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Guitars & Accessories

Best Guitar Delay / Reverb Pedal

Whether it’s being used on stage or in the studio, the right delay/reverb pedal can be an essential tool for guitarists in every genre of music. With the right settings dialed in, a guitar part can sound huge, have a shimmering cave-like delay, or be steeped in a complex polyrhythmic echo. The effect can subtly color the tone of a performance, or it can be used as a driving force behind a songs composition and sound. There are many different options on the market to choose from, so be sure to check out our buyer’s guide listed below for additional guidance.

Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail Plus Reverb Pedal

In the beginning, there was the Holy Grail – the esteemed reverb pedal brought to you by the folks at Electro-Harmonix. That pedal has become a staple for guitarists looking to make their sound bigger and more reverberated, so there's going to be a lot of happy players out there to embrace the Holy Grail Plus. Just like the original, this pedal offers realistic spring, hall, and room reverbs. It also features a multifunction control that allows players to control their decay, damping, and modulation speed, which really helps to nail down the specific sound and character of your tone. All of it is housed inside a compact, rugged metal housing to keep your holy sounds safe on the road and in the studio.

Eventide Space Reverb Guitar Effects Pedal

Eventide is a trusted brand when it comes to in-studio effects and gear, and their guitar pedals don’t deviate from that perception. Take their Space reverb pedal; this unit offers an impressive collection of reverb algorithms that work in conjunction with delays, pitch shifting, tremolo, modulation, and other effects, resulting in some truly noteworthy sounds. Space is stocked with 100 presets, many of which have been created by musicians from groups such as Nine Inch Nails, Beck, Living Colour, Blonde Redhead, Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth, and more.

What separates Eventide’s Space from other reverb pedals is its versatility and sound quality, putting it not just in the category of a live pedal but also in the same lane as many rack mount reverb processors. But if you are seeking the Space for live settings, you’ll be happy to know that you can not only store presets for easily recall in the unit’s three metal foot switches, but the pedal can also be linked to up to three separates foot switches and an expression pedal, giving you a really deep control over the dynamics and functions of the many effects stored inside this pedal.

Strymon BigSky Guitar Reverb Pedal

Strymon BigSky Guitar Reverb Pedal

Strymon has made a name for itself in the world of guitar effects pedals, thanks to their in-depth approach to crafting sounds and controllable parameters in their products. The BigSky reverb pedal exemplifies that approach to engineering and sound design. The BigSky features 12 reverb machines to work with, including standards such as Room and Hall to more experimental, niche ones like Magneto and Cloud. Players can control their tone using seven front-panel knobs for Decay, Pre-Delay, Mix, Tone, Mod, Param 1, and Param 2 (the latter of which are assignable per preset). Speaking of preset, the BigSky is stocked with a whopping 300 pre-selected sounds to choose from. Another notable feature in this pedal is its Speaker Cabinet emulation, which is ideal for recording sans-amplifier, or playing gigs in which you’re running your signal directly into the PA.

Strymon BlueSky Guitar Reverb Pedal

Strymon BlueSky Guitar Reverb Pedal

The Strymon blueSky reverb pedal is a compact yet powerful tone-coloring tool that makes it ideal for any player looking to take their guitar sounds into the stratosphere. Like Strymon’s bigger (and more expensive) pedal the BigSky, the blueSky offers players the ability to fine-tune their sound courtesy of the on-board knobs. There are three reverb types offered here including Spring, Room and Plate. Each of the types offers three modes (normal, modulation, and shimmer), so you have quite a few sound combinations to play with in finding your proper voice. The sound provided by this pedal is also true stereo, and makes for great, natural-sounding ambient sound. For those looking to save on price or pedalboard space but still looking for the deep and rich potential of the BigSky, the blueSky is a perfect fit.

