Cusack Tap-a-Phase Tour

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by BmoreTele, Jul 30, 2006.


  1. BmoreTele

    BmoreTele Member

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    I got serial #001 from Jon Cusack on Friday for a test drive. I have played with it and had tons of fun. As I was getting ready to write this review I found one that was done by Nate of Bumbox for the ToneFactor Forum.

    For those of you who are signed up to that board, here's the link

    http://p208.ezboard.com/ftonefactor...picID=807.topic

    For those who aren't I will copy the whole thing in the next post. Of key interest are the sound clips and a big ass video clip.

    Since Nate lists all the function descriptions in his review, I'll just report on my impressions.

    I already have the Tap-a-Whirl, so I'm familiar with the high quality of Jon's work and the way his tap tempo/speed ramping works - smooooth. The Phaser adds an extra 7 waveforms (total = 15!!), as well as a Feedback (positive and negative resonance) and Color (center frequency of the phase cycle) controls.

    He has also incorporated a preset system, whereby you can assign a rate, ramping speed, and tap tempo ratio to each waveform. I believe he is also offering this as a mod to existing Tap-a-Whirls and I'm definitely getting it. This is a big deal breakthrough, ladies and gentlemen. Presets for an analog pedal!!

    This is also a form of multieffect pedal because you get three distinct flavors - Normal Phaser, Feedback Phaser, and Vibe. The Vibe sounds closer to a vibrato than a univibe to me and works best with the simpler waveforms. The Normal phaser is a relatively sane tone.

    The Feedback Phaser can be totally ****ing nuts. The Feedback and Color controls are interactive and can give sounds that are very vowel like to autowah stuff to very synthy sounds. Also think mad scientist resonant filter sweeps. Since you can set or change the tempo with one or two taps of the footswitch, you can get some effects that are very envelope-like. Add in the more rhythmic waveforms and I was reminded of Adrenalinn sounds, but analog in quality and easier to tweak and fine tune. And syncable to Tap Tempo.

    This is not a simple pedal. There are 15 waveforms, three different effect flavors, Color and Depth variations. The Feedback only works when you are in Feedback Phaser mode.

    Then add in the Tap Divide - multiply or divide the rate you tap in by eight different factors. Tap in four beats to the bar and get 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, 1, 2, 3, 4, or 6 times that as the cycling rate of the phasing. Talk about your polyrhythms!

    It's an ugly little sucker. Diecast aluminum casing with the lettering machined into it and a rough acid washed finish. Jon also offers a black finish and I think he's planning on adding more colors. About the size of a Barber pedal, but sideways - 4 1/2" x 3 1/2" x 1 3/8". The footswitches are part of Jon's own True Bypass switching system using relays and a soft touch - no pops.

    How does it sound? I was reminded of my old Infinitphase at times and of my Moog. It can also be subtle, adding just a little shimmer or a slowly evolving tone shift. Like other pedals with a high feature count, there are some options where one or another of the controls have very little effect or a narrower range. The Color knob has a very noticeable effect throughout its full sweep in Feedback Phaser mode, but less so in Vibe mode. I'm not sure if I can get every phaser tone I've ever heard out of the Tap-a-Phase, but I can get a lot of them and some of them are totally unique to this puppy.

    Let's put it this way - one of my tests of any new pedal is whether my foot falls asleep when I first try it out. You know, when you sit or squat down on the floor next to the pedal and keep leaning over to tweak it and forget you're cutting off the blood to your leg? It happened three times! I tried some old riffs and got new sounds out of them. Hours well spent.

    Some hesitations - I had the Depth from 3/4 to full. Less than that and the effect really disappeared, especially in standard phaser mode. I'm gonna open it up and fiddle with the mix trimmer to see what that does. There was no Volume drop when I engaged the pedal and absolutely no Tone Suck. If the Color control is set to one extreme or the other, there is an EQ change, but set at noon, I was amazed how my tone stayed exactly the same as I turned the pedal on and off.

    I would like a list describing each waveform, but I'm sure that's coming.

    The Vibe mode is not going to replace my Voodoo Vibe, but I found some other very swampy, throbby sounds in this box in all three modes.

    About complexity - I have owned several very complex phasers - the Infinitphase and the ModMax. Both of those had a seemingly infinite range of tones. That's cool, but eventually overwhelming. I would find wonderfully inspiring sounds and then turn one knob and the sound would be lost, almost impossible to find again.

    The Tap-a-Phase is better organized. Yes there are 15 waveforms, but once you pick a waveform, there are really only a few controls to tweak - mode (vibe, phase, phase/feedback), speed, depth, color, and feedback. And feedback only works in one of the modes anyway. The Tap Divide and Brake/Ramp Speed are going to be set it once and forget it choices.

    Jon Cusack is making some very cool pedals. He seems to have hit that magic place of adding features that make sense, are musical, and are useable. The Tap-a-Phase sounds great, is dead quiet, runs on a 9V battery or standard Boss jack power supply, is small, and does things that no other pedal can do.

