Guitar effects don't get much more versatile than delay. From the humblest of analogue echoes to the most multifaceted digital behemoth, there's never been a better time to repeat yourself.
Yes, there's never been a better time to repeat yourself, so join us as we count down 23 of the finest delay pedals available today – but first we must apologise: this journey will most definitely be delayed…
Boss DD-500 Digital Delay
Back in 1983, Boss was the first company to cram the miracle of digital delay into a stompbox with the DD-2, making pristine repeats and longer delay times available to all.
Fast-forward to the early 2000s, and – kickstarted by Line 6's DL4 – delay pedals entered a new stage of evolution with presets and multiple models, and Boss's twin-footswitched DD-20 followed suit. Now, the company's latest flagship echo is in competition with the high-end Strymons and Eventides of the delay world. The solution? Push the DD format to its limits.
"A worthy successor to the Boss digital delay throne."
FULL REVIEW: Boss DD-500 Digital Delay review
DigiTech Obscura Delay
As well as being a robust and good-looking compact pedal, the Obscura is inventive, too.
The concept is thus: four delay types - analogue, tape, lo-fi and reverse - are manipulated via tone and degrade controls (the latter changes depending on delay type).
"There's no denying that this is one of the best-sounding and most exciting digital delays we've used in some time, and we can't help but recommend it."
FULL REVIEW: DigiTech Obscura Delay review
If you fancy a delay pedal with sounds a little different from the normal digital delay fare, the Strymon DIG – which boasts two simultaneous delays, one synchronised to the other – might be just what you're looking for.
It's not just about dual delays, though; the DIG also revives the sound of early digital delays, just like other pedals strive to recreate the sound of tape or BBD analog units.
"For spacey ambient sounds, it's a wise investment, and you can even keep delays repeating continuously by holding down the tap footswitch – how cool is that?"
FULL REVIEW: Strymon DIG review
TC Electronic Flashback X4
With three footswitchable delays plus tap tempo in a single pedal, the Line 6 DL4's configuration offers such obvious practicality that the urge to offer something similar has finally proved too tempting. Now, TC Electronic has chipped in with the Flashback X4 featuring - yep, you guessed right - those three instantly footswitchable delays plus tap tempo.
The X4 expands on the delay types found in the original Flashback pedal, and not just with four TonePrints instead of one. Of the 12 built-in types, there are now two modulated delays plus a couple of extra retro types - Tube and Space. You can choose your delay type from a rotary knob, and then tweak its parameters using the delay time, feedback and delay level knobs.
"If you use delay as part of your sound, the Flashback X4 is a very practical and creative pedal to cover all your needs."
FULL REVIEW: TC Electronic Flashback X4 review
Walrus Audio Bellwether
An analogue delay with a level of on-the-fly controllability we'd only expect from a digital machine, the Bellwether is a mind-blowing piece of work.
The tap tempo gets things off to a start matching the delay to the speed of your playing. What's great is that you can quickly chop your repeats into quarter notes, eighth notes, dotted eighth notes and triplets.
"Make no mistake, the Bellwether is a monster."
FULL REVIEW: Walrus Audio Bellwether review
Red Witch Violetta Delay
The Violetta is the first in the new Chrome series from NZ company Red Witch and offers the same footprint and rechargeable lithium battery system (300 hours from a charge or use a 9v adapter) as the firm's popular Seven Sisters range.
Three tiny knobs adjust the standard delay pedal parameters of wet/dry mix, delay time and number of repeats (also adjustable via an expression pedal), while a fourth adjusts modulation.
Red Witch has voiced the Violetta for a retro sound with the top end rolling off the repeats as they decay: this beds in nicely with the guitar tone and sounds great.
"A delay pedal that shines in more ways than one."
FULL REVIEW: Red Witch Violetta Delay review
The TimeLine name may be familiar to some: the Damage Control TimeLine pedal has featured here in the past. Things moved on, the Damage Control guys started up Strymon, and thus we have a new TimeLine - still a rugged floor pedal that offers several different delay types, but one that takes advantage of more recent technological advances, particularly in processing power.
