Top 20 Best Delay Guitar Pedals 2017: Your Ultimate List
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Top 20 Best Delay Guitar Pedals 2017: Your Ultimate List

Unlike the overdrive pedals we discussed before, the history of the delay effect in music doesn’t begin with a blues guitarist pushing his weak amp of the time past its comfort zone. Instead, some of the first examples of delay come from a style of French origin called Musique concrète. Beginning as a response to radio and phonographs, art commentary of the time began to speculate about the artistic effects of recorded music, which soon after became known as radiophonic art. By the late 1940s, Musique concrète was experimenting with altering the playback of recorded audio. This would also serve as the earliest foundation of electronic music.

The most common technique of that era was the tape loop echo delay, which was achieved by physically lengthening or shortening the loop of tape during playback. Audio engineers quickly took notice of the practice and used it as a studio secret to augment the effect they got from plate reverb. Because the music world is ultimately a small one, and audio engineers tend to be complete music geeks who are interested in everything, it wasn’t long before the technique caught on in popular music. Les Paul’s tinkering eventually led to the Ray Butts EchoSonic, which was an amplifier with a built-in tape echo that was popular in both country and rock and roll. Next came the Echoplex and the rest is history.

The simple explanation of delay is that it creates a layered output of repeating sounds to enhance the depth and texture of any recording. It’s usually the effect making an arena-rock solo sound as massive as it does, often having the impression of multiple guitars playing at once. It’s also invaluable in post-rock; try to imagine any Explosions in the Sky song without delay. No matter what style of music, a well-placed delay will add that extra detail that makes for a truly great recording.

To that end, virtually all recordings you hear now feature delay in some form or another. Even if the guitarist in question doesn’t like delay as an effect, chances are good that the song they’re recording on features at least two tracks of their guitar with one of them delayed by microseconds, which creates a doubling effect. This produces a rich, saturated output that shines in professional recordings. Basically, delay is invaluable.

Delay is also an incredible creative tool. Guitarists that spend the time picking out their favorite delay and tweaking the settings to perfectly accentuate their rig are often rewarded with a signature sound. No two guitarists will have exactly the same settings, even given the popularity of a given pedal. And since delay can be timed exactly to the beat of the song, it also enhances the timing of the band as a whole. Some bands, when they play live, run a signal from the guitarist’s pre-set delay pedal right to the in-ear monitor of the drummer in order to keep exactly perfect timing in often confusing settings.

As with all pedals, there are a baffling number of delays to choose from. The high-end units of today give you access to the entire history of delay pedals, including emulating the very first tape loop echoes that gave life to the effect. Some are much simpler and let you easily repeat notes to add just a sparkling of detail to your playing. When choosing a pedal, you’ll want to pay attention to a few choices you’ll have to make. For each of the pedals on our list, we’ve indicated what the pedal has to help you choose.

  • What type of delay?
    If you want to emulate the old school, warm and warble-y stuff, you’ll want to go with one of the analog styles. If you want crystal-clear, exact replicas of your notes, go with digital. You don’t have to choose, though. Lots of pedals have both as you’ll see, and lots of players use one of each, often at the same time.
  • How long is the delay?
    Delays are usually measured in milliseconds, which reflects the amount of time between each repeat. Most people end up using a medium-short repeat, probably in the 300 millisecond range. If you want your repeats to wait forever and a day, choose delays with longer times. Country pickers like shorter slap delays and experimental music tends to use extremely long delays, as a guideline. Of course, there are no rules.
  • Do you need a tap tempo?
    For perfectionists and prog rockers, tap tempo is essential. This is a button on the pedal that allows you to tap out the tempo of the song, so that your delays line up perfectly with each beat. If you’re more into the experimental or textured recordings, you might be able to skip it and rely on your ability to turn the knob. Up until the early 2000s, it wasn’t regarded as absolutely essential, but let your ears decide.
  • Is it true bypass?
    True bypass means that within the pedal enclosure, there is a single, separate cable that runs from the input to the output jack that skips all the internal circuitry. On some delay pedals, you can hear the delay clock even when it’s turned off, while on others, you may simply get some sound degradation. On the other hand, delay pedals without true bypass almost always contain a buffer, which can be supremely handy after a long line of true bypass pedals. The trouble with purely true bypass delays is that once switched off, your decaying repeats will immediately stop. There is a time and place for both approaches.
  • Other considerations:
    If you have a stereo or a wet/dry rig, you’ll want to pay special attention to pedals with stereo ins and outs. Since these tend to be processor-heavy affairs, we’ve made a point to list the power requirements of each pedal for your reference. Finally, to really up your performance game, we’ve noted whether or not an expression pedal can be used.

