If you are in need of an exhaustive guide to the best delay pedals, you’ve come to the right place.
Delays are not all created equal, and this article is organized in a way that helps you understand which kind of echo stompbox you need – and find it. It highlights the three top units for each of the categories in the list below. Each category, then, also provides you with a link to a more comprehensive article featuring other popular pedals in that same niche.
Start by choosing a type of reverb pedal from the list below.
Updated on September 23, 2022
The Best Delay Pedals: a Guide by Type
If you like delay, you were born in the right century. Humans have been making music for a very long time — some say as many as 35,000 years. But none of the gazillions musical compositions written between the dawn of humanity and the 1960s had a “delay effect” on it!
Of course, echo could be experienced in nature before then, but it was impractical for musical purposes (unlike reverb, which is achievable by placing the sound source in an empty room).
Delay is, therefore, a modern commodity, and if it’s true that it’s not the only sound effect born in the last century, we’d be hard-pressed to deny that it’s one of — if not THE — most fun and inspiring of them all. How lucky are we?
Delay Pedal-Mania is… Now!
Those who, more specifically, love delay pedals, are even luckier: the decade that just ended saw an explosion of devices and new technology that made this effect better sounding and more tweakable and portable than ever. In the last few years, things have gotten even more interesting with granular synthesis entering the arena, making echo and delay pedals one of the most inspiring and playful niches for creative musicians and effect designers alike.
What’s the Best Delay Pedal for Your Needs?
A delay pedal simply replicates your guitar’s input signal. So why is choosing one so difficult?
The short answer is “variety.” Electronic delay, or echo, has been around since the late 1940s, when it was produced mechanically, using audiotape. In the roughly 70 years since then, it’s become available in a range of analog and digital circuits and with an increasingly varied set of features.
We’re not going to get into the specifics of how delay pedals work—you can go here for that—but suffice to say, delay has become one of the most common effects available today, even if it is available in an uncommonly diverse number of flavors.
So, what kind of delay do you need? The easiest way to find what you are looking for is to click on one of the overall categories in the list below and then look for the pedal that’s right for you in the sub-categories’ interactive galleries, which are organized by perceived popularity:
• A Simple, Classic Sounding 3-Knob Delay Pedal
(2 categories: Analog and Tape-Style)
• A Classic Delay Pedal with Advanced Controls
(4 Categories: Analog Compact, Analog Non-Compact, Tape-Style, Tape-Style w/ Lo-Fi controls)
• A Do-It-All Workstation Offering Many Flavors of Delay
(3 Categories: Compact and Large Workstations, Tape-Style Multi Delays)
• A Character Delay Emulating Non-Tape Vintage Units
(2 categories: Binson Echorec and Oil Can Emulations)
• A Creative Delay Pedal
(6 Categories: Pitch Shifting, Ambient, Lo-Fi, Single Function, with Reverb, CV In)
• A Truly Experimental Delay Pedal
(2 Categories: Multi-Mode Experimental and Granular Delays)
• A Mini Delay Pedal that Fits in Any Board (separate page)
CLASSIC ANALOG DELAYS WITH 3 KNOBS
Many guitarists are looking for a delay to help them beef up their tone. They don’t need tap tempo or other frills—just a basic pedal that can deliver a range of delays for styles ranging from rockabilly to reggae to hard rock. If this sounds like you, you’ll be happy to know there are plenty of pedals out there that can fulfill your requirements, in the two flavors of analog (Bucket Brigade Chip-based) and tape echo-style delay (digital delays that emulate the warmth and “wow and flutter” of the vintage tape echos.
• 3-Knob Analog Delays
All analog delays are based on the Bucket Brigade Device chip (BBD).
- MXR Carbon Copy
A very popular, rich-sounding, three-knob analog delay based on the classic bucket brigade technology. It features up to 600ms of delay time with optional modulation controlled by two internal trim pots for width and rate.
Pros: It sounds great, and has a useful hidden modulation feature; Cons: some players find that it saturates/distorts too quickly.
- Boss DM 2W Waza Craft
Based on the vintage Boss DM-2, the 2W introduces an extra switchable mode and greater versatility: Custom mode offers a cleaner analog tone with over twice the available delay time of the original (up to 800ms). It features an expression pedal input to control the rate and a direct out.
