Delay pedals offer a unique guitar playing experience, no matter what genre of music you’re into.
Whether you use them discreetly or go full on, it’s a very fun effect to play around with.
However, if you don’t really know how they work and how to properly use them, choosing one can be a pretty difficult task.
From unique features to different types of delay and everything in between, we will go over the most important specs and factors you should be familiar with when talking about delay and echo pedals.
Different Types of Delay Pedals – What Exactly Are You Looking For?
First of all, let’s talk about what exactly a delay pedal does.
A delay pedal takes the signal coming from your guitar, and replicates it a certain number of times, and adds it to the end signal.
You can basically think of it like an echo, but with more refined parameters you can tinker around with.
That being said, it’s important to note that there are a couple of different types, or presets, of the delay effect that are the most popular.
Some of those are digital, analog, tape, tube, and slapback.
The main difference between analog and digital delay may not be that obvious to beginner guitarists, as it’s mainly a matter of details.
Tape delay is a vintage effect that actually includes sounds of a tape and its mechanism apart from the actual tones from your guitar.
Slapback is mostly used by country and rockabilly bands and mimics the delay between two tape heads on olds tape recorders.
Because it’s kind of difficult to really describe and differentiate these types of delay, it’s best to look them up on Youtube and get a better idea of how they sound.
Fortunately, there are many pedals out there that offer more than one type of this effect, usually with a dedicated knob for selecting from a variety of different kinds.
Parameter Controls – Fine Tune the Effect
Now that you have at least a rough image of what a delay pedal is capable of, you need to be able to tune and shape your sound.
Different manufacturers and brands label the parameters in different ways, but generally speaking, there are 3 main parameters you play around with when talking about delay pedals.
Effect level is used to set the amount of the altered signal that’s present in the mix. You’re balancing the amount of the dry and wet signal, with the dry being the tone of your guitar and the wet the actual delay effect applied.
Delay time (Level) sets the time that passes from the moment you play a note to it being repeated by the pedal. This allows you to either have the repeated note very close to the original, or seconds after it.
Feedback tells the pedal how long the repeated note will last.
With these controls, you can, once again, either apply a very subtle effect to your playing, or a very melancholic, ambient, space-like vibe!
Features Unique to This Kind of Effect
While most beginner guitarists will find the previously mentioned controls to be more than enough, there are still some features to look for, that can, on certain occasions, come in very handy.
Preset feature pretty much allows you to save different presets and load them by simply pressing a button.
This is very convenient if you plan on utilizing this effect on stage, or generally, alongside a band.
Tap tempo gives you the ability to provide the pedal with the exact tempo you have in mind.
Some pedals use a footswitch for this feature, while others include a dedicated knob.
Once again, a footswitch is more convenient for on-stage use, while a knob can be more precise in certain situations.
Looper is a feature, or rather an effect, that you can definitely get as a separate device. However, some delay pedals offer a relatively simplified and limited version of the looping effect, because it can really go well alongside delay.
As you would with any effects pedal, and piece of music equipment in general, think of the specs and features you find to be the most important and choose accordingly!
Now, let’s see what the different models on the market have to offer.