The Best Delay Pedals: The Ultimate Guide for the Musicians in 2023

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  • Choose from simple to feature-packed delay pedals
  • Get pedals to suit a range of budgets and skill levels
  • Optimize your sound in the studio or on the stage

Delay pedals are essential for any guitarist, whether budding or professional. They can take your sound to the next level, helping you create lush, sonic landscapes spanning across a whole host of genres, from country to rock.

But with so many different delay pedals on the market, it can be tricky to know where to start. Don’t worry – here at All Axess, we’ve got you covered, bringing the best delay pedals straight to your phone.

pedals

Discover the Best Delay Pedals on the Market

Our top pick for the best delay pedals has to be the Boss DM-2W. An upgraded version of the Boss DM, this versatile model delivers fantastic sound quality and true professionalism.

If you’re willing to splash the cash on a premium model, we urge you to check out the Strymon TimeLine. With a studio-class design and superior flexibility, you can create amazing soundscapes to push the boundaries of your creativity and take your music to the next level.

If you’re a beginner on a budget, the Electro-Harmonix Memory Boy is the best delay pedal for you. Although this model is affordable for all playing levels, it still offers a range of amazing features you’d expect to find on higher-priced models.

But if these don’t suit your fancy, there are still seven more where they came from. Check out the best delay pedals below.

  1. Boss DM-2W
  2. TC Electronic Flashback 2
  3. Strymon TimeLine
  4. Electro-Harmonix Memory Boy
  5. Boss DD-500
  6. MXR Carbon Copy
  7. Electro-Harmonix Canyon
  8. Universal Audio Starlight
  9. Source Audio Nemesis
  10. Line 6 DL4

1. Boss DM-2W

This pedal also features 100% analog circuitry for a beautiful, lush sound. It comes with a delay range of 20-300 ms, one of the features that made the original DM-2 so great.

A Serious Upgrade
Boss DM-2W Delay Pedal
5.0

The original DM-2 was discontinued all the way back in 1984, but it still remained one of the most popular pedals, with musicians seeking its warm tone long after Boss stopped making it. Now, this delay pedal is back and better than ever with the DM-2W.

Why We Love It:
  • Improved version of the popular Boss DM
  • Versatile
  • BOSS five-year warranty
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Features

  • Warm analog delay tone
  • Switchable sound modes
  • 100-percent analog circuitry
  • Custom mode
  • Vintage DM-2 Delay sound
  • Standard mode for authentic DM-2 tone
  • Expression input
  • Two output jacks

Review

Experience the rebirth of professional tech with the Boss DM-2W analog delay pedal. It features a truly exceptional tone, newly refined circuitry, and attention to detail that can only belong to Boss. This delay pedal also comes with switchable sound modes that provide amazing versatility – much needed when you consider the wealth of musical styles that exist today.

Take advantage of the custom mode, which can change the character of your tone into something much cleaner with two times the delay tone – that’s a maximum of 800 ms delay time. Expand your creativity and reach new musical heights with the expression pedal input and two output jacks.

Not to mention, the DM-2W Delay Pedal comes with a five-year warranty – that’s how sure Boss are about their delay pedals.

Verdict

In Japan, “waza” means art and technique, and Boss’ new Waza Craft series certainly delivers that. Get refined circuitry, amazing sound quality, and true professionalism.

This Delay Pedal is Perfect For

Intermediate musicians who want an affordable, classic, and professional model need not look further than the Boss DM-2W. Like most Boss delays, it’s one of the best delay pedals on the market.

2. TC Electronic Flashback 2

The TC Electronic Flashback 2 fits an amazing design, groundbreaking technology, and excellent sound quality in a compact stompbox, giving you the ability to expand your creative horizons, whether you’re a beginner or a professional.

Experience an Intuitive Design

TC Electronic Flashback 2

If you’re looking for an affordable and compact tool to expand your creativity, the TC Electronic Flashback 2 might just be one of the best delay pedals for you.