Pros: A classic delay with a new, improved mode and connectivity; Cons: No true bypass, which offends some.
- Way Huge Aquapuss MkIII
With its original, bigger brother selling used for around one grand (!), this mini version could be considered a bargain, although the delay time is only 300ms. It definitely does the job of adding depth and dimension to your tone.
Pros: A natural-sounding delay that shines on slapback tones; Cons: 300ms is a limited delay range.
• 3-Knob Tape-Style Delays
These are simple digital delays with a sound inspired by the character of vintage tape echo devices like the Echoplex.
- Dunlop EP103 Echoplex
A simple but quality pedal that succeeds in emulating the venerable Maestro Echoplex from the ’60s, one of the first tape echos. The tiny “Age” control makes the repeats increasingly degraded. It’s the only pedal in this list with remote Tap Tempo functionality and stereo functionality.
Pros: Delivers a variety of complex and dynamic tones (including stereo ones!) with just a few controls; Cons: It has trouble with some 3rd party PSUs
- Mad Professor Deep Blue Delay
A high-end, three-knob digital tape echo with about the same bandwidth as the classic tape echo unit. The three knobs control Delay Time, Delay Level and Repeats. There’s also a very pricey hand-wired version of it and a “Dual” version that is not handmade but offers two echo circuits, Tap Tempo and Tone controls and costs about the same.
Pros: Great, warm tape-style repeats without degradation; Cons: pricey, no modulation.
- Death By Audio Micro Dream
A compact version of the popular Echo Dream II (which also includes a fuzz circuit) the Micro Dream has the unique feature of getting more and more lo-fi sounding the longer the repeats, which sound warm and pleasant up to 400 ms.
Pros: Great long delay tones for lo-fi lovers; Cons: Pricey for the number of features.
DELAYS WITH ADVANCED CONTROLS
If a basic echo pedal is too spartan, check out these analog and digital pedals, which boast tap tempo and additional features for creative sonic manipulation, such as multi-tap and low-frequency oscillators that can emulate the pitch fluctuations of vintage tape-based delays.
• Advanced Analog Delays (Mono, Small Footprint)
In this list, devices that give you a bit more flexibility within the BBD analog format within the perimeters of a small enclosure.
- Chase Bliss Audio Thermae
A pedal that digitally manipulates the pitch of an analog signal path created by 4 re-issued versions of the BBD chip. This allows to create delays with repeats playing at different intervals, opening up innumerable harmonizing options. Intervals can be sequenced automatically, or triggered manually. It can also be used as a more standard analog modulated delay.
Pros: A great-sounding creative delay/harmonizing machine; Cons: Not for the “less-is-more” kind of musicians (you can get lost in options).
- Electro-Harmonix Nano Deluxe Memory Man
A delay with modulation offering delay times from 30mS up to 550mS. It streamlines the classic Memory Man Deluxe circuit through a simple layout with six knobs. The modulation section is controllable via a Depth and Rate knob, while an internal switch turns Tails on and off. The NYC company’s Memory line of delays offers several variations on this same design.
Pros: Replicates the sound its legendary big-box predecessor in a compact case; Cons: slightly noisy footswitch, repeats degrade noticeably at longer settings.
- Jam Pedal Delay Llama MkIII
Mk3 of this highly regarded 3-knob analog effect delivering up to 600ms of delay got Tap Tempo and a 3 subdivision switch added to it. You can also set the bypass mode to trails (buffered) or true bypass. These improvements don’t affect the circuit’s tone, loved by many guitarists and based on a faithful reproduction of the Panasonic MN3205 chip.
Pros: Delivers a tone revered by many pro guitarists. Cons: not a lot of controls compared to other pedals in this category.
• Advanced Analog Delays (Larger Footprint)
These analog delays exploit a wider footprint to give you more controls, opening up extra creative features.
- MXR Carbon Copy Deluxe
An expanded version of the classic Carbon copy with more delay time (1200ms), presets, tap tempo and subdivisions. It also sports and bright switch and exposed control for the modulation section (they were internal trim pots in the original).