    :dude
     
  2. BmoreTele

    BmoreTele Member

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    Nate's Review -

    "I received the soon to be released Cusack Tap-A-Phase
    Friday morning and broke it out right away. My initial
    impression of this pedal is definitely two thumbs up. Here
    is a run down on the features:




    Controls
    Wave - Rotary switch that selects 8 waveforms. Each waveform has programmable tempo, tap divide, brake speed, and alternate waveform (yes, more waveforms - see the Option switch feature).

    Feedback - Only active on the Feedback Phase setting. Controls the amount of positive or negative feedback.

    Color - Controls the center frequency of the phasing.

    Depth - Controls the depth of the phase.

    Option - 8 position Rotary switch, function is determined by the three position toggle on the back of the pedal.

    Option switch functions

    Tap Divide (Switch Down) - 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, 1, 2, 4, 6 times the speed you tap.

    Alternate Waveform (Switch Middle) - Original waveform, plus 7 alternates.

    Brake Speed (Switch Up) - Controls the tempo speed change when you hold down the Tap footswitch.


    Function switch - Feedback Phase (switch down), Vibe (switch middle), Normal Phase (switch up)

    Tap Speed - Tap twice to set tempo, hold to ramp up or down (everytime you hold and release, it changes direction).

    Bypass - Bypasses or engages the effect.

    Internal controls

    Internal Volume - Lets you match the level to your gear.

    Internal mix - Lets you mix phase and dry signal.

    Preset/Live jumper - When in preset position, selecting a waveform selects the presets for that waveform. When in live position, the current settings are applied to all waveforms.

    To store presets:

    1. Select a waveform.
    2. Set the tempo, tap divide, brake speed, and alternate waveform in any order.
    3. Press both footswitches at once to save. The status LED will blink.

    I made a 14min video (37MB) to show how the pedal works. The sound quality isn't great (camcorder mic), and it's pretty boring and long, but for those interested:

    www.bumboxamps.com/tap/cusack.wmv


    Properly recorded sound clips (G&L Legacy w/Vintage Vibes > modded Boss SD-1 > modded Boss Blues Driver > Tap-A-Phase > Bümbox JL-30 > Sennheiser e609 > mixer > soundcard > some eq, compression, and verb for consistency):

    www.bumboxamps.com/tap/tap1.mp3 - (dry, clean clip)
    www.bumboxamps.com/tap/tap2.mp3
    www.bumboxamps.com/tap/tap3.mp3
    www.bumboxamps.com/tap/tap4.mp3
    www.bumboxamps.com/tap/tap5.mp3
    www.bumboxamps.com/tap/tap6.mp3
    www.bumboxamps.com/tap/tap7.mp3
    www.bumboxamps.com/tap/tap8.mp3
    www.bumboxamps.com/tap/tap9.mp3
    www.bumboxamps.com/tap/tap10.mp3
    www.bumboxamps.com/tap/tap11.mp3

    I was initially intimidated by the multitude of functions available. If there is an anti-Phase45, this is it (in terms of features). After about 10 minutes of playing around with it and eventually reading the instructions, I was off and running.

    The first thing I had to do was adjust the internal volume and mix controls to taste. No more volume drop when kicking on a phaser! While in there, I checked out the construction, whick looked top notch. There are pc-style connectors on the board for the battery, and switches. All other components are board mounted on a sturdy, high-quality PCB.

    The waveforms and tap tempo alone are awesome creative tools. The waveforms are (from what I can tell, and in no order) sine, saw tooth, reverse sawtooth, square, modulated sine waves, and additive sine functions. The tap tempo makes the stranger waveforms usable. Without the tap tempo, I think it would be nearly impossible to use some of the more exotic waveforms in a live setting.

    The phase sounds are original and modern sounding, not as organic or colored as my Univibe, Maxon Phasetone, or DOD 201. The phase structure and features are very similar to my Ibanez PH-99, so I felt at home with the Color and Feedback controls. Overall, I feel the phase sounds are versatile, but not replacements for classic phasers. This isn't a problem for me, as I found the phase sounds to be very musical and they fit well with the tap tempo and waveforms. My favorite sounds were the vocal and synth sounds that I could pull out of the pedal when using an overdrive in front of the unit. Depending on how you time your pick attack, you can get pseudo-swells and vowel sounds in addition to the the usual phase sounds. The clean tones are crisp and articulate, without sounding cold or processed.

    I am not much of a vibe user, so I didn't put the Vibe setting through it's paces as much as the phase settings. Hopefully a future tour member will comment more on the Vibe setting. However, here is a short vibe clip to give an idea of what it sounds like:

    www.bumboxamps.com/tap/tapvibe.mp3

    Overall, I found the pedal to be fairly user-friendly considering it's complexity. The features are well thought out and musical. All of the controls have a natural feel and range, so no dead or unusable spots in the rotation. The phase sounds, while not the same as the classics, are good in their own right and will be enjoyed by those who are looking for clean, clear, uncolored phase. This is not a pedal without a learning curve, but I bonded with it quickly and found the controls to be intuitive.

