Wow! 2018’s Best Delay Pedals List & Reviews

Are you wondering which delay pedal to buy, but can’t really pick one since there are so many “good” ones out there? Your wandering ends today, my friend! Here we’ll take a look at only the most popular delay pedals and the majority of those won’t even break the bank. What a day!

You can’t go wrong with those pedals. Click on image to check prices.

Let’s take a look at some models and briefly review each one. I won’t waste your time with info such as types of delays and what you can use them for, I’m assuming you already know that.

But hey, if you need help with that, you can find all info at the bottom of this page.

MXR M169 Carbon Copy

Click on image for price.

Love analog? In that case, this one is for you. It is by far one of the most recommended delays out there, probably because it sounds amazing and features that warm analog sound we all love. It’s safe to say that this is one of the best analog delay pedals out there. It‘s’also budget friendly, which sure is a feature that most of us look at first, right?

Many owners described its sound as organic, lush, full and subtle. If you’re an audio guy, you’ll know what they’re talking about.

However, for people that don’t like analog sound, this can be a downfall. Some people just prefer cleaner and crispier type of sound, something that projects that 2018’s sound. In that case, look for digital delay pedals, such as the Boss DD-3.

Line 6 DL4

This one is a digital delay, as I just had to feature these as well. Some people just don’t like the analog sound and that’s more than okay. The line 6 DL4 is also known as one of the best digital delay pedals and that sure ain’t a coincidence.

This model is so known that even most recognized musicians use it — John Mayer, Johnny Buckland (from Coldplay), Joe Perry, etc.

As far as features go, it’s able to replicate around 15 different vintage effects. Sure, the sound is not “as analog” as other “real” vintage delays produce, but it gets pretty close.

You’re also able to loop your playing with this baby, as it comes with its own looper too! You can record up to 14 seconds in one take and then loop it all over again.

Click here for price.

TC Electronic Flashback 2

Click on the image for price.

Similar to the previous delay pedal, this is also a digital model and comes with a looper as well. If you liked the DL4 model above, but can’t really afford it, this will be the answer to your prayers. It’s a bit more affordable but comes with similar features.

Flashback 2 comes in 3 different versions; Flashback X4 (which gives you 40 seconds of delay), Flashback Mini (with 7 seconds of delay) and of course the Flashback 2 (6 seconds). It has 7 built-in delay types and you can pick between those with the lower right knob.

Overall, it’s a pretty decent digital delay pedal and will definitely satisfy your needs.

Donner Yellow Fall Delay

The first thing you notice is the color. What a crazy one! It’s a really simple delay too, but sure worthy the price, if not even more!

It’s supposed to be an analog delay pedal, but some users have reported that it’s rather a digital one disguised as analog.

Nevertheless, it sounds wonderful and you can’t wish for more, especially for that price tag. It features 3 simple knobs used to control ECHO, TIME and FEEDBACK.

Boss DD-3 Delay Pedal

DD-3 is the most recommended and wished for among its fellow delay pedals from the DD line. Here we are, again, looking at a very simple device, which certainly sticked with principle “less is more”. You can also pick from Short (50ms), Medium (200ms), or Long (800ms) delay, all in one pedal!

Dave Grohl, Slash, Joe Bonamassa, and Brad Paisley are amongst noted users of this digital delay pedal.
Yeeey, it’s a wrap!
It didn’t make sense to me to go on and on talking about dozens of different pedals, when we all know there were only a few of them really worthy the price (besides that, listing more pedals would just make you think harder to pick one you like). Now, let’s take a look at what to look for in a delay pedal, so you can be sure you’ll pick the best one.

Buying Guide

Ever since the legendary Bo Diddley used the first ever mass-produced guitar effect pedal, effects have been an inseparable part of the electric guitar history , just along with the amplifiers. 
Yet, for any guitarists, picking the right guitar pedal for their set is by no means an easy task. There are simply so many different types of guitar effects, each of them can have many different sub-types and variations. So, to really answer the question ‘Which effect pedals would I need?”, we should first understand our play style, our tone, our needs and especially, how each different pedal can improve -or even change- our guitar playing.

In this guide, we will primarily focus on the delay pedal, which is one of the most commonly used guitar effect pedals available. The delay pedal is so versatile with many different applications. So, knowing more about it won’t only help you in choosing the right pedals, but also how to get the most of a delay pedal.

Let us begin this with a brief discussion of major guitar effect types, to help you know better how delay will function as an effect.

The Major Types of Guitar Effect Pedals

First, we should understand a concept we call the “signal chain”: the guitar effect pedals are placed between your electric guitar and your amplifier Yet, what happens when we have more than one pedals? Which one should be placed before the other? 
As we know, the electric guitar works by sending an electric signal to the amplifier, and so the further away the effect pedal is from the guitar, the weaker the signal will be Also, the next pedal will receive a signal that has been processed by the previous one, and this is why different pedal placements can produce different sounds. 
With that being said, there is not one single right way to arrange the effect pedals, but the most common arrangement goes like this:
Frequency pedals like pitch shifter, wah-wah, and EO are typically placed at the beginning of the signal chain. Gain Stage pedals like overdrive, distortion, and frequency typically come next. However, some prefer to place Gain Stage pedals before frequency, so they are mostly interchangeable. Modulation effects like flanger, chorus, phaser, and tremolo are typically placed on the third place of the signal chain. Time effects, which are delay and reverb, work best after modulation, frequency, and gain stage. Volume pedals can either be at the beginning or the end of the signal chain.

