If you’re looking to up your game in guitar performance, you can’t just do it with a guitar and amplifier—you need a high quality effects pedal! Also known as stompboxes, you don’t need to be a pro to experiment with the several types available; most do not require any special playing technique such as the delay effect. This type of effect dates back to the good ol’ days of tape recording, and basically delays the guitar’s sound and then plays it back for an echo effect. They can be ordered in both analog (old fashioned circuitry) and digital (chip), with several different features across the price table, so which one do you choose? With a mission to answer this question, we’ve scoured the guitar pedal space, and have narrowed down on what we feel are the 5 best delay pedal brands and 5 great options that will make you sound like a pro on stage!
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Our Top Choice
Donner Yellow Fall Delay Guitar Effect Pedal True Bypass
Donner, founded in 2012, is a pioneer of mini pedals that aims to create new experiences in music and performance with every product they offer.
Heavy duty aluminum alloy enclosure. Offers up to 25ms-600ms of delay time. True bypass provides transparent tone. LED indicator indicates its current status.
This delay makes little or no noise when activated, but sometimes can’t handle really long delay times.
2 outputs, effected/dry signal
4.7” x 3” x 2.5”, 8 ounces
Mono, works with bass
Jim Dunlop MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay
Jim Dunlop started out as a small, family owned business back in 1965, and is today one of North America’s leading names in musical instrument accessories.
Outfitted with a three knob layout to control delay, mix and regen. Class leading 600 milliseconds of delay time. Onsite 2 trim pots for more tonal options.
Although it is truly fantastic at what it is designed for, the mod button may not be beneficial for some users.
1 output and 1 input
600ms delay time
5.5” x 2.5” x 4.5”, 16 ounces
Delay, mix, and regen controls
Strymon El Capistan dTape Echo
Founded in 2004, Strymon is a rather small company that aims to redefine the possibilities of music gear through superior components and amazingly powerful processors.
Offers 3 tape machine options, where each one has 3 different modes to choose from. Appointed with 5 tape adjustment and toning shaped knobs and 5 hidden knobs.
This device is perhaps the best tape delay pedal in the market, but is a little on the pricier side.
2 outputs and 1 input
Varying delay times
8” x 8” x 5”, 22.4 ounces
BOSS Audio DD-7 Digital Delay Pedal
A division of the Roland Corporation and founded 44 years ago, Boss is a reputable name when it comes to electric guitars, bass guitars and effect pedals.
Offers both modulation delay mode and analog delay mode with up to 6400ms maximum delay time. Fitted with 2 mono inputs and 2 mono outputs.
Easy to use delay pedal, but the knobs may be a little small to manipulate with your foot.
2 outputs and 2 inputs
6400ms max delay time
2.4" x 2.9" x 5.1", 16 ounces
TC Electronic FlashBack Delay and Looper Guitar Delay Effect Pedal
The MUSIC Group parent company of TC Electronic is one of the largest holding companies of several industry-leading music product brands, including Turbosound and Eurocom.
7s delay time. Best delay sounds available. 40 second integrated looper. 11 different types of delay. Audio tapping mode to set your delay times quickly and accurately.
Whether you’re a novice or seasoned guitarist looking to add some pizzazz to your performance, you’re going to need the right equipment, most notably a delay effect stompbox. Now that you’ve read our delay pedal buying guide, you should be well equipped with the information you need to pick from our 5 best delay effect stompbox options, so let’s get right to them!
Our Top Choice
The Donner Yellow Fall Vintage Pure Analog Delay is a well-built pedal that provides delay effect only. However, if you’re like to add a bit of pizzazz to your tunes with 3 different effects, the Donner Multi Guitar Effect Pedal Alpha Cruncher is a must-have. It offers delay, chorus and distortion effects from one platform and is embraced by an aluminum body for durability and stability.
Donner Yellow Fall Vintage Pure Analog Delay made of Durable Aluminum Alloy with 20-620ms tape Delay
When shopping for guitar accessories, especially pedals, Donner is a name that often crops up and for several good reasons. The company, established in 2012, is a fairly young company whose sole mission is to create new experiences in music and performance with the help of a strong and highly knowledgeable research and development team and unrivalled customer support.
The Donner guitar pedal offers delay effects and a transparent tone thanks to its true bypass system. It is encased within an aluminum alloy frame and offers delay between 25ms and 600ms.
This yellow delay pedal is appointed with an LED light to indicate its working state and three knobs for echo, time and feedback. The package includes everything you need to get started including the delay pedal itself and an owner’s manual.
