In the first installment on delay we explored what a delay can do. Now let’s explore some players who use delay, so you can get an idea of what you might be looking for.
“Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” (Van Halen) is an example of a “slap-back” type delay. This is a quick delay (ranging from about 75-150 ms); in this song it is closer to the 150 ms area. “Rooster Rock” (Brian Setzer) is an example of a shorter slap-back echo; at this speed it sounds more like reverb. “Walk of Life” (Dire Straights) is another classic example of the slap-back sound.
The Edge (U2) is synonymous with delay. “Pride (In the Name of Love)” is a great example of how he uses delay to achieve his signature tone. The Edge uses two amps so that he can split the delay into a stereo signal. This is what creates the “ping-ponging” in his sound: one amp plays the original sound, the other plays the delayed sound. The delayed signal is set to a specific synchopation, (in this case a dotted eighth-note; 417ms@108bpm) which creates the effect of having another guitar part added. The Edge uses modulated-delays (T.C. Electronics 2290), which add a lush, chorused sound to his delays. (http://www.amnesta.net/edge_delay/ is where I got this info and is an incredible site for those of you who want to get freaky-technical about the Edge’s gear secrets!)
Many shredders use delay to “fatten” their sound. These delays are usually set anywhere from 250-750ms, with at least three or four repeats. The trick to using delay this way is to keep your delay/effect level (effects mix) low (no more than maybe 30%). When set like this, you will hear the delay when the guitar player stops but won’t hear the actual repeats while they play. A good example of this is “Blue Powder”, by Steve Vai. In the beginning you hear his delay but once the band comes in you don’t really notice it.
Similar to the syncopated delays of the Edge, some players go even farther, using a delay to create a second part to their original melody lines. Good examples of this are: “Cathedral” (Van Halen), and “Hina” (David Lee Roth Band; Vai). In “Cathedral” the echoes create the illusion of rapid arpeggios being played when in fact the riff is fairly easy (except for mastering the volume knob technique) , the delay adding most of the notes.
Another great source of delay ideas come via Wes Borland (Limp Bizkit). “Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water” is a great album for anyone who wants to check out what a guy can do with delay and other effects . I know, you probably are saying “Eww, Limp Bizkit!”, but Borland is the real deal, you should check him out; notice that Limp Bizkit lasted about three minutes after he left the band.
If you want to start playing with delay, and not invest too much to start, you can pick up a Boss DD-3 for around $50 bucks used, and it’s a great pedal!