Delay in front of an overdriving amp?

I was thinking on this subject last night and decided to ask you guys how you deal with it. The subject of putting a delay in front of an overdriving amp is as old as rock music by now, and it's probably the main reason effects loops were invented. But what about when you are using an amp without an fx loop?

Now I know a lot of people do it anyway. EVH used his echoplex in front of his plexi, at least for the first album, and I am pretty sure a lot of you guys do it as well.

So how do you guys deal with it? especially on a live setting?



  • Dinosaur David BDinosaur David B Posts: 16,299
    edited January 2017
    You can do it, but you have to find delay pedals that work well in front of your own rig  -- and not all of them will.  Some sound horrible, some sound fine.  I had tried Digitech and some others and they sounded terrible. Then I saw  a video of Schenker using Boss DD-6s in front of his Marshalls (one set for slow, one for fast), so I tried that and that finally worked for me (and you can get used DD-6s cheap on ebay).  It's may not be the most pristine fidelity like you'd get through a loop, but it is certainly good enough for bar-band gigs.  And the approach is simplicity itself -- you set one with a short delay for fast leads, and one longer for slower leads.  
    Post edited by Dinosaur David B on
    Life is easier, so much easier, life is easier now.
  • TravisWTravisW Posts: 886
    I've gotten it to work, but not for really crazy delay settings, nor for extremely distorted tones. The best pedal I ever had for it was the Ibanez ADL (analog delay). Just like Dave said, it's not super pristine fidelity and you can easily create a messy sound, but there's a vibe that you can get doing it that you just can't get with the pedal in the loop. I absolutely LOVE the sound for lightly to moderately overdriven tones. 
  • I actually use a Mooer Ana Echo (allegedly a BOSS Analog Delay DM2 clone) in front of my Hot Rod Deluxe, even if it does have an fx loop. It sounds totally fine unless I up the intense control. Then it becomes pretty much unusable.  But I am also using overdrive pedals in front, so the point is moot. If I were to use it in front of a Marshall it would be a totally different story.

    A friend is selling a Boss DD3. Who knows? Maybe I'll buy that one and set it for long delay (I believe digital delays have a longer setting than analog ones) and use the ana echo for short.

    But I am planning of eventually using my Marshalls again. If these pedals sound good in front of them then I'll be set. Otherwise...

    I just saw the other day that MXR is selling some sort of reissue of the Echoplex. I wonder how those sound...
  • StitselStitsel Posts: 1,780
    I have a Carbon Copy I use in front of my little Marshall Class 5 & it sounds awesome..... I tried the MXR Echoplex recently & it was a bit much for me; but I think it's a tweaker's pedal, I'm sure if I would've spent some time with it it probably sounds really cool. I just love my Carbon Copy.
  • Seven MoonsSeven Moons Posts: 8,185
    I love the Carbon Copy, but while it sounds awesome in the loop, I've never been able to make it work to my liking in front of a distorted amp, be it my Marshall DSL 50 or Orange Dark Terror. For some reason, the controls were too sensitive: the repeats were either too low, or too loud and mushy.  No such issue when used in the loop. Great pedal. 
  • EugenicScumEugenicScum Posts: 5,182
    CC sounds great in the loop, I have a flashback in front of the amp and while it's not the greatest delay pedal ever, it's a really good one in front of the amp. 
    Check out my band: Bevar Sea
  • SanchoSancho Posts: 18,378
    Doesn't work for me. It gets muddy fast and seems to accentuate the wrong overtones.
  • OskyOsky Posts: 883
    I can't get delays to sound right before the amp, I just end up sounding like some Indie kid! These days I use an amp with an FX loop but prior to that I had a clean(ish) Marshall and got my distortion from pedals but the delay was always post distortion, I hate the sound of it pre and find it very hard to control.
  • eduardoritoseduardoritos Posts: 2,970
    I can't use a delay in front of a crunchy or distorted preamp.
    I always use a fx loop. Invested some €€€ to put a fx loop on the Marshall because of that, and I love it.
  • Dinosaur David BDinosaur David B Posts: 16,299
    edited January 2017
    I don't like the logistics of running effects in the loop. I don't want to walk back to the amp to engage them (certainly not with my hands), and I don't want extra cords (for me to trip over) running from the pedalboard to the amp. Plus, for Delays, I have them tied into my boosted tone (i.e. one switch gives me boost + short, another gives me boost + long).  So without some kind of expensive, custom Bradshaw-like system where every effect is tucked away in a rack offstage, and there's a custom swtichbox at my feet, I don't know how I'd even configure it. 

