For most beginning guitar players, the delay pedal might seem mysterious. In fact, many guitarists have to work to understand the functions of a delay pedal. I thought it would be good to take a closer look at the delay pedal and give some insight as to how to use it, some suggestions if you are interested in buying one, and a behind-the-scenes look into some of the industry leaders in delay pedals.
For any of you who aren’t familiar with the delay pedal and how it is used, check out this video I found at http://guitar.about.com/b/2009/10/13/youtube-delay-pedal-tips.htm.
Although many guitarists own a delay pedal, most tend to “set it and forget it”. While the delay pedal can be used as a subtle tone enhancer, with some experimentation it can almost be used as a whole other instrument. This video begins to outline some of the more dramatic sounds that can be created with the delay pedal (the Boss DD6 is being used, but the same concepts apply to all delay pedals).
The last video eluded to an upgraded version of the delay pedal called the DD-7. Here is a review of the pedal for those of you interested in following up on the pedal at http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/reviews/guitar_effects/boss/dd-7_digital_delay/index.html.
DD-7 Digital Delay Review
This pedal seems to be an upgrade of the Boss DD-6, which has been extensively reviewed on this site. It shares a lot of similarities (number and function of the knobs) with this previous model, and adds longer delays and a couple of new features.
Price paid: $ 159
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Ease of Use: This pedal seems to be an upgrade of the Boss DD-6, which has been extensively reviewed on this site. It shares a lot of similarities (number and function of the knobs) with this previous model, and adds longer delays and a couple of new features.
For instance, you can now go up to 6.4sec delay (mode 3200ms long), and record up to 40sec in Hold mode to do overdubs or solo rhythms. The Reverse and Warp modes are remnants of the aforementioned DD-6 pedal. New modes include Modulate, which is similar to a chorus effect, and Analog which emulates discontinued DM-2 (analog delay) pedal. One last thing the DD-6 didn’t have and that is included here: the tap tempo can be set using an external foot Switch.
The first 3 knobs (Level, F’Back, and D’Time) are standard on pretty much any delay pedal, so it was very intuitive at first to use it straight out of the box. Reading the manual was really helpful to figure out what the ‘Mode’ knob does, especially regarding the new or unusual features. It even comes with a few recommended settings to get particular sounds. Overall, after reading the manual, you can get a good idea of what this pedal is capable of after a couple hours of playing around.
I haven’t tweaked the electronics in any way, I guess the store technicians either, so it has all the stock specs. // 9
Sound: I play a Gibson LP Classic and a Schecter Damien through a Boss OS-2 (Overdrive/Distortion) and Line 6 Spider II 30W amp. I don’t get any noise when using this pedal. The intensity of the effects can be readily tuned with the first 3 knobs, so the quality of the sound is easily adjusted.
My favorite feature is the Hold mode, which provides the ability of recording pretty long riffs, and playing them in loop. I tried recording a clean riff, then kicked in some distortion and soloed over it. It sounds pretty nice. The Reverse mode is really cool too; it creates crazy moods like from late 60′s / early 70′s psychedelic rock.
I just wish there were a tap tempo mode that would not require a separate foot Switch (e.g. Boss FS-5U) and/or expression pedal (e.g. Boss EV-5). // 9
Reliability & Durability: It’s the usual Boss pedal design: reliable electronic enclosed in a sturdy metal casing. You can drop it, kick it,… (within reasonable limits, of course), and it’s not going to suffer.
The only concern is the battery life. Make sure you unplug the input cable, or you’ll run out of power within a couple of hours. Otherwise, if you play Live a lot, use the power adapter. // 9
Impression: I have been playing for about 5 years, anything from classic rock (Aerosmith, Black Sabbath) to modern-day metal (Mastodon, Lamb Of God). The pedal comes with so many modes, that after playing with the knobs a few seconds, you can get any delay. Again, my favorite feature is a the Hold mode
Before buying it, I asked a guitar tech to show me the new features, then I played a bit with it. I didn’t really compare it to delay pedals from other manufacturers. I simply went for the Boss brand name, because it is so popular and gets great reviews. If it were stolen or lost, I would definitely by another one. The many built-in features and overall quality justify the price. I guess the only thing it needs is the tap tempo mode, but a simple foot Switch can take care of that. // 9
DMB is an industry leader in the effects pedal and guitar categories. I found a behind-the-scenes look into a line of DMB effects pedals here at http://www.guitarworld.com/trampled-underfoot-hand-built-dmb-pedals.
I have an insatiable soft spot for handmade pedals that offer a point of difference as well as killer sound. That combination is incredibly hard to resist, especially when it’s topped off by cosmetics that include glitter, a happy vibe and customer service that completes the package.
One such company offering all of the above and then some is DMB Pedals of Oklahoma.
Soon to relocate to Nashville in 2012, DMB Pedals began in Oklahoma in the summer of 2007. They are a two-man operation consisting of Michael Blakemore and Dan Minton.
