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SurfGuitar101 Forums » Gear »

Permalink Some Quick Thoughts On The Strymon Flint

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Some Quick Thoughts On The Strymon Flint

Thanks to Rainbow Guitars, I had the opportunity to play a Strymon Flint earlier today.

I’ll start by saying that it’s an excellent effects pedal, but certainly not the equal of a real tank. It delivers everything it is advertised to do and it delivers these without compromise or complication. It emulates three types of reverb and three types of tremolo. It does as well as pedal I’ve ever played through. It does not, however, provide an over the top sort of drippy reverb many Surf players seek.

If you crank the controls and select the ‘60s reverb emulation, it will give you a bit of drip, but it’s not going to get anywhere near the levels of drip that The Astronaut’s recording of Baja has. It’s not a flaw, it’s actually probably fairly faithful to how most players used their reverb tanks back in the day. It’s tasteful, drips a bit at the extreme, and sounds good doing it, but it’s a somewhat tamer reverb than is popular in these parts. Strymon describes this pedal as “A Perfect Gentleman”, and that is accurate. It’s a well behaved effect that does its job without a fuss. But the story doesn’t end with the spring reverb emulation.

First off, there are three flavors of tremolo, a ‘61 Harmonic Tremolo, a ‘63 Tube (Bias Varying) Tremolo and a ‘65 Opto Tremolo. Many Harmonic Tremolos induce seasickness in me, but in keeping with its gentlemanly image, the Harmonic Trem in this pedal is one of the more pleasant I’ve ever heard. The ‘63 Trem does a good job of emulating my personal favorite form of tremolo, the throbbing, pulse of tremolo caused by varying the bias. The somewhat more abrupt character of the Optically Coupled emulation is realistic and faithful to the real thing. This is a common tremolo from the Blackface era and heard on countless recordings, faithfully rendered and easily configured with a familiar control set. No problems with these trems.

I will start the subject of reverb by stating that the spring emulation is certainly capable of getting you a Blackface onboard reverb sound. If you plan to get no closer to the coast than California’s Central Valley, the Strymon will get you as far as Bakersfield and do so without breaking a sweat.

There is also a ‘70s Plate Reverb emulation which is competent. Keep in mind that many ‘70s recordings used an emulation which used primitive digital technology, instead of an expensive, and decidedly not portable literal plate unit. In the Strymon, it was a pleasing effect and certainly useful for many types of music, but it was not the most memorable available on this pedal.

The most impressive effect, to my way of thinking, was the ‘80s Rack Reverb emulation. This had a very clear, very strong sound, similar to the Plate emulation, but somehow more alive. Were I to buy a Flint, this reverb would be used much more often than the other emulations. It’s a bit smoother than Spring Reverb, but capable of great depth. It may not be a traditional Surf sound, but it’s probably the best sound on the pedal.

The artist formerly known as: Synchro

When Surf Guitar is outlawed only outlaws will play Surf Guitar.
My Guitar WebSite
Dead Thread

Nice review, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts!

One call out on the reverb: several are quick to assume the reference to 63 tube driven Spring Reverb is the outboard device we all know and love. In the case of the Flint, they are talking about the combo amps of that era with built in reverb, which is why it is the gentleman’s reverb. Works for Los Straightjackets!

https://www.strymon.net/flint-reverb-summary-paper-three-classic-reverb-types/

Fady

El Mirage @ ReverbNation

Fady wrote:

Nice review, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts!

One call out on the reverb: several are quick to assume the reference to 63 tube driven Spring Reverb is the outboard device we all know and love. In the case of the Flint, they are talking about the combo amps of that era with built in reverb, which is why it is the gentleman’s reverb. Works for Los Straightjackets!

https://www.strymon.net/flint-reverb-summary-paper-three-classic-reverb-types/

They seem to hint at a tank in at least one place on their website: “You also get the classic ’60s Spring Tank Reverb, the inventive ’70s Electronic Plate Reverb, and the nostalgic ’80s Hall Rack Reverb.” It’s a good reverb and definitely capable of Los Straitjackets or Ventures sounds. It’s probably adequate for my own use, because I don’t use real drip all that often. I actually go more for a Straitjackets sound most of the time, but it’s nice to have it available.

If someone asked my opinion, with regard to using a pedal for drip, I’d suggest a Catalinbread Topanga, perhaps an Electro Harmonix Ocean’s Eleven or even the JHS Spring Reverb pedal. Of everything I’ve played, these seem to get the closest. I know I’m leaving out some other good pedals, but these are the ones which readily come to mind. For the foreseeable future, the Topanga will remain on my pedalboard.