The Jim Dunlop MXR M169 Carbon Copy Analog Delay offers up to 600 milliseconds of delay time and creates a stunning doubling effect. However, if you’d like to enjoy a chorus effect, the MXR M234 Analog Chorus Pedal is an ideal choice. This pedal offers ultimate tone control and offers a rich chorus sound, owing mostly to its bucket-brigade technology. It is set within a heavy duty housing and fitted with durable jacks and switches for long service life.
Jim Dunlop MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay with up to 600ms Delay Time
Tucked away in the waterside city of Benicia, California, Jim Dunlop started out in 1965 as a small, family owned and operated company, but has now evolved to become a premier manufacturer of an assortment of musical instrument accessories. The company’s product portfolio includes guitar picks, accessories and strings, all built to high quality standards to play music your ears will love.
For guitar enthusiasts looking for that warm analog delay sound, the MXR M169 pedal is an excellent option. It is fitted entirely with an analog audio path and backed by old-school bucket brigade technology that’s good for rich, warm delay effects, and an onsite stage-worthy blue LED.
Further, it boasts a top notch delay time of 600ms, and an intuitive 3-knob layout (delay, mix and regeneration) that provides you with complete control over the device. Optional modulation can be engaged via a dedicated top-mounted switch, and you can even adjust the width and rate control of the modulation for more tonal options.
The Strymon El Capistan dTape Echo is a pedal designed to provide delay effects by leveraging the power of a robust SHARC DSP chip. If you’d like a pedal for chorus effect but with the same impressive SHARC DSP chip, look no further than the Strymon Ola Chorus\/Vibrato. It boasts a handcrafted dBucket algorithm for highly accurate emulation, and 3 modulation types—namely chorus, multi and vibrato—and 3 dynamic modes: normal, envelope and ramp.
Strymon El Capistan dTape Echo with 5 Tape Adjustments and Tone Shaping Knobs
Strymon took center stage with its range of tube powered effect pedals that became instant favorites for guitarists all across the globe upon its founding in 2004. The company’s mission is to build products that offer no compromise, so regardless of the product you choose from their expansive stable, be it a delay pedal or accessories, be assured of their class leading performance.
The Strymon El Capistan dTape Echo is quite possibly as close as you can get to digital emulation of classic tape echo machines in a rather compact stompbox. It offers 3 different tape machine types to choose from, each with 3 dedicated modes of operation. But it doesn’t end there—the El Capistan dTape Echo features tap tempo, 10 knob adjustable parameters, an expression pedal input and mode for unmatched control.
Under the hood, you’ve got a top notch SHARC DSP processor, an all-analog dry signal path and superior quality 24-bit 96kHz A/D and D/A converters that collectively help you achieve unparalleled tape echo effects. Made in the USA, this delay pedal is in a class of its own and offers little or no room for disappointment.
The BOSS Audio DD-7 Digital Delay Pedal renders a wide range of delay effects, and takes the best of its previous generation models and packs it into a trademark stompbox enclosure. If you are looking for a lush chorus sound from a pedal that’s been in production for an astounding 20 years, the Boss CH-1 Stereo Super Chorus is a great choice. It features effect level control, depth control, rate control, and is fitted with stereo outputs for top notch depth of sound.
BOSS Audio DD-7 Digital Delay Pedal with 6.4 seconds (6400ms) Maximum Delay Time
Headquarted in Hamamatsu, Japan, the Boss corporation was conceived more than 4 decades ago and is a prestigious manufacturer of a wide range of music equipment and accessories. The company in more recent times has expanded their product lineup to include rhythm machines, digital studios and other electronic music equipment.
The DD-7 is the latest iteration of the Boss digital delay pedal, and embodies the best features of its previous generations with an added handful of new ones such as classic modeled analog delay mode, modulation delay mode, longer delay time that can reach 6400ms and external pedal control options. The controls of the unit are simple and easy to use, and include the usual feedback effect level and delay time.
Furthermore, the hold mode allows you to mess around with loops and basic sound, but you may want to consider a dedicated looper should you need more options. Adding to this, the modulate mode offers great chorus style sound, while the noteworthy analog mode offers a nice, warm sound. The Boss DD-7 delay pedal is outfitted with 2 mono inputs and 2 mono outputs, and is a great complement to any pedalboard.
The TC Electronic FlashBack Delay and Looper Guitar Delay Effect Pedal offers true bypass so there is literally no loss of tone and offers two different types of delay: flashback and looper. However, if you’d like a guitar pedal with true bypass only with a reverb effect, the TC Electronic Hall of Fame Reverb Pedal should be a great option. It is fitted with stereo in and out ports, and can be ordered in a choice of two different sizes—mini and regular.
