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Posts Tagged ‘delay’

After a gig with my band a few weeks ago, and with other impending gigs coming up where I’d have to use my electric rig, I decided to create two different pedal boards. Using a single one wasn’t an issue the past couple of years because, with my new band, we weren’t gigging that much and I didn’t really feel the need to have a lot of different sounds, so I’d just use my little Pedaltrain Nano, pop on the pedals I needed for a particular gig, and I was good to go. But now that I’m gigging more regularly with my band, and have agreed to join a new church band, I realized that swapping pedals was going to be inefficient. Plus, with my solo gig, I only needed a couple of modulation pedals and a looper, so putting all that on my big board and hauling that around was not a very attractive solution.

Luckily, I have at least two of every pedal I need. 🙂 Not the same brand, mind you, but two or three of the same kind. The fact that I have so many is just previous GAS. I used to be so impulsive about buying gear that even though I’d already have a pedal or some other gear that perfectly suited my needs, I’d hear something in some new gear that “spoke” to me and I’d have to get it. And with pedals, I’ve ended up with two, three, even four of the same type of pedal. This gives me a lot of flexibility, but more importantly, it allows me to run two distinct boards for my electric and solo acoustic rigs.

Which brings me to the Carbon Copy… When I got it, I really didn’t need it. In fact, I already had my Mad Professor Deep Blue Delay “DBD” (hand-wired). But I reasoned that I needed a delay for my acoustic rig, and wasn’t willing to shell out another $325 as only the hand-wired DBD was available at the time. So I got the Carbon Copy delay.

As luck would have it, it wasn’t long before the Carbon Copy was back in the box. I had developed severe arthritis in my left hip and started to gig a lot less, and got very sensitive to the amount of gear I would lug when I did gig. So I downsized. I started using my Nano board exclusively and just lived with a couple of pedals.

But now that I’m all healed and have lost a bunch of weight, and I’ve gotten a lot more busy with gigs, I don’t mind lugging a bunch of gear, so I’ve set up two boards: One for electric and one for acoustic. The Carbon Copy has gone onto my acoustic board, and you know what? I absolutely love it!

Unlike my Deep Blue Delay, the Carbon Copy is very subtle when its level knob is set anywhere less than 12 o’clock. I usually set the level at 11 am, then set a long delay time and short repeats. It’s not exactly slapback, but it adds a depth and ambiance to my guitar sound to give it almost a large chamber sound. It’s great for finger-picked songs as the lower level gives me plenty of note clarity with a nice tail at the end. And for solos, well, its subtlety definitely works in its favor. I LOVE doing solos with this pedal turned on.

Don’t get me wrong. I still love my Deep Blue Delay. That will always be my favorite, but I’m absolutely digging the MXR Carbon Copy on my acoustic rig. It would be right at home on my electric board, but well the DBD has that place, and I’ve got that board set up to where I like it.

Now that I’ve been using the Carbon Copy for a few weeks, I like it so much that if it were the only analog delay that I have, I’d be perfectly alright using it all the time. This pedal is a little gem, folks. If you’re looking for a great analog delay, this is one that I’d recommend trying out. It’s definitely much more subtle than others – you really have to crank up the level and repeats to get a definite delay pulse – but as I mentioned above, that subtlety works in its favor, especially for solos.

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…and a few others to consider

I know, I know… A lot of people wouldn’t ever think about doing this, but I’ve used them for years, and actually got the inspiration from one of the greatest acoustic guitarists – in my humble opinion – who ever walked planet Earth: Michael Hedges. While he mainly used a chorus pedal, it gave me the idea that I could take advantage of the interesting sonic layers I could add to my sound. Note that these aren’t hard and fast rules, but for me, I don’t go to a gig without them. And also note that this assumes you’re plugging your guitar into a board or an amp of sorts.

