Posted by: worshipguitarguy | March 9, 2007

Delay… lay… lay… Part 3: A Few Pages from My Delay Notebook

Stay away from the flu… it’s not a good thing. I’ve been sidelined with it for this entire week so take anything said here with a grain of salt. 😉

Since I don’t have access to the rest of the posts in this series yet, I thought I’d throw this in. It’s a practical look at my own delay sounds and how I go about creating useable tones with delay.

Dotted Eighth Rhythmic Delay:
I use this one when I’m playing a constant rhythmic strumming pattern. The dotted eighth fills in the gaps between your strums with the repeat sound, making your playing sound thicker and more tonally complex. The Line 6 Echo Park and Boss DD-20 have built in dotted eighth settings. If you have a DL-4 you don’t have a built in dotted eighth, but there’s a sneaky little fix you can use. First, set your pedal on the rhythmic delay setting, and set the delay to a sixteenth note setting. Tap your rhythm on beats 1 and 4, and you’ll have a dotted eighth!

With a dotted eighth, you’ll usually want the first delay repeat to be fairly strong, (I’ll set mine 75 percent or so of the original strum.) But I’ll keep my repeats to only 1 or 2 after the initial strum.

The cool thing about a dotted eighth is it can help keep you in time because once you feel the groove of it, it will set the rhythm for the part you’re playing.

Ambient (“Textural”) Analog Delay:
One of my favorite delay settings of all time is the Space Echo modeled sound. If you have a good model of it, you can create some very thick and texturally complex sounds. (Or the real thing, and you’re willing to have a brainiac delay tech on call 24/7.)

I use this style tone mostly on slower songs where I want to create gentle “sonic walls” of sound.

The first tip when using this type of delay is extremely simple, but one many guitarists ignore: their instrument’s volume and tone knob. When creating ambient delay sounds, I want my guitar to be more of a pad instrument instead of a featured one. So I’ll often roll off my tone knob quite a bit to make my sound more subtle.

The delay itself is set with fairly weak volume levels on the repeats but I’ll set the repeats to sustain quite a while. (With the space echo model, you may have “multihead” adjustment settings which means you can make the textural tone sustain for a while.) When playing this way, I’ll keep my notes to a minimum, usually just enough to add a small bit to everything else going on around me. Also, a warm amount of reverb can make this effect stand out.

(A neat trick with the Line 6 DL-4)
Based off of this effect, I have a favorite thing I love to do with the Line 6 DL-4, provided you have the optional expression pedal for it. First, I program the heel down setting to be my normal delay repeat setting, then I set my toe up to be a repeat setting so thick that it actually starts to feedback. Then, adding reverb and by balancing on the edge of that feedback, I can create pad style tones while also allowing single notes to ring through. This makes it sound like you have two instruments going instead of one. You can still do the same thing without a DL-4, just reach down and manually adjust your repeats knob to border on the feedback level.

You can also experiment with a wah pedal on this setting to get some unique tone shaping envelope filter style effects. You won’t use your wah in a typical manner, instead rock it back and forth very slowly.

Line 6 Verbzilla
I know not everyone’s a fan of the Line 6 Tone Core pedals, but I have to say this one is truly an amazing addition to my board. The Octo setting is a copy of the old U2 style “Shimmer Effect”, and the Cave setting gives you a unique ambient string style effect. If you’re really looking to do something different, turn the mix all the way up on one of the settings. Your individual notes will be completely blurred together giving you a synth style guitar sound.

Although reverb isn’t truly a delay, it’s a huge compliment to many delay style tones, and many common guitar tones are mistaken for delay when in reality they’re just very thick reverb sounds.



  1. I hear you about the flu! Had it myself for the last week.

    Thanks for the DL4 trick about getting dotted eigths! It’s incredible to me that they didn’t just make that a built in feature of the rhythmic delay though…such a popular effect thanks to the Edge. The Octo setting on the reverb is beautiful in the sound samples. I always love that effect and have found ways of creating it the way the edge does with a second amp (he used a modified blues jr on this last tour). He uses rack stuff, but i found that if you use a Whammy or other pitch shifter up one octave with a nice delay and reverb running after it, you can swell your volume pedal and get that classic shimmery sound.

