The cool thing about delay pedals is they are time based. This means you will be able to manipulate your signal and hear it at a later interval.
Delay pedals give you the ability to mix your dry signal in and out, control the intervals between repetitions, and control how many times each interval gets repeated. Delay pedals basically add a whole new dimension to the type of music you are able to create.
As with most things, not all delay pedals are created equal. And with so many options to choose from, finding the best one can be a difficult task.
While new pedals hit the market on a regular basis, it is the models that have been around for the longest that tend to garner the most attention.
Below we have put together a short list of the best delay pedals currently on the market. We will be reviewing both analog and digital delay pedals, as well as pedals at different price points.
Top 5 Best Delay Pedals
OUR TOP PICK
As far as mid-high delay pedals go, the MXR M169 is at the top of the list. At first glance you will immediately notice the casing. You can tell the company put a lot of time and effort into how this pedal would look and feel.
While the controls are on the simple side, they are tuned very nicely. With them you will be able to experiment with the different settings and create something really amazing.
There are three knobs on the outside of the device that control delay time, mix, and delay repeats. This pedal also features two internal trim pots that give you the ability to adjust the width and rate control of the modulation.
With The MXR M169 you will get delay times from 20 to 600ms, as well as slight pitch shifting. And to round it all out, you have a single 9-volt operation, stage-ready blue LEDs, and true hardwire bypass.
Based on these features it's easy to see that MXR really took the time to figure out what musicians need. If you are into heavy metal, this pedal is a must have.
- Compact, easy to carry around.
- Uses old-school bucket brigade technology.
- Up to 600 milliseconds of delay time.
- Great sound quality.
- Internal pots aren’t big enough.
With the TC Electronic ND-1 Nova you will get 6 different delay types. They are dynamic, reverse, ping-pong, slap-back, pan, and delay line. This gives you unlimited possibilities for what you can do with your music.
The audio-generated tap tempo is the one feature that really sets this delay pedal apart from all the others. With it you will be able to set the delay tempo by simply strumming your guitar.
And thanks to the 9 user-programmable presets you will be able to recall the exact sound you need with the push of a button.
Even better is the fact you get up to 2290 ms of delay time.
- Includes 6 studio quality digital delay types.
- Comes with 9 user programmable presets.
- Up to 2290 ms delay time.
- Features alternate tap tempo control to help keep your effects on beat.
- No option for battery power.
- Features 6 different delay types: Delay line, Dynamic, Reverse, Ping-pong, Pan, Slap-back
- Manual and preset switchable settings
- 9 user programmable presets
- Audio Tapping - audio-generated tap tempo
- Up to 2290 ms delay time
The Electro Harmonix Canyon is considered the Swiss army knife of delay pedals. And while it may not look all that fancy, trust us it is more than meets the eye. It comes with 10 time based effects ranging from a Deluxe Memory Man-style analog delay, all the way to a simple reverb.
The best part is all 10 effects can easily be controlled with onboard tap tempo. This means you will have a lot of creative freedom when it comes to the type of music you create.
The Electro Harmonix Canyon comes with four control knobs. FX Level, Delay, Feedback, and the effect selector.
Simply twist the selector knob and you will be able to choose from eight different delay voicings. Some of them include modulated delay, tape-like delay, and a Shimmer setting.
The 62 second looper gives you plenty of time for practice, writing songs, or performing live. This unit also has a great sounding reverb.
- Comes with 10 time based effects.
- Features a 62 second looper.
- Has four control knobs.
- Great reverb.
- There are no stereo outputs.
The TC Electronic Guitar Delay Pedal is a pedal that has been designed for both now, and the future. This compact stompbox has the entire TC legacy fused into it.
It features new MASH technology which adds an expression pedal that is able to respond to your touch. Just apply a little pressure and you will be able to create an effect specific mix.
The brand new Ethereal crystal delay algorithm pushes your delays up an octave through every feedback loop. This gives you a shimmer that is out of this world. Add that to the 3 dedicated TonePrint slots, and you will have plenty of space to store signature effects.
And with the TonePrint Editor you will be able to design your own customized delay effects. This basically means you will have unlimited creative freedom.
- Features new MASH technology.
- Comes with 8 delays.
- TonePrint enabled.
- Doesn’t feature tap tempo.
- Flashback 2 delay effects Pedal. The TC Electronic flashback 2 delay packs the company's entire delay legacy into a single compact and affordable stomp box that's designed for now – and the future
With the Behringer VD400 you will be able to experience true analog delay at its finest. When you step on this delay pedal you will get an “old-school” analog Bucket Brigade-style delay that is very rare these days.
You will get up to 300 milliseconds of true analog delay. This means every type of classic delay will be right at your fingertips. And don’t worry, the advanced noise reduction circuit will keep your signal nice and clean.
The Behringer VD400 is very easy to use. It features an amber LED that lets you know when the vintage delay has been activated. The on/off switch is able to provide top notch signal integrity while in bypass mode.
When using this delay pedal you will feel like you are taking a trip back in time. And with a price tag of less than $30, you will most definitely feel like we are back in the good old days.
- Very affordable.
- Provides up to 300 milliseconds of true analog delay.
- Easy to use.
- Features dedicated Intensity, Echo and Repeat Rate controls.
- Users have complained about the durability of the pedal.
- Experience true analog delay and vintage slap-back echo that rivals any tape delay
- This BEHRINGER product has been designed to compete head to head with leading products on the market
- Vintage BBDs produce up to 300 ms of delay and advanced noise reduction circuit keeps your signal clean
- Dedicated Intensity, Echo and Repeat Rate controls for awesome sound shaping
- Status LED for effect on/off and battery check
Best Delay Pedals Buying Guide
Analog vs Digital Delay
This is probably one of the most debated topics when it comes to delay pedals. There are some musicians who believe analog is the way to go, while others feel digital is the best option.