To build on the first question, here are some descriptions of the different types of delays to help you choose:

  • Digital: This is a little misleading these days since vintage-style delay sounds are often achieved using digital signal processing, but your signal is sampled with an analog-to-digital converter that handles the repeats and blends it back together before converting back to analog at the output. This allows for longer delay times generally, and simple digital delays are typically cheaper than the alternatives.
  • Analog: Though the term applies to various technologies to achieve a delay without A/D/A conversion, typically an analog delay pedal these days refers to one that uses bucket-brigade capacitors along a clock cycle to playback the repeats. Some of the following types also qualify as analog delays.
  • Tape: Early delay units recorded the signal to tape and automatically played it back. These included the EchoSonic, Echoplex, and Space Echo. Very warm and well-loved, with plenty of unpredictable artifacts from the use of physical tape and moving heads. Modern pedals seek to recreate these warbles and odd additions using DSP (for the most part).
  • Magnetic drum/Echorec: Though rarely referred to as such now, modern units are usually seeking to recreate the magnificent Binson Echorec or occasionally the Vox Echomatic. Similar to tape, these feature interesting artifacts and a certain sound quality no other method does, as well as four play heads that make this type distinct. Again, often achieved via DSP in modern effects.
  • Oil can: An alternative to the tape and disc, these units featured a brush made of conductive wires which transferred a charge to a rotating rubber belt sealed with a layer of oil to keep the charge in place. The belt stands in as a series of capacitors, just like a BBD device. These follow in the footsteps of the Morley EDL, Tel-Ray Model 10 and Fender Echo-Reverb.
  • Slapback: Not a delay type in its own right, but this is a delay that creates one (maybe one-and-a-half) repeats, usually at a very short time setting. This creates a double effect that is very useful in many types of music.

A few ground rules before we get into it:

1. By virtue of the fact that the Strymon TimeLine and Eventide TimeFactor both appear on this list, it would be fair to say that every other Strymon delay and the Harmonizer H9 could appear, too. We’ve opted not to repeat these brands over and over. If you like the TimeLine or TimeFactor but prefer the smaller form factor, we encourage you to seek out each company’s variants.

2. Though becoming increasingly popular, we haven’t considered delay-reverb combo pedals for this list. We have a whole post dedicated to these units here.

3. For each of these categories, we’re talking about the type of delay voice or emulation, not how it’s achieved. Lots of delay pedals rely on DSP but they aren’t trying to be digitally-voiced pedals. They’ll be categorized below by their particular voice. You get it, you get it.

4. These are not in order. The numbering is for organizational purposes only, and since the world of delay pedals is nearly as vast as the world of overdrives, it’s pretty far from exhaustive, too. There are no winners nor losers. Everyone’s a winner when they play with delay.

Whatever you need in a delay pedal, we’ve compiled this list of the best delay guitar pedals to help you pick a great one.



Best Analog Delay Pedals

These are the darker, shorter delay units that frequently rely on bucket-brigade capacitors or an emulation thereof to achieve their sound. There are very many excellent analog delays out there, in part because it’s such a well-loved effect. Unless you’re setting out to emulate a fussy vintage unit, analog delay is as authentic as it gets.


1. MXR M169 Carbon Copy Analog Delay

delay pedal, guitar effect pedal, guitar pedals, guitar effects, best delay pedal, best analog delay, best digital delay

(MXR)

Almost as classic as its stablemate the Phase 90, the Carbon Copy has been delighting guitarists for years. This is a very simple and yet endlessly flexible pedal that relies on old fashioned bucket brigade chip technology to achieve its famously dark and captivating tone. Bucket brigade chips work by passing the analogue signal along a line of capacitors at different points in the clock cycle. You don’t really need to know what that means, but the point is that this is nearly as authentic as it gets.

For controls, you get Regen (number of repeats), Mix (effect volume), and Delay (delay time up to 600 milliseconds), as well as a Mod switch, which allows the user to introduce even more tape-like artifacts. Two internal trim pots allow adjustment of the Mod switch so you can exactly dial in the effect you want when the button is pressed.

I played this pedal for years before switching to the baby brother of the next pedal on our list. It’s important to note here that bucket brigade technology lends itself to self-oscillation, which is the effect when a delay pedal feeds back on itself endlessly, leading to a huge spike in volume. It’s extremely cool if you like turning knobs and making noise. If you don’t, spend a little time getting familiar with just how high you can have the Regen and Delay knobs before you’re into trouble territory. If you like a super-long delay, cut back on the Regen. If you like a super-long delay and play a lot of notes, you might want to consider another pedal on this list. This one is really ideal for mid-range times with medium-high Regen so you can bask in the glory of the warbling.

Also, if you find this pedal to simply be too dark, they came out with the Carbon Copy Bright to address that concern. If you want to go all out, try the Carbon Copy Deluxe, which adds tap tempo, subdivisions, and includes a Bright switch.


Specs:

  • Delay time: Up to 600 milliseconds
  • Tap tempo?: No
  • True bypass?: Yes
  • Expression input?: No
  • Stereo outs?: No
  • Power requirements: 26 mA at 9V

Price: $149.99

Buy the MXR M169 Carbon Copy Analog Delay here.



2. EarthQuaker Devices Disaster Transport Sr. Delay

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(Earthquaker Devices)

When I finally relinquished the Carbon Copy I was using to its rightful owner (I’d been borrowing it the whole time), it was due to the fact that my wife bought me an EQD Disaster Transport Jr. That’s a far more simplified pedal than the one chosen for this list, but the circuit is similar. We also didn’t opt for that one because the Jr. is recently discontinued. The beastly Sr., however, lives on.

If analog delay is your thing, this might be all you ever need. According to the website, this can be used in the following ways: straight delay, straight reverb, rhythmic delay, modulated delay and old school tape-style echo. There are settings in here for every type and permutation of analog delay, all pointed directly to the old school experimental effects that began the trend.