Strymon already has two specialist delay pedals in the El Capistan tape echo simulator and the Brigadier, which serves up the sound of vintage bucket brigade analogue delays. But the TimeLine is more of an all-encompassing beast that offers some of what its siblings do, plus a bunch of other kinds of delay.
"A do-it-all delay pedal, superb for studio and stage."
FULL REVIEW: Strymon TimeLine review
Moog Minifooger Delay
A true analogue delay, like the Moogerfooger MF-104 variants, Moog's Minifooger Delay features four BBD chips, allowing delay times of up to 700ms.
How different manufacturers set up the sound of the repeats varies greatly in this type of pedal, and Moog has come up with repeats that are definitely analogue in the way they decay, but are not massively different from the dry sound; the result is a natural sound that blends smoothly in.
"True analogue delay with expressive control possibilities."
FULL REVIEW: Moog Minifooger Delay review
Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Boy
If you find complex specs rather daunting, you'll be glad to hear that EHX has done a great job of making the Memory Boy's more powerful features easy to use. The sub divisions let you dial in Edge-style delays quickly, and the modulation circuit applies chorusing to your delay sound. You can select triangle-wave for a more retro sound or square for a more immediate modern sound.
Want more? Hook up an expression pedal for hands-free control – this is particularly useful for creating huge feedback swells that remain controlled.
"Boy, is this good. Huge scope for experimentation and a great core sound."
FULL REVIEW: Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Boy review
Korg SDD-3000 Pedal
Korg's long-discontinued SDD-3000 digital delay is a rack unit with pedigree that has been in demand from guitarists wanting to partake of its mojo, but tracking down a vintage unit is as expensive as it is tricky.
Delay fans rejoice, then, as Korg has made things far simpler with the creation of the new SDD- 3000 Pedal, which puts the essential functionality of the original into a large stompbox, while adding some new features that ought to appeal to a wide range of players.
"A classic name revived with modern options."
FULL REVIEW: Korg SDD-3000 Pedal review
TC Electronic Flashback
The Flashback recalls TC's Nova Delay in the number of distinct effects it offers. Its fourth knob is a rotary switch that can call up nine different delay effects plus the TonePrint setting as well as setting it up as a looper.
The smaller three-way switch sets the timing division for the tap tempo function and offers quarter note, eighth note or both for a multi-tap repeat pattern - tap tempo being implemented by pressing the footswitch and rhythmically hitting the strings (the pedal mutes when you do this).
"A contender for the most versatile compact stompbox delay available."
FULL REVIEW: TC Electronic Flashback review
With the TimeFactor, Eventide has chosen to package the best of its delays into a box suitable for the studio player/producer and the gigging musician.
It’s really great to have a display of this size and clarity, especially on a device that’s probably going to be living in the dark down by your feet at gigs for most of its life!
"Eventide has made a well-thought-out, versatile and great-sounding pedal at a good price."
FULL REVIEW: Eventide TimeFactor review
Strymon El Capistan
The El Capistan aims to make the sound of a tape echo available in a stompbox by using Strymon's dTape technology which, says the company, "models all of the complexities of tape machines including such factors as wow and flutter, tape friction, bias adjustment, oscillation, saturation and delay-time-adjustment artefacts."
Three tape echoes are modelled - a three-way switch selects the types while a second three-way mode switch offers variations on each. Fixed represents a single head tape echo - and although it has three heads, these are selected individually by the second switch.
"A great all-round delay, perfect for any guitar and amp setup."
FULL REVIEW: Strymon El Capistan review
T-Rex Reptile 2
T-Rex's re-worked Reptile 2 wears its heart on its sleeve. It's an analogue tape echo simulator (that doesn't use digital modelling), which will be softly repeating music to the ears of many - but it's not just for vintage buffs.
The main points here are tap tempo - unusual on a tape-style emulator - and up to one second of delay time (vintage-type units often have less than half that).
"A superb delay for gigging or recording."
