliable, but not as sonically pleasing as the tube Mk. I and II.
    3) Meazzi and Italian off-brands like Semprini - mostly transistor, since the tube and Meazzi ones go for lots of cash
    4) Later solid state Dynacords (Super 76, Mini-echocord, Echocord 100s) - which are pretty affordable and look like Dynacord still supports. (Some multi-head systems, some single head like Echoplexes, all transistor, some with spring reverb too).
    5) Korgs and Space Echos (and space echo copies) - Japanese 70s and 80s transistor units. The REs are super well known (especially here), but I don't know a whole lot about the Korg, Pearl, Vorg, and other units with seem to have the same mechanical lineage but different circuits/branding.

    And then, there's always room for the weird ones, Tesla, Yugoslav, Vermona, etc.

    I really like the sound of the all-tube units, but the Roland Space Echoes are really classic in their own right, and I'd probably be better off in terms of finding parts and them holding value, so it might be worth while to shift some gear and save some pennies and look for deals there.

    Also big concern for the future: durability! I'm not planning on touring any time soon, but it'd be nice to have a unit that can withstand a few gigs every month or so.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2020
  9. Bertotti

    Bertotti Friend of Fred

    Jul 20, 2017
    South Dakota
    Would something like a Mystery Brain be a possibility for you? As I understand it, it has some serious re301 genetics. I’m sure you probably already thought about those though and importing is probably a hard thing to pay for.
     
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  10. wabash slim

    wabash slim Gretschified

    Age:
    71
    Feb 10, 2010
    lafayette in
    Isn't there an echo that records on a metal disc?
     
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  11. TV the Wired Turtle

    TV the Wired Turtle Gretschified

    Jul 25, 2009
    so cal
    The big downside to any Roland Tape Echo unit, is the brushless motor and they werent supposed to wear out but they doooo. The average cat is not going to be able to remove it, nor get to marry the guts of VCR's brushless parts w the Roland's. Also capacitors start drying out after about 15yrs and those in the power section have to be replaced along with pinch rollers/capstans possible tape heads. Ive spent yrs failing at getting mine to be reliable. Even had a reputable tape echo repair dude in Echo Park not get it to do much more than I did. I bugged him so much he doesnt want me to bring it back to him. :) I mean it works, its wonderful and work perfectly until you NEED it to work for a gig or recording.. its haunted. Setzer goes on tour with a GRIP of RE301 space echos, even drags along an RE201 at the bottom of the barrel. Tom of tvjones told me at the end of his last big tour he came back with only two units still working. :) :) :) And get this, he doesnt tour with his Echoplexes because he sez they arent reliable :)

    Nick Urso bought one of my Fulltone tape echos, the solid state one and it was only like 2 months old with hrs on it. He was having to wrestle with that thing too.

    I'm just saying, they are a labor of love and very few gigging musicians will ever proclaim their tape echo works flawlessly for em. Guys like setzer have hardworking sidemen like Tyler Sweet to help them and a budget for repair men. We dont.
    Yet, once you are bitten by a real tape echo you keep going back. Just long enough to get let down again and repeat, repeat, repeat,repeat ))))))))))
     
  12. Gretschtim1

    Gretschtim1 Country Gent

    Dec 4, 2012
    Dundalk, Md
    Back in the 70s & 80s when I was using my two EP3 Echoplexes they were pretty dependable. They were new and everyday I cleaned the heads and every few months I changed tape. I used them everyday gigging and practicing 4-5 hours at a time. They were always on because I liked how they fattened the sound. Now the Echoplexes left are 30-40 years old and the parts are worn out. So in that case no they aren't dependable anymore. The Roland tape delays my band had back in the 80s were a pain in the ass. In my experience they weren't dependable at all and they were new at the time. We dumped them pretty quickly and bought the new digital delays that were becoming available. Tape sounds great but you have to constantly adjust, repair and replace if you want to keep them running. No different than my studio tape machines from the same era. Mechanical moving parts will wear out.
    Today live I use Strymon for my delays and in the studio I use the Strymon along with tape echo as needed. I love tape echo but it does have it's limitations like any other processor you might use. None of them are good for everything.
     