This pedal is actually two in one. Delay A is controlled with the upper bank of knobs, which include Time (from 30 milliseconds to 600 milliseconds), Repeats (from a single repeat to self-oscillation), Mix (a gain-based control with unity at 12), Depth (modulation control), Rate (modulation speed), and Bleed (the amount it bleeds into Delay B). Both the Repeats and the Bleed are controllable through an external expression pedal. The EQD website recommends the Moog EP-2, but since that appears to be discontinued, the EP-3 may be an acceptable substitute.

Delay B is controlled with the lower bank of knobs, which include Reverb, Mix, Repeats, and Time (from 30 milliseconds to 300 milliseconds). The best approach seems to be to use Delay A as the one for exploration and discovery, while using Delay B in a more standardized, fixed configuration that generates the same amount of delay every time. Since you can feed them into one another, you have an exceptionally wide range of sounds available. Even better, you can use one or both in either true bypass or tails mode, which gives you even more options in the context of your wider pedalboard. Choose this if you’re a sonic painter who gets bored easily.


Specs:

  • Delay time: 30 milliseconds to 300 milliseconds (Delay B) or 600 milliseconds (Delay A)
  • Tap tempo?: No
  • True bypass?: Yes, with optional buffered trails
  • Expression input?: Yes
  • Stereo outs?: No
  • Power requirements: 100 mA at 9V

Price: $345

Buy the EarthQuaker Devices Disaster Transport Sr. Delay here.



3. Way Huge WHE701 Aqua-Puss Analog Delay

delay pedal, guitar effect pedal, guitar pedals, guitar effects, best delay pedal, best analog delay, best digital delay

(Way Huge)

On the whole, Way Huge effects are aimed at the retro crowd, especially folks working in the genres of rockabilly and surf. The Aqua-Puss keeps up with that fine tradition, offering a somewhat dark vintage-style delay meant for shorter times and adding a certain depth to guitar. It’s a pretty straightforward pedal that shares a little bit with the Carbon Copy above. What’s available for sale now is a reissue, but don’t let that stop you if you like the sound.

Knobs include Delay (time), Feedback (repeats), and Blend (effect volume). Perhaps even simpler than the DD-3 appearing later on this list, this will shine at short, slapback delay times, offering up the wet tape echo of days gone by. Because the maximum delay time is only 300 milliseconds, this wouldn’t be a good choice for people who need a lot of flexibility or long, dreamy trails. If you have that specific surf rock sound in your mind, consider this option.

If you decide you love the sound of the circuit but need that extra flexibility, Way Huge also offers the Supa-Puss, which gives you up to 900 milliseconds of delay and far more control over your output. It even includes a tap tempo and note subdivision to get even more nuanced. The catch is that it retails for about $100 more, however.


Specs:

  • Delay time: 20 milliseconds to 300 milliseconds
  • Tap tempo?: No
  • True bypass?: Yes
  • Expression input?: No
  • Stereo outs?: No
  • Power requirements: 16 mA at 9V

Price: $149.99

Buy the Way Huge WHE701 Aqua-Puss Analog Delay here.



4. Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man 1100-TT

(Electro-Harmonix)

The Memory Man is a monster in the delay world, and much like the Big Muff, there are a number of variants. Tone Report has a lovely tribute to the history and evolution of the lineage for those interested.

The currently available lineup includes the Deluxe Memory Man, Deluxe Memory Man 550-TT, Deluxe Memory Boy, the Memory Boy, and the pedalboard-friendly Memory Toy. There’s also the Stereo Memory Man with Hazarai, but to be clear, that is a digital delay. (And Hazarai just means, loosely, “all that extra junk,” in case you’re wondering.) For the latest and greatest in the evolution of the analog delay pedal known as the Memory Man, you’ll need this one, the Deluxe Memory Man 1100-TT.

This version compiles all the advancements in Memory Man design over the years, with a specific reliance on the NOS bucket brigade chips of old to achieve the long delay time. Control knobs include Blend to change the wet/dry ratio, Gain for the input gain from -13dB to +20dB, Rate for modulation speed, Depth for modulation amount, Feedback to determine the amount of signal fed back into the input, and Delay which sets the time between 52 and 1,100 milliseconds. The Tap Divide button sets the note subdivisions for shorter delays to sync with your playing. Exp. Mode sets what is controlled via the external expression pedal, mapped to one of the six inputs. The other inputs include the signal Input and Output, Send and Return for an effects loop that only colors your delayed tones, and an external tap jack input allows for the use of a momentary footswitch.

The price difference and availability of the 1100-TT in comparison to the 550-TT basically comes down to the difficulty sourcing enough of the NOS chips to build them. If you don’t need all 1,100 seconds of delay time, the 550-TT is over $100 cheaper, usually easier to find, and still employs NOS Panasonic BBD chips. The very first Memory Man only had a maximum delay time of 300ms, and if it was good enough then, it could be good enough now. As you can tell from our list, analog delays usually top out around 600ms, anyway, so you’d still be in good company.


Specs:

  • Delay time: 52 to 1,100 milliseconds
  • Tap tempo?: Yes
  • True bypass?: Yes
  • Expression input?: Yes
  • Stereo outs?: No
  • Power requirements: 200 mA at 9V

Price: $358

Buy the Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man 1100-TT here.



