Best Budget Delay Pedal

A quick look at some of the best low value delay pedals on the market.

by | Sep 14, 2018

Since the 50s, the delay pedal has firmly rooted itself to the pedal boards of many guitarists across every genre of music. Used to create everything from depth and fatness to spacey ethereal fx, the delay pedal is an invaluable component of modern music, both live and recorded. Flexible, fun to use and endlessly creative, there’s no reason to leave a delay pedal out of your setup. The best budget delay pedal on our list is the Tom’sline Engineering Digital Delay and Echo, more on this below.

This is the third in our budget guitar pedals series. Check out the best budget distortion pedal here, and the best budget reverb pedal here.

The delay pedal can be wielded with devastating effect for rock and metal guitarists who are looking to create walls of layered sound or can add a layer of space and intimacy to quieter guitar parts – they’re flexible and suitable to any guitarist. Every famous guitarist from Gilmore to Hendrix has wielded the delay pedal to famous effect. Additionally, delay pedals can impart their own analog characteristics, fattening, distorting and saturating your guitar tone back to 60s and 70s. Check out an article from our friends at Reverb explaining this.

Delay pedals can cost tons, mainly owing to the classic analog components that fill their circuits but today, there are so many budget pedals that defy their price with crazy good sound quality and cool plethoras of interesting and innovative features. Let’s take a look and find the best budget delay pedal.

Here are the top 8 budget delay pedals

TC Electronics ‘The Prophet’ 

Digital delay studio quality with award-winning algorithm

Donner Yellow Fall Delay

Mini compact size true bypass at a great price

Behringer VD400 Vintage Delay

Great delay pedal from the kings of budget pedals

Tom’sline Engineering Digital Delay and Echo

Michael Angelo Batio signature guitar effect pedal

TC Electronic Echobrain

Vintage style pedal with all-analogue bucket-brigade circuit

Donner Echo Square

Multi digital delay pedal with 7 modes

Caline CP-17 Time Space

Absolute bargain for a great sounding pedal from Caline

Mooer Reecho

A Micro pedal from Mooer with a big sound

TC Electronic The Prophet

Check price on Amazon

Product Description

Everyone loves a pedal that has its own cool name, and The Prophet by TC Electronics foresaw that at just £35, it would make its way easily into nearly every budget delay pedal list in existence.

This digital delay pedal doesn’t have the same levels of analog sauce as other pedals on the list but TC Electronic’s have included an award winning algorithm to provide a delay that has crystal clarity and minimal loss of tone integrity.

As a digital pedal, this is suited to those who want to keep it clean and avoid imparting distortion into their tone.

Features
  • Up to 1300ms delay for real Gilmouresque fx
  • Solid metal construction looks the part on the pedal board
  • True bypass
  • 9v power
Pros and Cons
Pros:

√ Tc Electronics don’t manufacture bad pedals

√ Uses an award winning digital algorithm for studio quality delay tone

√ Simple and easy to dial in a sound

√ Choose between 16th, 8th or 3/8th note delays

Cons:

× Digital pedal doesn’t shape tone (if desired)

  • Design 91%
  • Functionality 87%
  • Cost 94%
  • This Sound Rating 91%

Donner Yellow Fall

Check price on Amazon

Product Description

Donner pedals seem to find their way into every budget pedal list, why? Because you can pick one up for near enough 20 quid – it’d be ridiculous not to include one in this line up.

For its slim price tag, you certainly don’t get many bells, whistles and complex features but you do get a pure analog pedal with 3 easy to use controls – time, feedback and echo.

Housed in a bulletproof casing, these little pedals pack awesome sounding delays, sweet and saturated enough to please even the snobbiest pedal buffs.

Features
  • Genuine analog chip
  • 20ms to 600ms delay time
  • True bypass
  • 3 simple settings
Pros and Cons
Pros:

√  One of the cheapest pedals in the lineup

√ Analog chip punches above its price tag

√ Bundled with power supply

√ Small size

Cons:

× Limited settings and flexibility

  • Design 87%
  • Functionality 90%
  • Cost 98%
  • This Sound Rating 92%

Behringer VD400 Vintage Delay

Check price on Amazon

Product Description

Behringer…love em or hate em, they’re here to stay and for good reason – they pump out reliable audio gear at extraordinary prices. Check out the Behringer pedal on our best budget reverb pedal post here.

The VD400 is one of many Behringer delay pedals and weighing in at £23.99, it can add plenty of vintage sonic delay sauce to your pedal board at a low cost.

