Are you wondering how to use guitar delay to your advantage? You wouldn't be the first!
Delay is a relatively simple effect but it can be used in many different ways to achieve a multitude of different sounds. For example, you can use delay subtly to add a feeling of space and depth, or dial it up for in-your-face doubling, ping-pong or trippy ambient soundscapes.
How to Use Guitar Delay
Of course, the traditional way of getting a delay sound for your guitar is by using a delay pedal, however you could also use a digital effect built into your amp or even a good quality plugin for your DAW (I love Lemon by Acustica Audiofor its huge range of super-high quality hardware delay emulations).
It's definitely worth experimenting if your latest song is lacking some "je ne sais quoi", so below you'll find 5 ways to use guitar delay...
Slapback was the first delay effect and is still effective today, especially for country, rockabilly and early rock 'n' roll. Typically a very short delay time is set of around 100-150ms. The mix should be set to around 80%. Instant Hank Marvin!
Doubling delay mimics double-tracking, a recording technique that thickens instrument and vocal lines by utilising two takes, often panned left and right for guitar tracks.
Set a slightly longer delay time (try up to 200-250ms) and play with the mix set at 90-100% to achieve a thicker sound. You may find a shorter delay time works better for faster tempos.
Ping-pong is a stereo effect that requires a delay pedal with stereo outputs and two amps/cabinets (or a stereo amp such as the Orange Rocker 32 Combo). Alternatively, many delay plugins can achieve a ping-pong delay effect.
Ping-pong sounds amazingly wide and three-dimensional as the delay pans from one speaker to the other then back again at a chosen rate. Although it's expensive and cumbersome to use live, it's much easier to use in the studio running direct into your DAW.
Pick a BBD-based delay (or digitalequivalent) and dial in several repeats. You should find that each repeat degrades more than the previous one, giving that lovely organic, tape-style feel. Some pedals also have controls for experimenting with wow and flutter, which were originally unwanted side effects caused by the tape stretching and moving around.
Again, there are delay plugins which can replicate tape, and Lemon really comes into its own for this application.
Long, spacey delays
Digital delays are great for long, multiple repeats - think U2's The Edge, for example. Try setting your delay to dotted-eighths of around 350-450ms with one or two repeats and set the mix to around 80% for classic Edge delay!
Guitar delay: A history
Even before Elvis, Scotty Moore and Bill Black popularised the slapback delay in the early- to mid-1950s, the effect held an increasingly important place in the musical landscape.
Magnetic tape had been around since the 1920s, and it was soon discovered that by adjusting the distance between playback and recording heads of the tape machine, the engineer could manipulate the length of delay created.
Les Paul, whose name later appeared on Gibson's flagship guitars, was a studio pioneer, experimenting with slapback delay and multi-track recording using these early reel to reel machines.
The introduction in the early 1950s of more portable devices - the first being the Echosonic Combo - allowed the delay effect to be used outside of the studio for the first time, opening the gateway to its popularisation with musicians.
During the 1950s, tape delay became a signature part of early rockabilly and rock 'n' roll - thanks in part to its use by Elvis and his band - and by the end of the decade units were appearing with multiple, moveable playback heads and tape speed controls.
The 1970s saw the introduction of the Bucket-Brigade Device (BBD), a hybrid digital/analogue chip that was able to achieve delay times of up to around 300ms. A key characteristic of these early chips was a steep high frequency roll-off to eliminate clock noise, as well as degrading signal as it passed down the various stages within the chip.
The benefit of these chips was that they could be packaged into small foot-switchable pedals, required far less maintenance than tape, and were also far more affordable.
The 1980s led to the rising popularity of digital delays, offering super-clean repeats and longer delay times.
Today, digital technology has matured thanks to vastly improved processors and memory, and while players can enjoy high fidelity digital delays and even digital emulations of tape or BBD delays, there is still a huge market for real BBD delays.
Live music is gradually returning to venues large and small following a hellish 2020 and 2021 for the music and events industries. Whether gigging is a hobby or a full-on career path, things have changed and musicians have had to adapt...
Had a few vibes, absolutely loving this one, check the YT demos, lovely satisfying vibe with all the swirly goodness you could hope for. Beautifully made and reasonably priced. Highly recommended - and Jim at Boost is a top guy
I came across the Formula B Fuzz Rangers via online demos on Youtube, and they all sounded so good that I had to get one. Looking online I found the Boost Guitar Pedals website via the Formula B website as a listed UK stockist. Jim was excellent and the pedal arrived when he said it would and it was perfectly packaged. I would have no hesitation in buying any other product from Boost.
As for the Fuzz Rangers, it is a great pedal. I had to work at it a touch to get the sounds I liked from it, but it seems to react really well to different guitars and different amps with adjustments to volume and tone on the guitar and different amp settings. I found it works best into a slightly cranked amp, and volume roll-off on the guitar offers a great variety of sounds from clean to classic fuzz. Thoroughly enjoying the pedal. Well done Jim, great website and a great selection of interesting brands and pedals..... Which one next????
Having used a number of univibe clones over the years this one truly nails the sound for me, it comes with some clever additions in a pedal board friendly size and is excellent value for money. If you want the true sound of the original this pedal delivers.Special thanks to boost Guitar Pedals for putting this deal together so quickly..
I'm still working my way through all the sounds, but so far I'm loving them all.
Each time I think I've got a fav sound I flip the diode switch and there's another one. Great value for a four-in-one fuzz pedal!!
Both modes really useable. The first can get a wooly or starved/wolly sound or more nasally raw sound depending on how you dial it in.
Mode two can be more mid focused and with both switches down it's just a real nice deep, warm wall of fuzz. Great stuff.
Awesome pedal. Does everything from short slaps, to long endless delays, or echo-verb. The infinite delay feature on the button hold is interesting, though if you need a certain sound out of it like that, you have to be okay with the sound that those settings create when the infinite hold feature is off. I’m sure it will be great for recording some interesting textures, but I don’t think I’d use it live, as the infinite hold sounds glitchy and cuts off very quickly at some of the shorter, more subtle delay settings that I use. The art on the pedal is nice, and the build quality is solid. Comes with a carry bag, for some reason, but I can’t complain. A great unit by any standard, but especially good quality and features for the ticket price.
This pedal is simply fantastic.
Great fuzz with a good sweep of control with the guitar volume pot. Cannot get an unlikeable sound through any pickup selection single coil/humbucker.
Added benefit of the Rangemaster included is just lush. I am preferring boosting into the fuzz and use the boost into other drives along the chain.
I am praising this as 2 great pedals in one comfortably sized housing. Amazing!
I have held myself back from purchasing a vibe for years now but I took the plunge on this and I am extremely happy.
The size of the unit is great on my board and pairs with my drives and fuzz amazingly well. I am preferring the flavour of keeping it pre-gain stages on the board.
Simple controls with the added benefit of 2 speeds.
I highly encourage anyone else who was on the fence like me, go for this!