5. Chase Bliss Audio Tonal Recall

(Chase Bliss Audio)

Relative newcomer Chase Bliss Audio is quickly challenging the dominance of Strymon when it comes to ultra-flexible, supremely powerful pedals. Every one of the company’s pedals packs enough function to equate to two or three pedals from lesser makers. There are two keys to their approach: 1. Pairing fully analog circuitry with digital control; 2. A suite of dip switches that moderate each pedal’s function.

On the Tonal Recall, the very first knob concerns itself with those dip switches. If none of the dip switches are engaged, this functions as a normal Tone knob, engaging a low-pass filter that ranges from ever-so-slightly brighter to the darkest of analog delays. When the dip switches are engaged, this knob converts to Ramp and sets the time for whichever functions you have selected via the switches. When an expression pedal is plugged in, it takes over for this knob. The left hand side bank of switches allows you to turn on ramping for Mix, Rate, Time, Regen, and Depth or to engage Trails, Bounce (modulation back and forth), and MotToByp (pedal is only activated when the footswitch is held).

The switches on the right for Mix, Rate, Time, Regen, and Depth determine whether these will rise or fall according to the Ramp knob or expression pedal. The last three switches, Tap Control, Tap Division, and Sweep further determine the function of the ramping.

Otherwise, you get knobs for Mix, Time, and Reneration as normal. There’s a Modulation section with Rate and Depth, as well as a toggle switch for choosing among triangle, sine, and square waveforms for the modulation. The leftmost toggle chooses note subdivisions assuming that the player is tapping in quarter notes. The SLB switch chooses between Short (20 to 275 milliseconds), Long (40 to 550 milliseconds), and Both delay times.

Finally, the switch between the Tap Tempo and Bypass footswitches allows you to recall presets. There are two preset slots, while the middle position reflects the knob position. If all that seems like a lot to take in, rest assured that you could play this for years without ever messing about with dip switches nor presets and still fall in love with it every time.


Specs:

  • Delay time: 20 to 550 milliseconds
  • Tap tempo?: Yes
  • True bypass?: Yes
  • Expression input?: Yes, with optional buffered trails
  • Stereo outs?: No
  • Power requirements: 150 mA at 9V

Price: $399

Buy the Chase Bliss Audio Tonal Recall here.



Best Digital Delay Pedals

These were the original analog-to-digital signal converting delay pedals created to combat the unreliable nature of analog units. Since the DSP-based mega-delays of today excel at digital delay and therefore pretty much have a lock on that market, we’ve narrowed our selection to just one classic, utilitarian choice. For something solely focused on digital that’s a bit more involved, you might look at the Free the Tone Flight Time, but we didn’t think it was necessary to dwell on it.


6. Boss DD-3 Digital Delay

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(Boss)

This Boss delay is a cut-and-dry digital delay, meant to perfectly recreate your notes as many times as you like without any of the interference of analog signals. This isn’t for emulating the history of delay, but rather using it in a thoroughly modern context. Crisp, clean note repetition, neutral and unbiased.

You get knobs for Effect Level, Feedback (number of repeats), Delay Time (really a selector between three banks of time ranges), and Mode, which chooses the length of the delay depending on the Delay Time setting. There’s also a Hold option, which will hold your note as long as you keep the pedal depressed. Once you spend a little time with this pedal, you’ll be able to quickly dial-in the perfect setting so you can call on it for faithful note recreation.

I use the older version of this pedal, the DD-2, which has become a little bit harder to find. This is the update and works much in the same way. I use this with a longer delay time in line after the EQD Disaster Transport Jr. set to a shorter time, so that the analog-voiced signal cascades into this one for a lush effect. Occasionally, if I need perfect articulation, I’ll use only the Boss pedal. Some reviews complain that the DD-3 is a little cold and sterile, but to a certain degree, that’s what you want in a simple digital delay. You should get your interesting tones from other pedals and use this to simply repeat them. You can also get a DD-7, but for most folks, the simplicity of the DD-3 wins out.


Specs:

  • Delay time: 12.5 milliseconds to 800 milliseconds
  • Tap tempo?: No
  • True bypass?: No
  • Expression input?: No
  • Stereo outs?: No
  • Power requirements: 35 mA at 9V

Price: $139 (includes accessory kit)

Buy the Boss DD-3 Digital Delay here.



Best Tape Delay Pedals

In the modern world of pedal choices, an odd thing has happened. While there are very many tape style delays packed into tiny enclosures using digital means to achieve their sound, the further we get from the manufacture of the original tape units, the more brand new releases involving actual tape cartridges appear. We’ve opted to include one of them for this list, acknowledging that most players will find them inconvenient to actually live with. The other one is the Fulltone Custom Shop Tape Echo, if you’re curious to explore that option.


7. T-Rex Replicator

(T-Rex)

If you aren’t immediately staggered by the price (to be fair, the Fulltone version is quite a lot more), the concept of an actual tape delay with modern components could be pretty intriguing. Though large by today’s pedal standards, you could feasibly fit this on your pedalboard thanks to its relatively low profile. The comparatively-massive Echoplex would most likely have sat on top of the amp, but this version is roughly the size of a Strymon and plenty of people have found room for those on their boards.

