While I keep tone discussions fairly basic in the individual song lessons, The Green Room allows me to expand on those ideas so you will start seeing more tone discussions, gear demo's, How-to's, etc. Before I dive into those posts, I thought I’d give a brief primer on the Delay effect. We use it on almost every song, but what do you really need to know about it?
The Bare Minimum
Delay pedals can do a lot of things but on the most basic level, they need to take whatever you played and repeat it. It is a basic feature and requires three controls to make it useful. They may go by different names but they all make the same adjustments. If your gear doesn’t allow you to make these adjustments, throw it away and get something that does. Better yet, throw it in the microwave for an hour. I've always wondered what would happen.
The first control is the “Level” and it describes the volume of the repeat effect in relationship to the dry signal (your original picked note). A good pedal will allow you to go from zero volume to at least as loud as your original picked note and many far beyond.
“Feedback” controls the amount of times your original signal is repeated Generally you should have options as low as one repeat all the way up to infinite. The infinite thing is cool, but it can get out of hand pretty fast so be careful.
The third control is the “Time” and it controls the time interval between each repeat. Most pedals will keep this interval constant but there are others that allow you to speed up or slow down with expression pedals. With tap tempo or presets, you can match your interval to the tempo of the song by setting 1/4 note, 1/8 note, dotted 8th etc. While this is a great feature, it’s much more important when your effect level is loud. In live situations I generally get my time setting in the ballpark and just lower the volume of the repeats. It creates a nice wash without clashing if the band tempo varies a bit.
The best way to get to know your effects is to play with them in the privacy of your own home so try identifying which one does what and see what kind of effects you can get with them.