Fulltone SS-TE Solid State Tape Echo

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by PedalFreak, Dec 7, 2007.

  1. enocaster

    enocaster Member

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    With all the issues there's been, maybe it's their way of discouraging sales while still keeping their dealer agreement.
     
  2. ducmike

    ducmike Silver Supporting Member

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    My sales rep from Sweetwater called me a month ago to let me know that the earliest they expect more SSTE units is second quarter 2016, and to tell me about the price increase. I cancelled the order of course, and it sounds like that was how most of his calls were going. I don't blame them, it's Fuller's fault. Sucks, because he builds great products for the most part, but he keeps alienating his clients and dealers with his strange behavior. There are several shops in my area that flat refuse to sell Fulltone just so they won't have to deal with him.

    BTW, the day after the SW rep called, he sent me an email to let me know they picked up the T Rex line and will have the Replicas soon.
     
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  3. S. S. Bender

    S. S. Bender Member

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    Thanks. I bought my first Fulltone pedal (FD2) from the former Peeler Music when I was passing through Toledo circa 2000. I heard sometime later they dropped the Fulltone line for the same reason your local dealers in Texas refuse to sell it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2016
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  4. Plexihead

    Plexihead Member

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    Doubt it, no manufacturer would want a new product release have problems pop up after a number have been sold no matter how minor... but a price increase on a single unit that is way behind fulfilling orders, you bet.
     
  5. Spazige

    Spazige Member

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    Ordered a couple of new carts. Can't be bothered with hassle of sending my original cart back or going through the UK dealer that sold me the echo. I just want it to work. After all this, I am still excited what it's going to offer me.
     
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  6. windjamma

    windjamma Member

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    mine has no issues at all now with the new tape cartridge and sounds glorious, i think you will be pleased you bought one.
     
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  7. donbarzini

    donbarzini Supporting Member

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    yes, I was playing mine with the new cart last evening, it sounded wonderful as I had The Warriors playing in the background with no volume, Ajax wanted to fight Swan in the cemetery….
     
  8. 909one

    909one Member

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    Haven't posted here in while...
    But about a month ago, even my new cart jammed, and even before that, things to where they were before as far a warble and such. I spent some time over the holidays really trying to figure out what's going on with this unit, because its sounds so glorious when its working properly. In a nutshell, here's what i discovered:

    So I was more focussing on the warble that is happening rather than the jamming, because that actually bothers me more, but they are related. Also, I have a few carts for backup at this point, and I've learned how to roll my own, so I can easily pop in a new one. So, What I'm noticing is that sometimes there's a speeding up and slowing down of the tape, and there's also constant vibrato that's happening. These are two different issues cause by two different things.

    The speeding up and slowing down is caused by a change in friction of the tape path at some point, which mostly is happening in the cart. How do I know this? I removed the cart, made a small tape loop and used that, and voila, no speeding up or slowing down of the tape. By removing the cart entirely I'm removing a ton of friction potential and also any potential for jams.

    The constant vibrato is caused by the pinch roller. If you look at the tension arm that the pinch roller sits on, if that's vibrating, than chances are you have a vibrato happening on the repeats. And guess what... the vibrato is happening at the exact same frequency of the wiggle of the tension arm. If you run a sine wave through the unit, it becomes really obvious, you can hear it right away This can be cool feature and adds to the charm, but its also annoying if you don't want it there. So I've got two pinch rollers to try out, because Mike sent me a new one at some point. The first one was garbage and really off center. The second one was better but still had a warble. There were markers on it, saying to install it a certain way up, and because of that, I never messed around with orientation. But in my recent discoveries, I just tried flipping it upside down, and guess what... almost no warble at all. The pinch roller is actually not even uniform along its axis, the side it had been most of the time was off, but the side I flipped it to was actually almost perfectly round. That's another flaw... the rubber pinch roller is taller than the capstan, so with it being under pressure and it being soft-ish rubber its actually deforming slightly under use I suspect.

    Also to note, two other crucial points affecting tension along the tape path are the felt tensioning arm, which is not totally necessary with the upgrades, and the tension that the tension arm puts in on the pinch roller and capstan when engaged. I messed around a little with this and actually tried different cables with different cable ends, and depending on the width of the cable tip exterior it actually applies more or less tension on the whole system. There's a sweet spot where it works best and if you have too little or too much tension you get intermittent warble.

    So... what solutions have I come up with so far?

    1. I opened up the unit, and switched output jack and the foot-switch jack. I think its a really stupid solution to have the tape transport only be triggered when you have your output cable plugged in. I know the intent.. its to prevent you from leaving the tape running constantly. But it makes more sense to me to have the output jack always plugged in, and the ability to turn on and off the tape when needed. This way you can actually still keep using the preamp without having the tape on. My other reason for doing this was that I could introduce a better constant of tension of the tension by using a dummy jack for the footswitch plug that has the radius that keeps the tension in the sweetspot. I don't use the footswitch much, so a dummy jack works nicely for me.

    2. I removed the cart and used a small tape loop instead. This isn't a final solution, but a temporary one (see below). I'm getting no jamming, no speeding up and slowing down. And the unit is sooooo quiet. It really annoyed me how loud the cartridge is. It was fine in rehearsal, but at home too annoying. No noise now. With a free flowing tape loop, you need to have something in the transport now to introduce some tension, so I put the felt tensioner back on. Adjusted it to precise tension to hold the tape in place but not enough to slow it down to cause warble.

    3. I put the old tension bar back on the moveable tape head. The increased diameter of the version with the bearings was actually causing more tension I believe, but I can't 100% prove that.