Why We Love It:
  • Groundbreaking, state-of-the-art technology
  • Compact and affordable price for all budgets
  • Ground-breaking pressure-sensitive footswitch

Features

  • Crystal delay effect
  • MASH technology
  • Free TonePrint App
  • 3 TonePrint slots
  • 8 delays
  • 3 delay subdivisions
  • Analog-Dry-Through
  • True bypass

Review

It comes with a depressed footswitch, thanks to the MASH technology, which you can control through how much pressure you apply. This intuitive way of using the delay pedal will make creating music a breeze, taking the typical footswitch we’re all used to and making it even better.

Experience eight amazing delays, such as a crustal delay effect, self-oscillation, and tape warble. The MASH footswitch also provides mix, modulation, and feedback control.

This model also features a true bypass that ensures zero high-end loss when the pedal is switched off, allowing for perfect clarity. Ensure total integrity of the dry signal path thanks to the analog-dry-through feature.

Expand your creativity even further with the TonePrint App (for the PC, Mac, and iPad), enabling you to use a range of additional signature tones in your music. Get complete digital control.

Verdict

Many things stand out about the Flashback 2, but we have to say that the pressure-sensitive footswitch is a real winner in our eyes, taking your average footswitch and putting it a cut above the rest.

This Pedal is Perfect For:

The TC Electronic Flashback 2 is compact, making it one of the best delay pedals for musicians on the go who need something small they don’t have to lug around.

3. Strymon TimeLine

There’s always room for creativity, with the space to hold up to 200 presets. You also get full MIDI connection options with the Strymon TimeLine.

Our Premium Option

Strymon TimeLine

Musicians who love choice will appreciate the Strymon TimeLine Delay Pedal. With amazing effects, flexibility, versatility, and superior storage space, you’ll appreciate everything this model has to offer.

Why We Love It:
  • Studio-class design
  • Storage room for 200 presets
  • Made to explore your creativity

Features

  • 12 unique delay machines
  • Full MIDI implementation
  •  30-second stereo looper
  • Crystal-clear digital delay
  • Range of delay tones
  • 2 independent delay lines
  • Pattern machine

Review

Explore your creativity and push your music to new heights with twelve unique delay machines. Each one features sonic control over your soundscape, offering studio-sounding digital delays to tape delay machines. Whatever your style, you have the room ( and the tools) to experiment – from warm analog delay repeats to sparkling ice delays.

Tweak the digital delay with the grit, filter, high pass, smear, and modulation controls, and try the non-linear mode to allow quicker repeat fades. And don’t worry – no matter your tweaks, your music will still sound natural, which can sometimes be a problem with other delays.

Experience reverse delay, ice delay, duck delay, swell delay, and so much more with the Strymon TimeLine.

Verdict

Get a delay pedal that gives you all the choices you need for extreme experimentation. We couldn’t possibly go through all the features found on this model. (Unless you want to be here for hours!) The Strymon TimeLine won’t disappoint.

This Pedal is Perfect For:

Musicians who spend a lot of their time in the studio will really appreciate this delay pedal. Packed with multiple features, effects, and presents, it gives you everything you need to push the bounds of your creativity.

4. Electro-Harmonix Memory Boy

The Memory Boy gives you choices. Choose between chorus or vibrato modulations, and triangle or square modulation waveforms to create the soundscape you need.

For Those Just Getting Started

Electro-Harmonix Memory Boy

If you’re looking for amazing sound at an even more amazing price, you’ll love the Electro-Harmonix Memory Boy.

Why We Love It:
  • Professional features at an affordable price
  • Can use the Memory Boy as a base and expand
  • Excellent craftsmanship

Features

  • All analog delay
  • A max delay time of 550
  • Expression pedal input
  • Up to 550 ms delay time
  • Chorus or vibrato modulations rates
  • Triangle or square modulation waveforms
  • True bypass
  • Included power adapter

Review

The Electro-Harmonix Memory Boy may have an affordable price tag, but it’s packed full of features you’d find on a more professional model, including the warm tone reminiscent of music gone by. We’re not surprised this analog delay is so good, considering it spent a whole two years in development, being crafted, tested, and tweaked to ensure it fit musicians everywhere.