The artist formerly known as: Synchro

When Surf Guitar is outlawed only outlaws will play Surf Guitar.
My Guitar WebSite
Dead Thread

Here's how I used my Strymon Flint in the TomorrowMen. I had my standalone tank on medium 5-5-5 throughout my set. I had the Strymon set to full on Color and Mix, and very short on delay. When I clicked it on it got very close to super drippy sound when coupled with the tank. So much that 99% of surf fans wouldn't notice. It was my way of having 2 settings at the click of a toe - before Mel's genius invention of the Drip Switch.

Having that and the practically indistinguishable from the real thing brown face tremolo, and it's never left my pedal board. As it also works as a back up if my tank fails.

Danny Snyder

aka Mycroft Eloi of The TomorrowMen
aka Shecky Shekels of Meshugga Beach Party
aka El Viejo Gringo of Combo Tezeta

I want buns of steel. But I also want buns of cinnamon.

Last edited: Apr 14, 2019 10:44:04

DannySnyder wrote:

Here's how I used my Strymon Flint in the TomorrowMen. I had my standalone tank on medium 5-5-5 throughout my set. I had the Strymon set to full on Color and Mix, and very short on delay. When I clicked it on it got very close to super drippy sound when coupled with the tank. So much that 99% of surf fans wouldn't notice. It was my way of having 2 settings at the click of a toe - before Mel's genius invention of the Drip Switch.

Having that and the practically indistinguishable from the real thing brown face tremolo, and it's never left my pedal board. As it also works as a back up if my tank fails.

That’s good info. I think that is the best way to go, use it as a seasoning, so to speak, but not as the main dish. Keeping in mind that our band does Surf, and other early ‘60s material, what I’ve been doing lately is using my Blue Nebula’s Plate emulation for my backbone reverb and I use the Topanga for the extra kick of Spring reverb. Plate is a great sound and will drip like heck, but it lacks the “clatter” of Springs.

I’m amazed by how well some of these DSP pedals do at emulating springs and the Plate emulations are perfect. It blows my mind that I can borrow Abbey Road’s Plate reverb anytime I want, via the mighty Blue Nebula. The tank will be with us for a long time to come; nothing replaces the tank, but that takes nothing away from the pedals, which can be excellent.

The artist formerly known as: Synchro

When Surf Guitar is outlawed only outlaws will play Surf Guitar.
My Guitar WebSite
Dead Thread

I’ve been on record as saying something along the lines of: the flint is the best spring sound this side of an actual tank. It has the most realistic tails and feel of anything I’ve ever played.

But if you’re looking for astronauts, there’s no substitute for the real thing.

Chippertheripper wrote:

I’ve been on record as saying something along the lines of: the flint is the best spring sound this side of an actual tank. It has the most realistic tails and feel of anything I’ve ever played.

But if you’re looking for astronauts, there’s no substitute for the real thing.

Sounds good to me.

The artist formerly known as: Synchro

When Surf Guitar is outlawed only outlaws will play Surf Guitar.
My Guitar WebSite
Dead Thread

synchro wrote

They seem to hint at a tank in at least one place on their website: “You also get the classic ’60s Spring Tank Reverb” < snip >

I think this is a little bit of our communities fast/loose use of the word “tank” when what we really mean a lot of the time is Reverb Unit. Tank is a synonym for pan. It only refers to the metal enclosure with the springs, not the rest of the circuit or device we think of as outboard Reverb. As the same device in a combo amp, they are still correct to call it a spring tank reverb emulation. Same for JHS who also use the name but IIRC, are emulating onboard revenue too.

Fady

El Mirage @ ReverbNation

Fady wrote:

synchro wrote

They seem to hint at a tank in at least one place on their website: “You also get the classic ’60s Spring Tank Reverb” < snip >

I think this is a little bit of our communities fast/loose use of the word “tank” when what we really mean a lot of the time is Reverb Unit. Tank is a synonym for pan. It only refers to the metal enclosure with the springs, not the rest of the circuit or device we think of as outboard Reverb. As the same device in a combo amp, they are still correct to call it a spring tank reverb emulation. Same for JHS who also use the name but IIRC, are emulating onboard revenue too.

Technically accurate, but in most of the posts I’ve read here, when someone uses the word “tank” they seem to be referring to a tube reverb unit, such as a 6G15 or the FET equivalent, such as a Surfy Bear.

The artist formerly known as: Synchro

When Surf Guitar is outlawed only outlaws will play Surf Guitar.
My Guitar WebSite
Dead Thread

I concur that when tank is used here, it’s in the context of an outboard unit, and when it’s used by the rest of the world, it generally means a real spring pan tied to whatever drives it, generally “in amp” or onboard.

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