Delay: Parameters To Adjust

Difficulty: Spectrum

With delay, you can have a very simple 2 or 3 knob situation or be able to adjust every little detail of the sound. People new to effects might like to start with something simpler - the more complex units can be hard to dig around in even for experienced 'effectors' :)

The TYPE of delay will dramatically change the sound and how you use it - but it's the bottom of the list as it's the most complex and deep to describe too - and if you buy a simple unit you may not have so many 'types' to choose from!

Time / Delay Time

This parameter will control how long the repeats are, usually measured in milliseconds. The time setting has a big impact on the overall sound and how it would be used - more in the sample settings lesson that follows.

Feedback / Repeats

The number of repeats of your delayed signal also plays a big part in the overall effect, the smallest setting of only one repeat is often used for shorter times, and longer delays can sometimes use more repeats, though there is no set rule!

Mix / Effect Level / Blend

The mix of the delayed repeats can be set from equal volume to the raw signal to hardly audible. Some styles of delay work better with louder repeats, others when it is more subtle.

Modulation

Some delay effect boxes include modulation which will add a kind of Chorus effect to the delays which can sound rich or cheesy depending on your perspective and taste!

Wow & Flutter

Wow and flutter on old tape machines can be a pain, but also add character and style - so many modern digital units have sound ways of replicating them and you can choose to add them or not!

Looper

Because delay pedals record the sound and play it back - some have grown into having the ability to function as a looper pedal - but that's a whole other story and will be covered by the lessons on loopers!

Type

Most modern delay units replicate a few types of delay and so the type knob would be used to choose the style of delay you wanted. If you buy a Tape delay (or tape emulation) or an Analog delay, then you are unlikely to have a type knob at all - it is what it is... so these things are more for the bigger and more complex delay units that can emulate a variety of different delay types.

Tape (fixed head, multi etc)
This setting will emulate tape delay machine. The sound of the delays gradually degrades - usually in a musical and pleasing way.

Analog
Analog delays are not as bright and can sound more 'organic' and the delays usually 'blend' into the sound in a more musical way.

Digital
This will give you very precise clear delays, bright and accurate.

Multi-Tap
This will give you a few different delays from the same note - you can set two (or more) different delays from the one note!

Pattern
rather than a set time interval in the delay - some units offer a 'pattern' option which will add the repeats in a set rhythm.

Reverse
This funky type can be hard to use - it takes chunks of the signal and plays it backwards - usually end up sounding 'Eastern' or 'Indian' to most people - can be very cool if you use it right!

Modulate
This will add a Chorus effect to the delays which can make them sound fuller and thicker - I gotta admit I'm generally not a big fan of this sound - but you might be - so check it out!

There are many more types on different units - but if you want to get more into specialist sounds you can find out more on the manufacturers' websites!

Signal Chain Placement

Delays would most commonly be second to last, the last being reverb - the exception being tape delay which commonly had valve pre-amp as well making it better suited to being used before reaching the amplifier.

If you are using a four cable method (with the effects in the effects loop of your amp) then delay would most commonly be placed in the loop (again, real tape delay would not usually be in an effects loop!).

See the Effects Pedal Order lesson
 

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