Time and time again, delay pedals are relied upon by players of all levels, but which one do you choose? We discuss the top 10 best delay pedals of all time that you’ll almost always find on pedal boards all over the world along with some new contenders we think are truly great.
Delay pedals are one of the most versatile and widely used effects pedals thanks to the fact they can really beef up your sound and even add an entirely new dimension to your playing by changing the way you play certain riffs or chords – there’s a world of opportunity at hand and I’m sure any player reading this will echo the sentiment. I’m willing to bet there’s at least one album in your collection where an artist has used a delay effects pedal on a song, whether on guitar, keys or even vocals as it’s an essential tool used by both musicians and producers alike. So it makes sense to have one on hand!
However, when it comes to choosing the best delay pedal, there’s a world of choice out there. So, where do you start? And how do you decide between smaller units or larger multi-fx pedals? Well, today we’re going to show you some of the best delay pedals of all time that are consistently found on pedal boards across a wide variety of genres and highlight a few of the more sought-after features to help you decide which delay pedal might be right for your needs.
Here’s our top 10 best delay pedals of all time in no particular order…
1. Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man Delay Pedal
The Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man Delay Pedal is a smaller, more compact version of one of the most well-respected delay pedals of all time. Don’t be fooled – this is not some poor re-issue of a classic, but a faithful recreation of the larger (more bulky and VERY expensive) models which are now longer in production. Famously used by the likes of The Edge of U2, David Gilmour of Pink Floyd as well as Smashing Pumpkin’s Billy Corgan – you’re joining the ranks of some of the world’s greatest songwriters and guitarists when you pick one of these up.
The Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man Delay pedal gives you the ability to adjust the feedback (the number of delay repeats) Delay time, the Level and Depth but also provides the option to mix in some Chorus and Vibrato, offering up a modulated sound in addition to the delay. This means you can create some fantastic shimmering sounds and sculpt some really cool tones. However, it’s the unpredictability of the Analogue delay that really makes this stand out. Every note you hit is as nuanced as you want it to be and each feedback delay note comes back sounding lush and full bodied – something you can’t quite get with digital delays. This is easily one of the best delay pedals ever made!
If you want more control over your sound, we also recommend the Electro Harmonix Deluxe Memory Boy Analog Delay Pedal or for something smaller sized, we’d definitely suggest the Electro Harmonix Memory Boy Delay Guitar Effects Pedal for those who need to save some space.
2. MXR M169 Carbon Copy Analog Delay Guitar Pedal
The MXR M169 Carbon Copy Analog Delay Guitar Pedal is another classic delay pedal widely regarded as one of the all-time greats. This small, but extremely powerful pedal from the world renowned Jim Dunlop MXR range features a completely analogue audio path so you get rich and warm delay repeats. In fact, this pedal uses that old-school bucket brigade technology – the first kind of chip that effectively recreated a delay without the use of two tape decks. It’s easy to use, with a Regen (amount of delay repeats), Mix and Delay time controls as well as a modulation switch which adds that tape echo style delay shimmer. Go from quick, snappy and clean delays to longer drawn out Call and Repeat delays thanks to the huge 600ms of delay time and enjoy more room on your pedal board thanks to the small size.
For those who want more from their delay pedals as well as the ability to control their delay via tap tempo and up to 1.2 seconds of delay time, we recommend the MXR Carbon Copy Deluxe Analogue Delay Pedal, brand new for 2018.
3. Line 6 DL4 Delay Guitar Pedal and Modelling Stompbox
Well, we certainly can’t have the best delay pedals list without the Line 6 DL4 can we? This nifty piece of kit still dominates the music world thanks to it’s huge array of different delay effects, built in 14 second looper and ability to store user presets – and that’s just scratching the surface of what this can do! You have 16 different delay models all of which have been based on world famous and highly coveted delay pedals and rack mounted effects such as the Maestro EP-1 Echoplex, T.C. Electronic 2290, Roland RE-101 Space Echo and so many more – if you love your delay sounds and want a variety of different options without having to buy 16 different delay stompboxes, this is a fantastic option.
There’s even an array of modulation parameters you can utilise to create music with as well as the handy 14 second looper, reverse delay effect and the ½ speed modes. In addition, you can create your perfect delay and store it on one of three channels for call back later. One of the best delay pedals you could ever hope to play and an industry standard option used by professional musicians and bands everywhere such as John Mayer, Minus The Bear and more.
4. Boss Waza Craft DM-2W Delay Pedal
The BOSS Waza Craft DM-2W Delay Pedal is a faithful recreation of the coveted BOSS DM-2 delay pedal, but with modern improvements and premium components. The BOSS DM-2W features Waza Craft technology designed by the team at BOSS Japan, firmly thrusting this pedal into the modern age. You essentially get 2 delay pedals in 1 apocalypse-proof stomp box! The team at BOSS Japan have brought back the Delay of the DM-2 including premium all-analogue circuitry with BBD (bucket brigade) delay line, which provides up to 20-300 ms delay time, yet have provided players with an entirely new “Custom” mode. This Custom mode provides warm-yet-clear delays as well as a maximum 800 ms delay time allowing you to go from slapback delays all the way to call and response echo delays.
The BOSS 5 year warranty, typical tank-proof construction and easy to use layout make it a great option for those in need of a no-fuss pedal. There’s also an expression pedal input as well as two output jacks to allow separate output of delay and direct sounds meaning you can take complete control of your delay sound should you need to. This is not only one of the best delay pedals of today, but easily a contender for one of the best delay pedals of all time – especially considering it contains one of the greatest delay pedals EVER! A beautiful sounding delay pedal and very easy to use option for professionals and intermediates alike.