    Cusack's website address is cusackmusic.com/
    Nate
    Bümbox"
     
  3. theanalogfuture

    theanalogfuture Member

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    God, this thing is sexy! Never a big fan of phasers but the ramp feature won me over!

    When's the release date and an estimated MSRP?

    I'm sure I'm not the only one who'd like to know!
     
  4. Cusack Effects

    Cusack Effects Member

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    Thanks for the in-depth reviews guys!

    They will be available in a few weeks. $325.00 for Painted. I haven't decided if I'm going to offer them unfinished. Whenever I try to discontinue unfinished, I get several people who demand it...

    Jon
     
  5. Don Rusk

    Don Rusk Gold Supporting Member

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  6. The Eristic

    The Eristic Member

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    I really like the raw box. :AOK

    -Joseph

    PS: I got the board yesterday afternoon, if you haven't seen my email yet. 8^)
     
  7. n8b

    n8b Member

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  8. Gil1

    Gil1 Member

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    I played the Tap-a-phase on the tourbox for a while.

    This pedal is insane.

    The most flexible thing I've ever seen. Phase with different rhythms, positive and negative feedback control, vibe setting, control the rate of ramp up and down, plus tap tempo, phase color control.

    And it is stone quiet. No added noise when on, and lets your tone through.

    Tone on the phase is very nice, deep to subtle. Maybe a bit on the smooth and clean, rather than thick, side.

    Jon is a master builder, it must take real depth of understanding his electronics to get these pedals to do the back-flips they do. The Tap-a-Whirl was the same way.

    For myself, I could do without the option switch and rotary control - that was about when my brain melted down. And there were settings where I had to run the depth about 3/4 up to get much phase, but it seemed like other settings phased nicely much earlier.

    In all, the Tap-a-Phase is an amazing piece of gear, and will do things that nothing else will do.
     
  9. Brain2Me2

    Brain2Me2 Member

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    The pedal looks great and sounds amazing, so here's my vote for Unfinished:D

    It was about time, someone in the pedalmaking business thought about tap tempo as a standard option.

    Does he plan to make other pedals like this one?
    For example something like a Sample & Hold Filter, or sequenced filter. It is almost obvious these types of pedals need tap tempo.
     
  10. Cusack Effects

    Cusack Effects Member

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    I will be releasing other Tap Tempo products in the future. If you have any suggestions, let me know. I was thinking of a Tap Tempo Overdrive, what do you think?
     
  11. Don Rusk

    Don Rusk Gold Supporting Member

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    Ive got t he tourbox now, this is big fun!!! endless variety and amazing control.....very nice Jon...


    Yes actually I would love a Tap Tempo Screamer Fuzz... the Tap would adjust t he amount of Fuzz or Screamer depending on the mode switch on a mini toggle...... or you could make so you could have tap control of any of the three knobs even volume as assigned to the mode toggle......

    I would also use a Tap stereo panner with your speed ramping - stereo in and outs - would be a fun match to the phaser

    or maybe make a stereo Tap Trem with the Panner part and and a Leslie sim and offset trem(one side up while the other goes down)

    So Tap a Scream/Fuzz and Tap a Pan then its Delay time with ramping on the delay time so it could 'melt' as it was slowed down :AOK
     
  12. Brain2Me2

    Brain2Me2 Member

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    Hey Jon, thanks for writing. I've seen many threads asking for a Tap Tempoed Filter a la (MuRF, Adrenalinn, Maestro Sample & Hold, Robotalk, etc etc), you already have tremolo, phase, so I think the next step is that. I'm just trying to avoid huge pedals on my board, like many of those.

    One question, what will the tap tempo control on an overdrive pedal?
     
  13. themusicboxstudios

    themusicboxstudios Member

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    if your tap a whirl was stereo ... i'd probably still have it.

    i miss that pedal, but i just love stereo trem stuff.
     
  14. Cusack Effects

    Cusack Effects Member

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    FYI, I will be building 20 Cusack Tap-A-Phase pedals late next week. They will all be Powder Coated Black. 10 are already spoken for, so that means 10 are available.

    These first 20 will come with all the features. After that, the two switches on the back will become an add-on option. It will be set to feedback mode, with the option knob controlling Tap-Divide. You will be able to change those defaults using internal jumpers, or purchase the external switches as an Add-on kit. I think the kit will be $35.00, and available direct from me.

    I am making the switches an add-on because an overwhelming majority thought the switches added too many features. So they will be available for the Tweakers. Since I use connectors to plug everything in, and the holes will be there, but plugged, it will take only a few minutes to install the switches. No need to send your pedal back for the up-grade.

    Retail for the Tap-A-Phase is 325.00 for Powder Coated Black, 350.00 with the Switches installed. I'll let the first 10 go for $300.00 with the switches, if you pre-pay paypal to jon-at-cusackmusic.com

    Spread the word...

    Thanks,

    Jon
     
  15. dosmun

    dosmun Member

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