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Delay Effect - Onboard Vs Pedal (recommendations)


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Hello All -

Long time since last post. We all know how it goes with work, life, family (growing that is) etc. Anyway, recently played a gig with a new group of guys and was chided a bit about the lack of delay in my rig. I am rather effects conservative and always relied on tweaking reverb, positioning of amp, etc. So, I set about to see if there really was a difference and admit my ignorance on this aspect. Low and behold, there is a bit of a difference :D Anyway, I've played with several of the compacts, multi-effects, etc. but none of the onboard. (I'm envisioning PSW simply having a schematic on hand and explaining how easy this is).

A) Any recommendations on the pedal front?

:D Any recommendations/suggestions on the onboard front? I'm not scared of circuitry.

Main music styles played might be best classified as classic rock tube sound - lots of depth. Thoughts?

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what do you mean by onboard ? (inside the guitar ?)

ive used a few delay pedals and most of them are analog electronic ones, ibanez ad9 and dod fx90 are my personal favs and recommendations for bucket brigade circuits.

these are relatively short delay pedals (not psychadelic) they can provide a nice slap back which imo nullifies the need for reverb and sounds 10x better than all my spring reverbs, it just has more depth.

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"Delay" is a very broad term, and can be used for a huge variety of things. Some desired sounds could lend themselves to a very simple onboard circuit, others are very tempo specific (i.e. very specific about the exact time delay and amount of repeats) and are best obtained some of the more advanced pedals or even programmable rack units. The number of things you can do with delay are really enormous.

Are you looking to just make your sound thicker, or something more fancy?

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Hi KP...had wondered where you had gone...

Onboard effects, I've kind of got a strange attraction to the things (the sustainer of course is one effect that HAS to be "onboard", unless you count the eBow)...

But, never had too much joy with the things I have to admit, and looking objectively at them, there are good reasons.

My tele originally was to have a MODboard optical tremolo in it, got all the parts...but the thing made a whole lotta noise...mainly hiss...and can't be having that...

Delays are something I actually do you a whole lot. In fact, the only effect I really use...my delay of choice is an old Ibanez AD100 'rack' kind of thing...produces about 300ms of analog delay and I have it set generally for a single repeat (maybe 2) on full delay but with the delay volume on about 2 compared to 10 for the original. It also allows me to run 'stereo' for a huge sound should I choose, with a second am running the delay only. I also use the fender reverb on it to give space. The echo also provides a permanent buffer, preamp that can dial in for different powered guitars, toning them down without loading if overly hot, or boosting the output before it hits the amp for weak pickups. The rule tends to be to put a delay in an effects loop, to get behind the preamp, but playing so clean, I like the sound and the convenience...with distortion and if your amp can do it, better even in the loop after the preamp.

Posters here have all good points, generally the delay should be at the end of the chain...especially if you use distortions.

There are reasons you might like things on the guitar...easy to dial in tempos or tame the thing down...or even play a solo with regenerative feedback or make 'whale' noises...but really?

The biggest downside to onboard anything, and delays especially (especially since most are now digital) is that they eat batteries...not what you'd want in a guitar I might suggest...

plus all the other down sides, only good for the guitar it's in, may introduce noise, batteries in a guitar, etc...


So, a dedicated delay would be the choice. You might find one of the older racks around, some of them were classic and many have newer more sophisticated stuff now, so maybe there are bargains...though perhaps they are collectable and over priced.

My "other dealy" is the old Boss DD3 (i think mine is, they are up to a DD5 now at least) and has a fabulous very precise copy (analogue delays are nice and soft like tape delays, far more natural) and quite long. About 800ms so you can do all your bounce like tricks (EVH cathedral, etc) and double tracking like stuff...not so ambient. One feature of these things is a "hold" function...practice, and you can sustain a note, put your foot down...and continue to "sample and loop" this held note indefinitely (sustainer...hmmm) while also continuing the rest of the song...especially appropriate if the song is "don't fear the reaper"... Behringher make a very cheap copy I believe.

The MODboard delay I suspect has very few features by comparison, and I was not impressed and the response on was inquiry, that it is supposed to be so noisy, at least with the trem...vintage sound apparently...and not a bargain since it really is only a circuit board!!!

So yeah...separate box, analogue if wanting something more natural sounding for being on all the time and an excellent replacement fro reverb or to make reverb huge by reverbing the delay and so masking the more obvious repeats. Digital, very versatile, eats batteries very quickly, not so natural for ambiance...but fantastic for special effects and delay tricks and for very long delays...put some reverb on it to soften things up a bit...

Almost every delay can be used to split and enlarge multiple amp set ups with a mono in and straight and delay out. So...a digital delay might be a better coice because of the fidelity, turn the time to zero and you ahve an instant multi amp and even mulit-effects rig and in stereo. You could have a clean guitar with a chain of chorus like effects say (or more delays or reverb)...and a dirty channel with a different amp and effects chain...step on the dely and you would be turning off the "delay" side (even if on zero) and so changing amps and effects chains on the fly...sould you be of the nauture to carry so much crap and amps around with you.

