The delay pedal is the secret weapon of a great many guitarists. Delay can surely elevate your guitar parts to a whole new level, whether it’s to give solos more motion or riffs a much-needed feeling of dimension. Delay has undoubtedly changed significantly over the years. The characteristic early tape echoes of the 1950s and 1960s, analogue delay from the 1970s, and even recent digital devices are all represented in this list of the best delay pedals.
Delay may be used to create a broad variety of tone embellishments, from subtle slapback echo to otherworldly oceans of ambient intrigue. For this reason, we thought we’d go through some of our favourites and the qualities that make them the greatest delay pedals of their sort.
One of the most exciting pedal purchases a guitarist can make is purchasing one of the greatest delay pedals for their setup. You see, a delay pedal is the most thrilling, expressive, and dramatic instrument there is. Your guitar playing will sound more deeper and more authentic if you add a small amount of echo to your tone. You can use a looper to successfully repeat a sentence at one volume. These are just a few of the practically limitless possibilities for how you might enhance your playing using one of the greatest delay pedals.
To put it another way, without delay effects, musicians like The Edge, Tom Morello, Matt Bellamy, and Johnny Greenwood would not have been able to produce the music they created. Tape loops were utilised for the earliest echo effects before bucket-brigade analogue delay pedals took control due to analog delay pedals higher dependability and lower price. Both in sound tap tempo and functionality, contemporary digital delays considerably surpass their predecessors of delay sounds.
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Boss DM-2W Delay Waza Craft Guitar Effects Pedal
- Special edition Waza Craft pedal delivers the ultimate BOSS tone experienceTrue reproduction of the vintage DM-2 Delay soundPremium all-analog circuit...
- True reproduction of the vintage dm-2 delay sound
- Premium all-analog circuit with BBD (bucket Brigade) delay line
The Boss DM-2W is a re-creation of a well-known delay pedal that became commercially viable thanks to the improved availability of a certain chip. On top of the original Boss DM-2 platform, the expression input and custom / standard selection switch add further options. The expression input allows you to connect an expression pedal and alter the timing of the effect while playing, allowing you to adjust the delay time while playing.
The DM-2 was the gold standard for bucket-brigade delay (BBD) until it was discontinued in 1984, and this upgraded Waza Craft rendition faithfully recreates the vintage tone. There’s a straight out, as well as the option to convert from’standard’ mode, which is the stock reissue, to ‘custom’ mode, which increases the delay times to 800ms. Another helpful addition to digital delay pedals is the ability to change the rate using an expression input, so if you’re looking for an old-school digital delay reissue that can do everything from simple slapbacks to OTT auto-oscillations, this could be it.
For those with darker (more bass and mids) voiced gear, the Custom / Standard switch is handy. The pedal works in normal mode like its predecessor, with a dark voice and a delay period of up to 300 milliseconds. The unit’s repeats have a louder (but still clearly analogue) tone in custom mode, and the maximum delay time is increased to 800 milliseconds.
Boss DM-2W Delay Waza Craft Guitar Effects Pedal is one of the Best Delay Pedal in 2023.
MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay Guitar Effects Pedal (M169)
- Rich, all-analog delay
- Up to 600 milliseconds of delay time
- Modulation controls emulate tape echo tones
MXR is a brand that sits between between mass-market and boutique. The MXR M169 has the organic and meaty tone of well-known analogue delays without the fragility. MXR Engineer Bob Cedro and Way Huge Pedals’ creator, Jeorge Tripps, collaborated on the design.
While not as fast as digital delays, the delay times can produce everything from country slapbacks to Gilmour-esque aural landscapes. Surprisingly, the MXR M169 also has a modulation effect that can be used to improve the unit’s repeats. Two inner trim pots can be used to alter the modulation effect. The effect is slight, but it helps to give your tone a deeper dimension.
The tone of the Carbon Copy is midway between antique analogue delays and more recent digital settings, despite the fact that it is an analogue delay. This improves the clarity of the unit, preventing the modulation setting from washing out your tone. The unit, however, lacks the gloomy tone that many antique delays have.
