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  It's Just Not for Echos

Echoplex...Digital delay...

If you have ever listened to listen to Rush's "All the Worlds A Stage", Alex Lifeson does some very cool things on the song 2112 (I think that's the song), that pretty well shows you 3 or 4 traits you can only do with an echo machine.

I own a 1987 Model Digitech PDS 1002, and a Maestro Echoplex, and the Digitech wins hands down for portability, reliability, ease of use, and maintenance. Everyone compares the "warm" sound of the Echoplex to the Digitech (About the size of 2 packs of cigs), but that little bugger knows it's stuff just like the big boy. Another cool delay is the Roland Space Echo IF you can find one. I used to have an Electro-Harmonix Memory man that was really cool..but I left it on one night and it went into the ultimate echo mode...repeated I guess till it died :-(

Ok, nuff about that.

A very nice effect to be able to master is the one in which the guitar or other instrument kind of comes from nowhere and swells to it's required volume, and then lingers there on a chord or a note, while the next one comes from "underneath it", and replaces it.

My Digitech Delay

My Boss DD-3

My EchoPlex

Roland Space Echo


What you have here is the following set-up:

  • Delay time at about 500 Msec
  • The regeneration set for 4-5 repeats
  • A subtle mix of the input and output gains

Set up your delay like this and then do the following:

1) With your volume control all the way off, strike a chord.
2) After the chord is sounding, (at the speed you like) increase the volume of your guitar to full or almost full
3) Quickly back off the volume completely, and the echos will continue to sound the chord, as you
4) Strike the next chord, and increase your volume again

The second chord will seem to come from underneath the 1st chord, and will replace it in a very gentle mysterious manner. It's a really nice effect, and you will be able to find all kinds of uses for it I'm sure.

The next effect that I like to use, is one that really taxes your ability to keep time with your machine !

Using the same basic settings pictured to the left, set your regeneration to 1 repeat only. What we are going to do is use the delay repeat as a note that will sound every other time you sound a note, and the results will astound you. Try this:

Hit one note, and you should get one repeat, right? Ok, now...hit a note, get the repeat, and immediately hit the next note, get THAT repeat, and ht the next one. What you should be doing is playing a note inbetween the notes that the delay is providing. The effect that is produced (depending on how fast you set up your delay times), should have you cascading into a runaway series of notes, that you can follow, lead, or harmonize with ! This takes some practice getting used to, but when your there, and it's working you WILL know it !

Finally, most delays these days allow you to setup some kind of "sampler" routine, in which the delay will record you for a certain length of time, and at your command, will play back or "loop" what you have played. You can then play another part with the 1st part in real time. This is a great effect that can leave you with 2 or 3 harmonized parts, or parts that are opposed to each other, or any way you like it. Here's how I do this:

Set up your delay for a series of repeats (2-3) ought to do it, and play a 5-10 note passage one time, not too fast because you don't want to loose the definition of each passage. At the moment you complete your passage, turn on your "loop", and that passage should start repeating note for note. While that is going on, you can "jam" along with it, and WHILE you are doing that, quickly hit the "looper" to shut it off and then back on, whithin about a second.

What this will do, is capture what you had originally started doing, and some of where you are with your added part, and kind of fuse them together, and now they will be looping. Do this a few times, and you will have as much guitar parts as you can handle ! Everytime you hit the on-off of the "looper", you will modify what is going to be repeated...and you never really know just how it will turn out, and THAT's the cool part !

On Queen's Live at Wembly CD, Brian May does this superbly.. Check it out !

Until next time,