Some have asked over the years why I have (and still do when my bass player hasn't pinched it lately) used a 15" bass box with my guitar rigs since the early 80's...and this was the reason it started...I ran an old EH "clone theory", one side into a SS roland combo amp and the other into an ancient dirty old valve amp into the bass box...about 150 watts in all and stereo...an amazingly huge sound. The amps were set so the bass frequencies were being handled by the bigger speaker and distorted, plus got the definition and clean highs and precision in the bass as well (helped also with the fat sound of the old LP I used to play). How amazing was it...well, half an hour of mucking around with it, and I get a knock on the door...and this kid (well, I suppose I was still too) wanted to know how such an amazing sound was coming out through the walls and to hear it in person...now that's amazing!@

Anyway...delay pedals have so many uses and too much fun to have stuck in one guitar and not being able to do all that stuff with...otherwise, don't need to get "effect happy", the delay that sits on my amp is just there all the time (and the settings don't change), otherwise, never used a lot of the things (except that there was not a song in the 80's that didn't need a chorus, so I confess to over doing that in my time!)

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Are you looking to just make your sound thicker, or something more fancy?

Definitely just looking to add some thickness without overloading on the bass, or completely scooping the mids. My current "main" guitars are an unmodified Epi LP and a respectfully modified 93 MIM Strat and a kpcrash Custom Tele. The Strat is always first played, LP/Tele is there for backup and anything requiring clean tone throughout. Strat has Fender Noiseless SCN pups - and the 5 way/pots/wiring replaced. While I am quite happy with how it sounds, I will admit it could be a little more.... well, more. (Bear in mind this is for guitar - my bass rig is completely different and what I typically play)

Pete, as usual, an excellent response. Very interesting to see your experience with the MODBoards. Right now, $50 is a bit much to gamble with on something like that and then.... if I "really" wanted onboard, I suppose I could always take to fitting pedal guts in the back of a body .. but that leads us nowhere I want to be as in hindsight, I just don't think I want to be constrained to one guitar.

Since starting this thread, I have found a friend with a little Line 6 SpyderII amp with a bunch of built in effects (no pedal or footswitch though). So perhaps I'll spend some time today experimenting. On another note, I was having this discussion with a friend of mine who does a lot of recording. He suggested that to get the depth/boost of delay without fiddling with the delay, I could simply set the reverb on my amp (Fender 212) about halfway up and add an EQ pedal in the loop with the 2-3k range turned almost all the way up. He stated that the simple reverb would provide the depth and the 2k range boost would make any solos or areas I was trying to accentuate come across with clarity.

I just think it's kinda funny to be learning this so late in the game, but I guess that's what I get for staying on bass too long :D

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hmm one of the best ways to get a 'thicker' sound from a delay (or chorus type of) effect is to use a stereo one and feed two amps in different positions.

To do that 'on-board' you are going to need a stereo lead from the guitar - yet another reason why off-board is better.

Personally though, I would say that if you 're not happy with your sound, get the basics right:

playing skill, guitar, pickups, setup, strings, lead (yes really) and amp are most important by far - if you're not getting close to what you want with just these, then no amount of effects will magically fix your sound.

Learn how to get a sound from an amp - it's surprising how many people fail to get the best from their existing kit.

After that, the thing that to me is by far the next most important thing is the right booster to drive the amp. e.g. rangemaster clone, tube screamer etc.

And (you probably know this already) remember that what sounds thick and wholesome when practicing in your room can turn into a big muddy mess when playing in a band situation.

Remember, it's your 'sound', and don't worry if others are criticizing you for not having some piece of kit - if your sound is killer, they will quickly shut up. And if it's not killer, then you need to work on the basics.

Edited by col
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erik - agreed!

I will say this about "my" sound. Typically, I am very happy with what I get from my rig, as simple as it is - I have always liked it that way because it lets the guitar do the talking. And you are VERY correct - in that what sounds good in the basement does not transfer well to an auditorium sometimes. I will play around a bit and see if I can find "it". In the meantime, thank you all very much for your feedback!

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Not sure why the band want you more delayed, sometimes people with a bunch of effects sound like they are way off in the distance because off all the 'verb and your straight sound is more 'up front' as a result..and they don't like it...perhaps they should tone down the ambiance especially in a rehearsal situation unless it is a major part of the "sound".

Although I have always has this delay on, it really is incredibly low and not 'necessary' anymore, especially now using a fender amp with a better reverb in it anyway. I use it more to soften the sound, but only just recently brought it back into regular service...otherwise straight amp and guitar these days.

Like to get more sounds out of the guitar though, and latest guitar is a rewired LP copy with JP like "twenty-dual" wiring which has an amazing variety of sounds hidden in it (22 actually) in 4 push pulls and dual HB's. Even getting a bit of a strat like 'quack' with the two inner coils and the bridge parallel sound is surprisingly good. Tend to be a one guitar at a time kind of guy...liking the idea of just turning up with a combo and a case and plugging in an playing without all the mucking about!

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