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Overview by GAK

Catalinbread’s Belle Epoch perfectly captures the sound and response of the Maestro Echoplex EP-3. There’s a reason why it’s a key part of Jimmy Page, Eric Johnson, Brian May & Eddie Van Halen’s classic guitar sounds. Now you can experience that legendary tape echo sound yourself without the high cost and constant maintenance! Once you’ve played through the Belle Epoch, you’ll swear there’s actual tape inside.

Iconic Tape Echo

The mighty Maestro Echoplex EP-3 is one of the most prized and iconic delay units ever created. It’s praised for its warm, gritty repeats, otherworldly self-oscillation effects and the way its discrete preamp makes you sound better - even when the echoes are turned off! It’s become the quintessential delay sound of the '70s, having been used extensively by Andy Summers, Jimmy Page, Neil Young, Van Halen and many other guitar legends.

Catalinbread’s Belle Epoch (which is a member of their Delay & Reverb family), is a spot-on sonic recreation of the Echoplex EP-3. Catalinbread have gone above and beyond to craft the most realistic playing experience possible, capturing the nuances, eccentricities and character of this beloved effect. Compared to a vintage EP-3, the Belle Epoch is a lot more portable, affordable and reliable (having been hand-built with top quality components).

Authentic Sound

The Belle Epoch uses the same mixer stages and basic audio path as the EP-3, with the repeats precisely tuned to respond and sound like the original. As the echoes repeat, the decays begin to degrade in a magical way. As the low end begins to tail off, the repeats gain a percussive, glistening top end with a distinctive grit.

Authentic Response

A huge part of what made the Echoplex EP-3 so appealing is its subtle tone-enhancing quality, which made you sound better even when the echoes where switched off. This aspect has been recreated and upgraded in the Belle Epoch, with an all-discrete pre-amp that provides even greater touch-sensitivity. The sound of the EP-3’s pre-amp is so good, Catalinbread dedicated an entire pedal to it - the Epoch Boost.

For the most authentic Echoplex experience, Catalinbread have replicated the original’s delay time range in the Belle Epoch - 80ms to 800ms. This allows you to go from fantastic slapback to Brian May-esque orchestrated harmonies with ease. Plus, just like the EP-3, the Echo Delay control responds like a real tape head, with a “lagging” response that takes time to catch up as you adjust it.

Mod & Secret Vibrato

With the Mod control, you can dial in the perfect amount of random wow & flutter on the Belle Epoch’s repeats. An added bonus of the Belle Epoch is its “secret” vibrato mode that’s engaged by disconnecting the pedal, turning the Mod knob up all the way, then turning it back on.

Tailor Your Repeats

The Belle Epoch’s Rec Level control behaves like the one found on the EP-3. Using this control, you can drastically alter the tonal character of the repeats - from airy & light (perfect for lush ambiences) to grungy & thick (suited for bold rhythmic repeats).

Drive Your Amp

Using the internal trim pots for gain and volume, you can use the Belle Epoch to drive the front end of your amp and give your valves a kick. At its extreme, the Belle Epoch can become an aggressive, fuzzy boost.

Configurable Switching Modes

The Belle Epoch features two switching modes - True Bypass and Tails - which are selected via an internal switch. There are advantages to both. With Tails on, the decays fade naturally fade out and pre-amp will still enhance your tone after the pedal is deactivated. True Bypass mode is great for solos or when you need a lift, as the pre-amp can bring on additional saturation.

Extra Headroom On Tap

You can run the Belle Epoch at either 9V (which works well for washy, shoegaze-ready textures) or at 18V for increased headroom and definition.

The Catalinbread Belle Epoch is a must-try delay pedal for anyone that enjoys lush time-based effects. As far as emulations of the classic Echoplex EP-3 goes, it’s hard to beat. If you need additional flexibility and the ability to control parameters hands-free, check out the Belle Epoch Deluxe.

Every brand new Catalinbread pedal comes with a 3-year warranty, which covers defects in materials and/or workmanship. Contact [email protected] for more info.



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