Every successful rock band and guitarist can attribute their success in part to crafting a unique guitar sound. For no one is this more true than for the Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia.
Over years of recording albums, playing hundreds of shows, and working for countless hours on his craft, Garcia was able to craft a unique and instantly recognizable style and tone of guitar that few have been able to capture well.
One of the effects Garcia liked to use to add a little flair to his guitar playing was a delay. But what delay pedal did Jerry Garcia use? Usually, Jerry could be found with an MXR MX118 analog delay on his board.
This reliable pedal gives you access to a beautiful classic delay sound. With only three dials, it’s controls are easy to use and understand, while still giving you enough versatility to produce a variety of sounds.
But why is Jerry Garcia worth emulating anyway? Why does Jerry like using the MX118 so much? What do you do if you can’t access an MX118? What other gear is Jerry Garcia known for using? Read on to find out the answers to these questions and more!
Who was Jerry Garcia?
Jerry Garcia is an iconic rock musician best known for being the lead guitar player and a vocalist in the Grateful Dead, one of the most successful and influential rock and jam bands of all time. Born in raised in San Fransisco, California, he took a liking to music early, learning the piano in his youth.
Garcia helped found the Grateful Dead in 1965 and played with them for their entire 30-year career, until his untimely death in 1995 from a heart attack. In their run, however, Jerry’s bluesy, sharp guitar tone was at the forefront of their every performance, and as a result, he’s made quite an impact on rock history, becoming one of the most influential guitarists of all time.
What delay pedal did Jerry Garcia use?
Although not one of his main effects, especially earlier in the Dead’s career, Garcia was known to sprinkle delay throughout Grateful Dead records and live shows. His pedal of choice for the delay was the MXR MX118 analog delay pedal.
With only three dials, delay, mix, and regen (or feedback), the MX118 is exceptionally easy to use and allows you to get the warm, modulated delay tone you want in only seconds. With the delay settings low, you can just use this pedal to add some warmth and depth to your tone, and with the delay setting high you can use it as a true delay.
It’s hard to describe, but it’s hard to replace that vintage analog sound. Since this pedal is no longer in production, it may be hard to get your hands on it for cheap.
What if you can’t find an MXR MX118 analog delay?
If you’re looking to get your hands on an analog delay that sounds like the MXR MX118 for a little cheaper, there are options out there for you. Namely, the MXR Carbon Copy analog delay is a suitable replacement. Although it doesn’t have the same warmth to its tone, it still provides a bit of that analog sound, and on a budget.
Most delays these days are digital, especially more of the popular ones. While many have settings to emulate their analog counterparts (and some do quite a good job), it’s impossible to truly capture that analog sound. That’s what makes MXR’s Carbon Copy a solid replacement for the MXR MX118, it is also an analog delay.
What other gear was Jerry Garcia known for using?
Jerry was known for using a number of pieces of gear. His many different rigs over the years have featured a number of different guitars, amps, and pedals.
As far as guitars, Jerry has used his fair share. His favorites seem to be the Fender Stratocaster (a classic perfect for all styles), the Gibson SG, the Gibson Les Paul, and a number of Doug Irwin guitars as well. He used many others, but these are what I’d consider his staples.
As far as amps, Garcia mostly used a silverface Fender Twin, and it became an intrinsic part of his sound as it developed. Often, however, he used other kinds of external speakers.
When it comes to other pedals, there were many that were on Jerry’s board. A few of his favorites were the Mu-tron Musitronics III envelope filter, the Boss OD-1 Overdrive, and the MXR Phase 100 Script logo vintage.
Jerry Garcia’s unique, bluesy, sharp guitar sound was a core part of why the Grateful Dead became so popular and made him an exceptionally influential guitarist even years after his death. If you want to sound like Jerry, his effects are a good place to start, and the MXR MX118 Analog Delay is a quality pedal to look into getting.