Setting up a Reggae Stompbox
It’s almost impossible to not use the words “classic,” “clean” and “vintage” when talking about Reggae tones. While these descriptions from the early days of reggae, rock and blues might be golden, we look to the future when revisiting such vital tones. Critics and gear junkies rave about these definitive and integral sounds, but these stereotypes can be broken without losing the essence of reggae—and that’s the beauty of the Line 6 DL4 Delay Modeler.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Line 6 DL4 Stompbox modeler[/caption]
Because the DL4 has a similar design to other Line 6 stompboxes (constructed with knobs such as Tweak, Tweez and Mix), it provides maximum precision and customization. Featured primarily as a stompbox for delay effects, it’s devised to elevate both staccato reggae tempos and swerving lead licks.
One of the main characteristics of reggae guitar playing is the offbeat rhythms, which the DL4 caters towards. By adding a delay effect to the offbeat, the chords produce a more trotting or galloping progression. Since the chords are usually played on the "and" of the time signature, the DL4 helps make these notes ring out more and create better sustain.
The DL4 stompbox first redefines vintage tones through the tape echo effect. With a bit of distortion, you can bring elements of Jimi Hendrix to the humble chord trills of Bob Marley. Lowering the Delay Time knob to below ¼ will keep your reggae voyage on course without wandering violently into heavy rock.
No reggae tone is complete without funk grooves, and the sweep echo effect helps achieve such glory. Fueled with shifting and turning delays, it’s an effect that brings notes to a peak and then steadily descends. The tweak adjusts the sweeping speed, which factors how long the notes carry out. While the effect is awesome for rhythm guitar players, the Repeat knob allows for sensational leads. Adding a bit of drive creates more of a ska or Pink Floyd progressive rock tone, but the echoes will truly keep the wailing morality of reggae alive. The Tweak and Tweeze knobs will adjust the resolution and brightness, giving more of a new age Red Hot Chili Peppers funk groove.
For the more daring reggae gurus, the tube echo effect will give the guitar a dirtier rock sound. The effect provides certain sharpness to chords, especially when strumming in a staccato nature. Though most vibrant when the delay and repeat settings are at ½, the true customization depends on how much distortion is slammed onto the effect. Bands with one guitarist will totally dig this effect, especially thanks to the built-in looper. The DL4 features a 14-second looper that that can play in both ½ speed and reverse modes. It's amazing for creating that extra bit of chic to your rig.
Analog echo and analog with mod effects are the two partners in crime on the DL4. Perfect for large chunks of chords or ringing chords, keeping the Tweak low will produce the best reggae character. The space-age delays are subtle, but still have a natural quality that is also remarkable for leads.
Reggae is renowned for having pulsating chord progressions, and the rhythmic delay is the Line 6 powerhouse of reggae tones. Using the signature Tap Tempo switch, you can generate any desired chord tempo and set it as a background delay.
And remember, chord progression is king with reggae.