Controls include a Master Volume that can boost up to 8 dB, Chorus, Delay Level, Feedback, Delay Time, and Saturate, which controls the recording level and can push into tape breakup. An LED positioned beside this knob indicates driving saturation. Footswitches control Bypass, Chorus, Tap Tempo, and Heads. The last of these cycles through three settings: Playback Head 1, Playback Head 2, and Both. There are jacks for two separate expression pedals for controlling the tape speed and feedback. There’s also a Kill Dry switch for when the pedal is activated; otherwise this is true bypass.

If this is too big but you definitely want the tape cartridge, they make a stripped down Replicator Jr. model, too.


Specs:

  • Delay time: 125 to 1,200 milliseconds
  • Tap tempo?: Yes
  • True bypass?: Yes
  • Expression input?: Yes
  • Stereo outs?: No
  • Power requirements: 300 mA at 24V

Price: $899

Buy the T-Rex Replicator here.



8. Catalinbread Belle Epoch Deluxe

(Catalinbread)

Building on the success of their equally-excellent Belle Epoch, Catalinbread have gone back to the drawing board to even more closely replicate all that’s great about the EP-3. This includes the crucial addition of the 22 volt power rail within the part-for-part circuit recreation. Paired with a 24-bit digital delay, you get a fully modern EP-3 with a few bells and whistles thrown in.

The first knob chooses the delay program, or voice. The first is the EP-3, followed by a BBD-style analog delay emulation, Roto-Swirl, sweeping resonant filter, Deluxe Memory Man Chorus, and Deluxe Memory Man Vibrato. Depth controls the modulation, Record Level sets the tape saturation, Echo Volume controls the output, Echo Sustain the feedback, and Echo Delay sets the time from 80 to 800 milliseconds.

You can plug in an expression pedal which is governed by a toggle switch that allows you to choose between D for delay time or V, which changes volume, filter sweep, or rotary speed, depending on the program. Aside from the bypass, the other footswitch is Echo Oscillation to send the pedal into wild repeats. This is set using an internal trim pot for precise levels of mayhem.


Specs:

  • Delay time: 80 to 800 milliseconds
  • Tap tempo?: No
  • True bypass?: Yes, with optional buffered trails
  • Expression input?: Yes
  • Stereo outs?: No
  • Power requirements: 200 mA at 9V

Price: $329.99

Buy the Catalinbread Belle Epoch Deluxe here.



9. Wampler Faux Tape Echo V2

(Wampler)

Originally released in 2008, this update increases the delay time, adds soft switching, and allows for note subdivisions. Unlike some of the other pedals on this list, it isn’t overloaded with additional functionality — just a straightforward tape delay sound.

Controls include Rate and Depth for the modulation, Tone, Repeats, Delay Mix, and Delay time. Note subdivisions include ¼ note, ⅛ note, dotted ⅛ note, and triplets. This can be used in a very subtle way, but if you turn up the delay time sufficiently, the sound degrades and distorts as would a pushed tape unit.


Specs:

  • Delay time: 20 to 800 milliseconds
  • Tap tempo?: Yes
  • True bypass?: Yes
  • Expression input?: No
  • Stereo outs?: No
  • Power requirements: 40 mA at 9V

Price: $237.97

Buy the Wampler Faux Tape Echo V2 here.



Best Echorec Style Delay Pedals

There’s a whole subgenre of pedals dedicated to modernizing the venerable Binson Echorec and similar disc-based analog delays. It’s such a specific — and well-loved — sound that being able to put it on a modern pedalboard could prove invaluable to some. The absolute key to these recreations is the ability to select from the four recording and four playback heads to dial in different delay times and feedback rates as you would have done on the Binson. All of our picks appear in this episode of That Pedal Show.


10. Catalinbread Echorec

(Catalinbread)

Packaged into a conventional MXR/bud box style enclosure, this pedal in some ways led the charge for Echorec recreations. Like the Belle Epoch above, this pedal was designed by Catalinbread’s Howard Gee (along with a little help from his friends, including Jack Pineda of Mr. Black), who always brings a careful ear to his projects.

The Swell knob adjusts the feedback of the delay according to which playback heads are active as set by the Program Select knob. That knob contains the 12 original combinations of playback and recording heads selectable on the original Binson. Otherwise, you get the standard controls for Tone, Delay Time, and Mix. An internal dip switch allows you to choose between true bypass or buffered trails mode. You’ll also have the choice of running it at 9V for standard operation or 18V for higher headroom and better repeats separation.


Specs:

  • Delay time: 40 to 1,000 milliseconds
  • Tap tempo?: No
  • True bypass?: Yes, with optional buffered trails
  • Expression input?: No
  • Stereo outs?: No
  • Power requirements: 70 mA at 9 to 18V

Price: $230

Buy the Catalinbread Echorec here.



11. Gurus Amps Echosex 2

(Gurus Amps)

The earlier versions of the Binson were tube-driven affairs, only later switching to a solid state circuit. While not quite as pedalboard friendly as the Catalinbread above, this Gurus pedal faithfully recreates the tube version, supplying all the expected warmth and character that a glowing bulb provides.

Like the Catalinbread, the Echo knob allows you to select from the 12 different program settings, though the maximum delay time hasn’t been enhanced by modern technology in this example. There are knobs for Bass/Treble to control tone, Volume Echo for effect level, and Length of Swell for feedback. The Age of Damage is a unique control akin to what you’d see on a tape delay, approximating the wear of mechanical parts for flavorful modulation.