    Again, the fidelity of the delay effect itself -- in the live setting, doesn't have to be as pristine as I need it on a recording. In-that-moment, it just has to do the job well enough to satisfy me, and a room full of drunken punters.  
    Post edited by Dinosaur David B on
    Life is easier, so much easier, life is easier now.
  • Duojett71Duojett71 Posts: 8,483
    CC sounds great in the loop, I have a flashback in front of the amp and while it's not the greatest delay pedal ever, it's a really good one in front of the amp. 
    Yeah...I agree. I used the Carbon Copy in front of my Zinky when I used that amp live because I had no choice. That amp does not have an FX Loop. It, like most other delays sounded washy and the notes distort with each other in the gain channel. I have a Boss Waza Craft DM2 as well....and that is supposed to be better in front of the amp....but I didn't think it was that noticeable of a difference.

    I just put the delay(either the CC or the DM2) in the fx loop. Pedal stays on top of the amp with two short cables running to the loop, pedal stays on and I turn the loop on with my amp's footswitch during solos. It sounds great.
  • inmyhandsinmyhands Posts: 11,150
              I'm with Dave. The second signal chain when using an amp loop is a pain in the ass. Double wires and double trouble. I only use an amp loop when the amp doesn't have an on board reverb, (which I just feel every amp should provide).
              There are many delay / echo devices that work fine in front of the amp. Eddie and Eric Johnson both use Echoplex tape machines. I've found the Empress Vintage Modified Super Delay an d the Korg SDD-3000 both work excellently in front of an over driven amp.

  • jebbuddajebbudda Posts: 5,030
    I can't find a delay that doesn't rob you of distortion tone from a tube amp.

    Delay(s) only work for me with a clean tone .

    Years ago I fed delay thru a Marshall head and 2x12 cab with a volume pedal .  The result was brilliant but hauling all that extra shit is a pain .  Dinos with an extra amp and a permanent set up will love it . 

    Run the delay thru a separate amp on a fairly clean setting . Get an A/B box and a volume pedal . Use the volume pedal to bleed the delay sound into the " mix" . You have total control of how much delay comes thru . I'd use it on my wailing high notes then back it off completely when I played fast . 

    Maybe someday I'll go back to bringing out another amp .

    In the 90s everybody had a " rack " multi-amp rig . I needed a van to haul it and 45+ minutes to set it up . Today its all about simplicity and organic tone .

    These days I only use delay when I'm playing clean .
  • mr_crowleymr_crowley Posts: 6,283
    I have not played with a delay through the loop of any amp since my last gig with Gasoline Stars, so that would be like almost two years ago.. My Laney is the only amp I even own with a loop and that is collecting dust at The Gloria Story's rehearsal studio. But even if I gigged I don't know if I would bother with it, that's a lot of extra setup and cables and shit compared to how much I think you gain sonically. I think my Flashback is even a little easier to dial in correctly in front of the amp, the delay doesn't become so "pronounced" because it gets a little "mushed" going through the distortion stages of the amp, I kind of like that a bit - it sounds a bit more natural to me, it also in some weird way alters the tone in a way I think is cool - there is some frequencies that somehow gets a boost that just makes the guitar "pop" in a nice way, there is certainly more nice overtones in front of the amp for me than in the loop - in my experience the Flashback in the loop just sort of added repeats and nothing else really which sort of made all the mojo go away. Maybe it just happens that my kind of setup works well with a Flashback in front and the tone I kind of like. FWIW I feel the complete opposite with a chorus, LOVED that in the loop - next to impossible to dial in a nice chorused sound for your distorted tones to get that really thick wall of guitars going. It is a bit solvable by turning the gain on the amp down and getting most of the drive from a pedal that is in front of the chorus but is not totally there.. OTOH it is good enough for me to be enjoyable while fiddling around at home so it's all good. That might be the ticket for you guys that don't have a loop on your amp and hate the sound of the delay in front. Turn down the gain and get it from a dirt pedal that goes before the delay in the chain :) 

    As for the loss of "pristine-ness", if it is worth it to YOU and YOU think it enhances your tone in a way that makes you play better go for it but it isn't like anyone else in the room really gonna notice or even think twice about it, honestly. And in my experience half of the time you will get fed your guitar tone through a crappy stage monitor anyway so it isn't like nuances like that will be audible...
    For me it all comes down to getting a tone I like and can play good with but is as hassle free as possible. I still think a pedal board and a tube amp is essential (that can't be replaced by some multi-fx ss thing IMHO) - until I have roadies and a couple of trucks loaded with my gear more than two guitars, intricate pedal/amp/rig setups and other things I MIGHT HAVE LIKED TO HAVE is just superflous and the pain ain't worth the gain. For you it might and if you only budding at home or have a dedicated home setup - go for it, get the best tone you can afford that makes playing FUN.

    When I record I would never even think of having the delay added in the form of a pedal or something at the time I record though. That is something that needs to be precise and really neat tuned in, it will be listened 9 out of 10 times in environment where it needs to be really CLEAR and things like a delay being off-time might kill the whole track... So it is all also a matter of application really :) 
  • otcconanotcconan Posts: 5,630
    Question:  What model Laney are you using?  I use my effects loop for some things, and am curious as to your results.

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