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  13. wildeman

    wildeman Gretschified

    May 10, 2015
    norcal
    20160212_105712-1.jpg I got this, not too rickety....most of the time. Its European!
    It sounds awesome when i use it ( not alot) could use a servicing as the middle head does nothing.
     
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  14. tartanphantom

    tartanphantom Friend of Fred

    Age:
    57
    Jul 30, 2008
    Murfreesboro, TN
    I think you’re thinking of the Tel-Ray/ Morley “oil can” echo unit, which uses a magnetic disc and special magnetic oil... it’s actually more of a short delay than a real echo effect.

    Also, the Binson EchoRec used a magnetic drum instead of tape.

    Any idea what a Binson EchoRec unit goes for these days?
     
  15. wabash slim

    wabash slim Gretschified

    Age:
    71
    Feb 10, 2010
    lafayette in
    I know about the oil cans---had one long ago. Maybe I was thinking of the Binson, Echolette also comes to mind.
     
  16. Beezageeza

    Beezageeza Electromatic

    6
    Nov 25, 2020
    Australia
    I used a RE201 live, from about '92 to 2000, without too many problems. Had only one full service in that time too. Cost me the princely sum of $200!
    I loved it, especially for doing flying saucer landings.
    In the end I got tired of dragging the lump around with me. I have another Aussie made one from the '60s SuperEcho? and a couple of analong rack units.
    Loads of fun!
     
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  17. Ricochet

    Ricochet I Bleed Orange

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    Quite a few in my locals(the Netherlands). I’d mediate but I’m a bit strapped for time...
     
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  18. BohemianLikeMe

    BohemianLikeMe Gretschie

    361
    Apr 18, 2020
    Prague, CZ
    Binson and Schaller did the metal can route, I know. The Schaller ones I've heard here in the Czech republic can sound really good, like a weird cross between an Echoplex and an oil can delay, but the problem is if the oxidized coating on the can comes off, nobody has a clue how to fix it.

    Either way, I ended up scoring a late 50s all-tube, gold-cage'd Klemt S NG-51 for the expensive sum of $245 dollars shipped via German eBay a few days ago. :D Not entirely sure how much tlc it'll need since the seller had no idea what he had or how to test it, but I figure for under 250, I can take a flyer on it and still come out ahead, and my tech will be glad for the business.

    Plus, if reliability becomes an issue, well, it can stay at home in the studio and be the tube pre-amp I've always wanted for recording.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2020
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  19. BohemianLikeMe

    BohemianLikeMe Gretschie

    361
    Apr 18, 2020
    Prague, CZ
    Sorry for the late responses all, lotta catching up to do here.

    I'm definitely still in the market for something good for live use, so I'm still quite interested in Tavo's pedals, especially from a practical standpoint. I've got an unobtainium Moog analog delay on loan from a good friend (seriously a great unit, but not worth the 2k they go for now), but it's so insanely expensive that I'm actually more worried about using the pedal live than any sort of vintage unit.

    And, as Tavo mentions, the reliability for any tape unit is always an issue. I had some reliability bugs with my RE-201s in the 2000s (back when they went for $300!) and sourcing tapes and parts and a tech was always a pain, even in a big music city like Chicago. Like Tavo, my guy (Ian from Specimen) worked on the Space Echos about three or four times and then politely told me never to bring them near his shop again. :D But good lord, they sounded great-- those preamps were great for everything from roots rock ala Setzer, to doom and experimental metal like BORIS or weird Hawkwind-esque psychedelia. And I've got a thing for backlight VU or magic eye meters!

    I also had an El Capistan for a while but I just could never bond with it. It sounded a bit too fake, the menu diving and hidden button combinations were a pain in the butt, and I had a hard time dialing in a sound with dirt.
     
  20. Bertotti

    Bertotti Friend of Fred

    Jul 20, 2017
    South Dakota
    Tavo has a post here about a discount on any pedal. Might be a good time to check it out. Moog! OMgosh I am so mad at myself for not buy the couple I really liked back when they were available. At the time I was thinking they were too expensive but now! Wow. I really missed the boat on those pedals. I don't dare try a real analog echo. I'm already a tube amp snob I don't need to be ruined anymore!
     
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