I’ll be the first to admit it, I’m a GAS addict. That’s the lovely acronym for what we lovingly call the addiction that is Gear Acquisition Syndrome. I love trying new gear and getting my feet wet when it comes to everything out there. I just love to experiment and soak up the tones of all of the different offerings on the market. Two things in particular that are my main focal points for frequent GAS attacks are Fuzzes and DELAYS. Fuzz is a whole other topic that is left to another blog (there’s so many different styles that I could probably take up several blogs gushing about the glory that are all things fuzz pedals. Delays on the other hand are the stuff that dreams are made of. There are multiple sounds you can achieve with delays that aside from some reverbs (which technically are a form of delay) you can’t replicate using any other effect.
A good friend and I were discussing delay’s the other day, and it’s amazing the number of delays that came up in the conversation that we each believed to be fantastic, whether we had both played the same unit or we compare and trade delays so we can test them out. The question arose between us as to whether you can have too many delays? We both quickly said “NO!” and moved on. Upon thinking about it for a longer period and experimenting with different delays, I came to the conclusion that there’s really no set rule on it, it’s all based on your moods and what you’re going for.
Looking at some of the main delay uses that many players would have a delay for (slapback, added depth for a solo, rhythmic dotted 8th’s, ambient and dreamy melodies, and then oscillation off of the top of my head that I use right off hand) I came to the realization that with one great quality delay pedal that you can hit most if not all of those categories. It made me want to downsize my rig (from pictured at the top of the page) to a much more condensed board with just essentials to push myself.
At the same time, GAS had me fighting the idea of taking pedals off of my board. I quickly started weighing the pros and cons and alternatives and these were what came to mind:
Pros of Multiple Delays:
- Quick and Easy – If I have more than one delay then I can set and forget them for my most common used delay settings and just kick them on when I’m ready. This is vital when changing songs or to other parts of a song because the settings are ready and you don’t have to fool with twisting knobs.
- Broader Coverage – By having different delays on your pedalboard, you can pick and choose varying flavors of delay to cover a broad spectrum of tones. You could pair a digital delay for dotted 8th notes with a warm analog delay for a great warm slapback, or a EP3 style pedal with a really warm preamp for solos with an ambient delay (with reverb even…Ethereal anyone?). The choices are endless in terms of mixing and matching delay types and sounds.
- Experimentation – Just like the previous part mentioned covering a lot of tones, you can mix those two delays with oscillation or dotted 8ths with triplets for a wall of sound. Stacking pedals is half of the fun, and the combinations can get really wild.
- Pedalboard Space – This is the biggie. Multiple delays means taking up extra spots on your board that either require you to give up other pedals to fit on there, or requiring a bigger board. Bigger board means more weight and more to deal with. Power can also be a big issue. If you power source is maxed out, then comes the struggle of figuring out how you’re going to power the extra pedal(s). Daisy-chaining delays is typically a no-no due to noise, so there’s that too.
- Knob Twiddling – Another main part is that with more pedals comes more tweaking, which can really detract from playing. I’ve spent many hours endlessly tweaking when I should have just plugged my Faux Tape Echo (my personal favorite delay) in and spent the time PRACTICING. I’m guilty of tweaking way too many settings because I want it how it sounds in my head. I can usually find it quickly once I’m familiar with a delay, but until that point it takes more time.
- COST – Pedals are expensive! Granted not as expensive as guitars or amps, but with several pedals you can buy a nice guitar or amp (or in some cases and decent car).
These are in their own category in itself because of the array of units and functionality out there. There are pros and cons to them along with multiple delays. They are usually very convenient because they’re completely loaded with various parameters and algorithms to tweak for nearly any delay style you can imagine. The appeal of such a pedal in one unit is hard to beat. That being said, they’re typically quite expensive and then you have what you have. They typically have banks of presets to choose from, but in a gig situation they aren’t always the easiest to tweak if you need to. At the same time, you have a boat load of options right there while only taking up a bit of room.
What are your thoughts? How many delays are enough? Will one suffice, or do you prefer multiple delays, or all-in-one units for complete tweakability? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.