TC Electronics Flashback 2 Delay Effects Pedal
- Flashback 2 delay effects pedal.
- The tc electronic flashback 2 delay packs the company's entire delay legacy into a single compact and affordable stomp box that's designed for now –...
- TC Electronic groundbreaking MASH technology adds an expression pedal to a world-class delay stompbox that responds to your touch and saves precious...
The TC Flashback has been one of the most popular delays of the last decade, which is why there are so many distinct models to choose from, from the Mini to the Triple and the X4. This updated version of the original small pedal features the same user-friendly design as the original, as well as some incredibly lush-sounding delays.
The TC Flashback 2 is a remarkable piece of equipment for the money, with a great choice of presets that cover all the basics – analogue delay, tape echo, a pristine digital mode, and some more sound effect-type delays.
In addition to the standard features, it includes user presets that can be assigned using TC’s Toneprint software, as well as a hardware expression pedal. However, in fact, the expression, or mash functionality, can be a little tough to employ.
It’s also USB-upgradable and allows users to send TonePrints from their phones, which is exactly the kind of forward-thinking that has helped the Danish company become one of the industry’s giants. The sounds are robust, with a wide range of user-adjustable choices, and the delays themselves never go brittle, maintaining a warm, organic tone no matter what patch you’re using.
Strymon TimeLine Multidimensional Delay Pedal
- - Hand crafted, studio-class delay algorithms deliver meticulous, detailed and nuanced delay experiences
- - True Bypass (electromechanical relay switching)
- - Selectable Trails mode with high quality, transparent Analog Buffered Bypass, saveable per preset
The analog delay pedal has nearly unlimited capabilities and outstanding tone shaping possibilities, the Strymon Timeline Delay Pedal has quickly become an industry standard delay pedal. The Strymon Timeline packs 12 delay models into one professional-grade stompbox and allows for deep editing of delays via the 7 front panel controls, which include the ability to change parameters like Fast Rotor Speed, Preamp Drive, Mic Distance, Horn Level, and much more.
Don’t be afraid of this tape echos; it’s really simple to operate and comes with a variety of pre-programmed delay effects, including bucket brigade delays, swells, reverse, pattern, and more. You’ll find it to be one of, if not THE most controllable and editable delay pedals available today. This is a wonderful option if you want a full studio’s worth of delay effects and the ability to handle them like an engineer.
Strymon is known for making some of the best delay pedals on the market, and the Timeline is undoubtedly the best of their American-made lineup. The Timeline’s killer feature is that you’re not just getting a pedal that performs a few things well – it does a great job with classic delay types while also offering a variety of less traditional delays that give delays a whole new sonic pallet.
This is Strymon’s top-of-the-line digital delay unit. Digital, dual delay, pattern (selectable repeat patterns), reverse, ice (plays sections of the input signal at certain harmonic intervals, like an octave or a fifth), duck (a reactive delay that changes based on your dynamics), swell, trem (delay with tremolo), filter (filters either input or repeats, like an auto-wah), lo-fi (sounds like a jukebox), filter (filters either input or repeat (recreation of analogue delay).
Electro Harmonix Canyon Delay and Looper
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From the iconic Memory Man on down, Electro Harmonix is known for manufacturing some of the best delay pedals on the market. Electro Harmonix has taken the Deluxe Memory Man and made a more compact but still feature-packed version with their latest model. Not only does the Canyon provide a wide range of echoes, from the familiar to the otherworldly, but it also has a killer looper.
While Boss revolutionised digital delay, EHX pioneered analogue devices a decade earlier, most notably the Deluxe Memory Man, the world’s first echo/delay unit with no moving parts. It’s been covered by artists including U2, Radiohead, and The Cure over the years.
The Canyon is the company’s first compact multi-mode delay, featuring 11 delay types, including a 62-second looper and the pitch-shifting Octave mode, which is a first in an affordable compact. While it lacks the raw power of the DD-500 or Timeline and lacks stereo outs, it manages to cram a lot into a compact space, which is usually good news for pedal enthusiasts. One of the most versatile delay pedals available.