Pros: A classic delay, with more functions – what can go wrong? Cons: The Mix control has a small range, and some don’t like how close the knobs are to each other.
- Electro-Harmonix Memory Man 1100-TT
The legendary EHX analog delay with added Tap Tempo, 1100mS of maximum delay time, Expression Control and an Effects Loop. Five Tap Divide subdivisions deliver rhythmic variation. The Expression Pedal Input provides real-time control over Blend, Rate, Depth, Feedback and Delay. For more affordable versions of this same series (with shorted delay times or fewer features) look at the 550-TT version, which has shorter repeats.
Pros: A legendary, creative analog delay gets stuffed with features and longer repeats; Cons: At around $440, it may break the bank.
- DOD Rubberneck
Over a second of analog repeats with tap-tempo, subdivisions, and tails. Double concentric knobs give you independent control of the Mod, Rate, Depth, Gain, and Tone of the delay. Double footswitches allow for extended features like user customizable momentary control of oscillation and momentary control of the dizzying pitch sweep.
Pros: Extremely versatile, smartly designed. Cons: Pricey. Tends to self-oscillate too easily.
• Tape Delays with controls for Modulation
Tape-style echos differ from analog delays mostly for trying to convey – through added modulation – the “wow-and-flutter” produced by the rolling of the tape in the vintage unit. The pedals in this category let you fine-tune that effect with dedicated controls.
- BOSS RE-2 Space Echo
a virtual multi-head tape machine offering the authentic sound of the original Space Echo, in mono or stereo. A rotary knob sweeps through 11 modes (each simulating a different configuration of the tape heads), and three dual ‘concentric” knobs deal with: Echo Level, Intensity, Rate, (stereo) Reverb, Tone and Wow & Flutter. Tap Tempo and Twist momentary effect are accessible through the footswitch.
Pros: A compact Space Echo with simple controls, in stereo. Cons: Labeling at times confusing.
- Catalinbread Belle Epoch EP3
A pedal recreation of the classic Echoplex EP-3, it emulates the original’s preamp color, self-oscillation character, saturation behavior, the decay of the repeats and the wow and flutter. The last three effects can be controlled through the Rec Leve, Sustain and Mod knobs.
Pros: Great-sounding tape-style echo, in a compact case. Cons: illegible knob descriptions.
- Keeley Eccos
A stereo recreation of tape-style delay with an extra looper, powered by a Quad 24/56-bit Dream DSP. It adds tape-flange to the delay trails, for a unique modulation vibe that is easy to dial in to your taste. Includes Tap Tempo, Presets and True Bypass. Looper mode allows you to replay your parts in reverse or half-speed.
Pros: Great tape-style echo and flanger sounds, the looper is a nice extra. Cons: Not very intuituve.
• Tape Delays with Controls for Tape Character (Lo-Fi)
Another characteristic of tape is the sonic degradation it conveys to the repeats when the tape ages. These pedals allow control over the lo-fi character of the repeats.
- Jam Pedals Delay Lama Xtreme
A beefed-up version of the popular original delay with unusual functionality. 800ms of delay can be manipulated through a 4-Mode section that offers either Vibrato or “tape Age” character or Random repeats or Pitch shifting. Tap tempo with subdivision, hold function, kill dry, trails, and expression/CV input round up the list of features.
Pros: Tons of tones from classic to experimental can be dialed in from just a few controls. Cons: The case could be smaller…
- Recovery Cutting Room Floor V2
A versatile, hand-wired pedal offering wild modulation, delay, freeze and stutter effects, with a lo-fi angle. The Wow knob controls both intensity and modulation parameters, while the Stability control acts in conjunction with it as a tape deterioration effect. The freeze button allows swelling momentary effects.
Pros: A creative and intuitive boutique take on tape echo. Cons: No feedback knob!
- Pladask TÅKEN
An asynchronous, dual-head delay with random modulation and a powerful send/receive-loop. The Head knob sets the balance between the two ‘tape’ heads from 100% ‘short’ to 100% ‘long’. Internal switches can add more resonance and high pass filtering. It offers four routing options through send/receive-loop.