It's also part of the BOSS Collectors club which means you get free gear with each purchase of a BOSS pedal. Once you’ve bought 4 pedals you even get a brand new BOSS pedal of your choice for FREE! Get the details about the BOSS Collectors Club here.
5. Electro Harmonix Canyon Delay and Looper Pedal
The Electro Harmonix Canyon Delay and Looper Pedal is one of the newer offerings to our best delay pedals list, but just as important as any of the “veterans” here. Although it only arrived on the music scene in 2017, the sheer amount of effects within this tiny pedal and superb sound quality have seen it become one of the most sought-after options. An 11-position rotary switch allows you to choose from an array of delay sounds such as classic tape echo, reverse delay, Verb (reverb and delay together), shimmer and even activate a 62 second looper for jamming out ideas. We could talk about how awesome this pedal really is or you could just watch and listen to Dagan demoing this awesome and extremely versatile pedal below:
6. Strymon Timeline Delay Pedal
The Strymon Timeline Delay Pedal has quickly become an industry standard delay pedal thanks to it’s almost limitless features and superb tone sculpting opportunities. Favoured by the likes of Noel Gallagher and many more world-famous artists, the Strymon Timeline packs in 12 delay models into one professional grade stompbox and allows for deep editing of delays via the 7 front panel controls including the ability to change parameters such as Fast Rotor Speed, Preamp Drive, Mic Distance, Horn Level and so much more. Don’t be scared of this pedal though – it’s extremely easy to use and comes with pre-set delay effects such as bucket brigade delays, swells, reverse, pattern and many more – you’ll find this to be one of, if not, THE most controllable and editable delay pedals on the market today. If you want a full studio’s worth of delay effects and the ability to control them as an engineer would – then this is a great option.
7. Digitech Obscura Delay Pedal
One of our favourite delay pedals of 2017 has to be the Digitech Obscura Delay Pedal, which we think has got to be one of the best delay pedals ever crafted. You have four awesome delay sounds at your disposal including Analogue, Tape, Lo-Fi and Reverse as well as the ability to stack your tone and change Degrade controls. You can enjoy the warble of a tape echo, the subtle nuances of an analogue delay and the gurgling reverse noises all whilst editing the delay and feedback times to your liking!
There’s also tap tempo and an extremely beautiful sounding Delay Tails On/Off Switch that really adds lush dynamics to your guitar lines. The repeat and hold switches allow you to make some crazy noises whilst you’re in mid song and the soft click, vacuum style footswitch means you don’t get that annoying “click” noise in the delay sound when you engage the pedal. Digitech have also included a nifty Stomplock knob guard that ensures you don’t change any settings when you stamp on the pedal as well as a custom-cut Hook and Loop Pedalboard Pad that lets you add the pedal to your board with ease.
Check out our video below:
8. Dunlop Echoplex Delay
The Dunlop Echoplex Delay is a great option for lovers of the original Echoplex EP-3 tape echo unit used by the likes of Jimmy Page in Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, and Eddie Van Halen. This small sized pedal condenses the large and extremely expensive EP-3 units of the 70s into a Phase 90 sized stomp box, meaning you get a tape machine delay without having to drag around a massive unit! The cool thing about this pedal, and why we think it’s one of the bnest delay pedals ever made is the addition of the Age mode, which allows you to effectively recreate the sound of a brand new or aged tape – something which tape echo delay lovers would rely on to get their sound. This gives you the ability to add that signature tape flutter and modulation of the 70s style machines. You can enjoy 4 to 750ms of delay and extend that to 4 seconds of delay with the addition of the M199 MXR Tap Tempo Switch.
If you love the unpredictability and warmth of vintage tape delay, this is one of the best delay pedals you could hope to play.
9. Boss DD-3 Digital Delay Pedal
Yet another industry standard from BOSS comes in the form of the BOSS DD-3 Digital Delay Pedal – a pedal widely used by professionals all over the globe and easily one of the best delay pedals that have ever graced the earth. Yep it’s THAT good! A bold statement indeed but we think this stands up against any delay pedal on the market thanks to its “built-like-a-tank” design, ease of use and fantastic quality digital delay effect.
You have 3 delay time modes to choose from 50ms, 200 and 800ms and the ability to change the feedback level (number of repeats) further sculpt the delay time and even run the pedal to another isolated amplifier via the direct output. You can even utilise the intuitive Hold function which repeats the delay sound indefinitely into self-oscillation for some really cool sounds! A no fuss, extremely hard-working delay pedal that offers up superb digital delay and the control you need.
If you want this pedal, but you’re like me and also want every delay pedal BOSS have produced but don't have the room on your board, we also recommend the BOSS DD500 Digital Delay Twin Pedal which has 12 types of delay built in!
10. Ibanez Analogue Delay Mini Pedal
Last but not least, we have the Ibanez Analogue Delay Mini Pedal. Now this may not be one of the most well-known pedals on our best delay pedals blog, but it’s definitely one of our favourites thanks to its tiny design, value for money and amazing delay capabilities. You have up to 600ms of delay time from this 100% analogue delay pedal which has been put together by the Ibanez engineers in Japan as well as Repeat, Delay time and Blend controls to sculpt your sound. There’s no messing about with this pedal – you just get high quality sounds, a pedal board friendly pedal no bigger than a fun size mars bar and simple controls to change up settings on the fly – all for under £80. A great beginner delay pedal and one that professionals will enjoy too!
Shop a full range of delay pedals over at PMT Online today or call in to your local PMT store to try out a vast selection of the best delay pedals available. Our guitar experts are happy to help you find the right option to suit your needs!