Best Delay Pedal
Buyers Guides

The 10 best delay pedals for guitar in 2020: Our Pick plus Buyers Guide

Delay is one of a handful of what are considered “core effects“. If you survey ten pedal boards, delay is going to be on eight of them – and for certain genres, you might even find two or three on the one board.

The reason for this is that delay adds a very distinctive depth to your sound, and different types of delay add different types of depth.

You can also stack delays to turn a few simple guitar chords into rich soundscapes.

We’re going to throw you a recommendation for a digital delay straight away, then run you through what to look for when picking the best delay pedals for yourself. Finally, we’re going to countdown what we think are the 10 best delay pedals currently available on the market.

Check out some of our other features:

The Best Delay Pedals You Can Get In 2020

The best delay pedal on a budget (baring in mind that delays are expensive pedals) is the TC Electronic Flashback 2. This regular sized wonder has a big feature set, boasting 8 different FX types, and four “toneprint” slots, whereby you can download a variety of tweaked delays and use them in your unit.

If money is no object, the undisputed best delay pedal out there is the Strymon Timeline. This is the kind of pro pedal boards, boasting 12 different delay types, a 30 second stereo looper, and can hold up to 200 rewritable presets. Money can buy no better delay.

A Note on Choosing The Best Delay Pedal

The first consideration with a delay pedal is whether you want to go digital or analog. Typically digital will be cleaner and give you more out there effects, analog will be richer and darker.

The second is how much delay you need. If you’re just trying to spice up some solos with a little delay, you do not need the huge array of options in a Strymon Timeline. If you want to make vast audio soundscapes, an Echobrain is going to be too limiting.

Finally, the third consideration is power draw. Some of these pedals draw a ton of power, and you may find you’ll need to upgrade your pedal board power supply to accommodate.

We’ll go into further detail in our buyer’s guide, but first – let’s take a look at some pedals.

Top 10 Best Delay Pedals 2020

Strymon Timeline

Strymon TimeLine

The big daddy of floor delay units

TimeLine Specs

  • Pedal Type: Stereo multi-mode delay unit
  • Bypass: True Bypass
  • Controls: Value / Time / Repeats / Mix / Filter / Grit / Speed / Depth / Bank Selector A&B / Tap Tempo / Delay Type
  • Sockets: Stereo in/out, MIDI in/out Expression pedal
  • Power: 300mA

TimeLine Review

Strymon have a reputation for crafting some of the best pedals you can get, and the Timeline is arguably the pick of their US made range.

With the Timeline, you get studio quality delays in a floor pedal.

The killer thing about the Timeline is you’re not just getting a pedal that does a few things well – the Timeline does a high-quality job at traditional delay types, as well as introducing a range of less conventional delays that bring a whole new sonic palette to delays.

For example, dual delay allows you to mix together a second set of repeats, giving a spacious, almost reverb like sound (what you might consider a wash).

Filter delays allow you to add oscillation or resonance adjustments to the delayed signal, allowing you to stretch your guitar into synth-like sounds.

However, even the traditional delays have unique functions that elevate the Timeline above the pack. For example, on the dTape mode, which seeks to emulate tape delay, you can use the speed control to emulate tape crinkle of different amounts – essentially making the “tape” less or more destroyed.

From a practical standpoint, you can store up to 200 preset delays on the unit, and access them using the three footswitches, which also control the on-board 30-second looper.

The seven knobs allow you to tweak your delays in obvious ways (time, repeats, mix) and more out there ways (grit, filter, modulation depth, depth) – and depending on the delay chosen, these knobs can perform different delay specific functions.

Honestly we could spend this entire review going through the feature set of just the timeline and still only scratch the surface.

The only knock against the Timeline is the top of the range price, but if you only ever want one delay, this is your guy.

Boss DD-500

Boss DD-500

High end unit from pedal giant Boss

DD-500 Specs

  • Pedal Type: Stereo multi-mode delay unit
  • Bypass: Buffered bypass or True Bypass
  • Controls: Time/Value / Feedback / E. Level / Tone / Mod Depth / Bank Selector A&B / Tap Control
  • Sockets: Stereo in/out, MIDI in/out Expression pedal, USB
  • Power: 9V, 200mA

DD-500 Review

Coming a close second to the Strymon Timeline, the DD500 is a powerful delay unit from the maker of some of the most popular pedals in history.

The DD-500 allows you to save a massive 297 patches, and with the granularity of control you have over the delays in this unit, you might just use them all.

Where the Strymon Timeline comes out on top for the quality of the delays available, the DD-500 has incredible flexibility on it’s side, as well as being about $200 cheaper.

For example, the DD500 offers functions such as modulation on top of delays, giving it’s Tera Echo a touch of both chorus and vibrato. These extra textures allow tone searchers to go down the rabbit hole of getting the exact sound they want in a way the Timeline can’t.

