In this guide, you will learn how to use digital a delay pedal. The digital delay unit is one of the most useful guitar effects. It is a powerful tool for your rig that can bring out astonishing guitar performances.
What Does A Digital Delay Pedal Do?
The modern or vintage delay pedal is a stompbox that records and repeats sound input, thus creating an echo. If the playback is fast, the pedal generates a slapback effect, an instantaneous reverberation. When the playback is extended, the delay pedals, like the Boss DD500, Boss DD 7, Boss DD3, Boss DD 8, DD200, Flamma SS22, produce a sequence of echoes almost atmospheric in nature using digital signal processing.
Learn more – analog vs digital delay
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How The Effect Works
There are three main knobs on the pedal. These are:
- Level (or simply Delay) – This controls how loud you want the echo to sound. It allows you to control the volume of the processed (wet) signal in contrast to the unprocessed (dry) signal. If you turn the dial way up, it will create a completely “wet” signal, which can overwhelm the music you are playing. Hence, it is important to keep the delay level controlled. This is the same for both mono or stereo.
- Time – This controls how quickly the signal is replayed. A quick delays of around 50 milliseconds creates a slapback effect. A long delay of around 400 milliseconds allows you to repeat a line of music a few beats or eighth note later. Tap tempo also falls in this category but this is where you can manually set the time by tapping.
- Feedback – This dial allows you to repeat the input impedance signal as many times as possible. The time feedback creates a cascade of echoes that make guitar playing more interesting. However, it should be used with care because too much feedback can make your music sound chaotic.
Learn how to arrange guitar pedals here too.
Effects You can Produce
The pedal can produce a variety of sound effects including:
The delay effect is definitely versatile in sound quality. You can play with the knobs on the pedal to generate specific effects on the guitar sound. You can also use the pedal for the following:
- Lead Guitar Sustain – When playing solos on the lead guitar, you can use the delay to sustain the music. Ideally, you should set the delay level to around 40%, the feedback to 45% and the delay time to about 380 milliseconds.
- Slapback – For snappy types of music, you can use the slapback effect. Set the level to 65%, the feedback to 20% and the time to 120 milliseconds. This way, the pedal will not create a lot of reverb and will produce an almost instantaneous replay.
- Cascading Delay – For this effect, you need a dual delay. For the first delay, set the feedback to 30% and the time to 350 milliseconds. For the second delay, set the feedback to 10% and the time to 520 milliseconds. With this setup, you can replicate the signature tone of The Edge from U2.
Tips on Using A Digital Delay Pedal
- Experiment with the controls – Try leaving the level control way up and experiment with the feedback and time controls. Max level cuts the unprocessed signal from the music, which can cause you to produce cool sounds.
- Create a runaway effect – When you turn the level and feedback dials to maximum, the signal creates its own feedback. You can then play with the time dial to manipulate the sound.
- Produce whale calls – Set the pedal to create longer delays (400 milliseconds or more), then strike a note on the guitar while the volume dial is at zero. Bring the volume back up while doing a vibrato. This produces a whale sound.
- Boost the delay with an overdrive – Sometimes, the delay effect can be drowned when playing with a band. You can boost the signal using an overdrive. Make sure to set the overdrive gain at a lower level.
- Cathedral effect – You can make the electric guitar signal sound like it is echoing from a mountain pass or in a cathedral. Simply set the delays time to around 450 milliseconds, the level to 40% and the feedback to 60%. These are ballpark figures so you can play around with the dials to reach the desired effect.
The guitar sounds good on its own, but you can add more color and emotions to your music by taking advantage of a digital delays pedal. Learn to recreate the effects mentioned above and experiment with other settings to discover what else you can do with the gear.