Expand your horizons by connecting to an expression pedal, which will give you control over the delay time or modulation rate.

Other features include up to 550 ms delay time and true bypass for a clean, strong signal.

Verdict

The Electro-Harmonix Memory Boy spent two years in development, and it shows. Complete with a range of features at an affordable price, this all-analog delay pedal will help you create the soundscape you’ve been looking for.

And if you like the sound of this, we highly recommend checking out the Deluxe Memory Man too.

This Pedal is Perfect For:

If you’re a beginner or an intermediate who wants to expand your horizons in the future, the Electro-Harmonix Memory Boy is one of the best delay pedals for you.

5. Boss DD-500

The intensive real-time control gives you ultimate power and flexibility over your creativity. Customize your performance with access to three different delay patches, or use two patches at once for a layered sound.

Our Premium Choice

Boss DD-500

There’s a reason why Boss is an industry leader when it comes to music equipment; they deliver every single time. Packed with a plethora of soundscaping features, the DD-500 is no exception, delivering delay settings you only get with a premium model.

Why We Love It:
  • Studio level sound
  • Premium-level model
  • Endless features

Features

  • 32-bit floating point processing
  • 96 kHz sampling rate
  • 12 modes
  • Customizable control settings
  • Easy and intuitive LCD
  • Onboard patch memories
  • Built-in Phrase Looper
  • MIDI connection
  • USB
  • True-bypass or buffered-bypass operation
  • Software editing available

Review

All the features and delay effects found on the Boss DD-500 make it one of the most powerful stompboxes on the market. If you’re looking for true versatility, you’ll be in awe of the 12 delay modes this pedal offers, each one undoubtedly distinctive, giving you the ability to create lush and vibrant soundscapes.

Thanks to the Version 2 software update, the Boss DD-500 will take your creativity and expand it into something more with all-new performance updates, enhancements, and flexibility. Get an improved  A/B simultaneous mode, series, and parallel modes, as well as five new effect types to shape your sound.

But that’s not all. Take full advantage of the new modulation types, additional MIDI controls, a feedback loop function, selectable EQ position, adjustable output, and input levels, and so much more. We couldn’t possibly list them all!

Verdict

Wherever you want to take your sound, the Boss DD-500 has all the tools you need. It may come with a premium price tag, but that’s for a very good reason – this is a premium model designed to nurture and enhance creativity.

This Pedal is Perfect For

This is the best delay pedal for professionals looking to take their performance to new heights. With studio-quality sound and a range of professional features, this model won’t let you down.

6. MXR Carbon Copy

With an audio path that’s entirely analog, the MXR Carbon Copy uses old-school bucket brigade technology to deliver a rich, warm delay.

Perfect for On-Stage Use

MXR Carbon Copy

Sometimes, simplicity is key when it comes to making great music. The MXR Carbon Copy offers cool features and delay sounds at an affordable price for any gigging musician.

Why We Love It:
  • Compact design
  • Cool, old-school sound
  • All-analog audio path

Features

  • Bucket brigade technology
  • 600ms of delay time
  • 3 pedal knobs
  • 2 internal trim pots
  • Top-mounted modulation switch
  • Blue LEDs
  • 9-volt battery or AC adapter

Review

Tweaking is made easy with the three control knobs that allow you to adjust the delay and mix (dry/wet blend) easily without confusion. If you’d like even more tone options, two internal trim pots will allow you to adjust the width and rate control of the modulation. Get crisp echoes to amazing delays all with a simple tweak.

Other features include 600 ms of delay time, optional modulation through a top-mounted switch, and blue LEDs that will light up any stage.

