July 25, 2020

Shift Line Everest M: THE reverb/delay for tongue drum.

Though a tongue drum is a very ambient instrument, reverb, delay and chorus are probably the most useful effects you can add to extend that spaciousness your drum generates into another realm. In these days when ambience rules in music and reverb and delay pedals can take up half of a pedalboard, Shift Line’s Everest M is a standard-size pedal that handles most ambient needs and really brings out of the most in my Beat Root Drum. The six, mood-matched, reverb-delay combinations (that can be used separately or together) give you 18 total options that cover a huge range of spaces, most that sound excellent with the tongue drum. In addition to the standards of hall, room and springish reverbs, as well as digital, tape-like and analogish delays, algorithms can include sub-octave reverb, super-octave delay and a slow chorus/flanger/vibrato effect. Everest puts excellent versions of most of the basic effects you need for tongue drum into one pedal with no confusing alternate knob controls.

The controls.

Shift Line cleverly put all needed controls into four knobs and a switch:

  • Reverb controls reverb volume, but is slave to the Mix knob. All reverbs have a fixed, slow modulation.
  • Mix is the master volume control and handles the overall delay mix and the reverb sub-mix. With the Mix at 3p or later, the delay can get louder than dry.
  • Regen controls both repeats and reverb decay. With Regen at 5p, you’ll get unity repeats from most delay modes.
  • Time controls the delay time from a few milliseconds to 850ms. At 7a, the delay is off. (It doesn’t kick in until about 8a.)

The secret’s in the mix.

Most reverb-delay pedals put the two effects in series and follow the delay with reverb. And a few allow you to put the reverb first. While this creates a nice ambience for guitars, it can lead to a droney mush when you put the sustained resonance of a tongue drum through it. Shift Line’s Everest is one of those rare ambient pedals that runs the dry, reverb and delay in parallel. While the Reverb and Mix knobs control reverb and delay volume, the dry signal is at unity gain. The result is that the “dry” and beautiful sound of your tongue drum and the separate personalities of reverb and delay never get lost and mix into an incredibly full sound.

The algorithms and how they work with tongue drum.

The six reverb-delay algorithms are controlled by the three-position switch. To change modes from blue to red, hold the footswitch while toggling.

  • Sunshine (Blue, Down) Both reverb and delay are frosty and bright. The delay emphasizes the treble of the strikes and the reverb creates a field of the overtones. This mode can is useful for slapback and spring reverb effects. The reverb is a roomish reverb that can sound like a spring or hall, depending on the Regen knob. If you want a spring sound (useful for bringing out the personality in muted strikes), kill the delay by setting the Time knob to 7a and set the Regen knob to 12 noon. In this mode the reverb can self-oscillate, useful when you hold the footswitch for Infinity mode.
  • Eclipse (Blue, Middle) This is a good always-on mode. Both reverb and delay are moody and brooding, but lay back and won’t steal the spotlight from your playing. The delay sounds analogish with an aggressive, low-pass filter giving dark repeats that stay out of the way of the dry signal, even with the Regen high. Delay also has a touch of modulation, which can turn short delays into chorus. The reverb is plate-like and phase-distorted, with subtle tremolo modulation.
  • Moonshine (Blue, Up) Moonshine is the octave mode that combines a sub-octave reverb and super-octave repeats to the delay. When the delays are short, the three octaves sound almost orchestral. Separately, the reverb can sound like an Ennio Morricone baritone chorus and the delay adds a glassy twinkle. Delay repeats are normal with added octave up repeats that are slightly staggered to make this sound thick and let the high repeats stand out.
  • Digital (Red, Down) This mode has clean, non-degrading repeats paired with a bright, transparent reverb. If looking for a reverb that really makes the overtones of your tongue drum sing, this is it. The reverb is almost like a spring at lower settings and the delay emphasizes the treble of your strikes to sound like clock ticks.
  • Tape (Red, Middle) This gives you a modulated delay and a dark vintage reverb. The tape delay sounds like dirty heads and worn tape, with wows and dropouts that crumble into the distance. It’s accompanied an dark, modulated reverb that gently wavers when the Regen knob is up and the delay is off. When the Regen knob is at 5p or the footswitch held, the tape wear is defeated.
  • Low (Red, Up) There’s extreme darkness here, which really lets the dry sound of your tongue drum reveal itself, while accompanying it with bass. The reverb is a bold, sub-octave and the delay is filtered to be dank. Need a mission bell that has you thinking to yourself this could be heaven or this could be hell? Crank the pedal and strike the center of your tongue drum. In this mode the reverb can self-oscillate, useful when you hold the footswitch for Infinity mode.

