In one of my previous posts, I discussed how to get started with building a pedal board. In this article we will talk about a certain type of pedal that you will most likely want to add to your pedal board arsenal because they are just so awesome to use. What type of pedal am I talking about?
Enter guitar delay pedals — your new best friend.
If you have never dealt with effects pedals before, or have but you’ve never used a delay pedal, then Pedal Pickers is here to help you out.
Don’t Delay Any Longer – Delay Pedals 101
I’m just going to come out and say it, I freaking love delay pedals. They are so cool in my opinion. But for those that are unaware you are probably wondering exactly what a delay pedal does.
What makes delay pedals so cool is that they will record an inputted sound from your guitar and then play it back after some period of time. This period of time can be determined based on your choosing.
For example a delay pedal will have a knob where you can choose how long you want the delay to last (generally in increments of seconds). Some will also let you “tap” the tempo with your foot which can also determine how much of a delay there will be.
In essence this means that you can have a recorded sound repeated multiple times, or have it replayed back into the recording. This will give it that wonderful “delay” sound that we are looking for.
One of my favorite things about delay pedals is that they can give you a really psychedelic and spacey sound; think atmospheric. It is difficult to describe exactly the sound I am thinking of with words, but the end results of applying delay at the right time can be magical.
Choices Choices Choices…
Of course with any discussion about effects pedals we are going to have two camps that we need to be concerned with. These will be analog delay pedals and digital delay pedals. So which one is right for you? Well it can get a little complicated.
First off, there will be pros and cons to both. But what’s the difference between the two? Analog pedals have what is called a BBD chip, short for bucket-brigade device. This chip sends analog signals through capacitors that are usually at one step per clock cycle.
You tend to get a darker and more warm delay when you use an analog pedal. The only downside is that BBD chips usually have shorter maximum delay times than their digital counterparts.
Digital delays on the other hand use a different chip; a digital one to create their effects. This is what is called a digital signal processing chip, or DSP for short. These chips have a lot more leeway when it comes to what they can do.
The designers of these chips can make the delay as long or short as they want to, as well as fixing it to their preference and specifications regarding the type of tone the delay will have.
Now some people will say that the “buzz” sound, and the sometimes inaccurate delay you will get from an analog delay sounds better. But with the way pedal technology is today, digital delays can be just as good, if not better than analog ones.
Of course, it all comes down to personal preference.
Applying A DELAY PEDAL to Music
So we’ve gotten the nitty gritty out of the way, and if you’ve never used a delay pedal before, you’re probably wondering what kind of music to use it with, or when to use it.
First of all it is important to mention that with guitar effects of any kind, there are no rules. If it sounds good to you, then that is all that matters. Now while there are no rules, delay can sound better playing some styles of music more than others.
There is also an important setting to mention as well, which is your mix control. When a mix control is low, your echo will be low. When the mix control is high, your echo will be louder. So take this into consideration when deciding your tone.
For example, in modern electric country music, the echo of the delay is quite loud which is how many country guitarists emphasize the “Chickin Pickin” sound of that genre.
Personally I like to use a loud echo when I play reggae with my buddies. I find that the loud echo really rings out with the short strums of the chords and lets the sound linger for the desired effect.
There is also the point that you will want to mix your delay with other effects pedals. A higher mix control will work better with clean tones, while a lower mix will work better with overdrive and distorted tones.
But like I said it all comes down to what you like. If it sounds good to you, then it doesn’t matter what you are playing. Always play for you first, and for others later.
Not Quite My Tempo!
Aside from the Whiplash! reference, it is paramount when using a delay pedal that you use the right tempo for your delay. Like mentioned above, most delay pedals will come with the option to “tap” or “stomp” the pedal to match the song.
You want to make sure that the delay tempo matches the song tempo in some way. Now if you are playing a song in 4/4 for example, you can have the delay come in on every 2nd and 4th beat, or every 1st and 3rd beat. You could also tap it in 8th notes to give it a different tone, or even double time the delay. It’s all up to you.
If you want to try something really interesting, think about your tempo in dotted notes (for you sheet music people out there), and more specifically dotted 8th notes. Using a dotted 8th note tempo will put the delay at seventy-five percent of the original songs’ tempo.
This will make your delay sound full and heavier than before and will really add a nice touch to any song.
The Most Important Aspect of any Delay Pedal
So you’ve learned the basics of your delay pedal, and you know what tempo you want to play at… so what now? The answer to your question is to EXPERIMENT!
Yes, don’t be afraid to mess around! This is the best thing you can do. Mess around with your delay pedal settings, fidget with the tempo, try one thing and then discard the other.
Like Bruce Lee once said: “Be one with your delay pedal”.
OK, Bruce Lee didn’t say that, but I think you get my point. Don’t be afraid to get to know your delay pedal on a deeper level. Press its buttons, turn its knobs, find out what makes it tick and how it can make your sound better than it was before.
Take it out to dinner, tell it your deepest secrets… OK, this is getting weird, but learn everything you can about your delay pedal and it will only help you as a guitar player. Don’t be afraid to let loose! Keep on pickin’.
If you like what you read here, or have any questions, comments, or concerns? What are your experiences with delay pedals? Tempos and mix control settings work for you? Leave a comment down below! We would love to hear from you!