TC Electronic’s Flashback guitar pedal ($169) is a multitalented piece of gear. Its robust set of delay and loop features make it easy to get lost in hours of guitar playing, but when paired with a Mac or iOS device, it does something no other pedals can do.
Fun! Yessir, that’s what you’ll be having with the Flashback Delay and Looper plugged in to the battle axe of choice. With nine different delay modes built-in, variable delay time up to 7 seconds, and control over how much delay repetition you’ll hear (how many “echoes” you hear off each strum), the Flashback provides a massive amount of variable sound signatures to play with.
Looping is also made easy on the Flashback; easily record a riff (up to 40 seconds) then replay it back endlessly with just a couple of foot taps. This is fun when you want to play over a part you create, but Flashback also makes it really simple to lay infinite new parts over previous versions, essentially allowing you to transform yourself into a one man band.
Why’s the USB port on the top there? Astute observation. This is where I introduce the Flashback’s special sauce. TC Electronics built in to the Flashback what they call “TonePrint.” Essentially, these are settings from other guitarists you can download onto your Mac, then upload via USB into the pedal to give the Flashback their distinct sound.
TC has a bunch of popular guitarists’ TonePrints already available for download for free on their website, with more added here and there. And uploading them to the Flashback is as easy as plugging in your pedal via USB, opening the TonePrint you’ve downloaded from the site, and clicking an upload button.
Better yet, and more magical, the TonePrint iOS app lets you beam new sounds to your Flashback pedal by pointing your iPhone’s speakers into your guitar’s pickups and playing what sounds like old dial-up modem noises. Yes, you read that right! Check out the video below to see how it works — the demo is pretty awesome.
And like many pedals out there, Flashback is all-metal, built like a Soviet-era automobile, and feels sturdy enough to safely travel in even the most chaotic gear bag.
After about two hours of playing, I was surprised that the Flashback had turned its fresh new 9-volt into a withered hunk of recycle-bin refuse. I would have just plugged it in to its power adapter at that point to save my dwindling pile of 9-volts, but for some reason, most guitar pedals still don’t include those without an extra purchase. Unfortunately, that includes the Flashback.
Another minor gripe — though I had no problem loading TonePrints via my Macbook, I couldn’t get the iOS app to work at all. I assumed that the Flashpoint’s firmware must be the old version (only their new firmware works with the iOS app), and a quick update would solve the issue, but I eventually learned after some frustration that updating the Flashback’s firmware isn’t possible—without the not-included power adapter—grrrrr.
TC Electronic’s Flashback pedal is awesome. It sounds good, it’s easy to use, and aside from all the other excellent features I mentioned earlier, it gave me an easy way to sound like Prince from the Purple Rain movie. Add to that the brilliance of TonePrint, and it makes this musical accessory very easy to recommend.