Dip switches on the side of the unit allow for true bypass or buffered trails, and also allow adjustment for line level instruments or use of the unit as a tube preamp with no delay.


Specs:

  • Delay time: 60 to 660 milliseconds
  • Tap tempo?: No
  • True bypass?: Yes, with optional buffered trails
  • Expression input?: No
  • Stereo outs?: No
  • Power requirements: 290 mA at 9 to 12V

Price: $409

Buy the Gurus Amps Echosex 2 here.



12. Dawner Prince Electronics Boonar

(Dawner Prince)

Coming to us from just across the Adriatic from the folks building the Echosex, this unit ups the ante on interesting control interfaces. The small form factor preserves pedalboard space, and the specific orientation may help it slot in around your other pedals.

The most apparent difference on this pedal is the four Playback Heads buttons. By using this interface, the Boonar extends the normal 12 programs of an Echorec to 16. These light up when active so you have constant feedback of your program selection. Speaking of visual feedback, the Level Indicator LED at the top of the unit blinks to indicate the input and delay levels. Additionally, the Boonar extends the delay time with the Drum Speed knob, differing from the Binson’s fixed head.

There’s a Volume knob for the obvious purpose, and this works with an Input Control trim pot on the right side of the pedal for level matching or driving the unit. Bass/Treble is the tone knob, Swell is the feedback control, and like the Echosex, there’s a trim pot on the top to dial in the Drum Age. The left footswitch allows you to feed some of the signal from all four playheads into the output for a reverb sound. Internal dip switches allow for true bypass or trails, as well as a selection between the original 47k ohm Binson circuit or a modern 1M circuit for more high end and volume. Another internal trim pot changes the dry level and ships set to unity.

This is a well thought-out device with an interesting control interface that combines everything there is to love about modern Echorec recreations.


Specs:

  • Delay time: 40 to 1,000 milliseconds
  • Tap tempo?: No
  • True bypass?: Yes, with optional buffered trails
  • Expression input?: No
  • Stereo outs?: No
  • Power requirements: 200 mA at 9V

Price: $349.95

Buy the Dawner Prince Boonar here.



Best Oil Can Delay Pedals

Aimed at a relatively small crowd of people who like something interesting and very different, these delays emulate the rotating capacitor drum insulated with oil, hence the name. We’ve highlighted just one here, but Catalinbread also has a fine example in the Adineko.


13. Old Blood Noise Endeavors Black Fountain Delay

delay pedal, guitar effect pedal, guitar pedals, guitar effects, best delay pedal, best analog delay, best digital delay

(Old Blood Noise Endeavors)

If everything we’ve shown you so far hasn’t been quite weird enough, consider this Old Blood Noise Endeavors unit. The whole company seems dedicated to the idea of wildness and weirdness, so naturally the first pedal they produced would be in this vein. If you’re looking for accurate repeats, you’ll want to return to other items on this list. If you’re looking for a distinctive voice with a high degree of control, read on.

This pedal includes controls for Time, Feedback, Mix, and Fluid, which adjusts the amount of wobble in the delay. Basically, Fluid is the thing you want to focus on if making something sound weird is your jam. There’s also a switch for choosing between Modern, Vintage, and Organ circuits. The Modern and Vintage are very similar, but Vintage introduces more noisy artifacts that emulate older units. The Organ circuit is a short delay effect and can also be used as a spring tank reverb. In Organ mode, Time and Feedback become Rate and Depth.

This pedal allows for unique layering since it doesn’t self-oscillate even at max Feedback and 100 percent wet signal. A dip switch on the inside sets whether the expression pedal controls the Time or Fluid parameters. Warm, weird, and delightful.


Specs:

  • Delay time: Up to 211 milliseconds in Organ Mode, up to 800 milliseconds in Modern and Vintage Modes
  • Tap tempo?: No
  • True bypass?: No
  • Expression input?: Yes
  • Stereo outs?: No
  • Power requirements: 60 mA at 9V

Price: $199

Buy the Old Blood Noise Endeavors Black Fountain Delay here.



Best Delay Modeling Pedals

These are the mega-delays that try to pack everything into one unit. If you want one go-to box to take care of everything, look here.


14. Line 6 DL4 Stompbox Delay Modeler

delay pedal, guitar effect pedal, guitar pedals, guitar effects, best delay pedal, best analog delay, best digital delay

(Line 6)

Among delay pedal enthusiasts, this is the original king. Relying heavily on what Line 6 is known for, this unit contains carefully recreated emulations of many well-loved designs throughout pedal history. As the company points out on its website, you’d probably be hesitant to bring out your vintage, one-of-a-kind effects for a tour, and that’s where this battle-tested pedal shines. It debuted in 2000, but has become nearly ubiquitous on stage and kind of kickstarted the need for delays to have tap tempo on-board.

Controls include Model Selector (choose between 16 vintage models), Delay Time (varies by delay), Repeats, Tweak (controls one parameter of the preset), Tweez (controls a different parameter), and Mix. The models available to choose from include: Tube Echo, Tape Echo, Multi-Head, Sweep Echo, Analog Echo, Analog w/Mod, Lo Res Delay, Digital Delay, Digital w/Mod, Rhythmic Delays, Stereo Delays, Ping Pong, Reverse, Dynamic Delay, and Auto-Volume Echo. In addition to all of those, you get a 14-second loop sampler, which expands the utility of this pedal even further.