From Mike Blakemore: “DMB Pedals are hand built, glittered and pieced together from scratch at the shop. DMB Pedals was formed around the need for practical, inspiring pedals for the touring and hobbyist musician.
“In a market full of clones and copies, there is a definite need to fill a creative void full of tones and textures that are not already mass-produced a hundred times over in fancy painted enclosures. We want our pedals to inspire creative minds to continue making great music, tones and sounds that touch people where they need it most, the soul.”
And inspire they most certainly do.
I have been fortunate enough to try many of their pedals (videos below) including the Lunar Echo, which is a super-awesome analog delay that features a “Take-Off” footswitch, which, when engaged, will send your signal into self-oscillated but controllable chaos.
The Lunar Echo also has a “Wrecked” switch that introduces some rather freaky and very believable tape “warble” (modulation) to your delay tails. You have to hear it to believe it; hopefully my video below will give you a reasonable idea of the fun to be had with this lunar-green box o’ fun. I should add that there is already a fast-growing waiting list for the Lunar Echo; such is its appeal to the more adventurous guitarist.
Then there is the DMB Pedals range of dirt boxes. These cover everything from sick-ass fuzz (Foxy π-rate) through to classic overdrive on steroids (Stellar Drive) and all points in between.
The point of difference with most of these is the “Clean” knob, which “uses Class A Mixer technology to split the original signal and the Stellar Drive signal, giving you the option to combine both signals. The Clean knob function is so much more than your average blend knob, because you have two knobs (Level and Clean) to dial in any mixture you want, not just the boring 50/50 ratio in traditional ‘blend knob’ pedals. The clean knob is absolutely cutting edge.”
Bass players (Yes, there is more coming for you, too!) will benefit from this facility because it allows you to reintroduce any definition and bottom end that may have been sucked up by the distortion – very cool.
Put a little sparkle in you life and have a closer look at the DMB Pedals.
Lunar Echo video:
Now for more delay pedal suggestions to purchase. I found the following three reviews for popular delay pedals available on the market for every guitarist. The first review is found here at http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/reviews/guitar_effects/cmatmods/deeelay/index.html.
Price paid: $ 150.00
Purchased from: www.cmatmods.com
Ease of Use: It’s a simple delay pedal, plug, adjust and play. Three knobs for: delay time (from almost instant slap-back up to roughly 600ms), blend (how much clean signal vs wet signal you want) and repeats (how long you want to hear the sound repeating). Chad always sends a detailed manual with his pedals, though the pedals themselves are terribly user friendly anyway. This pedal follows the KISS method (keep it simple stupid). // 10
Sound: This pedal was designed to mimic older analog delays (I’m not sure if the pedal itself is analog or digital) that are warm and resonant, and it accomplishes those goals with equal success. But despite the warmth it’s still articulate (ie, the repeats don’t get so muddy). It’s not noisy in the least, even with distortion pedals in front of it. Again, wonderfully simple and effective (plus, terribly affordable for a hand built pedal). // 10
Reliability & Durability: This is actually the second Deeelay I’ve owned. I sold the first after I got the cockamaimy idea to get a multi-effects unit. Since I realized that was sort of like cheating lol (I like assembling an efficient pedal board, it’s like a tonal puzzle) I bought another because I loved it so much the first time around. Had it for months, stomped on it, taken it across country (in cars and on planes in suitcases) with no issues seen or in sight. // 10
Impression: I know some people prefer the ‘cleaner’ sound of a digital or modern delay, I like the old-school feel of this pedal. It would do well in any situation I imagine, though since it’s a stand alone box with only one setting to be had at a time, people desiring more than one delay setting may require two of this pedal (or, a different pedal with multiple settings). But it suits me perfectly. // 10
The next review can be found here at http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/reviews/guitar_effects/bbe/two_timer_delay/index.html.
Two Timer Delay Review
The BBE Two Timer guitar pedal was inspired by the long discontinued BOSS DM-2 Delay. The DM-2 was known for its warm, haunting reverb and tape-like echoes.
Price paid: $ 55.00
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Ease of Use: Bought it used from guitar center. Very straight forward. Times for time 1 and time 2, repeat (lnength of the actual repeat that is controlle by the time), and the mix. 1 Switch for on/off, 1 to toggle the two preset delay times. The most logical way to use the pedal is 1 time short, 1 time long. Mine was used, no manual. Uses a standard power adapter, 1 spot friendly. // 10
Sound: Used it in my pedal board. Truely an analog delay based off a Boss DM-2. Very warm very vintage. Sounds like the edge from u2. Basically think the streets have no names. Boss dd3s are nice, but this sounds alive. That sounds cold and dead…robotic.
2 times are great. Its a dual pedal. However, because its true analog, max time is 330 ms. Generally with the right repeat and time, that is enough. Not for everybody though. With the 2 times its like 2 delays in 1. From what I can tell its true bypass. I cannot detect any difference in signal. VERY QUIET. Quietest pedal I own. The only time it gets noisy is when you put the mix all the way up, or you push the repeat so high it oscilats like any analog delay.