Reverb

A lot of acoustic amps have onboard reverb, but I’ve found that they’re not quite as good as a dedicated pedal that I can tweak. My favorite reverb pedals that I use are the DigiTech Hardwire RV-7 Reverb and the TC Electronics Hall of Fame Reverb. The RV-7 is no longer in production and I’ve had it for several years, but it’s awesome. Apparently, the DigiTech Polara builds on DigiTech’s use of Lexicon reverb models. Lexicon reverbs are the tops, and I’ve used them on pedals and sound boards for years. As far as the Hall of Fame reverb, it’s an absolutely solid reverb pedal, though admittedly, it sits on my electric board. This pedal is cool because it has TC Electronic’s TonePrint capability that allows you to download saved tweaks from their site. I’ve used it, but I tend to like where I set my reverb, so I don’t use it too much.

Chorus

Frankly, I couldn’t live without this in my live gigs. I never use it really heavy – even for electric guitar – but it can add depth and shimmer to your plugged-in tone. Frankly, you have to play a lot of these to find the right kind of sound for you. But my go-to chorus pedals are as follows (in order of use): TC Electronic Corona Chorus, BOSS CE-2 Chorus (vintage MIJ black-label – and I only use it in my home studio now because it’s so rare), Homebrew Electronics THC (discontinued, but the warmest, most liquid chorus I’ve ever heard). The Corona is my workhorse chorus pedal that I use for both acoustic and electric. There’s really something about this particular pedal that I just dig. It’s actually a very subtle chorus, and that suits me just fine because I don’t ever want a pedal to dominate my sound. I usually just set it in the standard setting. I keep it at about 10 o’clock for level; I set “speed” at about the same, and depth about 2pm. Then depending on where I’m plugged in, I’ll adjust the tone to where I perceive it to be balanced with the rest of my signal chain.

I actually also have a BOSS  CE-5, but that sits in my spares drawer just in case one goes down. It’s decent, but it’s not a CE-2, which is a pretty special sound. You can still get CE-2’s used. But you’ll want to get one in excellent to mint condition.

Analog Delay

I’m making an important distinction here mainly because I’ve never been able to get a satisfactory sound with a digital delay with my acoustic. And to tell the truth, while I’ve had several digital delays in the past, I now only use my Vox Time Machine for digital delay. But even that doesn’t get used much. Instead, I have two mainstays that I use pretty regularly. First is my Mad Professor Deep Blue Delay (hand-wired). Whew! I paid a pretty penny for that (USD $325 new) but there’s a less-expensive PCB board version that sounds incredibly good as well. In any case, I use this pedal mainly for acoustic. To me, it has this other-worldly sound that I just can’t get enough of when I’m playing my acoustic through it. It works great with my electric rig as well, but I tend to prefer my MXR Carbon Copy for that. For some reason, the Carbon Copy has an awesome mojo in my electric signal chain. I just love it. It doesn’t have the depth of the Deep Blue, but that’s not really what I’m after when I’m playing electric guitar. I just like to add some ambiance to my solos. Got that from Tommy Shaw of Stix.

Other Pedals To Consider

I use the following pedals depending upon the venue I’m playing.

Compressor/Sustainer – My go-to is the Maxon CP101 Compressor. I usually use this if the venue I’m playing doesn’t have an onboard compressor and/or the venue has really high ceilings, and I need my band to be pretty narrow to cut through the ambient noise.

Acoustic Enhancer – I use the BBE Sonic Stomp, and again, I use it mainly for wide-open areas. This is particularly useful for when I’m playing with other acoustic guitars and am doing a lot of solos. I typically use it to add some high-end shimmer – but sparingly, otherwise I risk sounding “tinny.”

Vibe – I know what you might be saying, “Really?!!!” For me, this is a “mood” type of pedal. I don’t use it much, but when I want to get a pulsating, modulated tone, there’s nothing but vibe that’ll do. And for me, my vibe of choice is the Voodoo Labs MicroVibe.

