Best Delay Pedals – 5 Great Choices
A great delay pedal is an essential of any guitar effects board – here are our top 5
We’re big fans of delay here at the Dawsons Music blog. It’s one of those effects that, when used creatively, creates some wonderful sounds. Sounds that can spark their own inspiration and songwriting ammunition in a way few others can match.
Whether used as a simple ‘thickener’ for your tone, or with the more extreme high feedback settings engaged, delay can completely change a sound.
With that in mind, we decided to put together a small list of five great delay pedals to show you some of the great tools out there. Each has its own unique abilities and benefits, and we’d highly recommend any of them.
We’ll start with a well known, much-loved industry standard of the delay world. The Boss DD-3 is, by today’s standards, the old man of the list, having been around for three decades in one form or another. Essentially, it’s a 12-bit analog/digital hybrid, whereby the signal degrades slightly at higher feedback settings. This gives the tone a nice dash of character, although is perhaps not ideal for anyone looking for those surgically-clean repeats you’d find in all-digital signal paths.
The DD-3 is part of a wider family of Boss delays. The Boss DD-7 expands on the DD-3’s capabilities by introducing modulation and stereo connectivity, along with a wider selection of delay times and modes. But for pure simplicity, it’s hard to look beyond the plug and play efficiency of the Boss DD-3. The ‘DD’ stands for digital delay, by the way. Every day’s a school day.
From the Boss’ simplicity to this space-age looking machine. The Strymon Timeline is a high-end, elite delay machine capable of producing delay effects that will require you to pick your jaw up off the floor. Seriously, folks, the Timeline is a class act.
In our experience, good pedals go beyond providing you with a sound you were looking for. Good pedals provide you with sounds you didn’t know you were looking for, but now you can’t function without. That’s what this, and other Strymon pedals are so good at.
12 separate delay modes provide all kinds of sonic mayhem, with seven knobs giving you deep editing and control capability on the fly. The signal processing is top-notch, meaning the signal output once it’s worked its magic is of the highest order. This is the pedal for delay devotees who are looking for the best in the business. Ladies and gents; seek no more.
Electro Harmonix Canyon
Another pedal brand we love here at Dawsons is Electro Harmonix. Aside from the fact they come across as loveable crazy people, their pedals are unique, interesting, and often downright nuts.
The Electro Harmonix Canyon, however, is not crazy. It’s not crazy at all. It combines 10 different delay modes, including a goosebump-inducing shimmer effect, along with a loop function. And who doesn’t love a looper?
MXR Carbon Copy
Another old-timer now. The MXR Carbon Copy has been around the block once or twice, and is still as popular now as it ever was. It’s clean, simple, and easy to use. You plug it in, choose how long you want the delay to be, and how many times you want it repeated, and you’re away.
It does actually have a couple of neat tricks up its sleeve though. A tiny ‘mod’ button on the top left of the unit adds in a touch of modulated echo to give it a cool, vintage sound, while the included ‘mix’ knob gives you further control over how your final signal reaches the amp.
Strymon El Capistan
We’ll end with a left-field choice. It’s another one from Strymon too, so sit tight for some more fawning.
It’s hard not to get excited about the Strymon El Capistan though. While, strictly speaking, this is an echo pedal rather than a delay, it does have a proto-delay function buried within its settings. Where this pedal excels, however, is in the amazing effect it produces by mimicking the sound of an old tape machine which is degrading and losing its cleanliness.
This might not sound like that exciting of a feature, but trust us, it works superbly in the flesh. Essentially, you have control over how each repeated sound warbles (think of an old VHS videotape which has worn down, and how the audio jumps in and out of phase) and also over how subsequent repeats decay over time.
While each of the pedals listed here works with instruments other than guitar, the Strymon, in particular, has the added bonus of being almost tailor-made to give 80s sounding synths a nudge into the ethereal. For that alone, it’s worth the admission fee.
View our complete range of delay pedals here.