Boss FRV-1 63 Fender Guitar Reverb Pedal

The BOSS FRV-1 ’63 Fender Reverb pedal provides the vintage sound of the 1963 Fender Reverb amp, courtesy of COSM technology. Essentially one of the original staples of reverberated tone, this sound was what launched the surf-music genre and would later become an integral part of the sounds of rockabilly, country, and blues. Three controls allow players to alter the Dwell, Tone, and Mix. This pedal is durable enough to take on the road, without having any fear of damage through regular use; after all, BOSS pedals are typically built like tanks. If that wasn’t enough to put any worries to rest, this pedal also comes with the customary five-year BOSS warranty.

MXR M169 Carbon Copy Analog Delay Pedal

A quick look at the artists who utilize the MXR Carbon Copy analog delay pedal should be enough to speak to this piece of gear’s versatility; artists from Incubus to Mumford & Songs to Coheed and Cambria to Haim all are fans of what this pedal can do. Small yet powerful, the Carbon Copy offers controls for the the number of repeats (Regen), the wet-to-dry ratio (Mix), and delay time (Delay). A Mod on/off switch can be used to introduce a slight vibrator to the delayed signal, which adds a unique character to the processed signal. Stage-ready blue LED lights make it easy to see what you’re doing, even in poorly lit environments. The Carbon Copy is also a true bypass pedal, which means your tone won’t be negatively affected when the pedal is not in use in your effects chain.

Moog MF-104M Analog Delay

Moog MF-104M Analog Delay

Even a quick glance at Moog’s MF-104M Analog Delay pedal reveals some of the more evident qualities that separate it from the rest of its contemporaries. The size and scope of the controls and adjustable knobs give a great forecasting of just how down and dirty players are able to get in creating an analog delay that best suits their playing.

The pedal’s LFO section features a variety of wave shapes to produce very interesting tape-stretching effects, while a tap tempo button allows you to easily sync the speed of the effect manually. A MIDI control also can be used to control the rate of the delay, for those who intend on using this analog tool within a digital space. A Short/Long switch will save you some time in that it quickly doubles or halves the delay time, while an accessible Spillover mode allows you to continue the sound of the delay even after the pedal has been bypassed, which is great for transitions and other times that you want to put the delay effect to more subtle use.

Seymour Duncan Vapor Trail Analog Delay Pedal

Seymour Duncan’s Vapor Trail analog delay pedal offers a vintage sounding tone that compliments its simple yet effective design. This pedal employs the beloved Bucket Brigade circuitry to provide a sound that is warm, clear, and full. A wet channel loop allows guitarists to add effects from external pedals into the wet signal, to experiment with new sonic combinations. This feature can also be fed into multiple amp setups. The Vapor Trail is also full bypass, so your tone will never be detrimentally affected when the pedal is not in use.

Dunlop Way Huge WHE-701 Aqua-Puss MkII Delay Effects Pedal

Way Huge’s Aqua-Puss analog delay pedal provides today’s players with an easy and affordable route to capturing the vintage sounds of yesterday. This pedal has been used by players including Noel Gallagher (Oasis) to John Mayer, and it’s not hard to understand why; it’s easy to use and provides unmistakably vibrant tone. The pedal is sturdy enough, thanks to Way Huge’s bent-steel chassis, and features a simple front-facing interface, with controls for Delay, Feedback, and Blend (wet vs. dry mix). The Feedback level can be used to create a mildly widening sensation, or can be cranked to go full-on psychedelic freak-out mode. This pedal may not necessarily provide the longest amount of delay that is available on the market via other pedals, but the level of dimension that the Aqua-Puss reissue offers makes it a more-than-worthy candidate for guitarists seeking to plunge their tone into the deep end.

JHS Pedals Panther Cub Delay Guitar Effects Pedal

JHS Pedals’ Panther Cub analog delay pedal utilizes the bucket-brigade circuitry that is responsible for some of the most beloved delay pedals of the past. Up to 1,000ms of decaying delay are available here, and the effect can be dialed in manually or summoned via a soft-touch tap tempo switch so guitarists can lock in their effect to the beat of the music that they’re playing along to. A 4-position ratio control allows players to set the delay to 1/4 note, 1/8 note, dotted 1/8 note, or triplet settings, and that tone can be further modified via speed and depth controls to provide more color to the processed sound. An internal “Roar” switch doesn’t just keep with the panther motif, but also provides two separate levels/sensitivity settings of oscillation and runaway. A Dry Out gives players the option to split the signal of the Panther Cub from the rest of their rigs.