Of course, you don’t really “need” any of these. And if I were to choose just one, I’d probably go with a good reverb pedal first. There’s nothing like adding a little “grease” to your sound than with some subtle reverb. The next would be delay, then chorus. But I should say that in my solo acoustic gigs, my chorus pedal is always on. I have a very subtle setting that I use that really pleases me, so I just keep it on all the time. But in its absence, I’d choose a delay over that.

And as I mentioned above, there are no hard and fast rules, but having literally played thousands of gigs over the last 35 years, I’m banking on my experience to at least get you started.

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MXR Carbon Copy Delay Summary: Fantastic-sounding analog delay at an affordable price.

Pros: Out of the box, this baby oozes great tone, and creates warm, silky-smooth repeats as you’d expect from an analog and importantly it doesn’t turn your tone overly dark as analog delays are apt to do. The Mod button adds a cool and super-subtle modulation similar to chorus, to smooth out the tone even more.

Cons: The only nit I have with it is if I hit it hard with a lot of input gain. There’s almost a bit too much “flutter.” However, this is a small nit because this pedal sits on my acoustic board, and the input gain is low, so that flutter will never happen.

Features:

  • Bucket-brigade technology
  • 600ms delay time
  • Modulation switch to add subtle chorus-like modulation
  • Regen (repeats), Mix, and Delay knobs
  • Two internal trim pots to adjust width and rate (doubt that I’ll ever open up the box to adjust these. Factory settings are just fine)
  • True hardwire bypass

Price: $105 -149 Street

Tone Bone Score: 5.0 ~I was really blown away by this delay. I was seriously considering getting another Mad Professor Deep Blue Delay – well, the PCB version, at least – to put on my acoustic board. But a friend showed me his Carbon Copy, and I was immediately sold. I’ll admit that if I’d gotten the Carbon Copy first, I probably wouldn’t have even considered the Deep Blue Delay, which is over double the price.

No, I’m not kicking myself… And yes, I paid over $300 for my hand-wired Mad Professor Deep Blue Delay. But that particular delay is seriously in a class all by itself. In my mind, there’s the Deep Blue Delay then all the rest of the analog delays. But near the top of that “other” list sits the MXR Carbon Copy. It never crossed my mind to even evaluate this pedal after I got my Deep Blue Delay, but when I wanted to get another analog delay for my acoustic rig, fortune had it that a good friend happened to get the Carbon Copy. I originally turned him on to the Deep Blue Delay, and instead of that (he couldn’t justify the price), he got the Carbon Copy for use on his acoustic board. Of course, I had to try it out, and fell in love with it immediately! Plus, at less than $150, this pedal would be a steal! So I got it a couple of Fridays ago to use at my weekly solo acoustic gig, and have been a happy camper.

Built like a tank

I still have an 80’s MXR Distortion pedal that I used for many years. One of the reasons I dug it was that it was super-durable. I gigged with a lot, and it got knocked around and stepped on, but I never had to change a knob or switch in all the time I’ve had it. Though MXR is now owned by Jim Dunlop, I have to give kudos to the new ownership for maintaining the solid feel of the MXR line.

It ain’t cheap…

Make no mistake, though MXR has been traditionally known for affordable pedals, don’t equate that with them being “cheap.” They’re affordable, yes, but they’ve also made their mark on Rock and Roll (can you say Phase 90?). The Carbon Copy is yet another example of an affordable pedal that produces killer tone.

How it sounds…

I was very surprised by the quality of the sound that this pedal produces, and the range of delay tones you can get. For instance, here’s a clip that cops a bit of “Edge” delay:

In this next clip, I combine two modulation effects – heavy chorus and delay. The Carbon Copy is set to a long delay time with Regen set to noon. To keep the delay effect subtle and ambient, Mix is at about 10am.

Finally, here’s a video from Guitar World that really demonstrates the Carbon Copy’s capabilities:

Overall impression

I totally dig this pedal! Once I got it dialed in for my acoustic gig a couple of Fridays ago, it stayed on almost the entire gig! I only switched it off when I needed a more “in your face” tone. This is just a super pedal, and I highly recommend it!