This pedal focuses on achieving that heavier, more distorted and saturated delay tone that classic rockers will understand well.

Partner with your old guitar and amp for a juicy heavy rock sound. Simple, ready to rock and cheap, you just can’t go wrong with this Behringer delay pedal.

Features
  • True analog delay capable of vintage slap back effects
  • Sounds like an old tape recorder
  • Intensity, echo and repeat controls
  • Features a noise cancelling circuit to keep tone controlled
Pros and Cons
Pros:

√  Cheap and cheerful compared to similar true analog pedals

√ Sturdy metal chassis

√ Enough controls to create lots of vintage delay fx

√ Old School Tone

Cons:

× Opening battery compartment is difficult at times

  • Design 87%
  • Functionality 92%
  • Cost 97%
  • This Sound Rating 92%

Tom’sline Engineering Digital Delay and Echo

Check price on Amazon

Product Description

The Tom’sline Digital Delay and Echo Delay Pedal is part of Michael Angelo Batio’s signature range, a guitarist that was voted best shredder of all time.

This pedal has an attitude that outgrows its tiny size – it’s capable of producing massive swirling delays and echo effects. Interestingly, this pedal comes with 3 delays modes – mod, normal and echo.

It also has 3 basic controls, level, time and regen, which is like a feedback control. With a long max delay time of 833ms, this pedal is flexible above its size and price.

Roadworthy, compact and interestingly completed with a 3-way selector, this little pedal provides something everything to any budget lineup of delay pedals.

Features
  • More controls than you expect from a tiny budget pedal
  • Features a protective bar to prevent damage during performance
  • 3 delay modes
  • Durable small format
Pros and Cons
Pros:

√ Signature pedal that is built for the road

√ Digital delay algorithm provides more flexibility without tone degradation

√ Rock solid metal chassis

Useful protective top mounted bar

Cons:

× Digital delay that doesn’t provide any vintage saturation

  • Design 95%
  • Functionality 93%
  • Cost 90%
  • This Sound Rating 93%

TC Electronic Echobrain

Check price on Amazon

Product Description

TC Electronics are undoubtedly a class manufacturer of budget and mid range pedals and in the Echobrain, they’ve packed in vintage goodness with a bucket-brigade style circuit.  

Deep retro delays is this pedal’s specialism and that’s what it does best, maybe at the sacrifice of extra settings but it’s £35 so who cares? For that price, you get a pedal which sounds expensive, even if its settings are limited.

If you want a great sounding vintage delay pedal then the Echobrain does everything from slapbacks to self oscillating rolling retro delays.

It packs awesome sound quality at a cheap price and that owes it a near-perfect rating which is why we consider it one of the best budget delay pedals.

Features
  • Proper analog circuit
  • Capable of producing real retro delay tones that sound like the real deal
  • Sturdy chassis
  • No-nonsense design
Pros and Cons
Pros:

√ Brilliant sound quality for the money

√ Retro delay and echo

√ Juicy analog circuitry

Cons:

× Limited settings

  • Design 94%
  • Functionality 90%
  • Cost 90%
  • This Sound Rating 91%

Donner Echo Square

Check price on Amazon

Product Description

So we’ve had one Donner pedal in the list already but that’s never enough. This Donner packs an innovatively designed 7 mode delay into its tiny chassis, which is pretty impressive.

Digital, Analog, Tape, Mod, Sweep, Lofi and Reverse, they’re all present and accounted for with 3 settings: mix, time and feedback.

In total, that gives this pedal awesome some flexibility for the price – you could be fiddling around with it for days and still not come across every delay style and sound it’s capable of producing.

A bottomless pit of delay-driven goodness.

Features
  • 7 delay effects places this pedal in a different league in terms of pure flexibility
  • True bypass
  • Your 3 usual settings
  • Donner’s famous low price build quality
Pros and Cons
Pros:

√ So much flexibility power, such a small size!

√ Cheap as anything for what you get

√ True bypass

√ Great sound quality across most of the modes

Cons:

× No power supply included

  • Design 87%
  • Functionality 94%
  • Cost 90%
  • This Sound Rating 90%

Caline CP-17 Time Space

Check price on Amazon

Product Description

Caline offer some great budget pedals and this basic delay pedal is just £22.00 making it one of the cheapest in the lineup.

For the money you don’t get much in terms of flexibility but that’s not the point, this delay pedal sounds great and adds a great deal of true analog goodness to your tone.

