Pete’s Interview on Flint
- Strymon’s Flint includes three different Tremolo styles: “61 harmonic”, “63 tube”, and “65 photo cell”. I understand from your White Paper on tremolo circuits and their sound characteristics that the “63’ tube” is from a 63’- 64’ Fender Vibroverb (the original Vibroverb tremolo channel which was actually called ‘VIBRATO’) and that the “65 photo cell” is from a Blackface Fender Deluxe Reverb. Which amplifier was the inspiration for the “61 harmonic” setting?
The 1961 Fender Twin, also known as the ‘Blonde’ Twin had the two-band opposing LFO tremolo that alternates between a bright tone (high-pass filter) and a dark tone (low-pass filter). It has a nicely hypnotic quality to it, especially at low speeds.
- In the 1970’s, Reverb and Tremolo sounds were most popular in the US. At that time, British rockers didn’t use that combination of effects (available in the Fender amps of the time) so often …. Do you have any theories as to why that was the case? Which British/European guitar players from the period did use those effects?
Fender is based in California, and the surfing and beach party scene happening on the west coast in the 60’s and 70’s created the perfect environment for the birth of instrumental surf music. The Tremolo and Reverb built into those Fender amps became the signature sound of the genre. That opened up more possibilities for those effects to find their way in other styles of music.
- The “65’ photo cell” is probably the most familiar type of tremolo sound these days. Is the Fender Deluxe Reverb responsible for that, or has it been popularized by the plethora of analog tremolo pedals that have recreated that sound?
I think the Deluxe Reverb amp is still responsible for the popularity of the photocell trem sound. It is the standard by which all others are judged.
- Do you think that the combination of Flint’s Tremolo section with a ‘60’s Reverb would be perfect for players wanting a Fender clean channel sound? Would you recommend combining this with a Strymon Iridium using the “round” setting to get close to that clean Fender tone?
Sure, Flint can add the same character to any amp that the trem and reverb circuits bring to a Fender amp. I have a vintage1964 Supro ‘Super’ 5 watt amp and it only has one knob – Volume. I put Flint in front of it with the 63 Tube Tremolo and 60’s Spring Reverb and it sounds fantastic. It pairs perfectly with the Iridium as well.
- Flint’s reverb tones are quite different from BigSky. The ‘70’ & ‘80’ reverbs sound somewhere between a room reverb and a rich plate reverb. I’m reminded of the EMT250, which I heard many times at high end studios in LA in the 1980’s, rather than say the Lexicon 480 sound which was more textured/darker. Which particular machines inspired those two algorithms and why?
The Flint 70’s Reverb is indeed inspired by the EMT250. It uses a similar concept for creating the reverberated sounds through a parallel combination of regenerating multi-tapped delay lines. Some of the delay lines have a light modulation to sweeten the reverb without noticeable modulation artifacts.
The 80’s reverb is an example of reverb algorithms made possible by the advent of ‘affordable’ digital memory chips and microprocessors in the 80’s. It is not inspired by a particular unit, but by the techniques and technology of reverb algorithm development of the time. The reverbs of the 80’s allowed digital reverb to be within the budget of ordinary working musicians for the first time.
Interview kindly provided by Japanese publication 'Effect Book'.