If it’s not an overdrive pedal, the delay pedal has got to be next on the list of pedals for any budding guitar player or for those already immersed, it’s always a welcomed addition. As things progress and curiosity gets the better of us, here enters the search for more unusual, weird and wonderful sounds to be created, something sure to strike one’s imagination, at least once.
With the ability to cram a micro-verse of processing power into a small metal box, the world of digital is pretty mind-blowing and leaves for endless possibilities when it comes to sculpting the signal of your guitar. But it’s not just the digital world that gets to have all the fun, there are some cool analogue delay designs that are equally mind-bending. We love delay and we know you do too so we’re going to be taking a look at 5 delay pedals that have caught our attention and sparked some creative ideas that we hope will resonant with you too, tooo, toooo.
Released a few years back, the all analogue DOD Rubberneck is an interesting little beast with a quirky take on delay. There’s quite a bit packed into this pedal, with various control parameters and connections to keep one forever exploring.
There are the usual controls one would expect to find on a delay pedal such as delay time (up to 1.5 seconds), repeats and level, but the rate, depth, gain and tone controls are where things get interesting. You’re able to achieve nice, subtle warbling vibrato effects right through to more full-on modulation with the rate and depth knobs. The gain control allows you to drive the delays and get some nice gritty tones, whilst the tone knob allows you to further darken the analogue repeats or brighten them up to taste. There’s also a couple of switches which control tap tempo ratios and delay trails on/off and on-no dry functions.
So what’s the Rubbernecking all about then? Well as you might imagine, this pedal has a rather unique feature that, when holding down the ‘Effect On’ footswitch either halves or doubles your delay time, causing the pitch to go up or down effect respectively. This is heaps of fun and you can further tweak things to have the effect come in instantaneously or ramp up/down then back to its original state when the footswitch is released, talk about gooey analogue heaven! Furthermore, the Tempo/Regen footswitch as expected acts as a tap tempo function, but when held down causes the pedal to go into oscillation. When both footswitches are held down some seriously wild effects can be created with ramping pitch and oscillation smashing together for true sonic mayhem! To top things off you can also connect an external 3-button footswitch and there’s even a 1/4″ send/return connection to run external effects into the pedal.
If you’re a fan of analogue delay and are looking for something that pushes those boundaries to their limits, the DOD Rubberneck is worth checking out.
Swinging over to the digital side of the tracks is the newly released DD-3T from stompbox monoliths Boss. It’s fair to say most of us have owned at least one Boss pedal in our lives and most would be familiar with the DD-3 digital delay, which came to fame upon it’s released back in 1986, following its predecessor the DD-2 from 1983. This new incarnation of the classic small footprint stompbox combines familiar, simple operation with some new features and functionality.
The three typical parameters of effect level, feedback and time and located where they should be and the variable mode potentiometer offers three different ranges of delay time, plus a short loop mode for phase looping (the same as the hold function from the original). Probably the biggest addition is the tap tempo function, which was previously reserved for its sibling, the DD-7 (now the DD-8). You can tap tempo via the onboard switch or use an external footswitch. A pretty great feature for this price point. There’s also a direct out, which allows you to separate wet/dry signals and send to separate amplifiers. This can create some really trippy delay effects, definitely a feature worth toying with.
For those who like a simple operation, enjoy the pristine clarity of digital delays with the ability to tap tempo will probably find the new DD-3T quite gratifying indeed.
Originally a rack-mounted delay unit which was released back in 1982 and made famous by the likes of The Edge from U2. Engineers, producers and musicians all relished the particular vibe and character this digital delay offered and the mythical preamp section. Flash forward to 2014 and Korg released the stompbox pedal version of the same unit, all be it with the addition of some modern features whilst still retaining every detail and nuance of the original (including that oh so desired preamp).
Unlike the original, which simply offered the SDD-3000 mode of operation, the stompbox offers 8 different delay types, SDD-3000, Analog, Tape, Modern, Kosmic, Reverse, Pitch and Panning. Sure, not an overwhelming offering of modes by today’s standard but it’s the parameters available and how they interact with these modes is what truly makes this pedal one of a kind.
