What if you just want to start experiment with delay pedals, but you’re not willing to spend a lot of money? Delay units are great, but a new stomp box can easily go beyond the 120 U$ range. I’ve been there, I wanted to have a delay that could mimic the Boss DD-5; so I bought a cheaper version (I’m not going to tell you the brand now, keep reading ;)), but needless to say, it didn’t quite delivered what it promised.
I then quickly realized that it should have been better just to wait and save some money and get a more robust pedal. However, there are some good alternatives on the market that you can get. I must say nonetheless, that these units are not super featured packed; these are simple pedals, but the brands behind them are known to maintain a good standard when it comes to the quality of their products, and that’s why it’s safer to go for one of them.
Without further delay (no pun intended), here they are (the order of appearance is not important, just so you know :):
EHX Memory Toy: This Company is really famous for its delays. They wanted to create a more affordable version of the Memory Man and so, they first came up with the Memory Boy. I think that about the same time, they also started to market the Memory Toy, which is like a Memory Boy but more stripped down.
Surprisingly, the pedal has up to 550 milliseconds of analog delay, as well as a toggle switch that enables a slow chorus modulation. Some users complain about the volume boost it gives you when you enable the pedal, but I don’t know if that’s a big of a deal, nonetheless, it had to be mentioned. The pedal has a 4/5 stars review on Musicians Friend. You can get it there for 89 $ at the time of writing this post.
BBE Two Timer: Another great analog delay pedal. BBE is a Californian company that manufactures an array of products, including guitar pedals. The Two Timer, as the name suggest, offers you the possibility of having two independent delay times in one unit, which by itself I think it is pretty awesome.
It features a BBD, circuit (it means that it is not emulating an analog delay, it is an analog unit) so you can expect warm type like echoes. The delay times are not super long, in essence they are similar to the early analog units; it goes from 0 milliseconds up to 330 milliseconds. You can get the pedal on Amazon which at the time of writing the post, it shows a price of 67$ (although it states that there are only 6 units left). You can also get the unit at Musicians Friend for 99 bucks; it also has a 4/5 stars review on that site.
Danelectro D8 FAB Delay. This great little paw offers up to 600 milliseconds of delay time and the price is really, really cheap. It’s a very simple unit that delivers what it says it’s going to do; it only has three knobs to control delay, time and repeats (feedback). The issue here it’s of course the plastic enclosure; like some other pedals housed on this material, if you’re an aggressive stomp boxer, well, it may break on you.
Nonetheless, I think this pedal is best used a basic delay setting, so that means it would probably stay active the whole time and eventually you’ll turn in off. Danelectro also has another delay pedal called FAB Echo; this one tries to emulate analog delays but it has mainly one function: slap back. In fact the pedal does not have a delay time knob, only offers the control over the mix and the repeats.
However, people who modded the pedal stated that it sounds great; the mod basically consists on adding a time knob, enhancing the possibilities offered by the pedal. Nonetheless, you’re going to have to do some homework to find a company or someone who can do that. You can get the D8 FAB on Amazon by less than 21 bucks; the FAB Echo is also very affordable and you should be able to buy one for less than 16 dollars on Musicians Friend.
TC Electronics Echobrain. Another great delay producing company. TC Electronic became famous with their rack mounted delay units (TC2290) so it’s kind of expected that they will offer some great pedals. In October of 2016 they came up with a great line of affordable pedals and the Echobrain is the analog delay that was in the pack.
This unit offers up to 300 milliseconds of warm delay (similar to the BBE Two Timer) with a very robust housing; it’s sturdy and has large knobs, which can really come in handy if you’re used to change some settings on the fly with your feet :). Again, this is simple analog stomp box with a quality/price ratio hard to beat. The delay time might be short for some players, but if you want to have a taste of what it feels like to play with this type of effect, this one will do the job. You can get this unit for 59 bucks in Musicians Friend.
TC Electronic The Prophet. Following the same principle as with the Echobrain, this pedal delivers pristine digital delay to a maximum time of 1300 milliseconds (that’s more than enough imho ;)). It does not have a tap tempo function or some other tweakable features; nonetheless it offers a selector for 3 specific time subdivisions that can really come in handy when you’re trying to get rhythmic effects.
I’m aware I’ve already described how well this pedal is constructed (I mean, when we were talking about the Echobrain :)), but for an unit aimed for the more affordable segment of the market, it is really well made; it even has soft-switch system, so it is pretty much noiseless when engaged. You can get this pedal on Musicians Friend for less than 60 U$.
Where Do I Go From Here?
Ok, so you feel a little adventurous and you would like to wonder beyond the 100 U$ mark, uh? Well, the good news is that you might not have to. I think you can get good deals if you hunt for used pedals. Who knows, you might get a Japanese Boss DD-3 for less than 100 bucks! On the other hand, you should always be aware that you’re buying used gear and that your pedal might come with some scratches; that’s perfectly normal. You just have to make sure the seller has some previous good reputation and of course, make sure the pedal actually works. A good place to find those deals is Reverb.com.
Aren’t There Cheaper Options?
The short answer is yes, there are cheaper options, but let me share a story with you about something that happened to me.
I was eager to get a DD-5, but it turned out to be almost impossible by that time and I didn’t have enough money to buy a DD-7; the DD-3 was not even on the radar because I needed a delay with tap tempo (and dotted eighths), so I ruled it out. I started browsing on Amazon and found the Behringer DD600, which was basically the Boss DD-6 with external tap-tempo. The price wasn’t that bad so I decided to buy this fella and hoped for the best (in spite of the mixed reviews I’ve read so far :/).
And then it happened, the pedal sucked so much volume it was unbelievable… I had to crank up so much volume in order to have a normal guitar tone every time. I’ve tried lots of things with it, and nonetheless, it kept sucking tone… I even sent the pedal to a technician to see if he could find something to fix, but that was also unsuccessful.
The bottom line is that I had to stop using the pedal… for good, and the money was pretty much lost.
I’m not complaining about Behringer, some people claimed that they’ve never had issues with their products, and actually, I have another pedal from them (an amp simulator) which works well; what I’m just trying to say is this: do you want something better? Just save your money and invest it in more expensive pedal from a company that has a better quality standard.
One Final Thought
I’m pretty sure that if you dig a little bit, you can find some really cool offers and pedals that can suit your budget. As a bonus for reading so far, I feel compelled to mention that TC Electronic has another great pedal: it’s the Flashback Mini. It is the same Flashback pedal but stripped down to the essentials, three knobs and great digital delay.
As a big plus, it uses their tone print technology so you can download presets and in this way, it expands the sonic capabilities of this little unit. I didn’t feature it on the list because it usually goes beyond the 100 U$ price range, but eventually, you could be able to get an offer from Amazon or Reverb that’s below a Benjie.
Until the next time,