Hands-On Review: Line 6 ToneCore Pedals and Stompbox Modelers

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Special effects that offer endless creative possibilities

By Daniel Vincennes

Let me tell you about my favorite word: play. Out of the 85 or so different meanings, I’m talking about play in the sense of exploring, having fun, being spontaneously creative—something that children instinctively do so well, but too many adults have lost the capacity for. Give a kid a toy and watch how quickly they lose themselves in play as they become entranced by the possibilities.

When I get my hands on some new effects pedals, it’s time for me to play. So let’s open the treasure chest of musical toys from Line 6 and see what magic is waiting to be discovered. I’m going to be talking about five effects pedals in this hands-on review: three are Line 6 ToneCore effects pedals: Verbzilla, Echo Park, and Über Metal—all in the proud stompbox tradition of having fun or quirky names.

Line 6 also has a complete lineup of what they call stompbox modelers that not only faithfully reproduce the effects of classic pedals of the last few decades, but also add some new effects created by Line 6. For this hands-on review I’ll be focusing on two of them: the MM-4 Modulation Modeler Pedal and the DL-4 Delay Modeler Pedal.

Let’s start by briefly exploring the three ToneCore effects pedals.

Line 6 ToneCore Verbzilla Guitar Effects Pedal

Modular design

What’s really cool about the Line 6 ToneCore pedals is that they are modular. The components can be swapped out which gives you flexibility in deciding which effects to use. So when you buy the ToneCore pedal that has your favorite effect (Verbzilla, Echo Park, or Über Metal), you get the two main components working as one pedal: the tough-as-nails ToneDock base, which is available with either stereo or mono outputs, and the the pedal’s effects module. Here is where it gets modular: The ToneDock and each effects module—Verbzilla Effects Module, Echo Park Effects Module, and Über Metal Effects Module —are also sold separately. Here’s the formula that shows how ToneDock and effects module both are included in the ToneCore pedal:

You can remove any effects module from the ToneDock and put a different module in its place. You can mount any of the ToneCore Pedals to your pedalboard and easily customize your effects palette by swapping out effects modules from the ToneCore base. You’re playful inner-self is saying: “Collect the whole set of effects modules, trade ’em with my friends!”

Verbzilla and Echo Park

Line 6 ToneCore Echo Park Delay Guitar Effects Pedal

Most user manuals that come with consumer electronics and musical products are not too user-friendly. Let’s face it, some are downright impossible to read. But I have to tell you that I had a good chuckle while reading the playful Line 6 Pilot’s Handbook for Verbzilla, the newest ToneCore effects pedal. It describes what was probably the very first sound effect: the reverberation that Cro-Magnon man heard when he clashed two rocks together inside his home. Line 6 describes Verbzilla’s Cave setting as follows: “Surreal cavernous echo chamber. ‘I’m just a simple caveman. . .Your world frightens and confuses me’. . .what more can be said.” Compliments to Line 6 for keeping their Pilot’s Handbook breezy, yet super informative, and for keeping their ToneCore effects pedals super functional.

I installed the ToneCore Verbzilla Pedal on my pedalboard and began exploring the 11 types of reverb including vintage spring and plate reverbs, room, chamber, hall, and echo (for this effect, it’s a distinct repeat of the sound and includes the indistinct repetitions of reverberation). Verbzilla also let me control how much reverb (Mix), how long before the reverb kicks in (Time), how long it takes to fade out (Decay), and how dark or bright (Tone).

The ToneCore Echo Park Delay Pedal is a veritable sonic playground offering tons of sound and control flexibility. I tried each of the three types of echo (tape, digital, analog) that can be tailored with Mix (how much) and Repeat (how many echoes). A really cool feature on both Verbzilla and Echo Park is Trails which lets the reverb naturally trail away instead of abruptly disappearing when you click off the effect.

Line 6 ToneCore Uber Metal Distortion Pedal

Über Metal

There’s no mistaking the intent of the ToneCore Über Metal Distortion Pedal. I was in High-Gain City here. In addition to the expected Level, Drive, and tone controls (Bass and Treble), the Mid and Scoop knobs work in tandem so I could achieve the sounds that metal-meisters crave. The heavy metal thunder came pouring from the amp’s speakers as I checked out the Über Metal Pedal’s three sonic settings: Metal, Pulverize, and Insane. All three reconfigure the circuitry to achieve even greater levels of heaviosity. Two noise gate settings helped me keep my sound from getting out of control for those dynamic moments of silence and song endings. The first noise gate adjusted itself to my Drive setting; the second used fast-clamping to add more dynamics to my mute-strummed root/5 power chords.

Stompbox Modelers

Each of us has our own approach to playing with an effects pedal. Some like to read the manual and understand the function of each knob. Other guitarists start off by trying to re-create effects used on their favorite recordings. Still others just go crazy nuts and turn the knobs every which way just to see what they can do. And you know what? There’s no wrong way to do it. No mistakes, no grades. The Line 6 Modeler Pedals—the DL-4 Delay Modeler and the MM-4 Modulation Modeler—have lots of controls that provided endless hours of tweaking, fiddling, and just plain goofing off with the effects. The goofing off resulted in a couple of effects that I ended up using at a solo acoustic performance at a local coffee house.

Line 6 MM-4 Modulation Modeler

The Line 6 DL-4 Delay Modeler lets you tap into re-creations of just about every famous delay pedal from the last 30 years including famous-name tube, tape, analog, and digital delay effects boxes. It also includes a couple of delay effects created by Line 6. At the coffee house, I used the Loop Sampler to capture a repeating two-bar rhythm guitar lick. I then added a simple bass line and a couple of accents to create a bed for some tasty soloing.

