Delay effects pedals for your guitar is a must if you’re wanting to venture out into the big world of FX and guitar pedals altogether. Nothing beats putting on that delay sound to your strings to get the perfect feel of what you’re trying to convey in your notes. Whether its huge echoes to give you a space-like feel or perhaps just a minor touch to give your chords some extra detail, the possibilities are quite large with one of these. We many know who say not having a delay guitar pedal in their rig is simply unheard of. Let’s get into our favorite picks as the best delay pedals for your guitar.
Finding the best delay pedal for guitars
Unless you’re going to buy a multi-effects pedal and just use that, I’ve seen up to 2 or 3 of these in guitarist’s stompboxes. Aside from perhaps reverb guitar pedals, delay pedals are by far the most popular out there and have been for decades. When first deciding on a delay pedal, look into what you already have — some of these come with other FX such as loopers, reverb, and more that you may not need. If you are indeed starting from scratch, look into what other packages you may be interested in aside from just delay.
Whether or not you want just delay or perhaps some more FX, there are also pedals with different “types” of these FX. For example, a pedal we list near the middle of our guide gives us a whopping 8 different “types” of delays, and they’re labeled based on their feel and sound. Examples include delays named ‘self-oscillating’, ‘crystal’, ‘tape’, ‘ping pong’, and more. Or do you just want one delay where you can control the speed and modulation?
Aside from looking into what else your pedal will be offering, we most importantly want to recommend this — listen to samples! The sound of a pedal is everything, of course. We’ve provided you with video demos so you can get a feel of these pedals before you buy. If a particular sound and feel stand out to you, we say go for it and grab it. Don’t be shy — you may want two or even three!
The best delay effects guitar pedals
Up first as our favorite to be the best delay guitar pedal of many, the TimeLine is a bit more advanced than others and isn’t necessarily a traditional pedal to add to a stompbox. It indeed is quite expensive, however; the overall quality and power of this thing is magical if you can afford it. It’s priced so high because of the extra quality that it was built regarding sound quality, hardware design, processing power (uses something called SHARC DSP, which in a nutshell is an advanced chip included in the pedal responsible for high-quality sound processing), and sonic flexibility. Let’s get into what this thing actually does — 12 unique delay machines (each with controls you can tweak in regards to the overall feel and sonic character), 200 presets, 30 second looper, and MIDI in\out.
This is more geared towards studios with that MIDI function but don’t get us wrong, it will have you shredding live as well. The control over the multiple delays is everything — filter it out for some warm analog feels or go to a sparkling and clear studio-quality digital-like sound. The possibilities are huge with the Strymon TimeLine and it’s our favorite answer to the best delay pedal in the market today.
Coming down to a more realistic price-point and size for a traditional delay guitar pedal, the Canyon is widely known by many with user reviews to back it up. This one is both a delay as well as looper, but we wouldn’t turn it away if you don’t plan on using the latter — it’s only a plus. The delay with this pedal gives you 11 modes — echo, mod, multi, reverse to name a few. The delay time is 5 milliseconds to 3 seconds, you have a tap tempo with tap divide on the footswitch itself or you can also use an external one.
There’s also a tails switch which allows you to repeat echoes or stop it immediately when you switch it to bypass. A more simplistic delay guitar pedal to check out here, we love the Electro-Harmonix Canyon if you need the essential delay and nothing else.
If you’re looking for a reliable and high-end warm, analog delay pedal, here’s our pick with Jim Dunlop’s M169. Very simple here with up to 600ms of delay time and modulation, but nothing beats the overall sound and feel with this one. The three-knob layout controls Delay, Mix and Regen, and you’re getting optional modulation on top of that 600ms. There are also two trim pots that give us the ability to adjust the width as well as rate control of the modulation to tweak the tone to our liking.
This is all analog to remind you as well — nothing digital here, which is what we’d buy this for since in our opinion you can never truly replicate a genuine analog piece of gear. It’s nice to just have the MXR M169 in your rig to add to its authenticity.
TC Electronic Flashback 2
There’s no way we weren’t including the Flashback 2 in here, and this one is definitely a gem when it comes to the best guitar pedals with delay. TC is definitely a famous brand and well-known among many in regards to pedals, and this particular model is raved about by many, especially in the delay world. You first have a handy pressure-sensitive footswitch with something called MASH technology to turn it into an expression controller. You have 8 delays, which include some unique sounds you can’t get elsewhere, such as their “crystal delay”, “tape warble” and “self-oscillation”. There are also 3 delay subdivisions with quarter notes, dotted eighths or combination sections.
Lastly, there’s a true bypass which aids in clarity of your sound and no loss when the pedal is off. Overall this delay pedal for guitars is very unique — you’ll have to hear it for yourself to see if it’s what your ears were craving. Look into the TC Electronic Flashback 2 for a hidden secret in the delay pedal world.
