In this video, we're talking all things delay... delay... delay! And more specifically, we're looking at five tips for getting the most from 'analog-style' delay pedals. You know... that simple, three-knob, single-footswitch delay stompbox you purchased as a teenager. (It's probably kicking around in storage somewhere!) So let's bypass that complex, supercomputer, delay workstation for a minute—it's time to get back to basics!
OC Sea Turquoise Delay: https://amzn.to/3t8ZtOc
NUX Optima Air Preamp: https://amzn.to/3vg5avw
LR Baggs Session Pedal: https://amzn.to/3va4I1U
BBE Sonic Stomp: https://amzn.to/3eweNQX
OC Lemon Yellow Compressor: https://amzn.to/3vgVQaU
Fishman Loudbox Mini: https://amzn.to/3rHO33D
Hey, you’re in the studio with Luke from GuitarIQ.com. In this video, we’re checking out my 5 top tips, tricks, settings, and tones for using delay pedals that don't have tap tempo. So if you have a little delay stompbox at home, and you've been struggling to dial in a sound that works widely across lots of different songs, and different styles, and of course at different tempos, then this might just be the video for you. So if you do find it helpful or interesting then please click on that like button to let me know about it. And without further delay, let’s jump into the video!
So here we're looking at a pedalboard that I've recently finished putting together. And more specifically, we’re focusing in on this little Sea Turquoise Delay pedal by the good folks over at One Control. One Control make a bunch of pedals that follow this kind of compact form factor and aesthetic. So if you like the sound and the look of this pedal then you might want to check them out. That said, in today's video, this pedal could represent almost any kind of compact, stompbox-style, single footswitch delay pedal that doesn't have tap tempo. It doesn't matter if it's an analog pedal, or a digital pedal, or a pedal that's voiced to be like a vintage tape echo, or something like that. All of the settings that we're going to focus on today will apply across the board.
The first question you might be asking is: Why am I doing a video specifically focusing on pedals that don't have tap tempo? And it's simply because, if you're anything like me, pedals like this were a bit of a mystery for a long time. My early baptism into the world of delay came via big multi-delay effects like the Boss DD20 and the Line 6 DL4. These pedals were on my touring rig for years (much like many touring guitar players back 10 or 15 years ago, or whenever it was). And these types of pedals had a bunch of different delays you could choose from, they had heaps of settings and parameters to tweak, you could save presets, and of course everything had a tap tempo. Tap tempo being, for those who are new to the world of delay, the ability to tap the delays in time with the tempo that you're playing to. So when it came to simple little delay units like this, I wasn't really sure what to do. My thinking was, if I dialed it in for one song and then I moved to a different song (with a different feel and a different tempo), then all of my delay settings would be out of time and everything would sound messy and get in the way.
Now, that can certainly be true (regardless of if the pedal has tap tempo or not ). The more extreme you have your delay settings, the more likely it is that that delay sound is going to get in the way of your playing. The benefit of having tap tempo, of course, is that those longer repeats can be locked in with the tempo of the track. So it's less likely they're going to get in the way. That said, all of the vintage tape machines and tape echoes (and all of the first analog stomp boxes) never had tap tempo. And these are responsible for, arguably, some of the most famous guitar tones of all time—so take that for what it's worth. Anyway, in the later years of my guitar playing, I’ve really come to appreciate how fantastic little compact delay units like this can be and how truly versatile they are. And that's really what this video is going to be about.
As one last thing before we dive into the tones, I want to point out that this pedal (and this pedalboard) is actually part of my acoustic guitar rig. Why am I going to demo delay sounds on an acoustic guitar? Well, for two reasons. First of all, I really wanted to feature this delay pedal specifically as a great example of a simple delay unit that just has three controls—one for the delay level, one for the delay time, and one for the delay feedback or repeats. And secondly, I wanted to show you that these delay settings I'm going to go through really apply to almost anything—not just electric guitar, but acoustic guitar, keys, synths, drums, vocals, and almost anything else you could think of. So with that, let’s dive in and check out some tones!
