The Strymon El Capistan is one of the best digital tape echo emulations.
Nevertheless, some miss the warm character of an analog device and consider that the sound of the Strymon El Capistan is somehow sterile.
The Fulltone Tube Tape Echo has a tube preamp that enrichens the signal in a certain way.
Some guitarists use this preamp only to boost their amp.
And of course, the preamp effects on the whole sound of the tape delay.
If you want the Strymon El Capistan to come closer to the sound of a real tube tape echo, you can add a preamp to the pedal.
A tube preamp would be perfect to get close to the original.
I choose the Kingsley Page V2 for this experiment. And I am totally enthusiastic about the result. Click here for a video about this experiment.
Although the Page V2 only effects the sound of the guitar in a decent way, it is able to push the signal pretty well. And you can also set the gain pot to a point where the signal saturates when you dig in harder.
The tonal range of the preamp can be controlled by the tone pot and the two switches for treble and bass.
The combination of the Strymon El Capistan and the Kingsley Page V2 brings a bit “dirt” into the signal though it becomes more vivid and gets pretty close to the sound of the Fulltone Tube Tape Echo.
The advantage of this perfect marriage of a preamp pedal and a digital emulation of a tape delay is, that it is less prone to errors and does not require any difficult maintenance.
Of course, you can also combine delays and preamps of other manufacturers.
Eric Johnson, for example, uses a Catalinbread Belle Epoch that is integrated to the
Effect loop of a real Echoplex. By this he can benefit from the sonic advantages of a preamp without the accident-sensitive tape of a tape echo.
If you are interested in Eric Johnsons combination, click here for a Rig Rundown by Premier Guitar.