TC Electronic has come a long way over the past forty-five years and that’s precisely what the brand wants to remind everyone by reissuing its first pedal, the SCF. At the same time, she takes the opportunity to amaze us with a pedal whose design certainly dates back several decades, but which still finds its place at the feet of the most demanding musicians. Kim Rishøj designed the SCF to satisfy a personal need. If all the modulation pedals of the time were effective and produced very convincing effects, they were also very noisy. When releasing the pedal, TC Electronic also put this argument forward with the famous slogan “The sound of silence” which appeared on all the promotional posters of the SCF. With this new Gold version that the brand was kind enough to send me just in time for Christmas, the Danish brand aimed to stay as close as possible to the original circuit while modernizing the pedal so as to make it compete with other market players. The improvements aimed at bringing it into our time are quite minimal. The pre-amp circuit has been improved to develop more headroom, the overall low frequency response has been revised and corrected and the dynamic range has been slightly extended. In addition, it can now be powered with a standard power supply which will make its installation on a Pedalboard quite simple. Apart from these few modifications, we find the same sounds as those developed by the original SCF. TC Electronic went so far as to reproduce the chassis and the look of the pedal identically. We therefore find the black chassis with gold prints, the input, output and power plugs on the top and the same controls as on the 1976 pedal. These controls are as follows:
- Speed: adjusts the sweep speed between 1 every 10 seconds and 10 per second (0.1Hz – 10Hz)
- Intensity: in Chorus mode, it mixes the processed signal and the clean signal; in Flanger mode it adjusts the intensity of the comb filter applied to the signal (like the Feedback setting of a delay); in Pitch Modulator mode, it adjusts the mix between chorus and vibrato
- Width: adjusts the width of the modulation over a relative range of 0 to 6 modulation steps
- Mode: Three-position switch that toggles between Chorus, Flanger and Pitch Modulator
- Input Gain: gain control of the integrated preamp
In addition to these settings, there is an “Overload” LED which indicates when the signal in the pedal is close to saturation and an indicator light which lights up and flashes at sweep speed when the pedal is engaged. On the top are the jack sockets, one for the input and two for the output, one of which can be used as a Mono output and the power plug.
Choruses? Flanger? Peak Modulator? All three my Captain!
The first contact with SCF Gold is very satisfying. The pedal has a reassuring weight and a very robust construction. The knobs all exert a firm resistance which allows very fine adjustments. The Input Gain knob, very small, is even almost difficult to manipulate. The format of the pedal is quite unusual but at the same time quite practical although not very compact. The plugs located on the top facilitate its installation on an already well-stocked pedal board like mine. Its look is certainly quite austere but directly refers to another era, it’s nice. Once the pedal is inspected from every angle, I plug it in and start tweaking the settings. The jack sockets, the power plug and the footswitch also inspire a feeling of solidity and robustness. The footswitch does not “click” which is practical especially during recording sessions. As usual, I start this test by placing all the settings in their middle position, except for the Input Gain setting, which I leave at minimum. I start by exploring the sounds of Chorus by placing the Mode switch on the Chorus position. With all the settings at noon, on a clean sound, you get a very vintage, super warm and enveloping chorus sound. The sound seems dressed in a veil of modulation which immediately makes it more interesting and exciting. The pedal circuit is fully analog and designed around a Bucket Brigade Device (BBD). The pedal is rather versatile in the sense that, in Chorus mode, the Intensity knob allows you to adjust the mix between the processed sound and the clean signal. This makes it possible to obtain very light and discreet choruses or, on the contrary, a much more pronounced effect. The Width setting allows you to amplify the modulation effect in a very musical way, it’s very nice. Finally, the different speeds offered by the Speed setting also make it possible to achieve very varied sound textures. After being almost amazed by the sounds of Chorus, I fiddle with the small Mode switch to place it on the Flanger position. The sound doesn’t change drastically, it feels like it’s the same effect but a bit more assertive. It’s not a very pronounced flanger, but rather a “super-chorus”. However, it works very well and provides ample and super musical modulations. I take this opportunity to switch to saturated sound using my Friedman BE-OD, the last to have joined my partboard. Same observation as in clear sound. The SCF Gold seems to dress up the sound by adding a rather exciting depth to it which is missing as soon as it is deactivated. However, I found the Flanger a little less convincing than the Chorus on an overdriven sound. It’s still very nice and much more controllable than most flangers I’ve tried. I finish by placing the small switch on PM mode, Pitch Modulator. This is the least conclusive effect of the three and the most anecdotal. You have to push the settings to their limits to get a real pitch modulation effect and that’s not very pleasant for my taste. You can of course get a modulation effect with the settings around noon, but nothing very original and much less interesting than the chorus offered by the pedal.
I end this test with the Input Gain setting which, in my opinion, is the strong point of the SCF Gold. The Danish manufacturer placed this setting in order to control the input level of the pedal. The first stage of the circuit is a high-fidelity pre-amp that renders the full spectrum of the guitar again with some musicality. The gain adjustment of this pre-amp makes it possible to perfectly adjust the output resistance of the guitar pickups at the input of the pedal in order to always attack the circuit at the correct level. I was able to test the effectiveness of this setting with on one side my Fender Telecaster and its very vintage single coil pickups and on the other my Les Paul Custom and its EMG 81 and 85 kit and their fairly high output resistance. But you can also use it to saturate the input stage so as to obtain a very pleasant slight analog saturation. It is in this use that I preferred this setting. An analog saturation obtained by pushing the input level of a pre-amp is something inimitable and very musical. The fairly long travel of the Input Gain control allows you to bring the right amount of saturation and grain, it’s very well thought out. The quality of this pre-amp is clearly perceptible in the fairly enormous dynamic level of the pedal. Whether you caress the strings or mistreat the guitar by hitting it in the face with a certain violence, the pedal does not flinch and reproduces each intensity variation with precision.
Chorus – all noon – Clean Tele
- Chorus – all noon – Clean Tele01:11
- Chorus – Speed Setting – Clean Tele01:31
- Chorus – Intensity adjustment – Clean Tele01:22
- Chorus – Width Adjustment – Clean Tele01:26
- Chorus – Input Gain Adjustment – Clean Tele01:55
- Chorus – Tout midi – Dirty LP01:52
- Flanger – Any 12h – Clean Tele01:43
- Flanger – Tweaking – Dirty LP02:00
- Pitch Modulator – Tuning – Clean Tele02:02
- Pitch Modulator – Tuning – Dirty LP02:38
The ultimate chorus is vintage?
After spending a few hours with the “new” SCF Gold stamped TC Electronic, it was very difficult for me to put it back in its box. A user of the classic MXR Analog Chorus, I was very impressed with the SCF Chorus. Its ease of use is disconcerting, you immediately get THE sound you are looking for. The chorus is not too discreet but not too intrusive either, it’s ideal. If you have the chance to play on two amps at the same time, using the pedal in stereo will be a real treat. If the Flanger and Pitch Modulator modes appeared to me as a little less interesting, the pedal is nonetheless a great success. It was a rather daring bet on the part of TC Electronic. However, the brand has cleverly surfed the vintage wave by reissuing a successful pedal (whose original versions are selling for quite astronomical sums) well built, reliable and which sounds divinely good. If you like enveloping, dynamic, singing and very musical choruses, throw yourself on this SCF Gold. The pedal, made in China and offered at a price of 139 €, displays a quality/price ratio close to excellence. Well done TC!