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May 20, 2020

Vance Powell the spin fader trick




American and British English have many similarities, but, as you probably know, there are more than a few words that are different. Some classic examples: The British call an apartment a flat, an elevator a lift, French fries chips and a drugstore a chemist. But did you know that our friends from across the pond also have a different word for the feedback parameter in a delay? They call it "spin."

Vance Powell isn't British, but he does use the word "spin" in the British sense in this excerpt from Start to Finish: Vance Powell Episode 6. He demonstrates what he refers to as his “Spin Fader,” which is a cross-feedback technique that he's using on part of one of the guitar tracks from "Sweet Beast," the Illiterate Light song he's producing.

Into the Spin

Vance explains how it works: He sends the guitar signal via aux sends to two different Fulltone TTEs, which are hardware, tube delay units. The delayed output from each TTE is routed to a separate console channel. He pans one channel hard-left and the other hard-right.

Vance uses a pair of Fulltone TTE (Tube Tape Echo) units as part of his Spin Fader effect.

Each of the two console channels are routed to a stereo channel on the console, which is the Spin Fader channel. On it are two aux sends, which each feed those same Fulltone delays. Both sends are set to the same level, usually 0dB.

Here’s the trick. The Spin Fader channel’s output to the mix bus is turned off. That means that no delay is coming out of its output into the mix when Vance raises its fader. But raising the fader does put signal into the channel input, which means it also goes to the sends that route it back into the delays.

What you end up with is the original guitar signal feeding the delays and the delays feeding themselves, controlled by the Spin Fader.

In the video, Vance manually turns up the Spin Fader in real-time as guitarist Jeff Gorman is playing. Vance is putting the effect on a guitar chord that Jeff plays and briefly holds. You hear the feedback rising as the chord decays, but it never gets to the point of oscillating out of control. Vance has Jeff play the chord a couple of times, as he works out the best setting for the Spin Fader knob.

After a couple of tries, Vance figures out how high he wants to go with the fader, and as Josh plays, he punches in the chord and pushes up the fader. He says he wants to get it just on the edge of where it would feedback infinitely. Vance points out that you can get a similar effect by turning up the feedback on the left and right delay units, but it doesn't create the same complexity.

Pseudo Spin

It can be a little confusing at first to wrap your head around the Spin Fader concept, but once you do, it’s actually not that complicated. You can replicate it in your DAW, as we’ll show here in Pro Tools, in Example 1:

Example 1: On the fifth bar, when the drums rest, you’ll hear the delay feedback rising up and then dropping down when the instruments come back in.

Here’s how it’s set up: The rhythm guitar that’s getting the delay is not only going to the main output dry, but also being sent via busses 3 and 4 to a pair of mono aux channels: Delay Aux L and Delay Aux R, which are hard panned to opposite sides. (This example is configured in stereo, like Vance’s setup. The downloadable examples at the end of the article are mono, which simplifies their routing considerably.)

Vance’s setup used the Fulltone TTE delays. In this software version, each of the aux channels has a Soundtoys Echoboy Jr delay plug-in inserted. The delays are set 100% wet, one to a quarter-note delay and the other to a quarter-note triplet delay (you can set them to whatever works for your song). The triplet value will add syncopation to the delays. The delays are set to Memory mode, which emulates an Electro-Harmonix Memory Man, an analog bucket-brigade delay pedal.

The delayed signal from each Echoboy Jr. plug-in goes to the main output and is also sent to the Spin Fader channel, which is on a stereo Aux track. Its main output is turned off (in this case set to an inactive output pair).

The Spin Fader channel is routing the delayed signal back into the delay plug-ins via aux sends 3 and 4, which creates a feedback loop. In other words, the delays are getting sent back on themselves.

The diagram below shows the routing using color-coded arrows that correspond with the descriptions to the right of it.

In both Vance’s setup and this software version, if the Spin Fader is turned all the way down, no signal is sent back to the delays. Because its main output is turned off, it’s simply functioning as a level control for the feedback. In the example, the level of the fader was automated. It took some experimentation to find the point where it created the desired effect without the feedback oscillating out of control.

If you try this type of setup in your own DAW, make sure to keep your monitors or headphones a low level. In the process of experimenting with levels for the Spin Fader, it’s almost inevitable that at some point, the feedback will get out of control, and it can be piercing and could damage your gear or hurt your ears.

Here you see the volume automation controlling the Spin Fader and the two delay channels. At the top of the screen are the Echoboy Jr delay plug-ins with their settings.


Now is your chance to try it with these downloadable Pro Tools, Ableton and Logic sessions that has the routing all set up for you.