Pros: More “out there” than the other delays because of the random modulation. Cons: Not for the more traditional players
DELAY PEDALS WITH MULTIPLE MODES
Guitar players with a decent budget don’t necessarily have to pick between an analog-style and tape-style delay. Many advanced delay units place a wealth of analog, vintage and digital tones at your service, along with features such as looping, multitap delay, “freeze,” tap tempo and additional reverb and modulation effects. As a rule of thumb, the more flexible these pedals are, the pricier and lesser compact they get.
• Multi-Mode Workstations (Larger Footprint)
This list features the most comprehensive and flexible delay pedals out there. They are all DSP-based and stereo, and come at a cost.
- Strymon Timeline
Loved by many, it’s lush sounding with deep functions, without being overly complicated, a studio-grade unit that includes 12 “delay machines” delivering anything from classic tones to cutting edge ones. 200 presets, a routable 30-second looper, and Midi implementation.
Pros: a true gold mine of incredible delay tones! Cons: Time for a smaller V2 version?
- Line 6 DL4 Mk II
MKII of the legendary pedal that pioneered the delay multi-modeling trend. Not one bit smaller than the original, it retains most of the functionality and all of the modes of the original, adding 15 new delay models, a selection of reverbs, two loopers with up to 240 seconds or recording time, XLR Mic in and Midi connectivity.
Pros: An pioneering box, modernized with new features. Cons: As big and bulky as the original.
- BOSS DD-500
The older, bigger brother of the BOSS DD-200, it is still a best-seller, notwithstanding the larger case. It has dual delay channels and deep editing possible directly in the box. They share most of the algorithms, but the 500 has 4 band EQ, control over modulation, ducking, feedback damping, and much more for each mode – while the 200 has Tone control, Modulation depth, and a multi-purpose Parameter knob.
Pros: A quality do-it-all from the kings of pedals.
• Multi-Mode Tape Echo Pedals
Unlike the devices in the previous list, these pedals focus on recreating the various flavors of vintage tape delay units (and some non-tape based ones) through modes emulating classics like the Echoplex, the Space Echo or the various effects producers learned to create out of a Studer tape recording machine.
- Strymon El Capistan V2
A lush stereo emulation of a vintage Tape Echo device, in a cleverly simple box, plus a set spring reverb. It offers three Tape modes emulating different reading head configurations (Fixed, Multi, and Single) and three ways to slightly tweak each one of them. Separate controls for Tape Age and Wow and Flutter. Sound on Sound mode allows you to use it as a looper, and V2 brings the reverb feature out in the open, with a dedicated knob.
Pros: Simple, quite compact, stereo, and great sounding. Cons: With V2, it’s hard to find any.
- Strymon Volante
It offers emulations of three specific vintage delay pedals, including the Binson Echorec (“Drum mode”). The controls aren’t exactly the same as the original, but the sonic recreation is extremely faithful, and the various controls actually expand on the limits of the vintage units.
Pros: A bottomless well of classic echo sounds. Cons: Pricey and biggish.
- BOSS RE-202
An accurate stereo digital recreation of the original Space Echo with expanded tones and functionality: “New” and “Aged” tape modes; Saturation and Wow & Flutter knobs; A fourth virtual tape head for extra fx combinations;
Independent reverb section with spring, hall, plate, room, and ambience modes;
Momentary functions for the footswitches double the delay time, presets, Tap tempo and Midi.
Pros: A universally adored classic, with extras. Cons: Still pretty big footprint.
• Multi Delay Pedals with Smallish Footprint
These are streamlined and shrunk versions of the flagship devices in the previous list. They normally share the same algorithms but have less controls and features.
- Electro-Harmonix Canyon
A Tap Tempo-enabled, Mono, compact, multi-mode delay (up to 3 seconds) that does it all, including looping, shimmer, trails and subdivisions. Creative guitarists will appreciate the Sample & Hold Function is “glitch” at its finest. It allows easy access to extra parameters through the Secondary Knob Mode.
Pros: Incredible selection of sounds in a compact format. Cons: No stereo. Figuring out the Tap Tempo subdivision functionality can give you a headache.