It also leaves the Timeline’s looper in the dust, with an incredible 120 second looper on board.

In addition, for live use, it’s large bright screen is more practical for those trying to switch delays on a dark busy stage, plus it can run on power or from a 9v battery, while the Timeline needs a dedicated external power supply.

By the way – someone made a Eurorack module of a DD-500 – how cool is this?

Ultimately the choice between the two (other than price) comes down to this – do you want amazing delays out of the box, or do you want to get your hands dirty crafting the exact delays you want? Choice is yours!

TC Electronic Flashback 2

TC Electronic Flashback 2

Versatile delay in a small, affordable package

Flashback 2 Specs

  • Pedal Type: Compact Stereo multi-mode delay unit
  • Bypass: Buffered bypass or True Bypass
  • Controls: Delay / Feedback / Level / Mode / Subdivision
  • Sockets: Stereo in/out, USB
  • Power: 9V, 100mA

Flashback 2 Review

The original Flashback was widely popular due to its user-friendly design and quality delays, all in a compact and affordable package.

The Flashback 2 builds on this adding the Mash function, which basically means the foot switch is pressure sensitive, and this allows you to use it as an expression pedal of sorts, assigning different functions to different sensitivities.

However, if you use an expression pedal extensively, be warned that the technology isn’t at 100% and is more for limited use.

That being said, the Flashback provides a wide variety of high quality sounds that can be controlled directly on the unit, or loaded in via USB using the same toneprint technology TC Electronic use on their Hall Of Fame reverb pedal.

If you only want a handful of the Flashback’s tones, you can also get the Flashback 2 Mini which allows you to load a smaller range of tones into the pedal and then make minor tweaks on the fly.

Overall, if you’re going small form factor and saving money over the big dogs – or you just want a pedal you don’t have to worry about in a bar setting – this is your guy.

TC Electronic Echobrain

TC Electronic Echobrain

Classic Bucket Brigade circuit at a bargain price

Echobrain Specs

  • Pedal Type: Compact analog delay pedal
  • Bypass: True Bypass
  • Controls: Time / Mix / Repeats
  • Sockets: Mono In/out
  • Power: 9V, 100mA

Echobrain Review

If you’re looking for a true budget analog delay, you can’t get much better than this. Running at just $60 dollars, this analog pedal isn’t going to have you creating any sort of groundbreaking effects, but it does its job well.

It is a simple delay pedal that has buffered bypass, and unfortunately, albeit predictably, no tap tempo. Despite this, it has a surprisingly good sound quality for the price. This unit may be a perfect starting point for those who have never owned a delay pedal before and want a low-cost option before they dish out triple digits for something more advanced.

Source Audio Nemesis

Source Audio Nemesis

Multi-mode digital delay at an affordable price

Nemesis Specs

  • Pedal Type: Stereo multi-mode digital delay unit
  • Bypass: Buffered bypass or True Bypass
  • Controls: Time / Feedback / Delay Type / Mod / Rate / Mix / Intensity / Tap
  • Sockets: Stereo in/out, Expression pedal, Midi In, Midi Through, USB, Control input
  • Power: 9V, 300mA

Nemesis Review

The Nemesis from Source Audio fills a particular niche in the market by catering towards more producer guitarists than pure players. The functionality that it comes with is second to none, but those looking for something simple may find themselves overwhelmed.

It has 12 individual delay modes, as you would expect of a device of this type, and has tap tempo functionality. Further, it has MIDI and stereo I/O connectivity, which, when combined with the Source’s Neuro app, gives you a ludicrous amount of options to play around with.

An educated artist is going to be able to draft up some special stuff with the Nemesis, especially considering it retails for a relatively low $300 dollars, but those without the production knowhow to make use of its many options may want to steer clear.

Boss DM-2W

Boss DM-2W

Classic Boss compact delay with a Waza Craft update

DM-2W Specs

  • Pedal Type: Compact analogue delay pedal
  • Bypass: Buffered bypass
  • Controls: Repeat Rate / Intensity / Echo / Standard or Custom switch
  • Sockets: Input/Output, Rate, Direct Out
  • Power: 9V, 35ma

DM-2W Review

Yet another Boss device, but this time it’s an analog. Similarly to the DD-3T, the DM-2W is a modern spin on a classic pedal that was discontinued back in the 80s.

As with most Boss updates, this model retains its original sound impressively well while bringing some extra modern functionality to the mix. Mainly, the longer delay time thanks to a new custom mode, pushing out the delay to 800ms. You can also control the rate via expression input, giving you even more options to play around with, all while maintaining a classic analog tone and sound.



