Monday, August 23, 2010

Dig in and enjoy

Backline Engineering

To a musician there's nothing better than a new great sounding cool piece of gear. I'm sure there are a ton of you out there that agree with me on this. What can I say about Backline Engineering that their gear doesn't say for them? For those of you looking to take it to the next level or looking to expand the horizons of your sound, Backline Engineering isn't a bad place to start. In fact it would be a wonderful place to start. It was through word of mouth that I first came across this interesting and innovative gear company. Everyone I heard speak of their gear was always baffled at the capabilities of each product. Same goes for everything I read on Baclkline's gear, always being positive and imaginative feedback. I recently had the chance to put one of Backline Engineering's products through it's paces and was stunned at how far it was able to take my imagination. I was able to do things with my sound that before weren't possible, got to learn some new tricks, able to hit my guitar with just about every style of effect out there, and also got to explore some new plateaus. All with just one box too. Now try that on for size.


Backline Engineering


If I were to sit here and list all the features and possibilities that the FX-Tracker was capable of we'd be here till tomorrow..... no wait, we'd be here till next week! The FX-Tracker turned out to be one of THE most versatile and flexible effect units I have ever laid my hands on. Imagine being able to control the character of your effects with your playing style and pick attack. Being able to control the speed, depth, and time of each effect in a way that would create sounds not ever possible before. Imagine a pedal capable of dishing out an entire library of effects without lack of sound quality and with a range of control capable of keeping you busy forever more. This is definitely not your everyday multi-effects unit, instead think of the FX-Tracker as an effect unit of it's own breed. Within this unit you will find all of the key effects such as delay, chorus, tremolo, flanger, filter, pitch shifter, and arpeggiator. The FX-Tracker sports up to 87 different variations of it's effects, has up to 100 preset locations, and has MIDI output capabilities. Along with the main effects this pedal can also do things like place delay before, after, or in parallel with many of the effects. Giving you some of the most unique and interesting ways to morph and manipulate your effects ever. You can also skip back and fourth between delays and other effects with the picking of your hand! Pretty damn cool huh? This thing dishes out stereo effects, has up to 60 seconds of stereo delay as well as looping abilities, can pull off whammy effects, can be triggered by MIDI drum machines (along with many other MIDI functions), can control effect parameters with expression pedal, can work two delays at once and time them with with another ir with your playing, the list goes on and on. For more info on the FX Tracker just check out the website, you will be blown away!