- Keeley Halo
A compact dual echo with a true stereo path, delivering up to 1500ms per channel with a ton of features for its size, including presets, tap tempo, 5 delay rhythms (i.e. modes), optional modulation, and a high degree of tweakability. Built with Andy Timmons, it features a preset that recreates his modulated dual-echo sound. The Saturate knob simulates the compression and warm saturation of tape.
Pros: Beautiful-sounding and full of range. Cons: Pricier than its competitors and a little harder to navigate.
- BOSS DD-8
A stereo In/Out digital pedal with up to 10 seconds of delay featuring 11 modes, from the usual classics to creative modes like Glitch, Reverse, Shimmer, Mod Warp and also a Loop mode. Tap Tempo and Hold functions are integrated within the only footswitch. Includes Trails option and external connectivity for remote tap tempo and expression pedal.
Pros: Tons of great-sounding modes (and a looper), in stereo. Cons: No onboard Tap Tempo, clumsy subdivision system.
MINI DELAY PEDALS
If your priority is size, this is your list, and you’ll find a lot of options in the linked in-depth article. Today’s mini pedals can pack a lot of functions, but the reduced real estate doesn’t allow them to be as deep as the delay workstations in the previous list. They tend to be more affordable than their bigger cousins, but in many cases also flimsier and impossible to repair.
- TC Electronic Flashback Mini 2
Don’t let the three knobs (Feedback, Delay, and Level) fool you, this mini-delay can get a lot of different sounds through TC’s Toneprint app, which allows to upload and tweak presets in many flavors and transfer them via USB.
Pros: Extremely flexible for its size thanks to the Toneprint app. Cons: TC used to be a company run by fantastic people. Not anymore, do you really want to buy from them?
- Ibanez Analog Delay Mini
It features two smaller knobs for Repeat and Blend, and a significantly larger Delay Time knob in the middle. The range of delay time is 20ms to 600ms. True bypass switching provides the shortest, most direct signal path, as well as the cleanest tone. 100% Analog Circuitry allows for the warmth of tone that players desire from analog delays.
Pros: Great sounding analog goodness in a tiny package. Cons: Obviously limited palette of tones.
- Xvive Echoman
A mini delay designed by the same electrical engineer who created the EHX Memory Man Deluxe. Features two Xvive proprietary BBD3005 chips, giving you up to 600 msec of delay time with no aliasing distortion and added modulation.
Pros: Authentic BBD delay with modulation in a mini case, inspired by a classic. Cons: Hard to find any.
EMULATIONS OF VINTAGE, NON-TAPE DELAY UNITS
Maybe you’re just hooked on the raw sound of echo produced by mechanical tape and oil can delays. Unfortunately, vintage tape delays like the Echoplex, Binson Echorec and Roland RE-201 Space Echo can be costly and difficult to maintain. Oil-can delays are even more troublesome—and more expensive, since fewer working examples survive. On the bright side, there are a number of entirely electronic pedals that can faithfully mimic the glitchy sounds of tape delay and warbling echoes of oil-can units.
• Binson Echorec Emulations
Digital emulations of a vintage Italian magnetic drum-based effect unit from the ’60s (dear to David Gilmour among others) that introduced multi-tap delay.
- Dawner Prince Boonar Echo
It faithfully recreates the character and functions of the Echorec 2, sharing the same analog signal path as the original but with high voltage driven FETs as tube emulators and a DSP unit recreating the magnetic memory drums. A footswitch allows you to switch from Repeats to Swells. With a 1k ms delay time s, it replaces the 12 positions of the “Switch” knob with an increased 16 combinations. A Drum Age knob on the back panel emulates the character of worn-out units.
Pros: The most faithful Binson Echorec emulation as far as functionality. Cons: Rather expensive.
- Catalinbread Echorec
A digital recreation of the first Binson Echorec that takes the delay time up to 1k milliseconds, it includes all 12 combinations of the original unit’s “Switch” knob and adds a “Tone” control like in version 2, renouncing though the magnetic head on/off “Channel Selector.” An internal trim pot controls the intensity and randomness of the modulation.
Pros: a convincing emulation of the vintage device. Cons: It doesn’t do “normal” delay.