    I’m going to have to check out the pedal simulation though – way easier and such a cool effect! Thanks!

  2. I really need to get a DL-4 or DD-20….currently, I’m using a Boss ME-50. Is 8th note dotted delay hard to configure when you don’t have presets? That neat trick is really interesting. I’m starting to appreciate delay more. Thanks!

  3. Not at all Tim, you’ll just need a measure of rhythm to tap in your tempo to start. It isn’t that hard at all… (on the DL-4). The DD-20 has a built in dotted eighth setting so it’s no problem.

  4. Hey Tim – I have the ME-50… it does actually have a dotted eighth setting; it’s called “Tap”.

    Turn the delay setting knob all the way to the right… where it says “Tap” in a little box, and has an eighth note next to it.

    Then just tap quarter notes w/ your foot in time to whatever song you’re playing, and blammo, dotted Edge ERR eighth.

    The “time” knob is useless since you’re tapping in the tempo. You can adjust the delay tempo on the fly, which is great if your drummer is, uh, well, flexible when it comes to tempo. I looked like I was tap dancing on the thing over there this past Sunday.

    The “feedback” knob controls the number of repeats – season to taste…

    The manual says to turn the delay E. Level (essentially the effects mix) knob all the way up, but I’ve noticed that this actually causes a perceptible INCREASE in overall volume, so I tend to keep it at about 3 o’clock.

    So, there you have it, dotted Edge on an ME-50… no need to buy another pedal… and, no math!!! Whoo-hoo!

  5. Tim – email anytime if you have other questions on the ME-50; I’ve geeked with mine way, way too much.

  6. Wait…I use the DL-4 and I set it to the dotted quarter and tap 1-2-3-4 and I get a wonderful edge sound. You just strum 8th notes. See vid:

  7. great job Jon! sounds awesome. care to tell us what your settings are?

  8. Just a quick question…do you use the dotted-eighth delay with a clean sound or a distorted sound? I decided to give it a try for a worship song (I play rhythm guitar) but I used a fairly heavy chunking distortion. Didn’t really have enough time to decide if it worked or not.

  9. I tend to use delay with a slightly overdriven sound. Now that i think about it, i always have some overdrive even on my clean settings.

  10. I almost always use my dotted eighth with a clean or slightly overdriven sound. Talking about overdriven, it is mostly a clean boost style OD, which means individual notes can still ring out very clear.

    In my experiences, if I start using heavy distortion with a dotted eighth, it makes everything really muddy… but if you get a good sound out of what your doing, hey… go for it!

  11. Does anyone know how to use a DL4 w/ multihead w/ heads 1&3 on with the delay notes being quarter notes? I tried tapping quarter notes but it seems to be whole notes instead.. Tapping 1/8 notes seems to make it 1/2 note delays.. Any suggestions?

  12. Brent, that video is not me, but it was just to show you that the DL-4 can be used to get this rhythmic delay. I know you can’t get dotted 8ths on the DL-4, but if you play 8th notes when the DL-4 is set to the dotted quarter note (I think it’s 3-o-clock on the rhythmic setting), it sounds to me like you get the same effect.

  13. Also, the Vox’s top-boost channel is just great for that chimey, distinct strumming, especially when using rhythmic delays, and setting your guitar to use both pickups. Everything just stands out.

  14. Hey Tim.. I have a DL4 and for the life of me I have been trying to get that dotted eigth with hardly any success..

    when you said dial in they delay to a sixteenth setting…. what do you mean by this? like what is the delay knob pointing towards? 12:00, 2:00? lower than that?

    And then when you said rythm on beats 1 and 4 you mean if your tapping your foot on the ground… tap on first foot down.. then count 3 and then tap again?

    I find the DL4 Volume of the delays really LOW compared to boss delay pedals… so much that I might trade this in for a Boss DD 20 or DD 5

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