FULL REVIEW: T-Rex Reptile 2 review
TC Electronic Alter Ego X4 Vintage Echo
TC's Flashback X4 Delay is already a pedalboard mainstay, but with the Alter Ego X4, the tonehounds at American retailer Pro Guitar Shop have assembled a collection of carefully replicated vintage echo presets, including the likes of the Binson Echorec, Roland RE-201 Space Echo and Watkins Copicat.
There are 12 delay types in total, plus four slots to fill with TonePrints of your choice, while the rest of the X4's functionality remains the same, with three assignable presets, tap tempo, a 40-second looper and a choice between true and buffered bypass.
"For vintage delay connoisseurs, the Alter Ego X4 is a dream come true, with emulations of some of the best echoes committed to tape."
FULL REVIEW: TC Electronic Alter Ego X4 Vintage Echo review
Mad Professor Deep Blue Delay
Mad Professor has designed the Deep Blue to replicate the warm sounds of classic tape- based echo units of the '60s. To enhance the old-school vibe, there are no provisions for noise reduction.
The intriguing part of all this is that the Deep Blue is actually a digital pedal, although the direct signal path is analogue.
"This isn't just another stompbox. Mad Professor has put a lot of thought into its function and tone. Thanks to its more affordable price, even more of us can feel the love."
FULL REVIEW: Mad Professor Deep Blue Delay review
JAM Delay Llama Plus
The Delay Llama Plus, a true BBD analogue delay with a max delay time of 600ms, differs from the standard version by having an expression pedal input to change the delay time, plus a second footswitch, which, when held down, offers an infinite oscillation loop.
Its chips are reproductions of the Panasonic MN3205, and the Delay Llama recreates the authentic vintage sound of repeats that grow crustier and meld into your sound.
"True analogue delay with foot control for freaky sounds… what's not to like?"
FULL REVIEW: JAM Delay Llama Plus review
DigiTech JamMan Delay
The JamMan Delay offers both looping and delay, but comes at it from a different angle to delay pedals that offer a rudimentary looping ability: both functions here are fully featured.
You get true stereo looping and a fully-programmable stereo delay with loads of control over both effects including synchronising the delays to be exactly in time with loops.
"Fully featured looping and delay nicely integrated together in a single large stompbox."
FULL REVIEW: DigiTech JamMan Delay review
Line 6 DL4
Back in the year 2000, delay pedals didn't offer a whole lot of options: you made your choice of digital or analogue, and that was about it.
The Line 6 DL4 delay modeller shook things up, boasting models of 16 classic delay effects that you'd struggle to get hold of without a formidable overdraft – its tones still hold up today, and it's used by countless pros.
Empress Vintage Modified Superdelay
Empress' Vintage Modified Superdelay is a tweaked version of the standard Superdelay pedal with enhancements to the tape delay emulations.
You get several delay types, including reverse, a rhythm mode where you can set the intervals between multitap repeats with the tap tempo footswitch, and a looper.
"A multi-faceted delay with great tape echo emulations."
FULL REVIEW: Empress Vintage Modified Superdelay review
T-Rex Replay Box
The Replay Box is the same size as the other pedals in T-Rex's new Chinese-made range, but is presented sideways with all four sockets (it can be used in stereo as well as mono) on the rear edge and a pair of decently spaced footswitches.
Two things set this apart from other compact delay pedals: a massive three seconds of delay time and a tap tempo with a subdivision switch so you can call up quarter notes, triplets or U2-style dotted eighth delays in sync with your drummer.
"A practical delay that makes the most of the compact format."
FULL REVIEW: T-Rex Replay Box review
MXR Carbon Copy
When all the makers of digital delay pedals are adding features to make the sounds of the repeats more 'analogue', it's pretty obvious that there is a demand for echo repeats that are not just pristine clones of the original sound.
The Carbon Copy is a new-build analogue delay that has, er, echoes of the old MXR Analogue Delay (discontinued in the 80s) – not least in its three control knobs and greenish colouring, albeit in a much spanglier metallic shade this time around.
"As a mass-market analogue delay in a conveniently-sized package, there is little around that can touch this pedal."
FULL REVIEW: MXR Carbon Copy review