Four Digital Delays in a Joyo priced package

D-Seed Specs

  • Pedal Type: Digital multi-mode delay unit
  • Bypass: True Bypass
  • Controls: Mix / Mode / Time / F.Back
  • Sockets: Mono in/out, External Interface
  • Power: 9V, 75ma

D-Seed Review

The JOYO D-Seed is incredibly versatile, owing to its dual-channel design.

Each channel can save its own delay mode and time, as well as any other parameters or effects you want to throw in there. The two can be switched between one another with the built-in A/B switch, or you can use an external SW input.

The D-Seed has buffered bypass and does include tap tempo functionality on top of its four delay effects.

Its digital copy keeps your guitar’s original sound without any effects, fade, or distortion, giving you a clear and simple repeat. The analog mode also maintains that natural tone but features a smooth fade-out. Modulation gives a sense of space by modulating the repeat, which can be used to great effect by those who know what they’re doing. Lastly, reverse turns the delayed phase backward, giving your music a particularly psychedelic and interesting sound.

While four delay modes is on the lower side of things these days, the option of switching between two channels on the fly opens up the door to possibilities that would otherwise require you to have a more professional and expensive setup, all for less than $100 dollars.

MXR Carbon Copy

MXR Carbon Copy

The perfect delay for those with simple needs

Carbon Copy Specs

  • Pedal Type: Compact analog delay pedal
  • Bypass: True Bypass
  • Controls: Mix / Regen / Delay / Mod
  • Sockets: Mono in/out
  • Power: 9V, 26ma

Carbon Copy Review

The MXR Carbon Copy stands out from the typical analog crowed due to the fact that it comes with modulation built into it.

As with all modulation effects, this gives the Carbon Copy a unique and distinctive sound that is unlike most other delay pedals on the market, especially when you consider that it is analog and not digital.

While we’re not judging the pedals on this list based on its stackability, this MXR does stack particularly well when used correctly.

The MXR Carbon Copy isn’t going to be for everyone, and mainstream artists should give this one a miss, but for the eccentric soulful few that play in genres known for heavy, melodic modulation, this is a great budget option retailing for around $140 dollars.

Strymon El Capistan dTape Echo Delay

Strymon El Capistan dTape Echo Delay

Strymon’s tape echo to rule all tape echos

El Capistan Specs

  • Pedal Type: Stereo multi-mode Tape Echo unit
  • Bypass: True Bypass
  • Controls: Tape Head / Mode / Time / Tape Age / Repeats / Wow & Flutter / Mix / Tap
  • Sockets: Stereo in/out, Expression pedal
  • Power: 9V, 250mA

El Capistan Review

Despite the mouthful of a name, the dTape Echo Delay is one of the best commercially received analog delay pedals out there. It retails for a chunky $300+ dollars, but the device more than justifies the price.

Winning multiple awards when it first came out, this unique delay pedal aims to recreate the sound of a vintage Tape Echo unit, but without the notorious issues related to maintaining the classic originals.

Despite being an analog delay pedal, the dTape Echo has a patented Sharc DSP Technology integrated into it, giving you complete control over every single aspect of the Tape Echo. This includes machine health, tone aging, time, tape age, and more all within that rich and warm analog sound.

The result is the ability to create a tape delay effect that can be of studio quality, or studio apartment quality.

While tape delays may be a niche sound to cater to, enthusiasts are going to find that you can’t get better than this.

DOD Rubberneck

DOD Rubberneck

Analog delay with a number of advanced features

Rubberneck Specs

  • Pedal Type: Analog Delay Unit
  • Bypass: True Bypass
  • Controls: Time / Repeats / Level / Rate&Depth / Gain&Tone / Rap Ratio / Trails
  • Sockets: In/out, Send/Return, Footswitch
  • Power: 9V, 150ma

Rubberneck Review

Given the unique nature of the sound, crowning a definitive best analog delay pedal is a difficult and near-impossible task. Despite this, our number one pick is the DOD Rubberneck.

For the $300 dollars, you’re going to be spending on this one; you get an analog that can do it all, from the usual delay sounds and melodies to the more unusual and peculiar sounds you’re going to be looking for.

The main selling point of this analog is the oscillation that you can get in your repeats. Not only do these oscillations sound sick, but you can vary them in intensity for maximum control.

You also have control for tone and gain, too, offering you much more customizability than you typically see in analog pedals. Keeping in theme with that, the Rubberneck also has a much longer delay time than you might be used to with analog, as well as having tap tempo functionality.

All this makes the DOD Rubberneck an analog capable of a wide range of sounds from quirky to typical and is arguably among the best delay pedals on the market today.

I’ve been playing guitar since my brother taught me to play Wild Thing when I was seven years old. Over the years I’ve owned dozens of guitars and who knows how many pedals, playing everything from punk to polka. This is the site where I share everything I’ve learned.