TC Electronic FlashBack Delay and Looper Guitar Delay Effect Pedal with 11 Delay Types and 6 Second Delay
Part of the MUSIC Group roster of brands, TC Electronics is backed by a highly knowledgeable team of 40 R & D specialists that strive to create industry leading digital amplification, audio effects and networking. Each product from the company stable is designed to take sound to a whole new level, be it products for guitarists, bassists or broadcasters.
The TC Electronics Flashback Delay pedal offers a choice of 11 delay types, and features an audio tapping mode that allows you to set your delay times quickly and accurately. It can be ordered in three different sizes—Flashback X4, Flashback and Flashback Mini, and either as a standalone device or as a value bundle that includes a power adapter and instrument cables. Further, it offers a 7 second delay time and an onsite 40 second looper that allows you to experiment until you achieve the most creative looping performances.
The true bypass feature of this delay effect stompbox ensures there is no tone lost, and the ability to turn the spillover on and off allows you to transition smoothly between sounds. Measuring just 5 x 1.5 x 3.5 inches, and tipping the scales at a modest 1.2lbs, the Flashback delay stomp boasts a rather small footprint and offers easy battery access, so that there are no hiccups when you take the stage.
The stage is set, and you’re about to be on it! You’ve got it all—the best electric guitar or professional acoustic guitar, with top notch guitar strings. You strum with confidence, and notice the sound emitted is not well processed and somewhat out of whack. It’s a perfect setup—what could have gone wrong? Simple answer: you’ve not connected a delay stompbox aka delay pedal to your amplifier.
These compact boxes can magically modify the tone from your guitar generally through electric circuitry for a subtle color or dramatic shift. Delay effects have come a long way since the tape echo effects were conceived by Les Paul in the 1940s, and today they’re literally everywhere—mostly in the form of small metal boxes fitted with knobs on the closures that allow you to adjust the depth, speed, and other features of the delay effect to open up a whole new world of sonic possibilities. Read on to learn what to look for in the best delay pedal.
The price of delay stompboxes vary considerably, and depend for the most part on their respective features. The market is saturated with cheap delay pedals, but it’s best to avoid these in order to leave your audience in a state of awe, not compel them to seek a refund! Effect pedals are similar to an artist’s brushes, in that you should really have more than 1 in your guitar arsenal. That said, some delay pedals allow you to explore other effects as well such as chorus, so you have just one single box to haul around and don’t have to buy them separately, which will of course be a little heavy on your pocket.
If you’re a novice guitarist, it is recommended that you invest in a high quality delay pedal that doesn’t break the bank, and upgrade after you get your feet wet. To give you a rough idea, you can get your hands on a basic delay pedal for roughly $50 and can go to $200+ for one with all the bells and whistles.
There are several factors to consider when shopping for the best delay effect stompbox in order to get the one that will make you a superstar!
That said, here are some of the noteworthy aspects to look for when on the shopping trail for the best delay pedal:
Delay time –Use this to control the time between repeats, where the higher the delay time means the longer between repeats
Analog vs. digital –The former has been around since the mid-1970s and is powered by a microchip, whereas the latter uses digital technology to create a perfect replica of each note and is great if you desire long delay times
True bypass –This connects the signal directly with the amp bypass so the guitar signal is routed directly between the two
LED indicator –This lets you know that the device is turned on
Material –Considering that the pedal is going to be operated by your feet, you want one that boasts of a robust build, preferably made from aluminum
Warranty –Most delay pedal manufacturers offer some level of warranty to assure you of your purchase
Construction and Design
Up through the early 1980s, all the delay and other effects that were created were powered by analog circuitry. The effects that were conceived after that period were inspired by the digital revolution, hence powered by a digital circuit. While some seasoned guitarists swear by the original analog models and their reissues, most delay pedals on the market are embedded with digital circuits.
Different types of stomps have their own advantages, and either can be a great option depending on you and the genre of music you’re playing. Delay stompboxes basically produce an echo every so often, and can be used in a variety of playing styles, so you just need to experiment with the tones until you find one that sets you apart from the crowd.
Performance and Ease of Use
Delay effect pedals help you create signature sounds once installed properly. Most delay stomps can be powered by either a 9-volt battery or AC power or both. To get started, connect the guitar to the pedal with a quarter inch cable to its input jack. Next, connect the delay stompbox to your amp by running a cable from the output jack to the amp’s input jack. Make sure to disconnect these cables when not in use to preserve battery life.
Once all the cables are connected, turn the amp on and set the knobs on the guitar pedal to their default position. Rev the pedal by pressing the foot knob with your foot, and then adjust each knob to experiment with the tone. Once you’ve achieved your desired effect, make the final changes with the foot switch and voila—you’re ready to rock on stage!
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