Verdict

Simplicity shouldn’t be understated, especially when it comes to the MXR Carbon Copy. This delay pedal gives you everything you need to make amazing sounds, with hundreds of complex effects.

This Pedal is Perfect For:

If you’re a performer looking for a classic pedal to use on the stage, the MXR Carbon Copy is one of the best delay pedals for you. The compact design makes it a great option for musicians on the road, who need to lug their pedals from gig to gig.

7. Electro-Harmonix Canyon

The Electro-Harmonix Canyon features 10 modes, including TAPE, ECHO, MOD, MULTI, REVRS, DMM, VERB, OCT, OCT, and S/H. So whether you want a crystal clear shimmering sound or you’re looking for a tape delay, this delay pedal has it all.

For Musicians Who Experiment

Electro-Harmonix Canyon

Take your creativity to the next level with the Electro-Harmonix Canyon. With a whole host of delay modes and more, there are truly no limits when it comes to using this delay pedal.

Why We Love It:
  • Features 10 amazing modes – from echo to multi-mode
  • Fully featured looper pedal
  • All at an affordable price

Features

  • Delay time of 5 milliseconds to 3 seconds
  • Tap Tempo
  • Tails switch
  •  Secondary Knob Mode
  • Included power adapter

Review

This pedal comes with a looper mode with a maximum loop length of 62 seconds – a feat that traditional loopers sometimes cannot even reach.

Use the secondary knob to get access to “hidden” parameters. This pedal also includes a Tap Tempo feature, where you can access a tap divide using the model’s built-in footswitch. You can even add an external footswitch to expand your horizons. Or try the tail switch, which gives you control over whether the echoes repeat or stop immediately.

Verdict

With intuitive secondary knob controls and a range of amazing effects that will help you find the sound you want, the Electro-Harmonix Canyon is an excellent model at an amazing price. Take your electric guitar sound to the next level.

This Pedal is Perfect For:

This is the best delay pedal for musicians looking for choices. With ten amazing delay modes to choose from (including tape, echo, mod, and multi-mode) and even more features to boot, including tap tempo, you have the freedom to experiment.

8. Universal Audio Starlight

If you’re a digital delay lover, you’ll adore experimenting with all the Universal Audio Starlight has to offer. Experience the Tape EP-III and all its crunchy repeats, or play about with the bucket-brigade sound of the Analog DDM. The model also comes with a Precision delay, offering a crystalline chime that’ll leave audiences in awe.

For Crazy Experiments

Universal Audio Starlight

If you’re looking for studio-quality effects and hardware, Universal Audio packs that (and more) in a premium model powered by a killer DSP. And with an amazing line of guitar pedals under their belt, they make some of the most sought-after models on the market.

Why We Love It:
  • Professional model for serious musicians
  • Comes with the UAFX Control app
  • A plethora of modes to enhance performance

Features

  • 2 echo unit emulations
  • Digital delay pedal
  • Tape EP-III mode
  • Analog DMM mode
  • Precision mode
  • Preset mode
  • Mono, dual-mono, and stereo modes
  • Rugged enclosure
  • True bypass mode
  • Optional buffered bypass mode
  • Free bonus effect when registering

Review

Other features include true bypass (that comes with silence switching), dual-mono or stereo operation, and a preset mode that’ll make switching between two different delay types a breeze without sacrificing your sound.

Not only that – register your device to get an additional effect: the cooper time cube, which was the world’s first electromechanical delay. Fatten your signal and add stereo width to a mono source. You can download this effect onto your new pedal through a USB.

When you purchase the Universal Audio Starlight, you also get access to the UAFX Control app, available on both iOS and Android. This app provides extra ease of use, allowing you to switch between true bypass and trails bypass, or turn on preamp coloration, and so much more.

Verdict

What can we say? At a premium price, this digital delay pedal has it all. From analog, digital, and dual-mode options to an app that makes mastering your new delay pedal a breeze, the Universal Audio Starlight will help you create lush tonal landscapes.

