The 17 best delay pedals and echo units of all time
5th Apr 2011 | 11:16
Boss RE-20 Space Echo
Issue 336 of Guitarist magazine was a bumper celebration of all things stompbox, with the team compiling a comprehensive list of the 101 best guitar effects pedals ever produced. Whether for innovation, influence, sound, sheer popularity, or all of the above, each and every unit that made the cut is a tone-shaping tool worthy of a place on a pro pedalboard.
You've probably already seen the 42 best overdrive, distortion and fuzz pedals of all time. Now we've gathered all of the 17 delay pedals and echo units together from the list, so whether you want lo-fi tape warbles or crystalline digital repeats, there's all that and more here.First up is a stompbox take on a classic tape echo unit from Boss:
"Roland’s RE-201 Space Echo is now considered an all-time classic. The RE-20 digitally models that superb tape-based machine in a practical package. We like it a lot."
FAMOUS USERS: (Original RE-201 version) Brian Setzer, Brian Eno
Way Huge Aqua Puss
"Now reissued in Mk II form, this is one of the most characterful echo pedals out there. With BBD chips, it’ll do anything from exceptional old-school slapback echo to full-on self oscillating craziness, complete with analogue-type delay artefacts. Only 300ms of delay, but it’s the warmth that’s the talking point here."
FAMOUS USERS: Brad Paisley, John Mayer, Reverend Horton Heat
Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Boy
"A more affordable take on the classic plus tap tempo, expression pedal control and a send/return effects loop. That BBD sound, with modern versatility. Cool as."
FAMOUS USERS: Pros tend to use the Memory Man
"The latest evolution of the industry-standard Boss DD series does 6.4 seconds of delay time, max, and for the first time includes analogue and modulated modes."
FAMOUS USERS: What guitarist hasn’t used a DD delay at some point?
Line 6 Echo Park
"The son of DL4, basically, including those luscious tape, analogue and reverse delay sims from classics of yore. Tap lightly for tap tempo: nice."
FAMOUS USERS: Pros tend to go for the DL4
BUY: Line 6 Echo Park currently available from Thomann
MXR Carbon Copy
"It’s supposed to be the digital age, but guitarists want that real analogue delay. So along comes MXR with a green sparkly box packed with BBD chips. Repeats that meld organically into your sound, decent delay time (600ms), switchable modulation for flavour and hardly any space taken up on your pedalboard."
FAMOUS USERS: Billy Gibbons, Doug Aldrich
Fulltone Tube Tape Echo
"It would have been a tragedy to let the Echoplex bloodline die out, so along came the TTE, a revamped version that is the last word in quality valve-driven tape echoes."
FAMOUS USERS: John Mayer, Keith Richards, Buddy Miller
"This superb-sounding digital delay can replicate (geddit?) the warmth and feel of those old tape echoes… albeit up to 1500 milliseconds and with exceptional audio quality."
FAMOUS USERS: Carlos Santana, Gary Moore, tons of people
Seymour Duncan SFX-10 Deja Vu Tap Delay
"A very well-spec’d, versatile delay from the pickup giant. The Deja Vu’s neat features include both digital and analogue blend control, tap tempo (with multiple ratio control) and modulation."
FAMOUS USERS: Warren DeMartini
BUY: Seymour Duncan SFX-10 Deja Vu Tap Delay currently available from Thomann
"The archetypal British tape echo that has helped many a Shadows fan emulate their heroes. Valve or transistor versions all provide nicely degrading repeats and an ambient sheen."
FAMOUS USERS: Joe Moretti (Johnny Kidd & The Pirates)
SIB Echo Drive
"The original blue one is the coveted model. Up to 600 milliseconds of analogue delay, which thanks to valve circuitry, gets painfully close to the sound of tape. Rare."
FAMOUS USERS: None that we know of
Akai Headrush E2
"A digital delay with tape-echo simulations (separate outputs for four virtual heads) and a looper that helped a certain Miss Tunstall to her Black Horse And The Cherry Tree smash hit."
FAMOUS USERS: KT Tunstall, Mike Sullivan
Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man
"There are various versions, but those late-1970s Deluxe MMs were a revolution in otherworldly delay/chorus/vibrato tones. Self-oscillation, messed-up noise: get lost for a week. The newest model looks different, but still sounds good."
FAMOUS USERS: Andy Summers, The Edge
"The classic single-head American tape echo – check out John Martyn playing Outside In, or Page in the Stairway solo. EP-1s and EP-2s are valve powered while the EP-3s and EP-4s are solid-state."
FAMOUS USERS: Jimmy Page, Eric Johnson, John Martyn
Line 6 DL4
"The DL4 digitally models all of the popular delay flavours and puts them into one box, but its particular genius is to give you four footswitches – three to call up different delays, one for tap tempo. It’s a staple on live pedalboards the world over."
FAMOUS USERS: Bill Frisell, Philip Sayce, John Frusciante, Dave Knudson
"Crystal clean delay up to 800ms, plus a hold function that can replay repeats indefinitely. The go-to digital delay pedal, it can be found nestled in thousands of rigs the world over."
FAMOUS USERS: Joe Bonamassa, Billy Duffy, Paul Gilbert
"A compact, bucket brigade device, analogue delay pedal with repeats that melt away organically into your sound. It’s much warmer than modern digital delays."
FAMOUS USERS: Dave Grohl
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