So, as we can see, delay belongs to the time effect group together with reverb (note: echo pedals, which are also common, is actually a sub type of delay pedals). You should generally place delay after all your other pedals (except volume) to get the most of it 
As a side note, you can also place the time-based effects on a loop using Effects Send and Effect Return jacks on your amp. This is especially useful when you use overdrive or distortion from your amplifier and not from effect pedals. 
As we have mentioned above, delay should be placed after gain stage effects, and this is not possible if you are using amp overdrive or distortion. Using effect loop allows you to “put” the delay pedal virtually between the preamp section of your amp -which creates overdrive/distortion- and the power amp, thus ensuring the “correct” placement of the delay. Can you imagine a”real” note with distortion followed by clean delay notes? The correct effect placement allows you to avoid this issue. 
You might want to check out this guide (https://www.strymon.net/setting-up- your-effect-signal-chain/) for more about the signal chain and effect placements.

How Delay Will Affect Your Sound

Now, let’s back to our main focus which is the delay pedal, and here we will learn how the delay effect will alter your guitar sound. 
As the name suggests, the delay effect pedal will repeat the same note you just played after a short time delay. Depending on how you set up the pedal, it can repeat the note several times more 
Within this small “delay window”, several things can happen according to how you set up the pedal, and typically there are three main controls on a delay pedal: 
Effect Level (E Level) The volume of the repeated sounds (which will go lower with time). Turning the knob to “full” means the first repeat will have a similar volume to your “real” note. A low effect level with a short delay time (more on this later) is sometimes used to create a fatter sound. Delay Time (D Time) Quite obvious, the time frame between the “real” note and the first repeat. Digital pedals with a display usually show this time in milliseconds (ms) Feedback: Essentially, the number of repeated notes you will hear The lower the amount of feedback, the fewer the number and vice versa. Tap Tempo: Not every delay pedal will offer this control, but you can use Tap Tempo to synchronize the delay time with the song you’re playing. With this, you can tap the footswitch in time with the song’s BPM, and the pedal will automatically adjust the delay time This is quite useful in a live setting so that you won’t have to turn the knobs every time there’s anew song. 
Now that weVe covered all these different controls commonly found on a delay effect, let’s move on to the next subject: the different types of delay pedals.

Types of Delay Pedals

Although there are many different brands available in the market, we can actually divide the delay effect pedals into two major groups: analog and digital. The main difference is quite obvious: whether the effect pedal process the signal digitally, or with an all-analog process. 
(subheading 3)Analog Delay Pedal 
The first ever analog delay effect is the °tape echo…As the name suggests, here a tape recorder records some of your guitar’s audio signal, and will then play it back after a delay. This process was actually the legendary guitarist Les Paul’s idea, and since the process creates an echoing sound, it was dubbed the Tape Echo. 
Obviously, a real Tape Echo machine is no longer relevant for this day and age. It is very inconsistent by today’s standard, and a tape is also very hard and expensive to maintain. However, although Tape Echo is no longer common today, some modern delay pedals offer an emulation of the sound. 
The first analog delay pedal, however, was manufactured in 1981 by Boss, which we know today as one of the most prominent guitar effect pedal manufacturers. What Boss did is using an electronic chip, the bucket-brigade device (BBD) (https://www.proaudioland.com/news/bucket-brigade-chips/) to emulate the delay sound without using any tape machine. 
In essence, an analog delay pedal involves every simple process: the BBD processes the analog electric signal produced by your guitar through several capacitors that are arranged in series. 
So, imagine passing an information to a line of people: the people that got it last usually got the somewhat “diminished” version of the information, this is quite similar to how BBD processes analog delay. 
With that being said, the analog delay’s repeated notes are limited to the number of capacitors, and the possible time between repeats is also limited. 
However, a unique trait of the analog delay pedal is the sound: each repeated notes is essentially “diminished” by the length of analog signal flow, which actually creates a warmer sound with each repeat. This is the main reason to choose an analog delay effect pedal over digital ones, but yet this doesn’t mean digital pedals don’t have their perk, as we will discuss below. 
(subheading 3) Digital Delay Pedal 
In 1984, Boss also released the digital version of their delay pedal, the legendary Boss DD-2 which is still popular even today. The digital delay pedal used an ADC (Analog-to-Digital Converter) to convert the analog signal from the guitar to digital signal, which then will go through DSPs (Digital Signal Processor) that will record and playback the digital sound data according to the effect’s controls. 
There are two main advantages of the digital delay: first, the repeated notes are 100% similar to the “rear note (although some might argue that it is a disadvantage rather than an advantage). Second, the “delay” time frame between each repeat is not limited by the analog circuitry limitations so it can be much longer than analog delay pedals. 
So, in short, you sacrifice the warmth of analog delay for a more versatility in delay time 
Nowadays, we also see the modern digital multi-delay pedals like the Boss DO-500 or Eventide H-9. These multi-delay pedals -process-wise-, work similarly to traditional digital delay, but offer more control flexibilities and more sound emulations. 
Multi-delay pedals, for example, can digitally emulate Tape Delay sounds with great accuracy, some even included emulations for the tape warble sounds or the sounds of physical tape movements. Also, multi-delay pedals often combined delay with modulation effects (octave, flanger, etc.) where you can experiment to create exquisite and unique sounds. 
(Subheading 2)Analog VS Digital Delay: The Differences To summarize, there are three main differences between an analog delay pedal and the digital delay pedal: Sound The analog signal processes can add color to the delay repeat notes, while the digital process produces 100% clean and accurate sound. As a result, the analog delay produces a signature, warmer repeated note.

