Flangers usually make me think of Van Halen and long-ass frizzy hair. Swirly tonal modulation on high-gain distortion makes for nice riffs. However, that style of playing is too passé now. Flangers for the modern player need a little versatility, and the Vortex has oodles of it.
This little box doesn’t have as many knobs and dials like some other spaceship sized flange boxes but it can do everything you expect from a flanger and much more. It has four knobs: Speed, Depth, Feedback and Delay Time. The Speed knob controls the speed at which the flangie thingy goes up and then goes down like a stoned roller coaster (Speed of modulation). The Depth knob controls the depth of trippiness (how deep and how effected the signal gets). The Feedback knob works two ways. It is at zero when at the 12 o’clock position. Turning it left makes the flange go high and then low (negative feedback) and turning it right makes it go low and then high (positive feedback). The Delay Time knob is a difficult one to get a hold of. In simple words, this knob lets you control if the entire flange wave gets completed or not. Turning it all the way left lets the modulation be complete (all the way up and all the way down or vice versa) and turning it right wards reduces the time of modulation (all the way up and halfway down or vice versa). All this “up and down” nonsense is getting to me now. If you know what a flange does then this paragraph might make sense to you. If you don’t know what a flange pedal is then what the hell are you doing reading this?
Anyway, it has a flicky switchy thing in the middle that lets you select between three flange modes. These are: Flanger, Toneprint and Tape. The Flanger mode is the normal digital flanger mode with TC Electronic’s flanger voicing. The Toneprint mode lets you download certain ‘Toneprints’ from TC Electronics’ website. Toneprints are different voicings to a pedal created by famous guitarists. In essence you can have a bunch of different pedals in one. The Tape mode is an analog flanger emulation mode.
So now to the sound. The Flanger mode sounds great, albeit with a slightly cold and digital tone to it. But that is the charm of it. With a twiddle of the knobs you can get airplane-wooshing sounds or subtle vibe sounds. Setting it midway gives you that Van-Halen or Alice in Chains flange sound to perfection. The Tape mode is my favourite, though. It can go from classic Hendrix kind of flange tones to a tremolo sound when put on the highest speed setting. The tape mode can even emulate a chorus sound if you fiddle around with it a bit. The warmth of the tape sound is very evident and it also has a fade-out effect midway the complete flange cycle.
All in all the flexibility of this pedal is unparalleled in most other flanger pedals. The fact that this pedal can do flanger, tremolo and chorus sounds all in one very pedalboard friendly box is a benefit to be considered.
Rating: 4/5 (Kickass)
Alternatives: Electro Harmonix Electric Mistress, buying three different Boss pedals.