One of Electro Harmonix’s trump cards has to be the layout’s economy: with only a few knobs, you can access a wide selection of the best delay sounds available at this price point. Just in case you forgot why you were interested in Electro Harmonix digital delay pedals in the first place, they’ve included a DMM setting, which gives you access to the iconic Electro Harmonic Deluxe Memory Man sound.
Overall, the Canyon earns Electro Harmonix a spot on any list of the best digital delay pedals, and it may even let you to free up some space on your board by removing your looper pedal!
BOSS DD-500 Digital Delay Guitar Pedal
- Digital Delay Pedal with 12 Delay Modes
- Selectable Buffered or True-bypass
- Customizable Control Settings
The Boss DD500 Digital Delay Twin Pedal is an excellent choice for guitarists and bassists looking for a variety of delay effects. Within this multi-effects device, you’ll find 12 various types of adaptable delay settings. Analog delays, tape delays, pattern delays, and even reverse delays are all available. Standard, Analog, Tape, Vintage Digital, Dual, Pattern, reverse, SFX, Shimmer, Filter, Slow Attack, and Tera Echo are all included, putting a complete studio’s worth of delay at your fingertips.
Let’s not mince words: delaying is unquestionably Boss territory. The DD-2, the world’s first mass-produced digital delay pedal, was released by the Japanese business in 1983, and the series is still going strong today. And now, after facing intense competition in the high-end market from companies like Strymon and Eventide, they’ve really stepped up their game.
Meet the DD-500, which has a massive 297 patches to preserve your carefully constructed tones, as well as the ability to run two at the same time. There’s also a 120-second looper, as well as the ability to freeze notes or modify delay rates into musical infinity. It’s one of the most powerful delay machines ever created, but it’s still less expensive than most other high-end units. All in all, a perfect score.
The assignable settings are one of the coolest features of this pedal, and one of the reasons we think it’s one of the best delay pedals ever built. You can adjust every component of your delay. You can fade in the delay, make dotted 8th notes, and other things. Create your own sounds by storing your patches and scrolling through them using the switches. We strongly advise you to try out the DD500. This is one of the nicest delay pedals you could expect to play if you want the unpredictability and warmth of old tape delay but also want comprehensive control over analogue delays.
Strymon El Capistan dTape Echo Delay Pedal
- Five tape adjustment and tone shaping knobs: Time, Mix, Tape Age, Repeats, Wow & Flutter.
- Ultra low noise, high performance 24-bit 96kHz A/D and D/A converters.
- 115dB typical signal to noise.
The Strymon El Capistan is a digital version of the traditional tape delay and echo sounds. It’s not possible to replicate every stage of a signal as it passes through an analogue piece of gear like a tape echo. To handle every element in recreating an excellent tape unit, the El Capistan uses powerful CPU processors.
On current delay pedals, controls for Tape Age, Wow and Flutter, Tape head, and Mode are in addition to the normal Time, Mix, and Repeats parameters. As a second footswitch, there’s a Tap tempo option, which isn’t available on vintage tape players.
Despite being an analogue delay pedal, the dTape Echo incorporates patented Sharc DSP Technology, allowing you complete control over the Tape Echo’s every aspect. Within that rich and warm analogue sound, this comprises machine health, tone ageing, delay duration, tape age, and more.
As a result, you’ll be able to make a tape delay effect that’s studio-quality or studio-apartment-quality. While tape delays may be a niche sound, fans will agree that it doesn’t get any better than this.
Universal Audio Starlight Delay Pedal, (GPM-STAR)
- Create with stunning emulations of iconic tape echo hardware, with selectable New, Used, and Worn tape machines
- Quickly access sounds with Live/Preset modes, and play with silent switching, spillover, optional preamp coloration, tap tempo, and true or...
