mmolteratx 04/27/2011

Strymon El Capistan : mmolteratx's user review

« Very Realistic »

  • Like
  • Tweet
  • Submit
  • Email
There are three modes available. These are fixed, multi and single. They each emulate different types of tape echo such as the Echoplex and Space Echo. Of course this emulation is digital.
A complaint I have is the lack of MIDI and lack of stereo ins. This would bring the functionality level much higher, though it's not the biggest of deals. You at least get stereo outs and tap tempo and can purchase the Favorite Switch if you want a preset. Downside is it's $50 extra.
There are five knobs, mix, time, repeats, wow & flutter and tape age. Each knob has a secondary function to control parameters such as crinkle, bias, spring reverb, etc. These allow detailed control over your echo tone.
You also have the ability to switch between buffered and true bypass operation.


The primary knob functions are self explanatory, though those unfamiliar with tape echos may not know what the effect of tape age and wow & flutter are. Fortunately, the manual explains these. The secondary knobs are a bit trickier since you probably won't know about them without the manual. The manual explains them and how to access them, though it is a bit of a PITA to actually do it.
Set up is easy, though as before it may cause some problems in a stereo rig since it doesn't have stereo ins. It's easy to incorporate in any other rig though and the favorite switch is a breeze to hook up should you choose to purchase it.
The high current draw can give you problems depending on your power supply and other pedals, though I just run it off output 5 or 6 on my Voodoo Labs Pedal Power 2+.


I use the El Cap with a THD Flexi 50 and a Strat. The dry tone remains unaffected when I kick the El Cap on due to the analog dry path. This gives it the edge over several similarly priced units such as the Eventide Time Factor in my opinion.
The echo quality is great. It can get very close to the EP-1 that my friend owns. If it had a similar preamp structure in place, I believe it could nail it no problem. There's a thread on the Gear Page that compares it to several real tape echo units that gets the point across very well.
My only complaint sound wise is that the self oscillation is a bit weak. Nowhere near as prominent as a real tape echo or even most analog and digital echos. This isn't a deal breaker for me or most others but it is nice to have around for when you want to go crazy.


I absolutely love the El Cap. It does everything I need and it's built incredibly well. My favorite thing would have to be the multi head setting. It gives a great ambient feel to my tone that I love for when I'm the only guitarist. My complaint is still the oscillation. I feel like Strymon could have done better.
The value might not be as good as something like the Time Factor since it only does 3 types of delays but it does those 3 types so well that if you're only looking for tape echo, I'd buy this any day over the TF.
I'd buy another if it were ever stolen or broken. The former is considerably more likely.

Images linked to this review