Strymon Timeline

Strymon Timeline

Strymon’s Timeline digital delay pedal offers a studio-class, impeccable delay that makes it ideal for use in both the studio as well as on-stage. 12 delay machines in this unit provide classic analog delays, tape echo, digital delays, and more. Players can craft their sound using the seven front-panel knobs, or sift through the 200 awesome-sounding presets in the pedal. The Timeline also has a 30-second stereo looper, which can be routable either pre- or post-delay. A MIDI control allows players to run the delay of the pedal hands-free via their DAW.

Line 6 DL4 Delay Modeler Pedal

Line 6’s DL4 digital delay pedal offers a wide range of delay models that accurately approximate models of classic pieces of gear, including the Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man and Roland RE-101 Space Echo. Three programmable user channels give players the ability to save their favorite settings for later use. The DL4 is also notable for its Looper, which gives players the ability to record and playback a 14-second sound to introduce a new element to the sound; use it to make things chaotically huge or accompany your own backing tracks live on the spot. The Looper also features half-speed and reverse modes, which only serve to further make the capabilities of the DL4 more triply and mind-expanding.

Eventide TimeFactor Twin Delay Pedal

Eventide’s TimeFactor is filled with 100 preset banks that are also nameable, meaning you can easily store settings that you stumble upon for easy recall and later use. The tempos can also be stored in these settings, so you can easily program the pedal for a set. The pedal itself runs multiple delays that can be run at once, both of which can be applied to any of the nine unique delay effects – including DigitalDelay, VintageDelay, TapeEcho, and more. Those delays can also be configured to any of 27 note divisions, allowing guitarists to have an even more precise control of their effect than most other pedals. The included Looper in the TimeFactor gives players the ability to build a wall of sound – one that can be subtly textured or full-on chaotic, depending on how it’s used.

TC Electronic FlashBack Delay and Looper Guitar Delay Effect Pedal

At a first glance, the TC Electronic Flasback X4 is a digital delay pedal that nods to the history of vintage gear, with its old-school design and 16 delay settings that capture the sounds of the past. But this pedal is far from just a nostalgia tool as it can also capture delay effects of today, including reverse delay, as well as a futuristic-sounding Space setting. The company’s TonePrint signature effects give players the ability to harness the sound of some of their favorite guitarists, including The Police’s Andy Summers, Aerosmith’s Joe Perry, Queens of the Stone Age’s Troy Van Leeuwen, and more. These sounds are easily addable via USB or through a free TonePrint app that sends the data wirelessly from your Android or iPhone mobile device. Three footswitches allow you to nimbly shift between these and many other settings at the drop of a dime.

Echo RE20 Space Echo Delay Twin Pedal

In their quest to perfectly emulate the sound of the vintage Roland RE-201 Space Echo, BOSS built their RE-20 Space Echo digital delay pedal using the same COSM modeling that gave the RE-201 its unique sonic character. BOSS’s version of the Space Echo also includes some enhancements to Roland’s original; the maximum delay time can be doubled from three seconds to six seconds via the pedal’s “long” mode, and the newer version is built for stereo inputs and outputs. The Mode Selector knob gives players carte blanche access to the 12 delay settings this pedal has to offer, just like the original model. A tap input allows you to easily set the rate of the effect hands-free. Other parameters such as Repeat Rate and Intensity can also be controlled hands-free in conjunction with an Expression pedal.

Buyer's Guide

 

Guitar Delay/Reverb Pedal Buyer's Guide

Because using pedal effects is such an integral part of the creative process for guitarists, the ideal way to find the most suitable delay/reverb pedal is to try them out yourself. Product reviews and online demos can also be a great resource in learning what a specific pedal is capable of and how it might best fit into your effects rig. There are, however, some important factors to consider when making your decision.

