How to Use a Delay Pedal?

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When I was younger, I used to listen to bands like U2 and wonder how they created such amazing echo effects with their guitars. Once I learned that this effect came from a delay pedal, I decided to purchase my own, and I haven’t been disappointed by its abilities.

Delay pedals can be complex, so it took me a long time to learn how to use all of the settings on my device. Now that I have delay pedal knowledge, I’m here to make your learning process a little easier. Let’s take a look at how to use a delay pedal.

What You Need for This Tutorial

I’m going to make sure this tutorial is pretty easy to follow, but there are still a few materials you’ll need to get the most out of it.

  • Knowledge
  • Delay pedal
  • Guitar/Amplifier
  • Patience

First, you’ll want to learn what your delay pedal does. Delay pedals create echo effects by taking your audio signal and playing it back to you slightly later.

If you’re familiar with other effect pedals, you might have noticed that this description sounds similar to the effect heard in Cathedral settings on reverb pedals.

You’ll also need a delay pedal for this tutorial. Delay pedals are really versatile, so if you’re contemplating purchasing one, remember you’ll be able to use it in a variety of different settings. For more information on the different types of guitar pedals available, check out this link.

My favourite delay pedal is the TC Electronic Flashback Mini Delay because it has an impressive sound despite its tiny size, but there are tons of other great products. Just be sure to do your research.

You’ll also need an electric guitar or an acoustic guitar with a pick-up installed. If you’re looking to purchase a new guitar, but you aren’t sure where to start, you can check out this article for more information.

Also, make sure you have an amp so you can actually hear all of the great effects you create!

Last but not least, I always like to emphasize the importance of being patient and having fun. Depending on its complexity, learning how to use a delay pedal can be a long process, but that’s the fun part. This means you won’t feel bored!

Delay Settings for Guitar

Before you read the following steps, be sure to remember that every delay pedal is going to be different. This means that I might mention a setting that you won’t have on your delay pedal.

That doesn’t mean you’ve bought a faulty product, it just means you’ll have to do a lot of experimenting with your pedal to learn all of its characteristics.

Step 1: Plug everything in

This step may seem obvious, but I remember being confused when I first tried to hook up my pedal to my instrument. Your pedal probably will probably have an “Input” and “Output” hole to plug your cords into.

You’ll be connecting your guitar to the input hole since the signal from your instrument will be sent into the pedal. You’ll then use the output hole to connect the pedal to your amplifier. If you’re planning on creating a pedal chain, it’s best to put gain pedals before modulation pedals.

This means a compressor pedal would go before your delay pedal. You can read more here.

Step 2: Compare the natural tones to the delayed tones

Once everything’s plugged in, you should compare your guitar’s natural tones to the affected tones. Your delay pedal will have an “On/Off” switch, so try strumming a few chords with the pedal turned off, and then strum those same chords again with the delay pedal turned on.

You’ll notice an echo in your sound that wasn’t there initially.

Step 3: The Time Knob

You can choose how quickly your echos occur by setting the delay time. Your time knob will let you choose the amount of time that occurs between your repeats. If you choose a longer delay time, your effect will sound much slower in pace, and the repetitions will stand on their own.

Conversely, shorter delay times will pick up the pace, since they occur much closer together in time. Your time setting will probably be measured in milliseconds because even the slightest alteration can make a world of difference.

Whether you want to learn about delay settings for lead guitar or delay settings for rhythm guitar, this is an important setting to master because it will really affect the overall impression of your sound.



Step 4: The Feedback Knob

Your feedback knob will determine the amount of repetitions you hear in your sound. Combining the Feedback knob with your Time knob is what will really give you a fast paced or slow paced sound.

If you turn your Feedback knob down to the lowest level, you’ll hear one repetition of what you play on your instrument. Turning the Feedback knob up to the highest level will give you what seems like an infinite number of repeats.

The upper levels of your Feedback knob are great when you want to repeat a certain musical passage many times.

Step 5: The Level Knob

Once you have your delay time and feedback settings adjusted, you can play with the volume of your sound by using the Level knob.

If you want your repeats to be just as loud as your original signal, turn your level setting up to the max. Keep in mind that this will create less of a natural echo sound, since echos tend to decay and sound much quieter than the original sound.

Step 6: Combine everything

This is the step that will really teach you all of the best delay pedal tricks. Effect pedals are all about experimenting with how the different settings will interact. Try turning both your Time Knob and your Feedback knob to 12 o’clock.

Adjust your Time knob without touching the feedback knob so you can get an idea of how this level functions on its own. You can then do the same for your feedback and level settings. Next, try to experiment with how the different settings interact.

If you turn your time setting down all the way, and turn your feedback up to the highest level, you’ll hear an interesting slow echo effect with an infinite number of repeats. Reverse these settings and you’ll hear a few repeats that occur right after one another and end quickly.

You can then incorporate the Level (or volume) knob after you’ve found a sound you like.



In Sum

Hopefully this article helped you better understand guitar delay settings. Delay pedals are a great way to create echo sound effects and work great in a lot of genres.

Your delay pedal will be unique and may have settings that weren’t discussed in this article, which is why I’d recommend researching specific demo videos for the model you’ve purchased.

However, all delay pedals will most likely have time, feedback, and level controls, although they might be labeled differently.

Have fun experimenting with these settings, and when you feel comfortable, try setting up a pedal chain. You won’t be disappointed!

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Tony Robbin

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