Milo and Otis; Scooby and Shaggy; Avocado and non-homeownership. History is up to its gills with classic duos that, once paired become inseparable and as a result greater than the sum of their parts. The delicate ecosystem at the feet of almost every modern sonic warrior is no exception. Combinations ranging from two overdrives stacked on top of each other to the humble one-two punch of tuner and reverb are the entranceway to a bottomless rabbit hole down which new and improved corners of the tonal universe abound. Where time based effects are concerned however, it is all too easy to become lost in the wilderness, throwing everything around you into an off-axis whirlpool of clashing tempos, phase issues and countless other horrors. The remedy is one of the simpler yet probably most effective pairings going; your favourite delay or modulation and it’s trusty side-kick, the Tap.
With their name steadfastly synonymous with sassy and indefatigable strings and accessories as well as pack leading expression and volume pedals, Ernie Ball expanded their horizons somewhat mid way through last year. The Californian company released two expression pedal controlled effects units; one of which is an ambient delay not far removed in voicing from the classic MXR Carbon Copy. In this particular unit the expression pedal controls the mix rate of the effected signal, which in and of itself is a surprisingly significant innovation. But what of those who like their peaks and troughs need to match perfectly with the beat of the song in question? Well those crafty engineers saw them coming and included momentary latch capability in their design, adding tempo control to the veritable smorgasbord of echoes. As such, this unassuming little black box with its single switch and solitary, side-mounted jack is sure to prove essential for those beat-conscious among us brave enough to tread this new patch of ground.
Simplicity is absolutely the order of the day here. The housing is die-cast, heavy duty and small enough that no sacrifice need be made to the gods of pedal board real estate. It’s not chock-a-block full of features but nor should it be. It is here to do the bidding of the effect to which it has been assigned and do so to the best of its ability. The switching is absolutely silent, which is the downfall of many lesser specimens, and the glossy black paint job gives it and air of quiet grace befitting its simple directive.
In short Ernie Ball’s Tap is the Kif Kroker to your Zapp Brannigan; the silent yet faithful second in command without whom the whole fleet would fall apart. The kind of ironclad build quality you’ve come to expect from its makers that approaches its vocation with a quiet dignity, leaving you free to do all the grandstanding you desire.
Hits and Misses
Solid and dependable
Far from the only tap tempo on the market