Double tracking guitar parts has been a technique used in recording for decades (and also live actually, if there is more than one guitarist) to thicken things up. It can make guitars sound bigger, fuller, wider, and more textured. In the ’60s Abbey Road Studio’s engineer Ken Thousand came up with a way to “automate” that effect on vocals, while working on a record by The Beatles: he called it “Artificial Double Tracking,” what today is commonly referred to as “slapback delay” (although at the time, of course, it was done using analog tape).
To pull off that effect today on your guitar, all you need is a simple delay pedal, but while a mono slapback delay works well for solos, it often sounds less than ideal on rhythmic parts, distorted ones in particular (this is mostly due to phase “crowding”). Placing the original part and the delayed one in opposite sides of the stereo spectrum helps creating a fuller sound without phase cancellation problems, but the results are rather predictable and slightly robotic. Something better had to be invented.
Electro-Harmonix was the first one, in the ’80s, to use the word “Double Tracking” for a Stompbox, but it’s safe to say that the Full Double Tracking Effect, consisting (it seems) in a simple slapback delay, was not one of their most popular pedals.
Keeley in 2015 came out with the 30ms Automatic Double Tracker; this is a short delay stereo circuit combined with a chamber reverb and an “altered and detuned effect,” which is basically a chorus based on a slightly random LFO. The idea was to create a short delay effect, but with an added extra element of randomness so that it sounded more human. You can hear the results in the video below.
Then, late in 2016, TC Electronic introduced an affordable stompbox presented as “the world’s first realistic guitar doubling,” aptly titled the Mimiq Doubler.
Offering stereo I/O for use with any setup, the Mimiq features a simple control scheme including “Tightness” for dialing in the right delay time for a part, a “Dry” control for balancing the effect blend, and “Effect” which controls the effect’s level. There is also a toggle switch to select the number of doubles, and you can get up to 3!
TC’s undisclosed proprietary algorithm (which, we guess, might consist in random but subtle variations in delay/EQ/dynamics of the delayed tracks) makes the Mimiq able to stand out from the pack and sound very realistic. Equally at home on ripping solos or rhythmic parts, the pedal can be used both on clean or distorted guitars – although the TC original demo seems to pitch it to “thunderous” metal players (blessed with a stereo amp set up, of course…).
Check out a review, below. – Stoner