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.
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