Truth be told, one isn’t necessarily superior to the other. To help you decide which option is best for you, we are going to just stick to the facts.
An analog delay pedal changes an analog current in a certain way. The way the current is changed will depend on your playing style.
A digital delay pedal uses what is known as a microprocessor to change the signal. A microprocessor is something you will find in a computer.
The effects produced by an analog delay pedal tend to be more organic than those produced by a digital pedal. However, you will find that digital pedals are able to more accurately reproduce your input.
Analog pedals are more responsive than digital pedals. This is a huge selling point for most musicians.
Even still, many musicians prefer digital pedals because it gives them more freedom to tweak the different effects.
With true bypass your output and input will be hardwired. This basically means your signal will never pass through the pedal's circuitry outside of your input and output. As a result, anytime you disengage the effect your sound will be able to pass through without being altered.
Due to capacitance, you will experience a slight loss in volume and high end frequency once your signal reaches a certain length.
One thing to keep in mind, is with true bypass, anytime you disengage the repeats will cut off. Most modern delay pedals, especially the digital versions, will have a buffered bypass so when the signal passes through the circuitry it gets pushed further without the loss of high end frequency.
This also helps with delay trails that tend to persist even when the unit has been turned off. As with all things, there is a bit of a trade off with buffered bypass. You may experience a change in responsiveness as the signal will interact with the amplifier a little differently.
Both true bypass and buffered bypass are great options. Neither one is better than the other. It's all a matter of preference. And while some believe your tone will suffer if you use a buffered bypass, that’s simply not true.
While there may be a loss in dynamics, it's so subtle you won’t even notice. And as far as frequency loss goes, if it does occur, you can always compensate by adjusting the EQ.
Delay pedals come in two configurations. Either mono out, or stereo out. With mono out your pedal will only have one output. With stereo out it will have two.
With stereo output you will be able to run two outputs with your effect and send it through two different amplifiers. This makes your effect sound a lot fuller. Again, there is a trade off.
While stereo out will give you a better overall sound, it is also more expensive to set up. The mono output has a much simpler setup and is therefore less expensive.
The sound from the mono output will be different than that of the stereo output. However, it's not all that different. In all honesty, you’ll probably barely even notice the difference.
For some musicians, they don’t understand the value of tap tempo until they’ve tried it the hard way.
Some delay pedals come with a knob that is used for setting the delay time. Having to bend down and turn a knob can interrupt the flow of your playing.
With tap tempo, which is basically a footswitch, you simply tap a button and you will be able to set the delay time without having to stop in the middle of a song. While having tap tempo is not essential, it does make it a lot easier to match your delay time to a specific tempo.
Whether or not you use tap tempo will once again boil down to personal preference. If you are okay with using a button to set the tempo, then there is no need to change.
If on the other hand you play a lot of live gigs, and using a knob would be inconvenient, then you might want to switch to tap tempo.
In some cases having tap tempo is not all that important. For example, if you have a delay pedal that allows you to save presets, then all you have to do is set the specific time for each preset. There is no need to tap out anything.
Keep in mind each delay pedal is different and will have its own way to set the delay time.
Some delay pedals are a little more versatile and will give you the option between using a knob or tap tempo to set the delay times.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I Need a Delay Pedal?
Practicing and playing the guitar can bring a lot of joy. But sometimes, the guitar on its own is not enough. Now don’t get us wrong, the guitar doesn’t need any help to sound beautiful. However, there are some things you can do to take your sound to the next level.
One of those things is using a delay pedal. Keep in mind you are only one person and there is only so much you can do with your guitar. Delay pedals can help fill out your overall sound.
With a delay pedal your chorus, phaser, and other sounds will sound a lot cleaner.
With a delay pedal you will be able to take the boring and bland parts of a song, and turn them into something exciting and interesting. You can also add depth to rhythm parts that would otherwise not be there.
So do you need a delay pedal? That all depends on what you want to accomplish with your music. If you are happy with playing your guitar as is, then there is no need to invest in a delay pedal.
If on the other hand you want to be more creative with your sound, a delay pedal can help you do that.
What Does a Digital Delay Pedal Do?
A delay pedal records and plays back any music that gets fed into it. Generally speaking this playback will happen in a matter of milliseconds. The delay pedal will take the rapid playback and produce what is known as a slapback effect.
The slapback is basically an instant reverberation of what was just played. Delay pedals are therefore able to create a cascading wall of sound.
How Do I Choose a Delay Pedal?
When it comes to choosing a delay pedal, it all boils down to what’s important to you. Do you want something that’s more on the simple side, or something that’s a little more complex? Are you looking to have access to multiple delay types? Or do you just want one that has a really unique sound?
The answers to those questions will be different for every musician. To help you decide which delay pedal will be best for you, here are a few things you will want to think about.
First is value. How much do you want to spend? You can find delay pedals in a variety of different price ranges. You will need to do some research to find one that will fit within your budget.
Second is simplicity. Do you want a pedal that is simple and easy to use, or one that has all the bells and whistles?
Flexibility is also important. Do you only want one main delay sound, or do you want to be able to switch between sounds?
To round it off you will want to look at quality and size. Are you looking for the best quality pedal regardless of price? If so, there will be a lot of great options available to you.
If you are looking for quality at a great price, you will also have a lot of options available to you. You can find great delay pedals in just about every price range.
As far as size goes, it again boils down to your personal preference. Do you want a pedal that takes up half the floor? Or do you want something that is smaller?
This is a case where size doesn’t matter. The small delay pedals are just as functional as some of the larger ones.