Let’s get into some old school delay guitar pedals. Boss is no stranger to timeless guitar gear, and the DD-7 is infamous in the pedal world at this point. The delay time gets you up to a big 6.4 seconds if you’re in the mood, and there’s also modulation for some more chorus-type and natural sounds. This sound is very, very warm. Like the previous M169, if you’re into analog delay or merely hardware warmth in your sound and feel of your strings, this is a beautiful pedal to add to your repertoire.
You can also control your delay time, feedback and effect level using the expression pedal (they sell one separately or use your own). Lastly, tap tempo is included and controllable via an external footswitch in case you need it. Overall, we love the vintage, warm and analog feel of the Boss DD-7 to include in our list of the best delay guitar pedals. Boss is not a stranger to guitar gear.
Let’s continue to talk vintage here, but this time we have one of our favorite extremely affordable delay guitar pedals to take a look at. Behringer is the King of budget-friendly gear, so don’t expect too many fancy features but really just a gritty delay to have at your fingertips here. It’s super easy to operate with a blue LED notification light when it is activated and you can power it up using a 9V battery or plug it in manually. In regards to the FX, you’ll be getting a very warm and analog-like delay and vintage slap-back echo that comes very close to many tape delays out there.
You have dedicated echo, repeat rate and intensity controls to tweak your delay as needed. There aren’t any presets or “different types” of delay here but the combinations you can get from just three knobs is pretty impressive considering the price. This one definitely doesn’t break the bank and can be more of an add-on for another pedal if you feel like grabbing two. We recommend the Behringer VD400 if you want something simple, affordable and completely analog for your rig.
Here we’ll get back into one of the best delay guitar effects pedals with a few more options when it comes to tweaking your sound. The MS-70CDR gives us chorus, delay as well as some nice reverb. Zoom isn’t necessarily a go-to when it comes to guitar or bass effects if you aren’t familiar with them (most know them for their recording products, especially portable recorders), but their stake in the guitar pedal game is actually very strong and the user reviews back that up. Here we have a low of power in a small pedal — It’s essentially a full rack-mounted multi-effects device with 86 guitar and bass effects, a super easy interface, chromatic tuner on-board (why not?), and some other options regarding versatility.
For the chorus and modulation, we have 31 FX at our fingertips, such as phase, flange, vibrato, tremolo and more. The delays include 26 mono and stereo FX (up to 4 seconds), ranging from reverse and multi-tap all the way to self-oscillating or pitch-shifted delays. The reverb is also quite impressive here with 25 of them (dense, realistic, spatial, rooms, plates, etc.). On top of that we have some filters to play around with, such as their noise reduction algorithm that removes noise during pauses. As you can see, there’s quite a lot at your fingertips for such a small pedal and price. The Zoom MS-70CDR is definitely the best delay pedal if you want a lot of power.
Another Dunlop appearance here, this time with their EP103 delay pedal we consider to be quite beautiful in all aspects. We have the legendary tones of an old EP-3 tape echo unit here with an easy-to-use interface with an included age control (you can control repeats). Just three knobs here (because who needs a bunch to make it sound great?) to control the overall volume, delay and sustain.
Instead of merely features, presets and different “types” of FX, this one focuses on an incredibly warm and organic modulation that reminds us of the golden aged 70’s guitar tones. Those old tape echo units were what gave us that timeless feel, and although we know many who still use them and prefer the real thing, this pedal packs what you were able to get with that clunky thing into a pedal straight into our stompbox. Look at the Dunlop EP103 if you’re concerned with one thing only — sound.
We weren’t done with Boss just yet. The DM-2W is another highly rated delay guitar effects pedal we couldn’t ignore, especially if you’re into that warm analog sound (heard of “bucket brigade”?) It’s been around since the 80’s but was actually discontinued way back in 1984. They’ve since reintroduced it to the world and we’re not mad at all. They’ve added a few touches to it as well — switchable sound modes and better versatility.
It uses analog-circuitry only, so no digital processing here at all. You get 20-300 ms delay range and also a ‘custom mode’ to change the sound character as you please (maximum 800 ms delay time). You also have an expression pedal input in case you need it as well as two output jacks for separate delay and direct sounds if you feel like mixing and matching. The Boss DM-2W is just another raw, vintage and ‘warm’ (yes, we say that word a lot, but hearing those videos you’ll understand) pick as the best delay guitar pedal.
Last but not least, we don’t have a real ‘traditional’ and ‘delay effects only’ pedal, but really a versatile FX piece that ranges from guitars all the way to keys and vocals. It’s equipped with 30ms delay, vintage chamber reverb, as well as a pitch shift/chorus. Most importantly is the automatic double-tracking which gives those guitar tones ‘fullness’ (the Beatles are thrown around a lot with gear, but we’ve seen them mentioned numerous times with this pedal, especially their Abbey Road work).
This one is also great for the stage with its double tracker since it aids in saving time and room for error to correct your notes. The reverb is also super nice in this one, so if you were looking for multiple FX as opposed to just delay this will be a great addition to your repertoire, both in the studio as well as stage. The Keeley 30ms is our last pick as the best delay pedal for guitars in the market.