Unlike many that came before it, this pedal comes with tap tempo so you can set the delay time to match the beat of your track. The other switches allow for using three presets, or, while in loop mode, controlling the recording and playback of the loop. Most players will mess around until they have their presets in place, then rely heavily on those to get through the set. As with the Disaster Transport, you can purchase a separate expression pedal to dynamically control a given parameter while playing to add even more feel. This is a proven choice and is meant to collect a wide variety of well-known sounds and put them in one place.


Specs:

  • Delay time: Up to 2,500 milliseconds depending on setting
  • Tap tempo?: Yes
  • True bypass?: Yes
  • Expression input?: Yes
  • Stereo outs?: Yes
  • Power requirements: 1,200 mA at 9V (hey, it’s getting old, give it a break)

Price: $249

Buy the Line 6 DL4 Stompbox Delay Modeler here.



15. Eventide TimeFactor Twin Delay

delay pedal, guitar effect pedal, guitar pedals, guitar effects, best delay pedal, best analog delay, best digital delay

(Eventide)

I watch my fair share of Premier Guitar Rig Rundowns and I can tell you that this pedal and the one that follows make their appearance on many a well-outfitted pedalboard. Building off of the success of the Line 6 DL4, this Eventide model follows very closely in order to produce one of the most flexible delays ever made.

Nine delay effects combine with a 12-second looper in this powerful, dual delay unit. For knobs, you get Mix (overall effect mix), Dly Mix (from 100% Delay A to 100% Delay B), Dly Time A (time), Dly Time B, Fdbk A (repeats), and Fdbk B. Xnob, Depth, Speed, and Filter all change various parameters depending on which delay model you’re using. There’s also a knob to select the delay type, which by pushing also controls the tempo. As a major improvement on the DL4, the delay time displays on the readout. Eventide calls this delay “futureproof” since it’s upgradeable with the USB port included in it.

Even more incredible is that this pedal can be controlled via MIDI, expression pedal, or external footswitch. You get inputs and outputs for both guitar and line level, depending what you’re using it for. This is an incredibly robust option meant for the obsessively dedicated. In the guitar world today, it’s perhaps only bested by our next pick. You could spend months of your life dialing this thing in and never get bored. Fortunately for you, it comes pre-programmed with 100 presets to get you started quickly. If you need to recreate something you had in the studio, choose this option.


Specs:

  • Delay time: Up to 3,000 milliseconds
  • Tap tempo?: Yes
  • True bypass?: Yes
  • Expression input?: Yes
  • Stereo outs?: Yes
  • Power requirements: 500 mA at 9V

Price: $399

Buy the Eventide TimeFactor Twin Delay here.




16. Strymon TimeLine

delay pedal, guitar effect pedal, guitar pedals, guitar effects, best delay pedal, best analog delay, best digital delay

(Strymon)

If you looked at the Eventide and thought to yourself, “Hm, not bad, but what have you got in the way of…more?” then you are a madman and I applaud you. Fortunately, someone has taken it upon themselves to design a unit just for a guitar player like you who have an insatiable need to stare at a tiny, tiny LED screen and turn knobs for hours at a time. This pedal is ubiquitous, making appearances on every other pedalboard photographed for the internet’s amusement. You can’t get away from this thing.

With virtually all the same controls as the Eventide with slightly different labeling, the TimeLine gives you access to 12 delay types, which include digital, dual, pattern, reverse, ice, duck, swell, trem, filter, lo-fi, d-tape and d-bucket, as well as a 30-second looper. For those of you keeping track at home, 30 seconds is enough time for almost all of Minor Threat’s “Straight Edge,” a song that clocks in at 45 seconds. A verse pattern in a pop song is unlikely to last even quite as long as this looper will let you record. All of this is immediately at your finger tips with 200 presets available when you open the package.

This unit is so advanced and powerful, it can be used in place of rack gear or software in the studio. If it’s a delay and you might use it, you’ll find it in this sleek box. The only major downside to this product is the price tag, which is not insignificant. It’s almost certainly overkill for most people, but if you want it all, it’s available to you here.


Specs:

  • Delay time: Up to 2,500 milliseconds
  • Tap tempo?: Yes
  • True bypass?: Yes
  • Expression input?: Yes
  • Stereo outs?: Yes
  • Power requirements: 300 mA at 9V

Price: $599

Buy the Strymon TimeLine here.



17. TC Electronic Flashback Mini

delay pedal, guitar effect pedal, guitar pedals, guitar effects, best delay pedal, best analog delay, best digital delay

(TC Electronic)

If those last few were too large for your pedalboard, this TC Electronic is a slightly different take on modeling delay architecture. Rather than having a particular sound of its own, the Flashback Mini is enabled with TonePrint, which is a completely digital recreation of any number of hundreds of delays available at no extra charge from the manufacturer’s website. While the ones above store everything onboard, the Flashback relies on an assist from your smartphone to deliver an enormous library of tones, as well as the ability to design your own from the ground up.

Simply edit your effect on the computer, connect via USB, and bang, you have your perfectly-modeled delay pedal in this tiny housing. Once it’s set up with the delay of your choosing, the pedal is controlled with three simple knobs: Feedback (repeats), Delay (time), and Effect Level. By giving you the extreme flexibility of an all-digital solution, you can get back some of the massive list of options available on the Eventide and Strymon, even if you’re stuck with only one of them at a time.

