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Empress Vintage Modified Superdelay

As a career guitarist, searching out quality guitar sound has become a major focus. This desire has led my ears to the warm, appealing guitar tones of yesteryear. Though you can find this equipment there are two common problems associated with this. Price and reliability. These highly touted sounds attract an expensive price tag as the number of collectors grows, yet the availability does not, and then there is the reliability on a piece that in some cases has been out of production for 30 years, and is more suited on being enjoyed from a distance on a shelf, than in the hands of a working musician. Thankfully, the current resurgence of boutique musical equipment manufacturers like Canada’s Empress Effects have been able to recapture these classic designs & sounds, and repackage them with dependable, current manufacturing standards.

Those familiar with my love of guitar pedals will already be aware that Empress hold a rare position as one of only several pedals on my pedal board (their Tremolo pedal) With the vintage modified Superdelay, Empress are the only brand to occupy my pedal board more than once.


While in Hollywood in late 2008, I first encountered Empress while visiting the Mesa Boogie showroom on Sunset Strip. After auditioning the original superdelay for 10 minutes, and being floored by the lush tones and massive flexibility, it was an easy decision to add this incredible pedal to my guitar rig. One of those area’s happens to be in the ability to offer the classic ‘tape delay’ effect from the 50’s/60’s era. Enter the Vintage modified Superdelay.

Visionary musical equipment retailer proguitarshop approached Empress in 2009 and collaborated in updating their enormously popular Superdelay pedal to create the Vintage modified Superdelay pedal. Proguitarshop offered the following commentary.

We’ve had the Tape mode refined to give a more vintage feel to the repeats. When you’re in Tape mode there are 3 different types; Basic, Vintage, and Old. We left the Basic mode alone but had Empress modify the Vintage and Old modes. In the Vintage Mode (remember, these are all under the Tape setting) we’ve added extra modulation for a rich, full sounding repeat with full frequency response. In the Old Mode we’ve kept the same modulation but rolled off the high-end by 15% and added some grit to emulate a tape delay with worn heads, old tape, and a bit of flutter. Both these new settings sound true to the tape delay legacy and give the Empress Vintage Modified Superdelay more versatility than before. There are no other mods to the original Superdelay circuit.


These tape delay changes are significant to my ears. Of note, that classic, non-uniform warbling effect that seems to come through on the older tape delay machines is most evident. If you were to listen without seeing the source you would have little doubt you were enjoying the sounds from a classic Maestro Echoplex or equivalent. Three modes of tape delay are offered, A – Basic, B – vintage, and C – Old. The VM Superdelay allows you to add modulation to this effect, and either a high pass or low pass filter. Above and beyond these features, the pedal allows the user 8 presets, and a host of other delay modes beyond the ‘tape’ mode such as auto, reverse, rhythm, and looping.  An expression pedal can be added which can control the mix and the amount of feedback of the delay signal. The construction is very sturdy and robust, all switches and knobs are solid metal and designed to withstand the abuse of a foot for year after year. The smaller toggle switches are conveniently located behind the much larger knobs so likelihood of being damaged is reduced greatly. One of the most appealing features of this unit is to offer a wealth of features to the player all easily accessible without being overwhelming. The VM Superdelay offers tone & coloration that will appeal to analog purists, yet it can be crystal clean if required. The modulation and filtering modes bring a character to your tone that can be dialed instantly to suit.

This pedal is, in my opinion the penultimate delay pedal. It reminds me of an Apple Mac computer, Relative simplicity for the end-user, yet a beautiful design wrapped in a powerhouse pedal. This pedal will be heavily featured on our upcoming worship CD scheduled for release late 2010. This pedal does warrant the upgrade from the regular superdelay pedal for the original owners, especially if their tendency is towards the sounds of yesteryear.


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