    4. Flipped the rubber pinch roller over to get the least possible amount of tape vibrato.

    So, right now... The unit is performing the best it ever has. However, having a short tape loop in there is not ideal for two reasons; the slice point makes a noise every time it crosses the tape path and in transport it sometimes falls out of place and I have to reset the path. With that short of a tape path, you definitely hear a little pud every second or less. It just sounds like a when the record gets to the end of side. Not bad, but not ideal.

    I started looking at other tape echo solutions, and to me the Space Echo seems to deal with tape the best. The tape flows freely into a compartment, with no friction from a cartridge. I'm planning on trying to make my own Space Echo style tape container that retrofits on the unit, probably with clear plexi, but I haven't got around to it. I'll post here when I do.

    In general, I've got to say, I think the flaws of the unit are more due to the flaws of the Echoplex, specifically the tape cartridge, then they are the flaws of Mike Fuller. It seems like it was his intent to copy the old unit, not completely redesign something new. My view is that he was mostly content with the peculiarities of the original Echoplex Tape transport, and that he considers that part of the charm. Obviously the jamming is an issue, but everything else on the unit is built so well. Though I have to say it is weird that you would build everything else to be tip-top and then fall on one crucial area... but when you base it on something that already has flaws its, its hard to say who's at fault. Not totally concerned with that at this point, but just want to improve what's already there.

    When I play the unit, and its working the way it should, I still feel it to be one of the most inspiring pieces of gear I've purchased in a long time. I could honestly just show up to a gig with just a tuner and the SSTE and be happy. You can cover so much sonic territory with the unit. Anything from subtle 50's slap, to 80's Edge, to musique concrete tape oscillations.
     
  9. Axe_78th

    Axe_78th Member

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    I've been using an EP-3 since the late 70's. I had 6 at one time, EP-1's 2's and 3's. Been winding my tape cartridges for years. I make sure I use Lubricated 1/4 tape like LPR35 from RMG or Fidelipac from JOA Tape. My are very quiet. Some noise of course but not much. I purchased a Fulltone cartridge a few years back and it was very noisy and I didn't like the tape he was using then at all. The pinch roller is very important that it's plum. When My Echoplex's wear down I got them redone here,
    http://www.terrysrubberrollers.com/
    The EP-3 is pretty great and has very few flaws IMHO when you have a good belt, a good pinch roller and proper tape. Tony at Orbit Electronics is an expert on the Echoplex and Echoplex style units.
     
  10. X–Ray

    X–Ray Member

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    Gee, the saga of the SSTE just gets better and better....
     
  11. windjamma

    windjamma Member

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    Edited user error my felt was to tight everything ok in echosville
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2016
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  12. Plexihead

    Plexihead Member

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    909one - Curious on what pinch roller you've tried on your SSTE, did Fulltone send you out the red one?

    windjamma - Yeah I found out about the felt thingy on my TTE, it can't have too much pressure, actually too little is better than too much.

    Have had my SSTE now for 3 1/2 weeks, so far so good. I notice no warble on shorter echo's, and just very slight on the longer echos.
     
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  13. goodhonk

    goodhonk Member

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    Or we could just buy an ep3 clone and have hassle free use with excellent customer service instead.
     
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  14. Spazige

    Spazige Member

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    It's working. i'm in love with it.
     
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  15. X–Ray

    X–Ray Member

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    Interesting timing your post for me. First off I'm happy for you. Just today I looked at the box it's still sitting in, never played, the replacement tape and rollers sitting on top in their packages. Asked myself whether to sell it unplayed or get it setup to the most current factory specs and hope I love it and the SSTE works and sounds as advertised. If it doesn't, it's loathsome thinking about having to deal with the manufacturer again based on previous experiences involving my TTE. Maybe I'll just sell it and let someone else deal with it. OTOH, I can almost feel the regret coming on. Having the TTE makes it too easy to be indecisive...
     
  16. Plexihead

    Plexihead Member

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    Just go for it dude, it might turn out you prefer the TTE anyway even if the SSTE works perfectly, and if so you can sell a working machine with piece of mind. With the tape designated for the SSTE and the red roller the SSTE sounds great for me, I also did bend the felt arm as pictured in the instruction sheet that came with the tape, which I feel is needed.
     
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  17. X–Ray

    X–Ray Member

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    Plexihead, wise counsel and like your point about having peace of mind selling a properly working machine. Actually that's a key point for me. Well, I guess I know what to do: break the analysis paralysis by taking an action.... I'm glad I posted - Thanks :)
     
  18. Mad John

    Mad John Member

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    Guys , I have been waiting 2 years on a Sweetwater list for the SSTE. It was $700.00 then, but it is over $1200.00 now! That is a huge increase.

    I purchased the TTE back in the day - number 73 and never bonded with it, because it did not grab the guitar tome like the original Echoplex Ep2. For $1,000.00 , I was vastly disappointed. It was like sterile sounding.

    My SSTE just came in this afternoon! Sweetwater called to let me know that it came in 2 days ago.

    I will let you all know how it performs.

    It's funny. Right now I am not too excited, because it has been like 8 years in the making and there have been many problems with the model along the way.

    I am an old school echo guy, so if the SSTE really pleases me, I know it will for allot of musicians.

    More later.
     
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  19. 909one

    909one Member

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    Even after all these hassles the SSTE is still my favorite. I haven't done anything else since my last post, but even with a short tape loop, it still sounds amazing. I just was reading up on tape splicing and apparently if you use a non-magnetized razor, like ceramic, it won't cause a pop when the splice passes over the play head. If that works, I'm just only going to use a short tape loop with no cartridge from now on. No cartridge jamming, no noise.
     
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  20. laneychris

    laneychris Member

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    I need a new roller and I don't see them listed on the site I did email them does anyone have a clue?
     

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