The dedicated modulation section of the SDD-3000 offers various waveform shapes, intensity and frequency to play with and this is where this pedal steps out from being just a delay pedal and allows you to achieve chorus, flanging, vibrato, doubling effect and more. Lots of fun to play with on the fly for really tripped out effects.
The ability to filter the repeat is also particularly useful. Where other pedals simply offer a singular tone knob, here you’re able to select specific frequencies from low and high to filter out to really hone in on what sonic character you’re chasing. The L/C/R button is particularly fun when running a stereo rig or if utilizing this pedal in the studio, adding width and multi-tap delay.
By no means a delay for the faint-hearted or for those who have limited real estate on their board, but its versatility, stupid amounts of fun and creative crafting far outshine any initial doubts one may have had, you’ll just have to have it.
**The original unit was so popular in the studio that plug-in giants Universal Audio have made a plug-in version available, faithfully recreating the unique sonic footprint of the original, which you can now run in your DAW.
Walrus Audio ARP-87
Walrus Audio has a knack for building high quality, boutique pedals with lots going on under the hood and their ARP-87 delay pedal is no exception. Four delay types are available being Digital, for pristine, clear repeats, Analogue, which has (as one would expect) slightly darker style repeats and bringing a nice depth to chords, Lo-fi, which has a nifty adjustable frequency range and Slap, for your classic slap echo repeats, ideal for the chicken pickin’ players out there.
Typical controls such as level and repeats are found on the top row, as well as dampen which controls the tone of the repeats, for brighter turn clockwise and darker anti-clockwise. The ratio knob is linked to the tap tempo function or acts as the delay time when in slap mode. The X knob is where things get more interesting and have different functions depending on what mode is selected. For digital, analogue and slap modes it modulation depth, and for lo-fi mode, it’s the filter width. The two footswitches also feature secondary functions aside from their named bypass (on/off) and tap (tap tempo) functions, they can also be held down for bypass momentary and tap momentary functions respectively, making this little stompbox that much more powerful. So it’s fair to say this little beast of a pedal can create some really luscious delay tones, with a touch (or a bunch) or modulation to further expand one’s sonic palette.
As with everything Walrus Audio the enclosure is compact, robust, boasts a tap input to be used with an external tap switch and is finished with a beautiful graphic of a lone spacecraft. For its small footprint, versatile tones and reasonable price, the ARP-87 is worth trying out.
A name familiar to any pedalboard nerd, Strymon has made a serious name for themselves with their beautifully designed, powerhouse digital pedals. One of the latest additions to their already impressive line up is Volante, which packs every possible type of magnetic tape-based delay effect from the past 50—60 years into one pedal and yes, it’s awesome! This thing is dosed up to the eyeballs with all the familiar parameters of these old tape-based units, but without the physical restrictions (or headaches) of the machines themselves.
We could write a whole series of articles on this pedal alone so we’ll keep away from the in-depth details. The three modes available are Drum (think Binson Echorec, Floyd fans rejoice), Tape (come on, who doesn’t love a little too much RE-201 space echo) and Studio (just like they did it with multiple tape machines in the studio). Each of these modes offers distinctly different flavours and captures the essence of what made each of these delay types so desirable by musicians, producers and engineers of their day.
It was often the unpredictable nature and quirky sonic character that made these types of delay such an integral creative tool and the Volante captures these features beautifully with being able to adjust parameters such as wear, which emulates the effect of less or more wear on the tape and playback heads, thus affecting the final fidelity. Another great parameter is the mechanics knob, which affects the number of fluctuations from speed and things like tape splices and creases that would occur on physical tape, introducing variations in sound.
Playback and feedback buttons in the middle of the pedal allow for endless tinkering. You can select what playback heads are engaged/disengaged and which of those heads feedback to the recording head, plus panning of each playback head. Truly infinite possibilities.
Having just scratched the surface of what this pedal is capable of, it’s not a scary beast but more something to get deeply creative with; whether it’s the guitar player, engineer or producer at the wheel.
Final Thoughts, oughts, ughts, ghts, hts, ts…..
With more delay pedals out there now that you’d ever be able to hear, we hope this rundown of some of our favs has helped give a little insight into what’s around, who’s keeping it simple and who are pushing the boundaries. There’s a delay out there for everyone, just plug in, play and start repeating yourself.