Delay, Reverb or nothing?

Hi! I have been playing keyboard since my early teens. I am 28 years old now. I started learning guitar thanks to Justinguitar 4 years ago.

I am part of a trio. I am a singer and also the keyboard player/ guitarist (depending on the song). We have a bassist and a drummer. We have composed some original songs but we mostly play covers at bar gigs. Except heavy metal, we enjoy performing most kinds of music. I think that I am average as a musician.

I play an Epiphone SG which I bought from a friend, plugged into an old 15 Watt VOX Amp. I have a tuner and a clean boost pedal.

I have some minor health issues, so focusing on singing and playing keyboard/ guitar is hard enough. I have seen some players who are skilled at switching from one effect to another. I like to hear them use their effects but few times I have plugged into their pedalboards, and couldn’t change the effects flawlessly as they can.

I feel much more comfortable, if I can concentrate on singing and/ or playing an instrument rather than switching between effects.

Recently I saw a friend perform who is a lead guitarist in a large 2-guitar band. She is much better player than I am, and has a delay pedal on her board. She was continuously turning the knobs between songs on it. However, sometimes she used a reverb pedal set very subtly and never touched it’s knobs throughout the night as she performed.

I like the way her sound felt “full” after she had switched on her delay pedal. But I can’t think of being busy turning the knobs on a delay pedal all night if I buy one. My amp already has reverb effect, but I haven’t performed while it was switched on yet. At least there is an advantage of using reverb, so that I won’t have to keep turning the knob on my amp between songs.

On one hand I wish I could make my sound “fuller” using a delay pedal, while I feel I will get tired turning the knobs. I could use reverb instead. Or just decide either of them are not for me and continue performing with a dry tone.

Please help me decide. Thank you.


Hi Audrey,

first of all: welcome to the community! :smiley: If you don’t mind, you could introduce yourself here: Introduce yourself

I’m not a pedal user myself, so probably not the best source of wisdom. :sweat_smile:

But my guess on the matter is that it is just another skill you have to get used to. Of course, if you never have done it before, you won’t switch smoothly between various effects as someone who does it regularly and doing so for a long time. As everything with making music, it’s probably a matter of practice and automation.

I can’t advice what best, because I don’t have experience with the matter myself. But my approach would be to start simple. E.g. try to make use of your amp effects first during practice and see if it floats your boat and if you can handle the changes between songs easily. Drawback here is, you won’t be able to adjust things while playing easily (except your amp can be controlled with a foot switch).
So I would assume in the long run, it would be a little more handy to use a pedal rather than amp effect so amp stays as is and effect is set via pedal. Here, you could just try with a little reverb first and if you get a hang and get used to little adjustments throughout playing, you still could add a delay pedal later.

But as said, no pedal user myself so no guarantee this is actually good advice. Probably some of our seasoned pedal users chime in soon. :slight_smile:


Hi Audrey,

Welcome to the community!

I’m part of a 5 piece group (2 guitars, bass, keyboard and drums) and I play with a pedal board. So far we are just living room players, but we are hoping to venture out into the world of live gigs soon. I’m jealous of your gig playing! :laughing: Hopefully someone who plays live will chime in as well too to give their perspective :grin:

Our band plays a 90s style grunge/rock/punk mix, so my advice comes from that world :laughing: we play both originals and some covers. My personal preference is to set my amp to a slightly crunchy tone (I can’t bring myself to play 100% clean :laughing:) and to modify my sound with my pedals as needed depending on what I play. Usually I just have the pedal’s sound already dialed in with what I want in advance so all I’m doing is kicking them on when I’m ready to use the effect. I do not mess with the knobs in between songs- although I understand that depending on what you are playing, someone may want and/or need to. If you end up going the pedal route, I would say to try doing something like that to start where you are just turning the effect on/off at the beginning/end of the song until you get used to it.