- Foxgear Echosex Baby
A shrunk and stylized version of the Guru Amps Echosex delay pedal, which was inspired by the vintage Binson Echorec. Features an “Age” knob which adds vintage character to the repeats.
Pros: It captures the sound of the bigger Echosex line, in a smaller and cheaper format. Cons: It’s limited to a single-head repeat.
• Oil Can Delay Emulations
Digital emulations of a rather murky sounding and obscure delay device based on oil. There are only two pedals in this category.
- Catalinbread Adineko
A digital recreation of the vintage and rare oil can delays that emulates their dark and warbly tone while “optimizing” the original units’ temperamental character by identifying their most musical and interesting behaviors. The Viscosity knob controls the intensity of the character. The Balance knob creates interesting syncopations emulating emphasys given to one of the two magnetic heads.
- Old Blood Noise Black Fountain
3-Mode Oil can delay emulation. Modern mode emulates the classic long delay of oil can units, while Organ Tone mode is based on other more recent units featuring shorter delay. Vintage mode is similar in function to the Modern mode, but has a grittier and grainier feel to the repeats. The brand new V3 adds tap tempo and subdivisions.
CREATIVE DELAY PEDALS
Delay is also the centerpiece for a range of stompboxes designed for adventurous guitarists (and other musicians too). These pedals excel at turning your input signal into textural machines or echoey, droning wash of sound, and usually include a number of other signal-bending features, such as filters, pitch shifters, and modulation, . If you’re looking for a delay pedal that can take your sound into another dimension, chances are you’ll find what you want among these machines. Most of the boxes here can do straight delay, but nearly all of them exist for the sole purpose of creating unorthodox effects.
• Multi-Tap Pitch Shifting Delays
Assigning different pitch parameters to different delays in a multi-tap echo is an inspiring way to create unexpected parts. These stompboxes shine at this.
- Meris Hedra
A 3-Voice Rhythmical Pitch-Shifter with tap tempo and deep functionality. Choose and micro-tune the key, and harmonize the fundamental with pitch-shifted notes going from -2 octaves all the way up to +2. Each voice can be delayed and fed back in 4 intricate matrices, through a smooth or hard step sweep through intervals, with the option to slide between pitches at the speed you choose.
Pros: A fountain of creativity. Cons: Steepish learning curve.
- Eventide MicroPitch
A versatile effect machine with a unique combination of dual pitch-shifters with fine-resolution de-tuning, delay and modulation – including new positive envelope and negative envelope modulation sources. Tap Tempo and Midi-enabled, it can store up to 127 presets in memory, with 5 loaded for immediate access. It also offers multiple Bypass options: Buffered, Relay, DSP+FX or Kill dry.
Pros: It does a lot more than delay, and does it well. Cons: Takes some time to learn.
- Jam Pedals Delay Llama Xtreme
A beefed-up version of the popular original delay with unusual functionality. 800ms of delay can be manipulated through a 4-Mode section that offers either Vibrato or “tape Age” character or Random repeats or Pitch shifting. Tap tempo with subdivision, hold function, kill dry, trails, and expression/CV input round up the list of features.
Pros: Powerful, versatile and straightforward. Cons: Pricier and bigger than the other pedals on this list.
• Ambient/Sci-Fi Delays
In this list, a bunch of delay pedals that excel at creating otherworldly washes of sound, ranging from the ethereal to the sci-fi, ofter featuring a mix of reverb and delay.
- Death By Audio Echo Dream 2
Based on the PT2399 chip used by most tape echo emulations, this is an effect for the adventurous guitarist, featuring a gnarly fuzz and heavy-handed, two-wave modulation section. It works at 9v or 18v and can do “normal delay” if necessary.
Pros: An inspiring device for the experimental guitarist unafraid of getting noisy. Cons: No Tap Tempo, delay starts degrading at around 700ms.
- Collision Devices Black Hole Symmetry
A hand-built, textural and spacey pedal with Delay, Modulation, Pitch Shifting, Reverb and Fuzz. The delay (left footswitch) is modulated by two oscillators and its repeats can be pitch-shifted. The reverb (center footswitch) is long and atmospheric and the “Destruction Fuzz” (right switch) engages the big “Disintegrate” knob, which can drastically push the volume.
