Delay pedals are among the most popu- lar effects around, and the reason is
simple: A delay pedal not only gives your
sound a professional sheen and adds a
three-dimensional quality—even when set
for a discreet, atmospheric effect—but it
can also produce a wide variety of not-so-subtle sounds and textures, ranging from
ear-twisting rhythmic repeats (à la Eddie
Van Halen’s “Cathedral”) to faux twin-guitar harmonies and live looping.
This how-to guide will cover the aforementioned effects, as well as fundamentals
like the function of typical delay controls,
and where to place your unit in an effects
chain. Although there are countless delays
on the market—many of which have mind-boggling features—we’re going to use a
basic delay pedal setup similar to what
you’ll find on a Boss DD- 7 as our reference
point. We’ve also provided some sample settings so you can get the most out of your
delay pedal right away.
Though there’s a plethora of delay pedals
on the market, the control scheme on a Boss
DD- 7 is very common.
Delay Pedal Controls
Three controls are common to virtually all
delay units: Time, Feedback (sometimes
labeled “Repeat” or “Regeneration”), and
Level (or “Mix”).
Time controls the length of time
between any two repetitions of your signal. It is most often measured in milliseconds (ms). Most delay pedals don’t have
a delay-time readout that would enable
you to determine exact delay times in milliseconds, so you typically just adjust the
Time knob to get an approximate time
based on the unit’s available range. For
instance, the Boss DD- 7 (street $179) has
a Mode knob that selects between four
time ranges—up to 50 ms, 51–200 ms,
201–800 ms, and 801–3200 ms—and the
Time knob then adjusts the setting within
the selected range.
Feedback determines the amount
of repetitions. At its minimum setting,
Feedback outputs a single repetition of the