As far as delay or reverb that will be up to your personal preference and what sounds good to you. I have a feeling that some of it may also come down to the sound set up at the venues where you play. I’m about to commit guitar blasphemy here and say that I’m not really a fan of delay personally :laughing: :grimacing: A lot of people start with the combo of delay and reverb, so it clearly works for many, but I skipped that and went right for overdrive and fuzz, lol. I do play with some reverb, but I use my amp for that and not a separate pedal. Again, I think it comes down to personal preference.

If you have a guitar store near you that lets you test out pedals, it may be worth a trip to see if you like the way they sound.

Welcome again and good luck!


Reverbs are absolutely fantastic effects … and they can give your tone a space or ambience that really fills the space between notes. Lots of amps have a spring reverb tank in the bottom of the cab … Loads of fun giving your amp a kick while it’s ringing out when those springs jump a bit :grin: … or they’ll have a digital effect built in somewhere.

I don’t mind the spring 'verb in my Laney, but tend not to use it … as I’d have to lean over the amp to dial it off. Whereas with one of my pedals, I can just kick it off from the pedal board. I have a couple … a Boss RV-6 and a Digitech Polara … but tend to use the RV-6 mostly as they’re pretty much both usable for the same thing. I also tend to leave the settings as they are once I’m dialled in, depending on what amp I’m playing through. As for Delay … I don’t really use them much for the tones I prefer, but will if I feel the need to fatten the sound out a little, or add a little slapback into the mix. I find the reverbs alone suit me more often than not, though.

If your delay doesn’t do presets, then you’ll probably find yourself tweaking it between songs in a set, depending on what the song needs … which is probably what your guitarist is doing; setting up for the next song.


An analog delay pedal is always on for me. I set mine for slapback which serves to fatten the tone, so there isn’t any futzing around with knobs for that. Set it to slapback and forget it.

EDIT: Listen to the very beginning of this track where Guthrie Trapp (guitarist on the left) kicks on his delay, strikes his guitar and you here a “thum-thump.” That’s slapback delay. For extra credit listen to how fat that tele sounds.


Thank you for being so helpful.

I have always preferred singing to playing an instrument, as I find it a little easier. I think I am an average musician. I am fortunate to be able to perform live. I am aware of my limitations. I know there are many people who are much better musicians than I am, but somehow they don’t get to perform live often.

I will listen to your suggestions and try performing next time with some reverb dialled in on the amp. If I need to make any adjustments, I will do them between songs. I will also visit a local store and see if they will allow me to try out a few inexpensive delay/ reverb pedals. I don’t mind buying used at all. I will have to search for stores which have a good return policy though. I would like to try simple pedals with few knobs which will last years and years.

I do cover few rock songs, so I am curious about which other effects do you use? I confess that I don’t try to sound like the recordings when I cover songs. It’s because I am sure they were thousand times better musicians than people like me and also probably used inaccessable and expensive equipment to record them.

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Thank you for your kind words.

I am happy to know that there are other players too, who don’t use much effects. I was thinking that I am like the only one who doesn’t, because I saw many who have pedalboards. I set my tuner and boost on the floor near my feet when I perform. I don’t have a pedalboard as such.
I appreciate people who use effect pedals, because there are many options and they know which ones to chose from.

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You’re welcome! Happy to help however I can. :grin:

I’m the singer for my group as well so I definitely understand not wanting to make things too complicated. Figuring out the best way to sing, play and run effects while still being entertaining to an audience is a big challenge for sure!

Fast far as effects, on my board I currently have distortion (a ProCo rat) an overdrive pedal (a hot cake, which is made by a company out of New Zealand that I somehow managed to get my hands on and I LOVE) Fuzz and a Flanger, both by the Fender Hammertone line. I like the Hammertone pedals because they are small, durable, sound great and don’t have too many options, lol. I don’t like when pedals have so many options that I spend all my practice time trying to figure out what they do :laughing: I also have a noise suppressor and an EQ pedal. I do have a wah pedal that I use every once in a while- mostly for covers that use them.

Hope you are able to find some effects you like! :+1:t2:

Thank you for helping me understand all this.

