Delay is a universal name being used for Time-Shifting effects. Tims-Shifting effects add a touch of ambience to the sound of your guitar. Subtle use of delay will hardly be noticeable for your audience, but you, the guitar player, will notice what the effect does to the sound of your guitar.
Well-known examples of time-shifting effects are: Flange, Chorus, Reverb, Echo and Delay.
The main difference in all these effects is their different delay times and their different applications.
Different Delay Times Explained
The shortest specific delay is a Flanger. Typical delaytimes for Flangers are from 0 to 15 milliseconds. Flangers can be used to add extra dimension to your original guitarsound. More dramatic settings can create a “jet airplane” sound. In the 1970s it was common to take the whole mix of a song through a Flanger to add a more dramatic effect.
Listen to this Queen song here from 1978, from 3.09 they open up the flanger to add more drama to Brian’s guitarsolo. Queen was very good at their special effects and their fantastic light-show to add extra drama to their live-shows.
10 to 25 mS
Chorus effects have a typical delay time in this range. Chorus pedals are great to give you the idea of playing two guitars at the same time. They are popular to thicken up the sound of an electric guitar.
25 to 50 mS
A delay time from 25 to 50 milliseconds gets you into echo. With delaytimes as short as these you can create “Slapback” echo, which is a very tight echo sound often heard on older Rock “n” Roll recordings of the 1950s and early 1960s.
50 to 200 mS
Delays covering this range are able to give you a more spacey and ambient sound.
200 to 800 mS
Most delayeffects which cover this range will have a “hold” feature which makes it possible to harmonise your guitarlines: Play a short idea, press hold, and the orginal sound is played back as long as you keep the hold function engaged. It is now possible to play other ideas over your original idea, you can create a short solo or harmonise your orginal idea with another guitaridea.
800 to 5200 mS
From 800 to 5200 mS we get into some “serious” delay times. Most delay effects within this range make it possible to create short loops of your guitarplaying. As mentioned above, within this range you will be able to create guitarideas which will be played back to you, but now they can even be longer, much longer really!! These loops can be used to solo back over, or to create miniture compositions. Most of these loops can be overdubbed with Sound on Sound which means you can now create layers of sound.
If you like your delaytimes to be long you may also be interested in looping pedals, which can be seen as “super” delays pedals with an extreme long time-delay range.
Delay and How to Use Them:
At thi moment in time I will not go into detail in all the various applications of the different delaytimes. I will create more blogs in future which will deal with this. Today is just a short overview of various delaytimes and their various units. A taster if you like, but not to worry, there is much more to come, as this man is experimenting daily with all the possiblities of all effects under the sun.
I will tell you how NOT to use your delay: Put you delay-time on maximum, and strum as quick as you can through the chords of your favourite song, or play your sinlgle-note solos at light-breaking speed. The delay may add a touch of extra thickness to your sound, but only you wil notice that. If you really want to hear your delay at work why not play a chord, and mute the sound while you listen back to the sound of your guitar coming back to you from the delay pedal. It is just one way to make a delay stand out and make it noticeable to the music you are playing.
Here are some songs which use the delay in the way I mentioned before:
First of all “Let’s Dance” by David Bowie, listen to the chords on the guitar and how they hold them, then the chord is repeated back for a couple of times. The delaytime is just long enough to notice the echo on the guitar. Yes you could play all those chords, but the delay will help you to keep things tight.
Here is another one, a more modern example, and the delay is there on the first chords of the intro, nice!!
Here is an example where the delay is used on the vocals, listen at around 1.99/ 2.00 it is very subtle but the vocals are coming back on the shout. This idea is used throughout the song. It is one idea which is used often over time by various artists.
Last example, this is a more subtle example of a delay, it is used in the intro chords of this song. Typical example for using a delay to thicken up the sound, and to give you the idea there are more guitars at work.
Enjoy and hope to see you soon!!