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This is a “mini-review” only because I wanted to provide feedback on it after using it, and because I only used it in a limited way. The Mad Professor Deep Blue Delay is a digital/analog delay pedal meaning it is a digital delay with an analog direct signal path – or as Mad Professor puts it, the direct signal path is made of analog amplifiers with no filtering. In other words, it’s supposed to be transparent with no tone coloration.

Okay, I’ll just cut to the chase. This is about the sweetest delay pedal I’ve ever played through! It can do really subtle, ambient stuff, but also nicely textured “The Edge-” like delay. But no matter where you set it, the delay never turns to mush. It retains your tones, and is super-sweet.

At first glance, you might think this is a typical analog delay pedal, but it is a digital delay, and thus nowhere near as dark as I’ve heard analog delay pedals, which has kept me from getting an analog delay in the first place. I just don’t get into the really dark, brooding type of delay. But I’d easily consider the Deep Blue Delay. It’s simply killer!

I only used it with a Yamaha APX900 acoustic to add some subtle ambient textures to my finger picking. I was also running the signal into a nice little Genz-Benz Shenandoah JRLT. Level was at about 10 am, Delay about noon, and Repeat at about 11 am. I wanted to get just a subtle hall-like echo. All I can say was that it performed astounding well! Combined with that sweet ToneCandy Spring Fever reverb pedal, and I was awash in ambient heaven!

I did play with higher levels of each setting, and was amazed at the overall clarity of my tone. No mush or mud. My signal stayed nice and clean, and the note separation was always retained. And with this delay, smooth is the name of the game. There’s nothing harsh in the delay the Deep Blue produces.

Apparently – and I still have to corroborate this – the Deep Blue was designed to be place in front of or in the effects loop of an amp, and can be used either before or after distortion. Pretty amazing, as most time-based effects only work well in a loop and after distortion only. The folks at Mad Professor really put a lot of thought into this pedal. The guy at the shop where I tested it at – and someone whom I trust implicitly – plays the Deep Blue in front of an old Traynor amp, and loves it.

But there is a down side to this pedal, and that’s its price. At a street price between $325 and $350, it’s an expensive proposition, and like the Spring Fever, is probably the only thing that keeps me from getting this pedal. It’s tough to justify spending that much for a pedal, but that’s just me. Once a pedal gets in the $250 range, I start getting a bit antsy. But that said, if I had the scratch to get one, I’d run out right now and grab that pedal! It’s that good! (Damn! Knowing me, I’ll probably end up getting it… 🙂 ).

In any case, it gets 4.75 Tone Bones

Pros – Absolutely fantastic delay! Decay is perfect, and note clarity is like nothing I’ve heard.

Cons – Pricey

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Nova Repeater

The Nova Repeater news is a tad old, as it started shipping a couple of weeks ago, but retailers are still only taking pre-orders on it. I’ve been waiting for the Nova Repeater to come out for awhile, ever since I heard about it from Winter NAMM news. As TC Electronic puts it, this pedal is “No frills, with a sound that kills.” It truly is no-frills. There’s no programming of the pedal. It has a few features and that’s it. But what it has that I’ve not seen with other pedals is a feature TC calls, “Audio Tapping.” Essentially, you hold the tap tempo button down, then strum your guitar, and the delay is set based upon the strum. I can’t wait to try out this delay pedal! Here’s a demo video:

Nova Drive

Next up is the Nova Drive, which is an analog overdrive and distortion pedal that is controlled with a digital interface. Not sure how that works, but it does sound very cool. This is the same drive/distortion circuit that is in the Nova System, so if you know about that tone, you know it’s very nice. There are a couple of things that stand out about this pedal for me. First, you can change the order of the drive and distortion, making drive first, distortion second; and vice-versa. Second, you can also run the effects in parallel, which is totally – it provides a completely different dimension in the tone this pedal produces. It also has a MIDI input that you can hook up to a G Major system to program it. Not bad. Anyway, here’s another demo video:

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