- Craft legendary bucket-brigade analog delay effects with the color, texture, modulation, and haze of the original hardware
Universal Audio is one of the most interesting newcomers to the pedal industry, having established a solid reputation in the studio. They’re most known for their Apollo audio interfaces and plugins, so surely they’ll keep winning? Yes, it is correct. The Starlight Echo Station joins an already crowded pricing range, but channeling the spirit of the Echoplex and Memory Man Deluxe makes this a wonderful alternative for people seeking somewhat more vintage, analog tones than other high-end delay pedals.
There’s not much this delay pedal can’t do, with customizable preamp tone coloration, apparently limitless mode possibilities to choose between, modulation aplenty, and the gain-inducing ‘Color’ knob. People may be frustrated by the lack of MIDI and the dependency on apps, but we believe the tonal quality more than compensates.
Buying Guide for Best Delay Pedal
A delay pedal can be a powerful tool in a guitarist’s arsenal, enabling the creation of rich, layered soundscapes. Here’s a comprehensive guide to assist in your buying decision, particularly if you’re looking for the best delay pedals under $1000.
Understand the Different Types of Delays
It’s crucial to comprehend the different types of delay pedals available:
Analog Delay Pedals: Utilize analog circuits to create warm and musical echo effects. They tend to color the tone and have a more natural decay, but offer shorter delay times.
Digital Delay Pedals: Use digital processing to create clear and precise repeats. They offer longer delay times and can replicate the input signal exactly, or be programmed to emulate the sound of analog or tape delays.
Tape Delay Pedals: Emulate the vintage echo effect of old tape echo machines. These pedals provide a warm and richly detailed sound but are often more expensive and require more maintenance.
Understanding these types will help you make an informed choice based on the kind of sound you’re after.
Check the Delay Time and Sound Quality
Different delay pedals offer different maximum delay times, from very short slap-back echoes to long, looping delays. Consider what kind of music you want to play and choose a pedal that offers suitable delay times.
Also, listen carefully to the sound quality of the delay pedal. While it can be subjective, go for a pedal that sounds good to your ears and fits the style of music you play.
Examine the Pedal’s Features
Look at the features offered by the delay pedal. Basic controls usually include time (for setting delay time), feedback (for controlling the number of repeats), and mix (for adjusting the balance between the dry and delayed signal).
However, many modern delay pedals offer additional features like tap tempo (for syncing delay time with the music), modulation settings, preset storage, and more. Consider what features are crucial for your playing style.
Ensure Easy Usability
A delay pedal should be easy to use, with an intuitive interface that allows you to quickly dial in your desired settings. If the pedal has advanced features, it should provide an easy way to access and control them.
Consider the Pedal’s Build Quality
The build quality is an essential factor, especially if you’ll be using the pedal frequently. The pedal should be rugged and durable, capable of withstanding regular use.
Frequently Asked Questions About Delay Pedals
What does a delay pedal do?
A delay pedal records your guitar’s signal and then plays it back after a set period, creating an echo effect. You can adjust the time between the original signal and the delayed signal, as well as the number of repeats.
What’s the difference between a delay pedal and a reverb pedal?
While both delay and reverb pedals can create echo effects, they do so in different ways. A delay pedal produces distinct repeats of the original signal, while a reverb pedal creates a large number of rapidly occurring echoes to simulate the sound of a room or space.
What is tap tempo on a delay pedal?
Tap tempo is a feature on some delay pedals that allows you to set the delay time by tapping a button or footswitch in time with the music. This is particularly useful for syncing the delay effect with the tempo of a song.
What is the use of presets on a delay pedal?
Presets on a delay pedal allow you to save and recall specific settings. This is especially useful if you use different delay effects for different songs or parts of a song, as it saves you from manually adjusting the settings each time.
How important is the build quality of a delay pedal?
The build quality of a delay pedal is important, especially if you plan to use it regularly or take it on the road. A well-built pedal will be more durable and last longer. It’s always a good idea to choose a pedal with a sturdy, road-ready construction to withstand regular use.