Review: Flashback X4 Delay

I have a love/hate relationship with delay pedals. I love how they can sound, but trying to get that perfect delay results in failure more times than I ever see success.

Unlike many other guitar effects, a delay has to be spot on to sound good. That spot is more often than not a sound in your head that you’re trying to replicate with your guitar, so it’s not an easy thing to describe. Other guitar players may know what you’re talking about, but it’s really a personal thing that you’ll know when you hear it.

I’ve been playing long enough to have tried analog delays and, of course, many of the new digital delays. Still I’m left wanting.

For these reasons, I was really interested in trying out TC Electronic’s Flashback X4. TC has a great name in the industry and they know what they are doing. That’s a good start for me.

What I really like about the Flashback is that there are so many delays included with the pedal. There are 12 delays that you would know by name like Tape, Tube, Ping Pong,1 and Slap. It also has four custom slots too — I’ll talk about those in just a minute.

Each delay type has three preset slots, so you have control over everything in your pedal.

The Flashback itself has five large knobs, making it easy to control: Delay type, Delay Time, Feedback, Delay Level and Looper Level. There is also a selector switch that allows you to choose quarter notes or dotted eights or mix them when using dual delays.

The Flashback also has stereo inputs and outputs, a USB connection and MIDI in/thru. As you can see, there is probably more flexibility in the Flashback than anyone would ever need. However, it’s that flexibility that allows for the creation of some great delay sounds.

The other thing the Flashback has that some pedal manufacturers seem to miss is room. There is plenty of room to stomp on the preset selector without worrying about hitting the one next to it. That’s a huge thing for guitar players.

So, what about those custom slots? Those are TonePrint-enabled slots that allow you to load custom delays into your pedal. The best way to do it is with your iPhone.

You can down the TonePrint app on the App Store and by following the instructions in the app, you beam a TonePrint onto the pedal. All you do is hold it up to your guitar and it sends the delay tone to your pedal. It’s a really cool feature to have.

Many of the TonePrint delays are done by guitarists you would recognize and you can browse through them on the app. Find one you like and beam it.

One thing I’ve found is that the Flashback X4 isn’t just about delays, it’s about the flexibility to create sounds and tones with delays. I have yet to find a pedal that sounds as good as the Flashback X42 and allows me to do so much.

The possibilities of what you can do with the Flashback X4 are virtually limitless.

  1. Ping Pong delays have always been one of my favorites. When done right, this delay can sound great on a nice crunch tone and a clean strat sound. 

  2. The Flashback X4 has an MSRP of $369, but you can pick it up for $249 at many music stores and online outlets.