Infinity mode.

Everest goes into Infinity mode when you hold the footswitch for a few seconds. This maxes out the Regen knob, so it loops or oscillates the delay and extends the room size of the reverb, then returns to normal when you release the footswitch. This can be useful for filling in pauses in your playing and drawing out emotion.

You may experience the levels dropping when you engage Infinity mode. Try setting the Regen knob at about 3p. This seems to be where Infinity mode was designed to work best. When using reverb by itself the effect of the infinity knob can be subtle, but beautiful.

Kill Dry mode.

The Kill Dry mode removes the dry signal entirely so just the wet delay and reverb effect come through. This is useful for creating effects like vibrato and metallics. To engage the Kill Dry mode, when firing up the pedal with power:

  • Put the toggle switch down.
  • Hold the footswitch.
  • When the LED turns off or starts flashing, release the footswitch.
  • Tap the footswitch again to resume.

To return to normal dry mix, repeat the process.

Tails mode.

Tails mode lets the effects naturally fade out when you turn the pedal off. This can be a useful effect for keeping a slowly fading delay trailing while adding no new input, as in the [microlooper] effect below. When firing up the pedal with power:

  • Set the toggle switch up.
  • Hold the footswitch.
  • When the LED turns off or starts flashing, release the footswitch.
  • Tap the footswitch again.

To return to normal tails-off mode, repeat the process. Note that the only way to turn off self-oscillation in the Tails mode is to turn down the Regen knob.

The secret settings.

Everest has a few more tricks up its sleeve:

  • Chorus By combining a super-short, modulated digital delay with the dry signal you get an old-school chorus effect. Both the Eclipse (blue, center) and Tape (red, center) algorithms have a modulated delay. In either mode:
    • Reverb 10a
    • Mix 3p
    • Regen 1p
    • Time 8a (may need tweaking)
  • Zen Ripples This wild flanger effect in the Kill Dry and Tape (red, center) mode makes your tongue drum sound like it’s playing through ripples in a pond as it sweeps through the tones.
    • Reverb 10a
    • Mix 5p
    • Regen 5p
    • Time 8a (may need tweaking)
  • Vibrato The Kill Dry mode can give you a subtle vibrato in the Eclipse mode (blue, center) or an obvious vibrato in the Tape mode (red, center).
    • Reverb 10a
    • Mix 5p
    • Regen 7a
    • Time 8a (may need tweaking)
  • Metalics The delay on the Everest can get incredibly short. In the Kill Dry mode with the percussive banging on the tongues will give you some metallic and tabla sounds.
    • Reverb 10a
    • Mix 5p
    • Regen 4p
    • Time 8a (may need tweaking)
  • Glass Menagerie This uses three octaves and shows what the Moonlight setting can do. The delay acts as a super-octave tremolo while a baritone choir hums the melody behind you:
    • Reverb 3p
    • Mix 5p
    • Regen 3p
    • Time 8a (may require tweaking)
  • Microlooper In Tails mode, you can get near-infinite repeats of the delay buffer at unity gain with no new signal added. Effectively you can get an 850ms loop going and play overtop of it. A few things to note about this trick: The volume of the loop will build ever so slightly. This can be useful for building intensity. The only way to stop the repeats is to turn the Regen knob down.
    • Set the Regen knob to 3-5p,
    • Set the Time knob to 5p.
    • Play the passage you want to loop.
    • Kick off the footswitch.
  • Layering Microlooper After holding down the footswitch for about 3 seconds the pedal will freeze the volume of the 850ms buffer so it doesn’t fade, but also allows you to add more sounds overtop. This can be useful for layering massive chords at long delay times or freeze effects when the delay is short. Once you release your foot, the effect fades like normal.
  • Controlled Self-Oscillation Some modes (Sunshine in particular) will self-oscillate the delay. If you set the Regen knob before 3p, holding the footswitch will trigger the Infinity mode and the self-oscillation and releasing it will let it fade.
  • Reverb Swell When using just the reverb, set the Regen knob to before noon. When you hold the footswitch to engage the Infinity mode, the ambience will subtly bloom. You’ll want the reverb level hot to get the full feel of that this can do.

My take.

If looking to create ethereal environments for your tongue drum without a lot of fuss, the Shift Line Everest is a tight little package. I really find the beautifully rhythmic repeats of the digital delay and the harmonic space of the reverb give you a very “musical” ambience for the notes of your tongue drum to bathe in. Its flexibility may make it the only effect pedal you’ll need for live performance of recording.

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Pedalurgy Music TongueDrum

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