Delay Time

You have a shorter possible time frame between delay repeats with an analog delay pedal, while with digital pedals, you can have a very long maximum time (up to 8–10 seconds with certain pedals). 
Signal Degradation 
With analog processing, the delay repeats will be less clear with each repeat (this actually contributes to the alDwarmth’), while with a digital delay pedal, you the signal won’t degrade (where some might argue the sound feels robotic and unnatural). Multi-delay pedals endsome modern digital delay pedals offer the option to emulate this diminishing signal effect. 
(subheading 2) Choosing Delay Effect Pedals Based On Your Needs 
As we have mentioned, the applications for delay pedals are very versatile, and so you should choose your delay pedal based on your musical needs, sounds, and play styles. 
Obviously, the answer can be very subjective, but here are the most common needs for delay pedals, and the best ways to apply them: 
To Enhance Your Rhythm 
One of the most common delay applications is to use the repeated sounds to create rhythmic sounds, usually with finger picking or soft strumming. For this effect, you would want to ensure your delays stay in tune with the song’s BPM and the drummer, so a pedal with a Tap Tempo feature can be useful here. 
Also, a delay pedal with the versatility to create different rhythmic effects than the quarter-note repeats will be a good choice. Generally, a digital delay or even a multi-delay pedal should be your pick for this application. 
To Create Ambient Sounds 
The guitar ambient sound, or sometimes called “pad” sound is when we create a lingering, ambient, landscaping sound resembling that of pad synthesizer. To achieve this sound, you can either combine a delay pedal with a reverb pedal or just find a digital delay pedal with reverb functionalities. Modulation effects will also help in creating the ethereal, lingering sounds. 
That 50’s Slapback Sound 
“Slapback” here refers to the signature delay sound of the 50’s rock n’ roll popularized by Chuck Berry (or some would say, Elvis Presley). The sound gets the name “slapback. from how the first delayed note will hit back (slap) at you with a similar volume to the real note and very quick delay time This effect can be applied both for strumming or solos. 
An analog delay pedal for that warmth will be the obvious choice here. Set the delay time short, the delay level (volume) high, and voila! 
To Fatten Your Solos 
Another common application is to use delays to enrich your soloing notes. In fact, most of the guitar solos are performed with some form of delays or the other The idea here is to repeat the delayed notes with a very short delay time, thus 50 doubling’ the real note. When recording, we can do this by recording the same part twice and then moving one of them just tad milliseconds later in playback, creating the delayed and phasing sounds. 
For a live setting, we can use the delay pedal to achieve the same effect: short delay time, very little feedback, and balanced delay level. Any delay effect pedals will work for this, but the warmer analog delay pedal is often preferred. 
For Experimental Sounds 
Many guitarists have used the delay effect to create unique, experimental sounds. Probably the most famous application in the modern guitar is that of Tom Morello (Audioslave, Rage Against The Machine). To achieve this kind of unique effects, you can either combine the delay pedal (commonly digital delay for more flexibility) with other modulation and reverb pedals or use a multi-delay pedal. 
For this application, your imagination is truly the only limit.

Analog or Digital?

The first thing that comes to mind when buying a new pedal, especially if it’s about to be your first one. It all comes down to what type of sound you like.

Digital pedals are “perfect”, since they are controlled by computer chips. However, that “perfectness” makes the sound more digital and some people go as far as calling it “too bright” or “too harsh”. The main benefit of those is versatility, longer delay times, looping, etc. At the end of the day, it all comes down to you — What kind of sound you like?

Analog delay pedals on the other hand, have more character, but they’re less “perfect”. These kind of pedals feature shorter delay times (most of the time) and don’t have as many fancy features as digital models.

Again, it all comes down to your personal taste and we can’t suggest one over the other.

Rest assured, we did our research and you can’t go wrong by picking one of the above. We looked at user experience, cost, versatility and build quality, then we came up with these products, which we can confidently name best delay pedals on the market.

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