Monday, March 25, 2013

Lefty Goes Delay Shopping

Guitar Center is usually a place I go when I know I want to be disappointed.  The area of lefty guitars has been well-trodden in this blog.  Every time I show up, there seems to be fewer of them.  But this time was different.  No, there were no more lefties... I'm just shocked that I did so well.

The topic of the month is delays, specifically analog delays.  For a while I relied on a Boss RV-3, which is a combination reverb/delay.  I discovered it had very low output level and I have no idea how to go about fixing it (no tubes), so I needed a new one.  I got a great hamfest deal on an ADA multi-fx box, which does flanging, chorus and delay.  It sounds ok, if a bit dated, but it's a rack mount device so it's not well suited for carrying around.

I did a lot of YouTube shopping.  YouTube is the greatest thing to happen to guitar in a long time.  If you want a guitar, amp or effects, odds are someone has a video featuring it.  Some even have comparisons.  After asking around further, I decided I wanted to try out the MXR Carbon Copy and the Electro Harmonix Memory Boy.

Guitar Center shocked the hell out of me by having the Carbon Copy, Way Huge Aqua Puss and a 4 knob red (T-rex/reptile?) Tap Delay used.  There was also a new Memory Boy.

Test rig was a generic white lefty Strat and a Blues Deluxe amp (close enough to my rig).  The Aqua Puss and Tap Delay were ok but failed to distinguish themselves.  The Carbon Copy was cool.  It had a nicer tone and more range as an effect.  Plus that cool, metallic green finish :)

The Memory Boy is one of the newer Electro Harmonix pedals.  They really have come a long way since the Big Muff and Memory Man.  They're doing very interesting things, including the Memory Boy.  I really liked this pedal the moment I plugged it in.  It's a normal analog delay but it also features modulation, so you can achieve anything from a slight chorus to an insane pitch change and vibrato.  It's almost like two pedals.  The tone, however, sold me.  It's not pure and it's not digital.  It's a little thick and colored.  The pedal was compact too.

My wife, who is not a musician, said there was only one choice: the Memory Boy.  Of course we know that my wife is easily entertained (by her choice in husbands).  She's also correct; it was the best of the bunch (for my application).

Financially it was an interesting decision:

  • Tap Delay (used) - $99
  • Aqua Puss (used) - $139
  • Carbon Copy (used) - $90
  • Memory Boy (new) - $139

Any of the delays would have performed adequately.  Had I purchased the Carbon Copy, I would not have been disappointed.  The Memory Boy just aced the others tonally, plus it had the added benefit of modulation.  

If I played a different instrument, I might have gone in a different direction, as the MB's output is definitely colored.  But this is exactly what I needed.  Aside from playing around with a chorus setting, the delay is probably going to be Set It and Forget It.  Others might like a more accurate (sterile) tone from their delay.

Your mileage will definitely vary - shop around, listen to the boxes on YouTube and play them in person.  Ask questions if you have them.

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