Great sound. Really. For 55 I can’t ask for anymore. Great for the gigging guitarist because of the 2 sounds…so very versatile. // 8
Reliability & Durability: 2 metal switches. Hard metal case. Knobs are thick and smooth. can’t see any way this would break short of taking a hammer to it. I have not owned it long, so I cannot attest to long term reliablity yet. Its solid, and BBE is trusted, so I trust this pedal. Everybody loves Boss style switches. Big, silent, reliable. However, metal switches are simple, rugged, and easy to fix is they break. The knobs are metal. Whole thing is thick metal. I can’t even squeeze it.
Battery door is on the bottom with a latch to secure it in. No dismantling the pedal or unscrewing anything. Standard power adapter. // 8
Impression: For what I paid I can’t ask for more. They did a great job. Warm, great sounding analog delay. True bypass, built like a tank. If not used, musicians friend has them new for 80 or so. So it wont break the bank. How many other true analog, true bypass solid built delays are there for 80? Oh and 2 preset times? Oh yeah. None. Great job BBE. // 10
And the last review can be found here at http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/reviews/guitar_effects/ibanez/tonelok_de7_delayecho/index.html.
ToneLok DE7 Delay/Echo Review
The Ibanez ToneLok DE7 Delay/Echo can provide just a touch of delay or echo, or can provide unreal delay with settings for anywhere between 30 milliseconds to 2600 milliseconds. The ToneLok feature lets you save your settings by depressing the knobs level with the surface of the pedal.
Ease of Use: The Ibanez ToneLok DE7 is easy to use and you can dial in what you want fairly quickly. There are 3 knobs – a ‘delay time’, ‘repeat’ and ‘delay level’. There are two switches – the ‘range’ switch and the ‘mode’ switch. There is an optional AC adaptor you can purchase for the ToneLok DE7. There is an “in” and 2 outs – an “out (mono)” and a “dry out”. The 9 volt battery will be drained if you leave guitar cables hooked up to the pedal when not in use.
The delay time knob gives you control over the amount of delay based off of the position of the ‘range’ switch. The repeat knob gives you control of how many times the delay repeats itself. The delay level gives you control of how strongly the delayed signal is mixed in.
The range switch has 3 settings. The first setting is for 30 – 160 milliseconds. The second setting is for 120 – 650 milliseconds. The third setting is for 480 – 2600 milliseconds. The mode Switch has two settings – echo and delay. Personally, I find the delay much more useful than the echo. This pedal was very easy to use. // 8
Sound: Primarily I got the Ibanez ToneLok DE7 for some Pink Floyd and Robin Trower type delay and it was very easy to get with this pedal. I played several different guitars and amps with this pedal. I played an Epiphone G400 Goth, Ibanez RG350EX, G&L; Tribute Series S500, Ibanez Artcore AXD83P, and a Xaviere XV-599. I used a Blackheart Little Giant, Vox Pathfinder, Line 6 Spider III, and an Orange CR6S for amplification. I probably got the best sound with the G&L; Tribute Series S500 going through the Blackheart Little Giant.
There are better pedals if you are a true audiophile – personally, delay pedals are the hardest for me to hear adverse effects to my tone with. This pedal meets my needs and doesn’t damage my tone. The possibility the pedal provides for endlessly repeating long delays and echoes is very interesting for experimenting with and I find myself playing around with making crazy sounds with it every time I plug it in. If you get the echo just right and dampen the strings of your guitar, mess with the EQ just right you can get a good sound like someone running down an alleyway and their footfalls echoing off the walls. // 7
Reliability & Durability: The Ibanez ToneLok DE7 is made out of metal, not plastic. It has a rubber foot on the bottom that seems to do a great job of keeping it from sliding around when in use. The button is basically the whole bottom half of the pedal. The knobs depressing seem to really protect them for getting bumped and messing up your settings.
The battery doesn’t last as long as you might hope. There is a possibility of the battery starting to give out during a long practice or jam session (say if it runs more than a couple of hours). I think if you are running this pedal with the adaptor or powered on a pedal board you would be okay. I absolutely do not trust the battery life on this pedal. // 6
Impression: I play everything from outlaw country to thrash metal and grunge. I primarily play overdriven type electric blues and thrash metal and this pedal seems to work very well for what I use it for. If I could justify spending much more for a delay pedal I would probably get something different – maybe an Electro-Harmonix Memory Man. For what the Ibanez ToneLok DE7 is, it absolutely meets my needs after getting the AC adaptor for it. The ToneLok DE7 is absolutely fun to play with because of all the long delays and never-ending echoes you can set up with it. //
I hope these delay pedal reviews are helpful to you in your search for the best delay pedal. Also, I hope you have a few more ideas on how to use the delay pedal to the best of its abilities.
I appreciate your feedback. Check back at Mike’s Guitar Talk for more guitar information, suggestions and tips.
Have fun and stay tuned!