I am gonna switch on the reverb on my amp during the next gig, and see if I like it.

I am gonna try a simple 3 or 4 knob delay pedal too, bought from a store which has a good return policy.

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Wow. I have noted the names of effect pedals you use and see if I can find them in a store to try.

I am specifically interested in the pedal named rat which you have. My friend has it too, but she plays with much more gain than I do. I am gonna see if I can set the rat pedal with about 30% of available gain on it and hear how it sounds. Thank you.

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Thank you.

OMG the sounds I am hearing in this clip are amazing.

Will you please recommend some universal (versatile) delay settings, which would serve as a “set and forget” irrespective of the tempo for me?

Since you usually have your delay pedal on, can you suggest instances or reasons from your experiences when you had to turn it off? Sorry for being too inquisitive, but I am asking it because If I use one I may have to turn it on/and off while singing songs sometimes.

Please consider that if I will be buying a delay, it will be an afforfable, yet reliable pedal with few knobs. I am gonna visit music stores to see what they have in stock.

I vaguely remember my friend telling me that her delay pedal has a limited range when it comes to the minimum and maximum delay times available on it. She is much better player than I am, so she could sound good irrespective of using or not using delay. I don’t think whatever limitations she said her pedal has ever impacts the way she sounds. She always sounds amazing.

Hi Audrey,

Justin has written a fair bit about various effects, you might want to check these out if you haven’t done already:

Yes. Thank you. I have gone through these modules.

I am also looking for experiences from those who have tried to utilize these concepts and implemented effect pedal usage in their playing.

Full credit to you for using your ears, you are going to need them! LOL

For set and forget slapback I mostly use an affordable no name “Kmise” analog delay for $17.99 US on Amazon. There is no need to break the bank for such a simple circuit. Why analog? Because the repeats will darken a little bit whereas digital will stay pretty crisp, and can do slapback and other delay tricks. For settings every delay circuit will vary so this is where your ears are important. Get the sound that you like. It’s funny and hugely coincidental that my set and forget settings closely match the amazon image:

Here’s how I set up my digital delay for slapback:
pedal board by Clint Tisher, on Flickr

  • It’s the Prophet by TCE

Do not listen to those that refer to pedals and/or effects as a rabbit hole. Tone is very important, it can inspire and set you apart from other players.


Thank you for helping me out.

I won’t go into a pedal rabbit hole, because I won’t buy anything unless I am sure that I will use it often and it’s gonna take me a long while to learn switching between effects.

I googled the names of your pedals. You must be very good at timing, because you are using a looper pedal. I know that looping is fun, but it’s harder for me to use a looper pedal while singing and playing either guitar or keyboard. I practice using either backing tracks or play a song in a low volume on my phone while I have my amp kept away from me and I set it’s volume louder than the song playing on my phone.

I’ve no personal experience, but I have a friend who is a guitar teacher and plays in a classic rock cover band. He’s an awesome player and his setup kind of like @Jenndye429 's: reverb set on the amp (he doesn’t touch it during a gig, I don’t think). He has 2 pedals on the floor: an overdrive pedal, which he turns on and off during the song (on for lead, off for rhythm, he’s the only guitar in the band). He also has a wah-wah pedal for the Cream and Hendrix songs that they do. That’s it and it sounds great. I think you might benefit from a setup like that: a touch of reverb on all the time and some overdrive (especially if you are playing lead parts) on your sound will add a lot to it.


It doesn’t exist. People that use that statement think that dialing in tone diverts them from the “learn songs mantra” or their strict study plan. In reality activities that are unrelated to music --like watching TV shows, browsing the web and other things are the real rabbit holes.

what is this activity ? i dont have it in my life

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Thank you.

I have experienced that watching TV or web series can be a distraction, specially if we have limited time to practice or we are learning something which is relatively new.

Thank you for replying.

Yes. I am gonna try a few pedals on Monday at a local store with a good return policy, and see what I like.