The Best Maestro Echoplex Style Pedals: Great Analogue Tape Delay Tones

Are you looking for the best Maestro Echoplex style guitar pedal?

In this post, I’ll be rounding up the best Maestro Echoplex style pedals to give you great vintage analogue tape delay tones.

Let’s dive right in:

The best Maestro Echoplex pedals for 2020

Pedal

Make + Model

Check Price + Availability

Dunlop EP103 Echoplex Delay Pedal

Catalinbread Belle Epoch Deluxe

Dunlop Echoplex Preamp (preamp only)

Catalinbread Epoch Pre (preamp & buffer only)

1. Dunlop EP103 Echoplex Delay Pedal

Dunlop Echoplex Delay
  • Save

The Dunlop EP103 Echoplex was the first analogue delay pedal that I added to my collection.

It’s a fairly simple pedal with; sustain, volume and delay controls. If you push in the volume control you can adjust the age of the emulation. This means your repeats will sound more worn and that’s the tone that I love.

Overall, I am very impressed with this pedal and it’s great that they’ve incorporated an all analogue dry signal path.

There’s also a TRS jack for an external tap tempo should you want to use one.

2. Catalinbread Belle Epoch Deluxe 

Catalinbread Belle Epoch Deluxe
  • Save

If you want to trade simplicity for tweakability, then the Catalinbread Belle Epoch Deluxe could be the perfect delay pedal for you.

The footprint of this pedal is roughly double that of the Dunlop EP103 and as you might expect, you get a lot more functionality at your fingertips.

You can control the depth, record level, echo volume, sustain, and delay. There’s also a TRS jack for expression pedals that can be used to control delay time, delay playback volume, rotary speed and filter sweeps. There’s a toggle switch on the right of the pedal that allows you to choose what the expression pedal will change.

And there are two footswitches on the pedal. On the left we have a latching footswitch for run-away repeats, and on the right, a bypass switch allowing you to activate the pedal. This is true bypass but you can change it to buffered via a slider switch inside the unit.

Here’s the best part: a 6-way program control switch allowing you to switch between different types of echo. You can even replicate the chorus and vibrato effects from the original Deluxe Memory Man pedal. 

As you change programs, the depth control will behave differently and so will the expression pedal when it’s in “V” mode. The Belle Epoch Deluxe is a great pedal and ideal for those who love the freedom to tweak. 

3. Dunlop Echoplex Preamp (preamp only)

Dunlop Echoplex Preamp
  • Save

One of the reasons for the popularity of the Maestro Echoplex was it’s preamp. In fact, it was a similar case for other analogue echo machines.

So, if you want a guitar pedal that will emulate the preamp of the original Echoplex, the Dunlop Echoplex Preamp is a great choice.

There’s not much more to tell you about this pedal. There’s a gain control and that’s it. And most of the action is above 12 o’clock. Stack this with other pedals and you can get some interesting tones at lower gain levels as well. 

4. Catalinbread Epoch Pre (preamp/buffer only)

Catalinbread Epoch Pre
  • Save

The Catalinbread Epoch Pre is another take on the Maestro Echoplex’s preamp. So, if you want any sort of delay – this is not the pedal for you. 

And, this is no ordinary preamp pedal either. It’s a preamp and buffer in one. It can also be used as a mastering pedal for the end of your signal chain.

The Epoch Pre isn’t going to give you much in the way of gain but it will make your guitar sound bigger. We can simply use it to enhance your tone, give you high headroom, thicken up your tone, or boost the low end.

We’ve got two footswitches on this pedal. One controls the boost and the other bypasses the pedal. There’s a boost level control that’s self explanatory but some of the other controls aren’t.

For example, the bias control acts more like a gain control and the balance control is a volume and wet/dry mix combined. Up to 12 noon, you’ll get a volume control, and above that you will get tonal changes rather than more volume.

There’s a switch to enable the buffer and an EARLY/LATER control – this adjusts the tone further.

One particularly nice feature is that while there’s only one input, you get two outputs.

What is the Maestro Echoplex?

The Maestro Echoplex is an analogue tape delay machine dating back to 1959. Inspired by another echo machine created in 1950 by Ray Butts.

The Echoplex was originally tube powered but later models such as the EP-3 and EP-4 were solid-state units. 

When most people talk about the Echoplex, it’s typically the EP-3 that they’re referring to.

The echo is created when sound is recorded onto magnetic tape, then played back. Some of that ‘analogue magic’ comes from the wear on the tape.

Production ceased sometime ago but pre-owned models can sometimes be found for upwards of $1,000.

Here’s a video of Andy Martin from Reverb demoing a vintage Maestro Echplex EP-3:

How does the Maestro Echoplex (EP-3) compare with other vintage echo gear?

Vintage echo effects have become fairly sought after in recent years and the Maestro Echoplex is just one example.

There was also the Roland RE-201 analogue tape echo. The main difference with this united is the use of multiple heads rather than the single head of the Echoplex.

Then there was the Binson Echorec that did away with tape altogether and used a magnetic drum. Smaller models were fitted with a magnetic disc. The Echorec was tube powered.

Conclusion

The Maestro Echoplex is a big part of guitar gear history.

And while it was originally only possible for a select few to get their hands on this glorious analogue tape tone, it is now more accessible than ever.

Whether you want the feature packed Belle Epoch Deluxe from Catalinbread, or you simply want to emulate the preamp tones of the Maestro using the Dunlop Echoplex Preamp – there are some great tones to be found in these guitar pedals.

Share via
Copy link