The price is right on this for what it gives you access to: a virtually inexhaustible catalog of delay effects. If you like to tinker but you need your board space, this is the option for you. They also make the Flashback in nano and X4 configurations, which give you more switching options within the pedal — it all depends on how much you want to spend. The new Flashback 2 is especially noteworthy with the inclusion of the Mash function, which turns the footswitch into a magnet-driven expression pedal capable of controlling a wide variety of parameters on the fly.


Specs:

  • Delay time: Up to 7,000 milliseconds
  • Tap tempo?: No
  • True bypass?: Yes
  • Expression input?: No
  • Stereo outs?: No
  • Power requirements: 100 mA at 9V

Price: $99

Buy the TC Electronic Flashback Mini here.



Best Experimental Delay Pedals

These picks don’t fall neatly into any one well-defined category. They do something a little different and unexpected, which can help to break you out of a creative rut.


18. Catalinbread Csidman

(Catalinbread)

Yet another Catalinbread offering (they’re really on their game over there), this falls into an emerging category that includes the Montreal Assembly Count to Five and the Malekko Charlie Foxtrot. (As an aside, I played the latter of these and found that without an expression pedal, it’s relatively difficult to trigger, at least for my style of playing and rig.) These are all glitch/stutter sampling delays, achieving their delightful weirdness through a variety of means. They’re all unpredictable in their own way and all aimed at finding new methods of expression. For the Csidman, everything old is new again as this is a purely digital delay that uses the circuit from a Discman (minus the anti-skipping feature!) to create a unique glitching delay.

Though it’s weird, the controls are pretty easy to grasp, especially if you understand that most of this pedal’s functions are random. Time, Mix, and Feed perform their usual functions, while Latch and Cuts control the oddness. Latch determines the relative time that the delay is skipping and at its lowest setting, it doesn’t skip at all so you can use it as a traditional digital delay. Based on that time, the Cuts knob determines the sample rate or the buffer length. Give something weird a try.


Specs:

  • Delay time: Up to 725 milliseconds
  • Tap tempo?: No
  • True bypass?: Yes
  • Expression input?: No
  • Stereo outs?: No
  • Power requirements: 60 mA at 9 to 18V

Price: $199.99

Buy the Catalinbread Csidman here.



19. Red Panda Particle

(Red Panda)

“Granular” is a word you see a lot is descriptions of this newer breed of experimental delay pedals. It’s true of the Csidman, Count to Five, and Charlie Foxtrot, and it’s true of this one. All it means is that to achieve the stuttering, the signal is divided into smaller parts which are then repeated or mangled in some way.

The Particle gives you significant control over these parameters, which also includes pitch shifting. Blend and Feedback are the obvious controls, while Chop controls the size of the grains or the Freeze threshold above noon. The other knobs map to the mode selected with the eight-way selector knob. Five of these modes (Dens, LFO, Rev, Pitch, and Rnd) are delay modes and three (Dens, LFO, Detune) are pitch. The Pitch/Delay knob sets either the delay time or the pitch shift depending on the chosen mode. A switch on the right side sets whether the external expression pedal controls the Pitch/Delay knob or the Param knob.

For experimental sounds, this is quite an effective toolbox with a lot of options.


Specs:

  • Delay time: Zero to 900 milliseconds
  • Tap tempo?: No
  • True bypass?: Yes
  • Expression input?: Yes
  • Stereo outs?: No
  • Power requirements: 100 mA at 9V

Price: $275

Buy the Red Panda Particle here.



20. Mr. Black Downward Spiral

(Mr. Black)

Despite an entire stable of pretty weird stuff, if you read the copy in the manual for this pedal, even its maker appears afraid of it. The core of this is a melting delay with constant downward pitch shifting that you cannot control. This is essentially the opposite of the upshifted, oh-so-popular shimmer reverbs that everyone either loves or loathes entirely.

Despite the warnings of nighmarish results, the controls on this are your basic delay parameters of Level, Regen, and Time. If you’ve read this far, I’ll assume you know what those knobs do. Buy this pedal to inject a little weirdness into your signal so you can peer into the abyss.


Specs:

  • Delay time: 20 to 800 milliseconds
  • Tap tempo?: No
  • True bypass?: Yes
  • Expression input?: No
  • Stereo outs?: No
  • Power requirements: 60 mA at 9V

Price: $179.95

Buy the Mr. Black Downward Spiral here.



Delay pedals tend not to be cheap affairs. If it’s price you’re worried about, check out our list of the best cheap guitar effect pedals.

Heavy, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon. Our product recommendations are guided solely by our editors. We have no relationship with manufacturers.
2 Comments

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2 Comments

David P Makowski

I really love the Boss DD-3 Digital Delay. Compared to the popular MXR Carbon Copy Anolog Delay I find the decay of the repeats have too much decay as the Boss has clean lower volume trail off repeats. If you are on a budget I can’t say enough good things about the Danelectro FAB Delay. It’s a wonderful delay for not a lot of money.

Nelson Brown

T. C. Electronic “Flashback”.
You should review this one. I have a lot of experience with this delay pedal, it’d be tough to beat the features and sound quality of this one for the price.

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