Having Fun With A Delay

You may already know of the little trick I’m about to describe in this blog, so apologies if this is the case, but for anyone who loves to experiment with effects to come up with new sounds an even get a new lick or two out of the process… read on.

If you’ve ever heard Albert Lee’s amazing guitar work on Country Boy, you may not realise that (in places) he’s not actually playing quite as many notes as you may think. It’s all about the clever use of a delay effect. Let’s look at how you (like Albert) can sound like you’re playing twice as fast as you actually are.

First of all, you need to know the tempo, in beats per minute, of the song you’re playing. Let’s imagine you’re at a fairly commonplace speed of 120 B.P.M. Now, simply play a simple riff in a strict “1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &” count. Something like this (click here).

Next, set your delay effect to a time exactly the same as 0.75 of a beat. If we’re at 120 B.P.M, then one beat lasts half a second (500mS), so set your delay time to 0.75 x 500mS. This works out at 375mS, or 0.375 of a second. Also, you should set the “feedback” control on your delay effect to zero. Feedback (in the context of delay fx) is the amount of echo that gets “fed back” into the input of the effect. The higher the feedback is set, the more repeats you will have on each note. For an authentic “Hank Marvin” sound you want quite a bit of feedback. However, for the technique I’m demonstrating here to sound effective (excuse the pun) we only want a single repeat on each note – hence no feedback. You should set the “wet” mix to 100% though – we want the repeat of each note to sound as loud as the actual played note

Here’s what our original “1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &” motif sounds like with settings described above (click here).

Isn’t that cool? It’s not just country players like Albert Lee who put this to good use though. Try playing the harmonics on the 4th 3rd & 2nd strings in the same “1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &” count like this (click here). Now let’s hear it with the delay on it (click here). Remind you of anyone? A certain Mr. David Evans perhaps? Oh, alright then… “The Edge”. Here’s the wonderful Bill Bailey doing a routine about his reliance on this particular delay trick…


And here is me putting it into action on a little country tune I wrote in the style of Danny Gatton (the fun begins at about 0:58)…

I hope you found this informative & until next time…

Have Fun!


John Robson Guitar Tuition

The John Robson Jazz Project


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