Reverb/Echo Effects

Reverb does exactly what its name indicates, providing reverberations of the sound coming out of the instrument which results in an echoing effect. If you’ve ever been in a large hall and noticed the way in which the environment alters the sound of someone speaking out loud, you have experienced reverb in its natural form.

Reverb/echo settings in modern guitar pedals emulate the classic methods of reverb from the early days of studio recording and engineering when sounds were routed through plates and springs to produce a warm tone. What you’re getting in your guitar pedal is the same, albeit a much more compact operation which allows for far greater sound control.

Most reverb effects will let you control the reverbs type, tone, amount, and decay time. Some pedals also combine different reverb effects at once, allowing guitarists to tweak the minutiae of the settings and develop their own unique sounds.

Delay Effects

The origins of delay as a processed effect go back to when a signal was sent through a reel-to-reel recorder, copied, and then played back a specific amount of time through a complex tape machine set-up after the original sound was played. Fortunately, there are now guitar pedals emulating this effect, providing guitarists greater control over their sounds and eliminating the need for massive audio setups.

With a delay effect, guitarists can accompany themselves and set up poly-rhythmic repeats ranging from bouncy melodic to dissonantly chaotic. You can also manipulate the amount of delay, length of delay, speed of the sound’s playback, and the mix between the dry “no effect” and wet “with effect” signals, so players can dial in a sound perfectly fitted to a specific song.

Analog Delay vs. Digital Delay

Analog delay obviously came first, providing what many consider to be a warmer tone with greater character. Modeled after its analog predecessor, digital delay has been accused of being “too clean” as the audio signal is run through digital processors before coming back out through the pedal.

If all of this sounds like it’s splitting hairs, these nuances are typically only noticeable to audiophiles or guitarists truly attuned to their sound; luckily, over the last few decades digital delay pedals have developed enough to come significantly closer in capturing the “imperfect” sound of analog delays. This is a good thing because as analog pedals and the parts required for their operation become scarce, their price tag will continue to rise significantly.

Looping Effects

Taking the concept of delay one step further, many guitar delay/reverb pedals also feature a looping function which sets up a permanent repeated delay. This effect truly brings the “one man band” concept to life, as guitarists can build intricate layers of sound in real-time, stacking tracks to achieve a wall of sound, and can be a useful way to thicken up a guitar part.

While several effects companies offer exclusive pedals for handling looping, the ability to create this unique effect still falls into the category of delay and reverb. Guitarists can lay a subtle, repeated loop as a foundation for a piece or use the looping for a more abrasive and ear-splitting effect.

Durability

Durability is definitely a factor to take into consideration when selecting a pedal, especially if it will used continually for live performance. Traveling on the road presents risks for effects pedals even when they are being properly transported. Alternately, if a guitarist intends on using a pedal strictly for studio work, this opens up more options, as the pedal will more than likely experience far less wear and tear.

Intended Use

Deciding on intended use for your new pedal will make finding the right one immensely easier. While many pedals offer complex sound switching and manipulation, these options should be quickly accessible in a live setting, especially considering the guitarist will likely make these changes using only their feet!

Just because a pedal offers deeply expansive editing capabilities doesn’t necessarily peg it as a bad choice for live use since some models offer programmable presets or auxiliary components for easy selection of favored settings. While some pedals may not offer the ideal ability to switch settings during a live stage performance, that’s something of little concern for guitarists looking for something to use solely for recording purposes.

Sean Kramer
I'm a guitarist/music producer with 18 years of experience playing on-stage, in the studio, and everywhere in between. I have toured and recorded on projects both independent and major, in styles such as rock, pop, funk, hip hop, electronic, and more. My axe of choice is probably always going to be the Fender Stratocaster, but I've been known to pick up other guitars when the music calls for it. I'm a big fan of using a multitude of effects (both hardware and software-driven) to manipulate the sound and atmosphere of an instrument. In addition to playing on records, I have also contributed to the score/soundtrack for shows and spots on MTV and ESPN, as well as for a variety of independent films, web series, and television shows.
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