Now for some FX Tracker fun. I seriously don't even know where to begin. I guess I will start with the simplest way to use this baby, as a multi effects unit. The factory settings on this pedal were actually quite impressive. They got me knee deep in the capabilities of the FX Tracker and showed what types of tricks were possible. With this one pedal I was able to tap into some of the best modulation effects I have ever heard. I warn you, I will only be scratching the surface of what this pedal is capable of. Inside the FX Tracker I was able to pull out some of the coolest delays ever. Not only was the quality of the delays stunning but what I could do with them was even better. One of the most fun delay tricks this pedal pulled off was it's ability to control the delay times with my pick attack. This made for some interesting and new delays sounds, sounds I have never dreamed possible. With a favorite fuzz box of mine things got even better. I was up to my knees in psychedelic heaven. Slowing down my playing would literally make the delay less intense and give me shorter echoes. Then by speeding up the delay would come alive, widen the echo amount, and follow my vibe. The first time I did this I was stunned! Now, before I go on I must mention that this pedal is very very easily setup and even easier to get killer sounds out of. I was also able to get reverse delay effects which sounded better than most reverse delays I have tried. My original signal would come across as clear and smooth, while the delayed signal would reverse in the exact time it was played. Some reverse delays are on an automatic cycle. This pedal gives you a much cooler sound. Another cool trick I was able to pull off was set a delay and a tremolo effects and switch back and fourth from them with my picking. This gave me and my band sounds that before had not been possible, and helped me tap into a creative side of my brain that had never before been touched. This may sound a bit dramatic but this is exactly how powerful this pedal is. The delay/tremolo trick was really fun for working out verses and chorus' in our tunes. I could play slowly and get these trippy delay effects, then begin to hammer away and turn the effect into a tremolo. This is something we usually do by switching back and fourth from stompbox to stompbox, but with this puppy it's all in your fingertips. Another super fun effect was the whammy sounds this pedal could pull off, as well as divebomb effects. I have always dug the idea and tone of the whammy but never really had a chance to play around with one. This pedal gave me a deep insight on just what is possible with this type of effect. The whammy effect could also be controlled with my picking, giving me certain registers in mellow picking, then higher frequencies when picked hard. Having a foot controller also came in handy as it let me use the whammy effect in a more traditional way. Then there was the arpeggiator effects, and boy how I love me some arpeggiator. Not only can you get some very very cool factory preset arpeggio sounds, the FX Tracker also lets you go deep inside to program your own patterns and settings. Add in the ability to control the effects feel with your picking and you have an entirely new arpeggiating monster in your hands. I was able to think of any pattern imaginable, then program it to work with whatever tune I chose. This I was stuck playing with for hours and hours. One of the coolest sounds and tricks with this pedal though was rocking out true to the core vibe effects. I dialed in a badass vintage style chorus effect, then again with my picking speed the chorus would speed up and slow down. This would have absolutely blown Jimi and Trower away into space, it did me! This created a much more intense and dramatic effect because the slow picking would produce these warbling, slow chorusing tones. When I'd speed up so would the chorus giving it almost a mind of it's own. Harmony effects were also pretty fun to play with. You can harmonize your favorite lead runs and licks to turn them into exciting new flavors. I was able to use the pedal like any old harmonizer, but that ain't nothing. This thing has the ability to throw in the previous note played on top of the new note played. Now if you're a technique/theory freak I'm sure you could get some insane uses out of this. With certain notes and with some volume swells thrown in you can get some spot-on violin sounds, lap steel, pedal steel, and completely new sounds. Then looping... oh yes looping! This thing did some awesome looping for me once again giving me the ability to do things with my playing, songs, and band that had not been possible before. I could create these tripped out layers and layers of weird licks, without loosing quality or mojo. Looping is something that many cats are into right now, something that almost every band I go see is doing. If you are on the hunt for a powerful delay and looping gadget this is your pedal, if even for this reason alone this pedal would be worth it. Timing two delays to each other was also something I had never so easily pulled off before. You don't know how many times I have tried to set up two different delay pedals to try and get certain sounds. Sitting there tapping on one, then the next to try and get a certain effect. It is a nightmare! This pedal makes that easy as pie.

I didn't get too much into the MIDI capabilities but my partner who is much more skilled at this did and when he came back from a couple days of playing with the FX Tracker he was in shock. OH HOLY I ALMOST FORGOT!!!! Volume pedal tricks!!! Never ever ever ever in my life have I been able to pull off volume pedal tricks as easily as I was able to with this pedal. The slower in between my notes the longer the volume would take to ramp, the quicker I would play in between notes the faster the volume ramp would snap in. Absolutely genius. With lap steel this was an absolute dream. And with the ramping/harmonizing trick I mentioned above I could get killer pedal steel effects, with my guitars too! I really don't want too bore you with lots of writing so I'll cut it here. The FX Tracker I assure you can do much much more, and much more complex tricks. This was only a small introduction of what Backline Engineering's amazing tone tool is capable. If ever there was a pedal that spoke for itself this is it. One session with this thing and I promise you'll be hooked... hooked to the gills! Backline also has a handful of other gadgets which I am very curious to try out. I promise I will try my best to bring you the rest of their stuff in the near future. For now let the FX Tracker's magic soak in and dream of any effect you've ever wanted... cause thing can do it.


For more info on Backline Engineering and it's awesome FX Tracker go to There is a bunch more amazing information on the FX Tracker and the rest of their products. You can also check out audio clips and much more. Stay tunes for more from Backline in the near future. Go out and get this pedal before it is no more!!!!

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