Delay was first discovered with the use of reel to reel tape machines.
Engineers would use ‘tape loops’ of varying lengths to give different delay times. However, nowadays we have other options to achieve this effect.
Delay is known as a ‘Time Based Effect’. This is dependent on the millisecond/second parameters. Delay can also be synced to the DAW’s bpm, which means that it always keeps in time with your track.
A great example of delay used well, is the guitar work from ‘The Edge’ on U2 albums. Have a listen to, ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’. The guitar part is actually very simple, but it has a forward momentum because of the delay on his guitar.
We will touch on a few different types.
Straight Delay: This is the most common delay that we hear. Straight delay is just a reproduction of whatever source material is put into it and is often used on vocals.
Slapback Delay: This effect has become synonymous with the surf guitar delay sound. It consists of a very quick single repeat (delay) after the initial note. Lots of country and folk style productions use this effect.
Tape Delay: This effect is modeled after the tape machines delay that we touched on previously. It has a very signature sound as depending on the quality of the tape, the repeats would often have modulation on them. This simply means that because the tape was so old, the crinkles, wear and tear, would create a ‘warble’ sound. This is still a very desirable sound today.
Ping Pong: This one is similar to straight delay. The only difference is that in ping pong, the delay jumps from the right speaker to the left, back and forth. This effect can be extremely dramatic and make guitars sound larger than life.
We will work through how to use delay when looking at our DAW module.