Pros: It delivers an incredible range of sound, each component sounds great. Cons: Expensive and kinda huge.
- Old Blood Noise Minim
An ambient machine offering a newly voiced reverb with harmonic tremolo, a modulated delay, and a reverse section selectable between normal speed or double speed activated with a footswitch for momentary or latching operation. The placement of the two effects can be changed through the Order toggle switch.
Pros: An original take on delay, producing original sounds – and it looks great! Cons: No trails mode.
• Creative Lo-Fi Delay Pedals
Lo-Fi artifacts add character to the signal, and the stompboxes in this list provide plenty of options to make your guitar sound less clean, often in a playful if not quirky way.
- Caroline Megabyte
Built on two old-school lo-fi digital chips, it offers up to 1200ms of delay with the lo-fi character of karaoke machines from the ’80s, but also delivers fun runaway oscillations through the Havoc footswitch. Attack and level controls let dial up everything from crisp slapbacks to dirty, muted echoes and loud, powerful repeats. It features Tap Tempo and Trails.
Pros: An inspiring device for the creative mind. Cons: It doesn’t do clean, but that’s the point.
- Demedash T-120 Videotape Echo V2
It recreates the lo-fi sound of VHS tapes, described as “low bandwidth tape being fed haphazardly through a magnetic read head by an uncalibrated, unbalanced feed mechanism.” The Tape Quality knob exacerbates the lo-fi aspect, while Depth and Speed control the modulation. There’s also a stereo Deluxe version with tap tempo, Subdivisions, Trail mode and momentary self-oscillation footswitch.
Pros: Very cool sounds, from subtle to quirky. Cons: Hard to find any.
- Keeley Memphis Sun
A 3-mode pedal inspired by the lo-fi sounds found in the recordings of the ’50s. Two of the modes are delay based with heavy filtering and an extra reverb: the Echo 600 and the Sun Mode, which is an auto track-doubling and short slapback delays. The third is a standalone reverb. The Regen knob adds repeats to the Echo, modulation to the Sun Mode, and tweaks the Tone in Room mode.
Pros: A vintage tone machine with a wide sonic palette. Cons: No tap tempo.
• Creative, Single Function Delay Pedals
These pedals offer a unique take on delay. They are not very flexible, but what they do, they do it extremely well.
- BOSS Tera Echo
A rather unique pedal that delivers something in between a delay and a reverb, with an added dynamic modulation/filter effect. It can produce original echo and ambience effects. Freeze function holds the ambient sound for lead backing and sound effects
- Mr. Black Downward Spiral
A delay with a downward pitch movement added to the trails. A simple and unique idea that creates dreamy and mysterious atmospheres.
- Catalinbread Csidman
Although it can function as a standard digital delay pedal, the CSIDMAN —pronounced “Discman”—has Cuts and Latch controls that let it create the sound of a skipping portable CD player. Though its behavior is pseudo-random, the CSIDMAN gives you some degree of control over it, though, fortunately, not enough to make it entirely predictable.
• Delay Pedals with Reverb
The Reverb+Delay combo is one of the most popular for creative guitarists with ambient or shoegazer inclinations.
- Keeley Caverns V2
V2 combines reverb and analog-style tape delay with modulation options. It has three modes: Spring, a blackface amp-style spring reverb with Fender-esque tremolo; Modulation, which adds choral modulation to the reverb; and Shimmer, which emphasizes octave-up voices in the reverb trails.
- Source Audio Collider
Two popular pedals embedded in a stereo Delay+Reverb effect with Midi, Tap Tempo and Freeze function. It includes a choice of 5 delay algorithms that can be combined with 7 reverbs for effects ranging from the subtle to the sci-fi.. 4 of the 6 knobs have a double function through a three-way toggle switch. Control knobs affect algorithm-specific settings.
- EarthQuaker Avalanche Run
An evergreen delay + reverb with a character that’s luscious and haunting at once. Its dark and ambient quality doesn’t sound unnatural. It’s extremely simple to use, with only four knobs for Mix, Time, Reverb (length) and Repeats (delay).
