Dialing in a Delay Pedal
Delay pedals have been playing an intricate part in musician’s pedal arsenals for years, and for many guitarists it is a staple. Simply put, a delay pedal takes what comes to its input, stores it and repeats it. On a standard delay pedal, you can control how long of a delay and how many repeats. Some delay pedals let you add some modulation to it in order to mimic the sound of a vintage tape echo. Delay pedals commonly come in two different flavors.
Analog Delay Pedal
One type is an analog delay. These delays are are warm sounding and tend to have some decay in the note as the repeats happen. Analog delays are often criticized for having a shorter delay time, which can be a problem depending on what you are trying to do. These pedals usually max out at around just 600ms in delay time. The reason for this, is the amount of chips you would need to create a long delay would make the pedal huge. These analog delay pedal chips are called BBD or bucket brigade chips.
Digital Delay Pedal
The other main type of delay pedal is a digital delay. This delay is a more modern take on the analog delay, essentially taking all the flaws from the analog delay and fixing them. That is both the good and the bad. The good being it adds tons and tons of delay time to a tiny pedal. You can have a 5 minute delay on certain digital delay pedals. Another thing it fixes is the decay in tone on the repeats, which means that each repeat is exactly the same, resulting in zero decay. In certain cases, that decay is something some players have grown to love, and feel it adds a bit of character to the effect. The digital delay has been called sterile since what you put in is exactly what you get back.
Can You Repeat That?
You can go analog or digital. Either pedal type will produce a great effect. Find the one that is right for you. Here are some things to think about before adding one to your board. How much room do I have? Do I have room on my power supply and does the pedal need a high mA power option? How long of a delay time do I need and do I want my repeats to decay? Finally, do I want a tap tempo option? One thing that is important to me is a Tap Tempo on the pedal. It is hard or extremely expensive to find an analog delay with a tap function, so I use a digital delay. There are a ton of options today with delays allowing you to easily find one that will fit your needs.