If you’re looking for a straightforward and reliable pedal for a cheap price then this will help you juice up your sound with vintage slapbacks and crunchy fx.

It feels like we’re repeating ourselves by mentioning that this delay has just 3 simple settings – mix, repeat and time but truth be told, why do you need anything else?

Features

  • Simple pedal
  • Great for achieving a fat vintage slap-back delay tone
  • Relatively large unit suits some boards
  • Sturdy chassis
Pros and Cons
Pros:

√ No-nuisance design gets the job done

√ Sounds fat and authentic to true analog delays

√ Reliable and durable

√ True bypass

Cons:

× Very simple and not too many features

  • Design 87%
  • Functionality 85%
  • Cost 98%
  • This Sound Rating 90%

Mooer Reecho

Check price on Amazon

Product Description

The Mooer micro series are world renowned and though they are slightly pricier than other pedals in this list, they still sit firmly within the budget range at £55.

For the extra money, you get a pedal from a very reputable manufacturer and they’re not tight on features either, with a 3-way selectable delay tone.

Choose from analog, real echo and tape echo to create anything from spacey echo fx to fat vintage slapbacks. Aside from that, you have your usual 3 settings – feedback, level and time.

This pedal can create short delays of just 5ms to very long delays up to 780ms. Neatly wrapped up in Mooers rock solid micro metal housing, these pedals are tried, tested and roadworthy to the core.

Features

  • 3-way tone selector for different delays
  • Your usual 3 delay settings
  • Mooer micro chassis
  • Wide delay range
Pros and Cons
Pros:

√ Bulletproof construction

√ Flexible pedal

√ Capable of short or long delays

√ Compact design

Cons:

× Higher on the price list

  • Design 96%
  • Functionality 82%
  • Cost 97%
  • This Sound Rating 92%

Which is the best rated pedal?

  • Tom’sline Engineering Digital Delay and Echo 93%

The Tom’sline pedal comes out on top of the ratings with it’s great looks and functionality being the main points. Even though it’s a small pedal it packs a big punch putting it firmly in front position to be our best budget delay pedal.

But which is our favourite?

Donner Echo Square

This pedal’s awesomeness is owing to its extraordinary 7-way selector. It’s truly innovative and for the price, it offers tons of creative flexibility. Donner have built a reputation for providing awesome budget pedals and this is another cool entry in their micro pedal selection, it’d be foolish to overlook, even for guitarists that own one, two, three or more delay pedals already.

Either of these pedals will not be out of place on any pedalboard which is why we recommend both of them as our best budget reverb pedal.

How to use the delay effect

Buyers Guide

Simply put, a delay pedal repeats notes but nothing in audio tech is ever really as simple as that! The repeated note can be shaped in various ways before output. Most delays pedals have 3 settings:
Time
This is the time between the note and the repeated or delayed note. Short delays create depth to the note, fattening up your tone with short repeated layers. Long delays are more obvious and can get difficult to play in time with the music.
Feedback
The more feedback then the more repeats you will hear, with the feedback knob turned to zero, you may only hear 1 repeat. With it cranked the whole way up, the repeats will continually build until the point of self-oscillation, which is a continual feedback loop.
Level
This controls the relative volume of the repeats. Quieter repeats will be more subtle.
There are three main delay types to consider when buying a pedal, these are:
Tape Echo
Les Paul originally created the tape echo sound by literally repeating a recorded guitar part on a tape recorder, layering it with the original sound. Modern pedals recreate this retro effect.
Analogue Delay
Les Paul originally created the tape echo sound by literally repeating a recorded guitar part on a tape recorder, layering it with the original sound. Modern pedals recreate this retro effect.
Digital Delay
Altering tone with analog components isn’t always desirable. A digital delay repeats a note without altering its tone, resulting in a clearly replicated delayed note.
Check out this diagram from wikipedia explaining the delay effect…
By Hyacinth – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Conclusion

The delay effect is indispensable. Delay pedals can easily lift your fx board to the next level and as this list proves, there’s simply no need to spend a fortune on one these days.

For £60 or less, you can grab a delay pedal with juicy analog circuitry, added fx, a delay type selector or other auditory sauce. Chinese manufacturers have put the power of quality components into the hands of the consumer and gone are the days where you need to fork out for a boutique pedal.

The bar is steadily rising and the pressure is on for manufacturers to add even more functions to their pedals at the same slim prices. There’s never been a better time to grab a budget pedal!

Sam is an audio and music production graduate, he has worked in live audio, studio production, sound design and videography.

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