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How to Create Stutter Effects with Electric Guitar and Tape Echo


Hey, everybody. It’s Mark Marshall from and

Today, I’m going to be using a Strymon El Capistan tape emulation delay pedal to create some really cool stutter sampling effects. Now, I’m going to be using the guitar for this, but if you have a Rhodes, or a Whirly, or anything with a line output that you could run into it, you could run vocals through it, which is also a really cool thing to do. You can really get creative.

It’s a little bit of an unconventional use of the delay, but I think that you’ll find it really interesting for some productions. Now, what’s really cool about the El Capistan is not only is it a fabulous analog tape emulation, but they’ve added some modern features into it, which I really dig, and one of them is for the tap tempo button, it has a secondary function so that when you hold it down, it’s the equivalent of turning the repeat knobs all the way up, so that it just kind of keeps feeding back.

You could really create some cool effects if you turn the repeats all the way down, so that it’s just one single repeat.

[guitar plays, single repeat]

And then if you hold that down…

[guitar plays, infinite repeats]

Or, if I just let that ring out and hold it down…

[guitar plays]

Normally, the effect is…

[guitar plays, single delay]

And you see how when I let go of it, it drops it pretty fast, watch.

[guitar plays, infinite delays]

It’s almost immediately dropped. So, this is important to create this little stutter effect.

So, what I’ve done is I’ve set the tap tempo to the tempo that I want it to play the repeats at. It’s not an exact science, so when you’re doing this, you’re really going to have to play around with it to get it to sit well with the rhythm section you’re playing with.

Once I’ve done that, I’m going to use different attacks on the guitar to mess with the way that it’s doing repeats, so the first obvious one is just having a long chord…

[electric guitar plays, chord repeats]

Creating a nice feedback delay kind of sound. Another option is going to be to do a really quick attack, and choke the strings. I’m going to choke the strings as soon as I hit the hold feature. Now, I should mention that I am trying to hit the hold feature in time. So, if our tempo is here, I’m trying to hit it on the eighth note.

So, this is our quarter note. One, two, three, four. I’m trying to hit the hold feature on the end of one, or on the end of every beat that I hit a chord on.

One, AND two, three, four, one, AND two.

So, if I’m doing that…

[guitar plays, chord repeats]

Now, this is dependent on where you have the tap tempo set, but for this particular way I’m using it, I have it set so that I can hit it on the eighth note.

So, a lot is going to rely on your right hand for this effect. So, what I’m doing is I hit it, and as soon as I hit the tap button, I’m choking the strings. That gives this a little bit of that subtle stutter effect. Now, if you also hit your palm against the strings, it’ll also create more of a different type of stutter effect like this.

[guitar playing, stuttered]

Almost sounds like backwards tape, right? It’s just me palming my fist or my hand into the strings, as I’m muting them.

So, if we take that a step further, and as I hit the strings…

[electric guitar with stutters]

As I move into the eighth note, I’m going to hit it, and then I’ll slowly move my palm up the strings so that it gradually mutes it.

[electric guitar, muted stutters]

This almost gives it a little bit more of a synth like quality.

I’m going to show you a way to exploit this technique even further. Now, as I choke the notes and they’re repeating, I play other notes on top of it that are going to keep building, and then as soon as I let go of the pedal, it decays. This is the major difference in just having any sort of delay plug-in or anything up, where you’re just cranking it so the repeats happen.

As soon as it starts to decay, I can cut it off, and it gets really clean again. Check this out.

[guitar plays, stuttering and playing notes over the top]

This is just to give you some ideas of some cool things you can do with effects to create vibe-y ambient sounds that are a little unconventional.


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Mark Marshall

Mark Marshall

Mark Marshall is a producer, songwriter, session musician and instructor based in NYC. More at
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