This Pedal is Perfect For:

Musicians who need the tools to experiment with their sounds will love this delay pedal.

9. Source Audio Nemesis

Get unrivaled power in a compact model thanks to the 26 effect engines available on this pedal – from analog delays to vintage tape delays, and other effects such as rhythmic delays and filter modulating, you have the tools for true experimentation. So whether you’re looking for vintage effects or modern digital delays, this delay pedal has it all.

Complete Control at Your Fingertips

Source Audio Nemesis

With three years in the making, this compact pedal packs the power to offer up amazing flexibility, sound quality, and style.

Why We Love It:
  • Premium, professional model
  • Compact, with the power of much larger pedals
  • 128 amazing presets

Features

  • 24 delay engines
  • Stereo input and output jacks
  • Tap tempo functionality
  • Deep editing functionality
  • MIDI functionally
  • Universal bypass
  • External switching capabilities

Review

The Source Audio Nemesis also comes with 128 presets. You can also save up to eight presets onboard the device.

Set up external effect loops, pre or post-delays, and expand your creativity with the stereo input and output jacks. You can also use the tap tempo functionality to tap in the delay times. Other features include MIDI clock messages, universal bypass (either analog buffered or relay-based true bypass), expression control, external switching capabilities, and more to help you create the perfect soundscape.

The Source Audio Nemesis even comes with an app, allowing for deep editing functionality, such as adding parameters, saving personal presets, and bonus downloadable delay effects.

Verdict

Get complete and utter control at your fingertips with the Source Audio Nemesis delay pedal. Experiment with a huge range of effects and presets, and take control over your editing with the Neuro Mobile App. Not to mention, it’ll look great on your pedal board.

This Pedal is Perfect For:

If you’re a musician who spends an equal amount of time in the studio and on the stage, this could be the best delay pedal for you.

10. Line 6 DL4 MkII

This delay pedal comes with a total of 20 riveting delays. These include 14 original DL4 delays, as well as 15 new MkII delays, and an Echo Platter, which has been sourced from the rackmount Echo Pro.

A Serious Upgrade

Line 6 DL4 MkII

If you liked the original DL4 Delay Modeler, you’ll love the DL4 MkII. This model has a range of new features, making it better and more powerful than ever.

Why We Love It:
  • An upgraded version of the DL4
  • 15 new MkII delays
  • Ability to expand horizons

Features

  • 30 delays in total
  • 4-switch and 1-switch loopers
  • XLR microphone input
  • MIDI in and out connections
  • Cast aluminum construction
  • External switches
  • DC power

Review

This model also doubles as a looper pedal, offering amazing looping capabilities with a 4-switch classic looper and a 1-switch looper. They operate in both mono and stereo mode, providing an amazing 240 seconds of recording time. Not enough? Not a problem! You can expand this looping time to several hours with the optional microSD card.

You also have an XLR input, giving you a chance to connect a dynamic microphone for vocal or acoustic looping and processing. Other features include MIDI connectivity, external switches to expand your sonic landscape, and an expression pedal.

Verdict

With a range of new effects and the ability to expand this pedal into something more, the upgraded Line 6 DL4 MkII truly delivers for any musician.

This Pedal is Perfect For:

The cast aluminum construction makes this one of the best delay pedals for use on stage. Cart it from gig to gig without worrying whether it’s tough enough to withstand nightly performances – it absolutely is.

The Best Delay Pedals Buyer’s Guide and FAQs

using pedals

Delay Pedal Break Down

Delay pedals are stompboxes that create delayed effects you can use in your music. They record any music fed into it and then play it back, either instantly to create a “slapback” effect or depending on the time you’ve set. There are many different types of delay pedals and effects, including analog delay pedals, digital delay pedals, and tape delay pedals. The best type for you will depend on your needs as a musician and the type of sound you’re after.

