February 25, 2018

Red Panda Lab Tensor Recipes.

As with Red Panda’s Particle effect pedal, there’s a learning curve to the Tensor. None of the knobs on the Tensor use the standard, left-is-less-right-is-more configurations. They also do different things depending on where other knobs are set. You get a QuickStart guide with the Red Panda Labs Tensor. That’s kinda like buying a surplus space shuttle and getting a single sheet of instructions on how to fly it.

This article isn’t designed to over-explain the Tensor, but instead to give you some actual usable effects this time machine can do. Unless otherwise noted the path is:

Godin Multiuke > Fairfield Accountant Compressor > Tensor > Rockett Boing Reverb > TC Electronic Wiretap Riff Recorder

You can hear all the samples as a playlist on SoundCloud

Reverse on demand.

Hold the On footswitch and the last thing you played (up to 2.4 seconds long) will repeat in reverse.

How to play Since the Tensor is constantly streaming, the last 2.4 seconds of what you’ve just played is already recorded. Strike a chord or play a 2-second solo and hold the On switch. Release it for a clean exit or keep holding and the tape stop effect engages after 2.4 seconds.

Variations Add some reverb (as in the demo) to smooth out the effect.


While you hold down the On footswitch you get random glitches that change pitch and speed. In the demo, I added the Shift Line Force directly before the Tensor. (This is a freezeverb, similar to the EHX Freeze or EHX Superego pedal.)

How to play Hold the On footswitch.

Reverse Tremolo

This cuts the signal into grains and plays them back in succession in reverse. It creates a choppy/phasey tremolo.

How to play Tap the Hold footswitch and release immediately to capture the smallest snippet possible. Sounds best with strums and subtle picking.

Octave down.

In Live Play mode, you can use the Pitch knob to add a bass octave to your dry signal.

How to play Tweak the Pitch knob to the octave setting. Tap the On footswitch and play.

Variations Turn the Pitch knob to 7a and you get two octaves down.

Octave up.

In Live Play mode, you can use the Pitch knob to add a twinkly upper octave to your dry signal.

How to play Tweak the Pitch knob to the octave setting. Tap the On switch and play.

Variations Turn the Pitch knob to 5p and you get two octaves up.

Harmonic arpeggiator.

Repeats what you play twice at an octave up.

How to play Tweak the Pitch knob to set at one octave up. Hold the HOLD footswitch to set loop length between. The demo uses a one-second loop.

Variations Turn the Time knob to the right for more repeats. Set the Dir switch to Rev for reverse arpeggios or Alt to alternate between forward and reverse. The Tensor doesn’t have a feedback knob to get a “normal” delay, but you can get a clean, single repeat in this mode by setting the Speed knob to 5p and the Pitch knob to noon.

A few pointers to help you get along with the Tensor.

  • The Tensor is a digital tape loop recorder with highly-controllable playback. Tape speed is the main function of this pedal. With the Time and Pitch knobs, you can alter aspects of the tape speed.
  • 5p is the normal setting for the Speed knob. At noon, the tape is stopped.
  • The buffer is always “listening”, even when the pedal is off. In Live Play mode the Tensor plays what’s already in the buffer. In Hold and Rec modes, the Tensor starts recording a new buffer before playing back.
  • It may not be obvious that the LED above the right On footswitch must be lit for the effect to be engaged. Seems pretty “duh”, but it’s confusing since the Hold footswitch also can activate the On footswitch.
  • When the right LED is lit, but the left LED isn’t, you’re in Live Play Mode. Pitch and Speed will affect the signal.
  • Random only works when other knobs are not at their default positions. The further off they are from default, the greater the random effect.

Tensor manual

Comments? Posted them on my Twitter.

Update In 2019 Red Panda introduced a new Version of the Tensor with a different processor. (If your serial numbers is 67000 or greater, it’s the new one.) While the old Tensor had 4.5 seconds of record time, the new one has stereo or 9.6 seconds of record time.


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