In the morass of analog and digital delays on display at the January 2013 NAMM show, the Ibanez Echo Shifter’s ($150 Street) retro styling made it stand out from the crowd. An old school sliding fader to adjust delay time? —Cool! The Oscillation switch too aroused curiosity. It only remained to get one in and see if it was as interesting sonically as it was visually.
The Echo Shifter’s wood sides combined with a metal casing to recall Moog’s Moogerfooger series—though considerably smaller. The aforementioned slider Delay Time control joined two knobs, for Feedback (repeats) and Mix, to complete the usual array of delay functions. The footswitches controlled FX (effect bypass) and Tap (tempo). The subdivisions of the tap are restricted to quarter notes, but only two taps were required to lock in the time. The delay time set by the slider remains constant, regardless of what tempo you tap in, so if you turn the unit off and back on, the delay time reverts to the slider setting, acting as a kind of preset.
With the Oscillation switch off, the Echo Shifter’s Feedback control can be set full on and the delays will repeat infinitely without running away. As they continued, I could create all manner of strange and/or musical effects by adjusting the Delay Time. Engaging the Modulation switch and twisting its knob added even more fun effects to the infinitely delaying loop.
Turning on the Oscillation switch, and setting the knob to anything over about three o’clock sent the delay into distorted runaway mode. This was great for even more extreme noise and pitch shifting effects. With the repeats set low and a little modulation, the oscillation mode added a tape delay texture to the already analog sounding effect.
The ES-2 begged for tabletop manipulation, but I could also get cool space gun effects by tapping the tempo switch with my foot while playing.
With a normal amount of feedback, and a moderate amount of modulation, the ES-2 provided lush, Memory-Man style soundscapes, whether chiming or swelling. For more normal delay applications I found a Keeley Compressor helped soften a bit of bump on the delay attack, and, of course, enhanced both swells and chime.
This Ibanez pedal’s vintage package is only the beginning. Whether for classic warm analog and tape effects, or wild delay, feedback, and modulation manipulation, the Echo Shifter deserves a close look.