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Can a delay pedal sound like a reverb if set correctly?


Some of the delay pedal demos I've seen sound similar to reverb, especially short, slap back type delay. Am I crazy? Can someone confirm this?


Close but no.
If d is the attack and a the decay then delay would be

da da da da

whereas reverb is


Delay involves a cutoff of the signal and then a repeat. Reverb is a function of attack and decay of the signal.


It can get close, but not exact. There is obviously a little more separation and finite stutter happening with delay. Playing at home or on a recording the differences between the two are much greater. In a band setting I actually like what ambient delay brings because I don't get lost in the other instruments. This can happen with reverb turned up too high.

What works best for me is my Carbon Copy set to a fast slap to medium delay time (depending on whether the song is fast or slow) with about 4 to 5 repeats. Mix is at about 10 o'clock. Analog delay is the key to getting a faux verb sound.


Considering the Belton Brick, which is an awful lot of boutique and DIY pedals and some amps, is just shatter delay (multiple delay chips) and people like the sound of those, then yes, absolutely, delay CAN sound like reverb.


Silver Supporting Member
When I had my Flashback (X4) I could set it to give a reverb type'o'sound.


Considering the Belton Brick, which is an awful lot of boutique and DIY pedals and some amps, is just shatter delay (multiple delay chips) and people like the sound of those, then yes, absolutely, delay CAN sound like reverb.
Isn't natural reverb just multiple delays anyway?


You can set it to sound more like a quick echo reverberation rather than a splashy spring or something. It's sort of akin to using a flanger as a chorus pedal, or manipulating the tone knob on your guitar to do the wah-wah thing. It's close, but definitely not on-point.

Kev O)))

Slapback settings can sort of get there but you won't get the spring or metallic smack without a real reverb.


I used analog delay with non-reverb tweed amps for years in the days before there were affordable reverb options. IMO, you can probably get close enough for live work but not so much for recording if reverb is what's called for.


Instrumental Rocker
Gold Supporting Member
I like using delay as a foundation to reverb, but still use a dedicated reverb to finish the job.


Senior Member
It gets close enough for my tweed circuit. If you do a muted whack on the strings, it shows up as slapback. But while I'm playing with the band, it's close enough. I play blues rock, so I don't need any real ambient settings. Either a slapback or a rock delay is easy enough. I just twist the knobs to a ball park spot and go.
I'll probably get a reverb pedal, but there's no rush.


Isn't natural reverb just multiple delays anyway?
Yes but it's highly specialized, and varies a lot from manufacturer to manufacturer, how they're set up. I'm still fairly new to understanding how reverb works but the way I understand it, a "standard" way of doing it is by having "early reflection" delays (the initial echo pattern), diffusion delays and a plex (Eventide I know uses Plex in their verbs--pretty sure Lexicon does too, even though you can't manipulate them like in the Eventides). Have you heard the "Cloud" mode yet on the Strymon Big Sky? All those little taps are similar to an early reflection pattern...the taps get "smoothed out" by running them through one or more "diffusers" (which is a pattern of a few *very* short delays with filters and different phases going on, with high feedback--it smoooths out the "attack energy" and smears it into one big sound, instead of lots of discrete delay taps--on the Strymons, this is called "Smear")...then comes the tail, which in the Eventides (I believe) is made by running the early reflections through a Plex delay pattern (usually from 4-16 delay lines in parallel, which all feedback into each other, and can either be modulated/detuned/filtered, among other things).

If you listen to all the demos of the various modes of the Big Sky, I think it gives you a pretty good idea of all (or at least most) of the ways that delays can be combined to make reverbs...generally, the really "smooth" reverbs on that pedal use more diffusion (like the "Bloom" algorithm) and the ones that have more audible taps use less ("Magneto" and "Cloud"). Not sure how they implement any Plex stuff in there, but I'd guess the Bloom mode has some of that since the tails are so smooth on that one.
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Nuzzled Firmly Betwixt
Platinum Supporting Member
Isn't natural reverb just multiple delays anyway?
pretty much. Reverb is everywhere, we just tend to tune it out as it makes it easier to 'hear' the fundamental sound and it's dominant echoes.

bitd, we used to drive parts/equipment sales reps crazy by having technical discussions in the anechoic chamber at Rodgers Organ. You don't know how much you miss/depend on natural reverb until it's gone.

Some of the 'best' natural reverb is to be found in concrete stairwells.
Why is it so good? Cuz there are a myriad of surfaces for the sound to bounce off of...all those walls, windows, stair-surfaces (both the steps AND the ramped 'bottom' of the staircase). You're getting a reflection of each of these and they all have a slightly different time delay based on distance from the source and the listener). Since steps are at a regular, finite interval (as opposed to say, a curved rock wall in a canyon) the listener hears a number of finite time intervals...to my ears, this is a little more appealing than the blurry mess you can hear inside a large, curved-walled water tank, silo, etc. But I guess each has their own application.

For those of us from PDX, 2 of my favorite short stairwells are on the PSU campus at Neuberger Hall and in the old Science Building I. I believe both are 4 story stairwells, and the best spot is on the 2nd story landing... this gives you both a one-story (down) and two-story (up) dominant repeat but scads and scads of secondary repeats. Gorgeous stuff. Play the instrument (or voice) towards the outside window and place recording mics aimed up and down. The best EVER reverb I hear in there was a young female vocal student practicing some medieval chants with her face no further than 6 inches from the glass... an incredible thing to listen to. I'd love to hear the same thing in a 10, 20 or 30 story concrete stairwell, but we've got a significant lack of such things in Oregon.

...oh, sorry...what was your question again?....

EDIT: oops...this is what I get for starting/stopping a reply.
I guess AK85's response and mine don't contradict...they kind of augment each other, in a way.

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