Okay, the first sound I want to cover is perhaps the most famous delay sound we think of when we look at a little stompbox like this. And that’s your garden variety ‘slap delay’. Now, to do this, we bring the feedback (or the repeats) all the way down so we have virtually one repeat. If I turn the delay up a little bit, and we bring the delay down to anywhere between say 20% and 30% like that, knock the delay level back a bit… and this is what this sounds like:
As you can hear, that’s a very obvious effect. It’s simulating the type of sound you get from a small room, where the sound comes off the back wall and slaps back at you. (Think about singing in the shower and how that sounds.) So it's definitely a cool sound. One thing it's not, is subtle. So, that brings us to the second setting that I really like to use with a pedal like this. And this is a simple variation on a slapback-type sound. It’s essentially a longer slap back or ‘short delay’. So if we bring the delay time up a little bit to about 30% or 40%, we knock the volume back, and we keep the feedback (or the repeats) at zero, we get a sound like this:
Okay, so bringing that delay time back slightly and knocking the level of the delay down a little bit, just gives us a much more subtle/versatile delay sound—that we could pretty much leave almost on all the time. And I really like that about it. When you switch it on and play for a bit, you don't really notice that it's there. It’s only when you switch it off that you notice there's a distinct lack of space and ambience around what you're playing.
So the third tone I wanted to look at in this video, is another variation on those slapback settings. And that's when we leave the repeats at zero, we bring the delay all the way down, and this time we crank the level pretty much up all the way to unity. (Now, depending on your delay pedal, unity might be at 12 o’clock. On this one, it’s all the way up.) And this setting kind of mimics the sound of two instruments playing together—it’s a ‘pseudo doubling’ effect. It’s not quite the same, it’s just a really interesting way of thickening up the tone. So let's take a listen:
So you can hear that because we have the feedback and the delay pretty much set at minimum, it's not this obvious over-the-top delay effect. But because we have the level cranked up, it really adds this element of interest to the sound. It’s a really nice thickness, as I said before. Especially to those single-note lead lines and melodies.
The fourth tone I want to look at today is a variation on this sound that really gives us a dramatically different effect. For this, we’re going to keep the delay time at minimum, we’re going to keep the delay level at maximum, and we're going to bring the feedback (or repeats) up to about halfway. Now, this provides a really interesting ‘pseudo-reverb’ effect—something that's halfway between a delay sound and a reverb sound. So let's check it out:
You can really hear what I mean when I say a ‘pseudo-reverb’ sound. It’s kind of a delay sound; it’s kind of a reverb sound. And what's particularly interesting about this effect is, the nature of that faux reverb sound is going to change dramatically depending on the character of the pedal you're using. If you're using a more low-fi, analog-style delay pedal, it’s going to sound a lot warmer. If you're using a pedal like this, which is really glistening and high fidelity, you’re going to get this really interesting almost metallicy type reverb sound. It’s just a really unique delay sound that a lot of people don't think of when they dial in their delay pedal.
So, moving on to our fifth and final tone for the day. This has to do with stacking your delay pedal with other effects. This can be almost anything. A great example of this is running a tremolo pedal after your delay sound. Some delay units have a modulation setting on them where you can dial in a chorus or modulation sound that specifically affects only the delay repeats and not the dry signal coming through. And that can work as a really awesome modulated-delay sound. On electric guitar, one of my favorite combinations is running two delay pedals together. So I'll have a pedal like this, and I'll set it with that kind of long slapback/short delay sound that I had earlier. I'll leave the shorter delay as my ‘always-on’ rhythm sound and I'll just switch in that longer delay for when I'm going for a solo or a more ambient tone—that works really well. In the context of this acoustic rig, however, the sound that I want to stack with my delay is just a simple reverb. To do that I will dial in some reverb on the pedalboard over here and I’ll also dial in some reverb on the amp. So essentially, what you're about to hear is a combination of one delay and two different reverbs—just to give me a few interesting layers of ambience. And this is what that sounds like:
So there you have it. They are my top 5 tricks, tips, and tones for setting your compact, single footswitch delay unit that doesn't have tap tempo.
Well, that’s it for this video. Hopefully, you found it helpful and/or interesting. If so, please leave your thoughts and feedback in the comments section below. How do you guys use delay? Do you stack your delay with other effects? What are your favorite settings? Of course, if you are interested in more videos like this one, then be sure to subscribe to the channel and click that bell icon to be notified of future content. And last, but certainly not least, if you're looking to take your guitar playing a bit deeper then please mosey on over to GuitarIQ.com at your leisure to check out some of the great resources I have for you over there. That’s it from me. Thanks for watching and I'll see you in the next video!