Bring an Echo Effect to Guitar and Vocals Using the Janky Tape Echo
Some musicians and singers use peddle effects to augment sounds while playing music, such as distortion, delay, and chorus. Peddles have been around for decades, and while today most are digital-based, those manufactured long ago were analog.
One of the more popular pedals employed by bands in the '60s and '70s was known as a tape echo, which produced an echo effect using cassette tape. It works by recording a note as it's played, then repeats the note a set number of times. Actual tape echo pedals are tough to find in today's market, and even when they show, they can run up to $1,000.
With that limited availability in mind, musician and programmer Adam Paul designed his Janky Tape Echo using the internals from a Reshow portable cassette player, specifically the tape head. He then employed two extra heads and an Arduino Nano with a custom PCB for recording tape, motor control, switching, and output mixing and placed the hardware inside a 3D-printed enclosure.
The Janky Tape Echo works by using the motor to pass tape over the recording head, then the read head, and finally the erase head to achieve an echo sound. A series of knobs are used to operate the pedal and different sound parameters, such as echo rate. A pair of ¼-inch jacks mounted on the top side of the unit allow users to connect their instruments or microphones to an amp as any other effects peddle.
Paul created the Janky Tape Echo so anyone could build it using readily available parts and uploaded a complete walkthrough of it on his project page.