Common Delay Pedal Parameters

Feedback – This is when your delayed sound goes into the signal chain and repeats over and over. You can increase this by turning up the delay.

Effect Level – This will give you control over how much delay will come through your signal. Turning it all the way up will create a “wet” signal, whereas if you turn it down, you’ll be left with a “dry” signal.

Delay Time – This controls the time between recording and replaying your audio. Different delay pedals offer different delay times for you to create a sound that adheres to whatever genre you’re playing in.

playing a thin guitar

How to Choose the Best Delay Pedal For You

If you’re still confused about where to start, don’t worry. The most important thing to remember is that the best delay pedal for one musician might not be the best for you. That’s because every single guitarist will have different needs, depending on the genre they play in, the type of sound they want to create, whether they primarily record in-studio or perform live, and their experience level. Some guitarists will prefer an analog delay pedal, whereas others will find a digital delay sound will suit them more.

If you’re a beginner, we’d recommend choosing a simple delay pedal that won’t set you back too much. If you’ve never used one before, a simpler model with fewer features will help you get to grips with one of these handy devices – and you can always upgrade later. 

We’d also recommend opting for a model that includes the option to connect external footswitches, as this way, you can use your delay pedal as a base and expand as your skills and music grow, bringing in more effects to create even more of a lush, sonic soundscape. However, an average delay pedal should have everything you need to get started.

If you’re an intermediate or a professional on the hunt for a model that will allow you to experiment, there are many high-end options that come with a plethora of effects, presents, and features. From crystalline shimmers to warble, you can sculpt your sound how you want it. Many models also come with the ability to download even more effects from their apps or websites. Make sure the device you’re looking for has full MIDI connectivity, so you can connect for even more storage.

using pedals

Analog Vs. Digital Delay

There are two types of delay pedals available: analog and digital. The best one for you will depend on your needs as a musician. However, if you love the idea of both, why not include one of each on your pedal board?

Analog Delay Pedals

Analog delay pedals use a bucket-brigade chip (BBD) to send the analog signal through a series of capacitors that “break up” the sound. The more the signal breaks up, the warmer and darker your sound becomes when it plays back, creating a particular sonic tone that most guitarists and musicians find incredibly pleasing. If you like tone with plenty of nuances, analog delays might be your best bet.

Digital Delay Pedals

In contrast, digital delay pedals create their effects using digital signal processing chips (DSP). Because of this, digital delay pedals offer more flexibility and versatility than their analog counterparts but sacrifice sound in the process. Don’t get us wrong – a digital delay pedal will still sound great, but since it’s converting your sound to digital form, it doesn’t have the warmth of analog pedals and can sound clinical because of this.

However, digital delay pedals offer analog delay emulations, present memories, MIDI connectivity, and even a longer delay time control. So if you’re looking for an analog or digital delay in one, going digital is a great option.

FAQs

What is the best delay pedal ever made?

It’s hard to pinpoint the best delay pedal ever made, as every single guitarist will want something different from their pedal – whether that’s a classic delay or a plethora of additional features. 

However, some of the best (and more popular) delay pedals ever made include the Strymon Timeline, the Electro Harmonix Canyon, and the Boss Waza Craft DM-2W.

What delay pedal does John Frusciante use?

It’s said that John Frusciante uses the MXR M133 to get a clean tone and an additional boost. However, this is unlikely to be the only delay pedal in his rig.

What delay does John Mayer use?

John Mayer is known to use the Eventide TimeFactor Twin Delay, which allows him to use two different delays simultaneously, creating an even richer and more nuanced sonic landscape.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for the perfect delay pedal to take your music to the next level, All Axess has got you covered. We’ve included the best-sounding delay pedals on the market, all at a range of budgets with a plethora of features to suit all skill levels. 

So whether you’re a beginner who’s never picked up a pedal in your life or a professional looking to push the limits of your creativity and create sonic landscapes that will leave audiences in awe, check out the list above.