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Delay is one of the most commonly used guitar effects.

This effect can add a little something extra to a your guitar tone.

Most delay pedals will give you control over a few basic settings like repeats, delay time, and feedback, which allows you to find a unique setting for your playing style.

To help you pick the best delay pedal for you, we asked a few guitarists the following questions:

  • What's the best delay pedal?
  • What makes it awesome?

Before we jump into the responses we got from guitarists, let's go over a few things you should know about delay pedals to help you make a more informed decision.

What is a delay pedal, and what does it do?

Along with overdrive and distortion pedals, delay pedals are one of the most commonly used effects pedals, and should definitely be up for consideration for your pedal board after you get a tuner pedal.

So, what is it that delay pedals do that make them so special? Why are they so popular?

Delay pedals are designed to simply play back the note you've played multiple times until the volume of that note reaches zero (which depends on how long you want the note to delay for). Slight amounts of delay are often added to guitar solos and clean guitar parts to give them a bigger sound. Add some reverb to your delay effect, and you can get a huge echo sound as if you're in a giant empty room.

Delay pedals seems to be almost universally used on guitar solos, as they fill up the empty space often found in lead guitar tones. While guitarists may not always use delay on solos during live performances, it's most likely used on the recordings of those songs - even if only subtly.

Some guitarists prefer to use more extreme forms of delay. For example, if you're picking out a note on a clean channel, delay can add some much needed depth to the sustain of those notes to keep the music interesting, even if vocals take the lead on these parts.

In more extreme cases, delay pedals can also be used to create cool harmony effects. If the delay is more emphasized in your tone, you can play a note, and while the delay is repeating that note, play the harmonies of that note. Adding subtle harmonies in this way can really make the lead parts of your song stand out.

For more on how delay pedals work, and how they can change how you play, check out this video:

This video features a Boss DD-7 delay pedal.

What should you look for in a delay pedal?

Quality - Not only do you want to look for a pedal that has the feature set you need, but you want to make sure it's going to last. Make sure you find a pedal that's built with solid materials that can take a pounding. After all, you are going to be stepping on it pretty regularly, especially if you plan on using it for live performances. If a pedal seems like it's inexpensive relative to the others you've looked at, it's probably made of cheaper materials, and should likely be avoided.

Analog vs. Digital Delay - This has to do with how the pedal is put together, and what causes the delay to happen.

Analog delay pedals have a bit more character, but the delay produced is less precise. Instead of using the original to build each repeat of the sound, analog pedals use the previous repeat to build the next repeat. This is what causes some imperfections and colorations of the sound, and some guitarists prefer this. Analog guitar pedals also have a shorter delay time, which some guitarists also prefer. If you're feeding too many other effects into your delay pedal, you may want to avoid analog, as it can produce quite messy results in your delay.

Digital Delay is exactly what it sounds like - the delay sound is produced by a computer chip placed inside the pedal. The chip placed inside the pedal calculates the delay based on the initial note using algorithms that calculate a more perfect delay sound. Digital delay pedals don't add anything to the tone of the guitar - they simply delay what was put into them. The benefits of digital delay pedals is that they allow for longer delay times and more versatility. Digital delay pedals also do a better job at processing other effects that come before hand, such as distortion, or chorus.

The decision to go with analog or delay is really a decision of preference. If you typically use a clean guitar tone, analog might produce more of what you're looking for, but if you have a lot of other effects in your setup or usually go with a more distortion or overdriven tone, digital might produce more favorable results with your current setup.

Versatility - As mentioned above, digital delay pedals are much more versatile than analog delay pedals. If versatility is something you need, you should mainly look at delay pedals. When looking at delay pedals, pay attention to the feature set - how long of a delay do they offer? Can you control the level? Pay attention to these things. Some delay pedals also come with other effects like reverb, looping, and tap tempo along with the delay effect, such as the Line 6 DL4. Keep this in mind if these effects are something you're looking for anyway, as it might save you from having to shop for multiple pedals.

Price - Some of us don't have the budget for a very expensive delay pedal. While you should consider the expense of buying your pedal, keep build quality in mind - make sure you don't spend your money on something that's going to break within a few months of stepping on it. If you need to save up a bit more money to get what you really want instead of settling because of price, it may be worth the wait.


