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Reverb or Delay

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luke j
Mar 02, 2009 12:58 PM GMT

When I was playing guitar, I used to use reverb cos to my ears it really warmed and fattened the tone. This is what us harp players want but everyone seems to play with a delay rather than verb. Is there a reason for this. I'd be interested in other peoples opinions on this. Cheers people

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Mar 03, 2009 5:02 AM GMT
Zhin Replied:

I suggest you do research on what is reverb and delay exactly. The long story short, reverb is just delay with several repeats that decay in a warm analog tone.

The downside of using reverb is that after all the repeats and the warm tone coloration it can really mush up the tone and mask a lot of textures, crunch, punch, and overall clarity in your tone. The other factor is that in any live venue you have natural reverb from the room acoustics already. Putting a reverb pedal in your chain while you're playing in an echo'ey hall is a bit overkill.

This is where delay comes in. It's far more flexible. You choose how many repeats you want, the delay time, and it's possible to emulate a reverb sound. Difference is, it's more cleaner, punchier, and not as warm. But when you're playing a gig, this is what works because you leave it to the room/hall acoustics to smooth out the edges by adding natural reverb to your delay echoes and warm up the delay sounds.

Also, there are plenty of good delay pedals out there. To this day, there still isn't a reverb pedal that does the job "right". The reality of it is that they still don't sound like real room/hall acoustics. Overall you also hear more complaints about reverb pedals than you do compared to delay pedals. I love how my cheap reverb pedal sounds in a small room but in most cases, even in a cafe, it's going to sound too mushy compared to a carefully configured delay pedal.

With a delay pedal you can come up with a pretty decent "fake" reverb effect or use it as a straight up delay pedal (think U2) and also dial in some chorus effects. A reverb pedal don't do much except simulate hall acoustics...

I just remembered I recently put up a video of some bedroom playing with a delay pedal which I've configured to sound like reverb. Here's the link:

Hope this helps!

Mar 03, 2009 5:25 AM GMT
John P Replied:

On my Super Reverb and my Princeton Reverb tube amps, i use the reverb on the ampsandi like it fine. But if i use my SWR Baby Baby Blue bass amp (solid state w/ tube preamp) I need an outboardunit. Reverb doesn't sound right with that rig, so i use a delay in the effects loop and set it to slap back. i usually don't like effects loops, but on the SWR it works well.

I generally prefer reverb if it's on the amp, butdelayis okay, too. Both will warm and fatten the tone. i don't like playing dry. Btw, an outboard delay going into an amp's reverb tank can also sound pretty good if all the settings are right.

Mar 04, 2009 12:21 AM GMT
BlueMoose Replied:

Zhin, best explanation I've heard, Many thanks.


Mar 04, 2009 1:24 AM GMT
Zhin Replied:

Your welcome moose. :)

Mar 12, 2009 5:06 PM GMT
HarpDog Replied:

I use a small amount of the spring reverb on my amp and a little delay (pedal) with just a slight hint of repeat. This gives the punch (or accent) common to a delay effect, allowing the actual attack of the note to hang in the listener's mind as well as providing the subtle wetness of spring reverb. I've tried echo as well, but with mixed results. I'd like to hear from others who may have tried using echo.

I find reverb to be useful to flavour certain songs or when there are a lot of bodies in the room, which can sometimes dampen the overall sound , depending on the room of course.

For delay I use a cheap Behringer digital delay, which seems to do the job just as well as my more expensive effects units. While some brands may be better than others, I don't think you need to spend much on a delay pedal to get the kind of results I'm seeking for harmonica.

Mar 14, 2009 3:45 PM GMT
Boris Plotnikov Replied:

I use Ibanez DE7 delay and don't recommend it. My SM57 or Fireball with impedance transformer slightly overdrives input and delayed sounds sometimes dirty, it's noticable if I play stright to PA, not so important when play through amp.

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