• Delay Pedals for Synths with CV In (Great for Modular)
CV (Control Voltage) is a format that allows electronic musical instruments to talk to each other (like Midi, but analog), and it’s the standard for modular synths. The pedals in this list are both creative and CV compatible.
- Empress Echosystem
Dual engine delay with 36+ studio quality algorithms including emulations of classics like digital, tape and analog delays, and also ambient, multi-tap and reverb modes. Its dual-engine allows two of any of these effects to be used together, routed in either parallel, series, or left/right configurations. Tap tempo with subdivisions, Midi/CV connectivity and Cab simulator are welcome extras.
- Meris Polymoon Delay
A pedal inspired by the way Allan Holdsworth and Frank Zappa used delay: a multi-tap delay with tons of modulation—it has six LFOs in it. an extremely deep sound design that can take you from well known earthly environments to new shining sonic galaxies in seconds flat.
- Pigtronix Echolution2 Ultra Pro
Born as a modulated delay,. the newer versions of the Echolution are jam packed with features: looper, LFO, envelope and multimode filter, it excels at on-the-fly programming flexibility. Features Reverse, Ducking, Trails, Listen and Ping Pong modes, 60 presets and full Midi integration. The Exp in allows for CV control.
DELAY PEDALS WITH AN EXPERIMENTAL ANGLE
For the guitarist interested in pushing the traditional sonic boundaries, there are a few pedals that blend delay with more experimental effects like granular synthesis, filters and reverse effects. These are mostly textural pedals that are great at generating happy accidents, glitchy parts and quirky riffs.
• Multi-Mode Experimental Delays
The pedals in this category offer several unconventional delay modes.
- Hologram Microcosm
A multi-mode granular looper/phrase looper/delay filter and reverb. Offers 11 unique granular and looping effects with 44 preset variations,
Stereo In/Out, Expression In mappable to many controls, MIDI, 60 sec. Phrase Looper, Stereo Reverb, “Hold” function to freeze effects and patterns, pitch modulation, Resonant Lowpass Filter, presets, trails, and Tap Tempo.
- Red Panda Tensor
A stereo bit crusher with fractional bit reduction and sample rate modulation with triangle, square, and random waveforms, and also envelope control over the sampling rate or mix. V2 includes several new functions, including waveshaping, wavefolding, and a window comparator for extreme digital distortion. The pedal now also stores 4 presets.
- Alexander Radical Delay DX
The NEO version of this ‘80s flavored delay packs extra features like Preset, Morph function, Trails and Ramp, with six delay modes from pitch-shifted to dynamic and arpeggiating delays. and the more ordinary Dual and Modulated. The Tweak knob controls mode-specific parameters.
Check out our in-depth article about the Best Delay Pedals with Creative and Unusual Features.
Go back to list of delay types
• Granular Delays
Just like some sort of “dyslexic delay,” a granular delay chops us samples of audio, reorganizes these fragments in a different order, and then repeats these new patterns creating unexpected, often glitchy textural repeats.
- Chase Bliss Audio MOOD
Presented as a “study in interaction,” this playful granular delay features a Wet Channel of spacial effects (built in collaboration with OBNE) and a Loop Channel (built with Drolo FX) that merge and interface with each other in three different routing modes, opening up a world of sonic experimentation including time-stretching, freeze, overdub, dissolve and smear.
- Red Panda Particle V2
This feature-packed, stereo granular delay/pitch shifter chops your signal into small grains and rearranges, shifts, and mangles it. Five delay modes (random, density, LFO, random pitch, and reverse) and three pitch modes (detune, density, LFO) with shifting capabilities of +/-1 octave. V2 adds Tap Tempo and Presets.
- Montreal Assembly Count to 5
A unique delay/sampler with three modes that can create sped-up and slowed-down—as well as forward and backward—tape effects, audio slicing, looping and overdubbing. Quantized pitch-shifting makes it possible to create tones that are harmonized chromatically or in perfect fifths and octaves, or you can turn off quantization and set the pitch wherever you want.
And finally, here are a few videos highlighting cool delay tricks to get your creative juices going (click for video)!