Line 6 DL-4 Delay Modeler

Once again, I highly recommend reading the Stompbox Modelers Pilot’s Handbook, not because it’s homework, but because it’s fun to read and is very useful, including some settings and sounds to try out. Each modeler pedal has Tweak and Tweez knobs that allow further, uh. . . tweaking and tweezing(?!). The Pilot’s Handbook explains how Tweak and Tweez affect the so`und of each effect setting.

Line 6 EX1 Expression Pedal

For even more fun, I attached the optional Line 6 EX1 Expression Pedal that let me program to adjust between any two settings that I selected. For example, with Rhythmic Delay, I used the Expression Pedal to vary the Delay Time knob’s rhythm settings to match certain musical passages. For blowing minds, I used the Reverse effect with the Expression Pedal so I could create the reverse tape just-dropped-in-to-see-what-condition-my-condition-was-in effect.

If you want your music to quiver, warble, flutter, twitter, pulse, throb, undulate, and flow, then the MM-4 Modulation Modeler Pedal is for you. It re-creates an impressive array of modulation effects including tremolos, phasers, flangers, and choruses. Not only can the MM-4 be used with guitars, I found it quite useful with my electronic keyboard, specifically the Rotary Drum & Horn effect that simulates a Leslie speaker. I used the Expression pedal to speed up and slow down the speaker, an expression effect that all great organists should have in their arsenal. A great way to expand your sound onstage is to use the stereo output to an amplifier on both sides of the stage. I used the Panner setting of the MM-4 Modulation Modeler to play call-and-response guitar parts, I timed my playing so that an upper E chord came out of the amp on stage right while an echoed (using the DL-4) hammered-on A chord came out of the amp on stage left. Using the Expression pedal I was able to slow the panning to match the slowed-down tempo of my playing.

Features & Specs

All Line 6 ToneCore Pedals:

  • ToneDock base
  • Interchangeable effects modules that snap in and out
  • Powered by a 9V battery or optional DC-1 adapter

ToneDock base with Verbzilla Guitar Effects Module

  • Tone, Mix, Decay, and Time knobs
  • Reverb models rotary knob:
    • '63 Spring
    • Spring
    • Plate
    • Room
    • Hall
    • Chamber
    • Ducking
    • Octo
    • Cave
    • Tile
    • Echo
  • Trails switch lets reverb decay or cut off on bypass
  • Stereo output

Über Metal Distortion Pedal ToneDock base with Über Metal Guitar Effects Module

  • Level, Drive, Treble, and Bass knobs
  • Scoop and Mid knobs
  • Sliding switch for high-gain tones: Metal, Pulverize, and Insane.
  • Noise gate Off-1-2 sliding switch
  • Mono output

ToneDock base with Echo Park Guitar Effects Module

  • Mix, Repeat, Time, Mod knobs
  • Model rotary knob:
    • Normal tap (quarter note)
    • Triplet tap (eighth note)
    • Tap (eighth note)
    • Slap
    • Swell
    • Sweep
    • Ducking
    • Multi 1
    • Multi 2
    • Pink Pong
    • Reverse
  • Analog, tape, and digital delay sliding switch
  • Trails switch lets echo decay or cut off on bypass
  • Tap Tempo feature
  • Stereo output
 

Line 6 MM-4 Modulation Stompbox Modeler

  • Speed, Depth, Tweak, Tweez, and Mix knobs
  • Modulation effects knob:
    • Opto Tremolo
    • Bias Tremolo
    • Phaser
    • Dual Phaser
    • Panned Phaser
    • U-Vibe
    • Rotary Drum
    • Rotary Drum & Horn
    • Analog Flanger
    • Jet Flanger
    • Analog Chorus
    • Dimension
    • Tri Chorus
    • Pitch Vibrato
    • Ring Modulator
    • Panning
  • 16 factory presets, plus 4 user presets
  • True bypass switching
  • Expression-pedal input
  • Mono in
  • Stereo I/O
  • 4 C batteries

Line 6 DL-4 Delay Stompbox Modeler

  • Delay Time, Repeats, Tweak, Tweez, and Mix knobs
  • Delay and echo effects knob:
    • Loop Sampler
    • Tube Echo
    • Tape Echo
    • Multi-head
    • Sweep Echo
    • Analog Echo
    • Analog with Mod
    • Lo Res Delay
    • Digital Delay
    • Digital with Mod
    • Rhythmic Delay
    • Stereo Delays
    • Ping Pong
    • Reverse
    • Dynamic Delay
    • Auto-Volume Echo
  • Provides 3 programmable presets
  • Tap tempo control
  • 14 seconds of sample-loop memory
  • True bypass switching
  • Mono in
  • Mono/Stereo I/O
  • Expression pedal input
  • 4 C batteries

Line 6 ToneCore DC-1 Power Adapter

  • Converts AC to 9V DC
  • Powers Mono and Stereo ToneCore Pedals

Line 6 ToneCore Stereo Dock

  • Accepts all ToneCore modules

Line 6 ToneCore Mono Dock

  • Accepts all ToneCore modules

Line 6 EX 1 Expression Pedal for Stompbox Modelers

  • Allows smooth transition between any two user-selected settings
  • Includes 1/4” connecting cable
  • Black plastic

Line 6 PX-2 Power Supply for Stompbox Modelers

  • Plugs into 120V wall socket.

Tags: Effects Pedals Line 6

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