Now that we've covered some delay pedal basics, let's take a look at what delay pedals were recommended to us by guitarists.

Top 10 Delay Pedals - According to Guitarists


KVN MCDermott from Cave of Swords

Website | Bandcamp | Instagram | Facebook


What's the best delay pedal?

Eventide H9 Max Harmonizer Pedal

Get this pedal on Amazon.

What makes it awesome?

This one is a cheater I guess. It has great sounds because duh, Eventide - plus, I trigger beats and visual projections for each song on stage so the ability to send a midi message via bluetooth and Ableton to change pedal algorithms is pretty great. It makes one less thing i have to think about when I'm trying to also play guitar and keys.


Miguel Sequeira

YouTube


What's the best delay pedal?

TC Electronic Flashback 2

Get this pedal on Amazon.

What makes it awesome?

  • MASH technology.
  • MASH reacts to the amount of pressure you put on the switch. The harder you press, the more intense the effect.
  • You can assign MASH to raise the delay time as you press down, subtly increase the delay feedback into full-blown self-oscillation, or gradually add and deepen chorus modulation for out-of-tune flutters.
  • Realistic tone.

Chan Maurice Evans from YOUPEOPL

Facebook | Twitter | YouTube


What's the best delay pedal?

I like the Line 6 DL4 Delay Modeler unit and the Boss RE-20 Space Echo dual Pedal

Line 6 DL4

Get this pedal on Amazon.

Boss RE-20 Space Echo Pedal

Get this pedal on Amazon.

What makes them awesome?

The DL4 has just about any type of delay conceived, from digital echoes to analog simulators. There are lots of great digital delays on the market, but having multiple options, three assignable foot switches and a loop option in one unit, the sky is the limit.

On the analog side, the RE-20 is a scaled down, and more affordable, version of the RE-200 Space Echo from the 60s/70s. It not only has several delay options, but reverb and reverb/delay. It gives off a very warm and unique sound, one that I find unmistakable.


Jacob Hoffman from Drop the Act

Website | Twitter | YouTube | Facebook


What's the best delay pedal?

MXR M169 Carbon Copy Analog Delay

Get this pedal on Amazon.

What makes it awesome?

This pedal is great for getting that crazy delay/experimental sound. I literally played around with this delay pedal for hours and still can’t get enough of it. This pedal can definitely add some new elements to your sound and works well with ambient playing styles. Plus it’s pretty amusing cranking the Regen knob to get crazy sounds and annoy your fellow band mates/neighbors.


Jeremy Aitken

Bandcamp


What's the best delay pedal?

Boss DD-7

Get this pedal on Amazon.

What makes it awesome?

It's a little cliche to go with a boss pedal, but this thing has no bad sounds. Straight out of the box it is super easy to dial in classic dotted eight delays (u2-esque). If that's not your speed then it has a great slap back setting as well that is very usable. Of course being a Boss product, it's built like a tank!


Patrick Wilkins

Instagram | Twitter | YouTube


What's the best delay pedal?

Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man MT1100

Get this pedal on Amazon.

What makes it awesome?

Honestly with delays it’s this weird balance for me, again, the way it feels it most of it IMO, I’ve just always been able to connect quickly and get to where I’m going in my head on one of those.


Chris Saalfeld from Orchid in the Ivy

Facebook


What's the best delay pedal?

Strymon Timeline Delay

Get this pedal on Amazon.

What makes it awesome?

It can literally do any delay sound you will ever want. It’s beyond tweakable, can save tons of presets, work with an expression pedal, and it’s true bypass. Expensive as hell though.


Lexie Kobra


What's the best delay pedal?

Electro-Harmonix Stereo Memory Man

Get this pedal on Amazon.

What makes it awesome?

I'm a whore for anything EHX. It sounds fantastic for digital delay. It's flexible as far as manipulating the delay. It has tap time. It is useful for many endevours, standard to experimental.


David Mathew from City of Takers

Bandcamp


What's the best delay pedal?

Boss DD-3

Get this pedal on Amazon.

What makes it awesome?

Simplicity and quality. It smooths out my sound. I like playing different sounds and I think this pedal helps me create the sound I'm looking for.



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