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The Guitar Effects Dance: Delays and Reverbs in Harmony

Have you ever been curious about the optimal placement of your reverb/delay pedal in your signal chain? Guitar effects pedals open up a world of possibilities, allowing you to shape and craft your tones. Among the plethora of effects available, delays and reverbs hold a special place in creating atmospheric and spacious sounds. However, the order in which these effects are chained can significantly impact the resulting sound.


In this article, we'll explore the captivating relationship between delays and reverbs, with a focus on the differences when the reverb follows the delay versus when the delay follows the reverb. So, let's dive into the intriguing realm of interconnected guitar effects!


Delay Before Reverb: Expanding the Soundscape



You know what they say, folks. Delay before reverb is like the DJ dropping the beat before the rapper starts spitting fire. It's all about creating that rhythm and separation. The delay repeats are clear and distinct, like each echo is saying, 'Hey, listen to me, I'm special!' So, when you want your guitar to cut through the mix like a hot knife through butter, delay before reverb is the way to go!


The traditional approach is to place the delay before the reverb. In this setup, the delay effect is applied to the original guitar signal, and then the reverb effect is added to the delayed signal. This order typically produces a more natural-sounding reverb, simulating the effect of playing in a reverberant room. The delay-into-reverb configuration is commonly used by many guitarists as their go-to signal chain.


When the delay effect is placed before the reverb in the signal chain, the sound undergoes a particular transformation. Here are some key characteristics:

  1. Placing the delay before the reverb allows the distinct echoes to be more pronounced and discernible. The delay repeats remain clear and distinct, creating a sense of rhythmic separation within the ambient space.
  2. The delay trails retain their individuality, contributing to a more pronounced sense of articulation and definition. This arrangement can be ideal for rhythmic playing or when you want the delay repeats to cut through the mix.
  3. The delay's initial echoes create a foundation of spatial depth, while the subsequent reverb adds an immersive ambiance. This arrangement allows for a sense of spaciousness while still retaining clarity and focus.


Reverb Before Delay: Bridging Ethereal Ambience



In the reverb before delay setup, we observe a fascinating intermingling of ambient textures and cascading echoes. By positioning the reverb ahead of the delay, we lay the groundwork for an immersive foundation. The decay of the reverb merges seamlessly into the subsequent delay repeats, blurring the boundaries between individual echoes. This configuration can be particularly effective in creating expansive soundscapes and adding depth to sustained chords.


Flipping the order and placing the reverb before the delay offers a contrasting tonal experience. Here's what you can expect:

  1. When the reverb is placed before the delay, it provides a lush and ethereal foundation upon which the delay repeats dance. The reverb's decay smoothly transitions into the delayed echoes, creating a seamless blend of ambient textures.
  2. The delay repeats become more diffuse and blended with the reverb, resulting in a more washed-out and atmospheric sound. This arrangement is perfect for creating expansive soundscapes or adding depth to sustained chords.
  3. The reverb's decay envelops the delay trails, extending their sustain and blurring the boundaries between individual repeats. This creates a cascading effect, where each delayed note blends into the atmospheric wash of the reverb.


When the reverb is placed before the delay, the original guitar signal is first processed by the reverb effect, and then the delay effect is applied to the reverberated signal. This arrangement tends to create a more ambient sound, as each delay note carries its own reverb. However, it can also lead to a more washed-out and less defined sound, as the repeated delays are affected by the reverb.



To create a sense of space in a mix using delay and reverb, consider the following tips:

  1. Use EQ to remove unwanted frequencies and prevent masking of other elements in the mix.
  2. Experiment with various types of reverb and delay to achieve the desired sense of space. Each type can contribute a unique spatial effect.
  3. Combine reverb and delay: Using both effects together can enhance the sense of space and separation in the mix. This can help push tracks into the background and provide distinctiveness to dry tracks.
  4. Automating the volume, panning, and other parameters of your reverb and delay effects adds dynamics and a sense of movement to the space in the mix.
  5. Apply filters to your delay and reverb effects to remove unwanted frequencies and prevent muddiness in the mix.
  6. Panning mono delays can create a wider soundscape and enhance the perception of space in the mix.
  7. Sync your delays to the tempo of your track to create rhythm and cohesion in the mix.
  8. Use reverb and delay sparingly: Overusing reverb and delay can result in a cluttered mix. Use these effects judiciously to achieve the desired sense of space without overwhelming the overall sound.
  9. Try different techniques, such as placing the delay before reverb or using stereo delay on a mono signal, to create unique spatial effects in your mix.
  10. Utilize reverb and delay to add depth and width to your mix, providing a three-dimensional quality to the overall sound.


To sum it up

By understanding the unique characteristics of each setup, you can tailor your sound to suit different musical contexts and personal preferences. The interplay between delays and reverbs in guitar effects opens up a vast realm of atmospheric exploration. By understanding the differences between placing the reverb before the delay and vice versa, you can tailor your sound to suit different musical contexts.


Remember, these suggestions serve as starting points, and there are no strict rules in the realm of guitar effects. The best way to discover your signature sound is through experimentation and attentive listening.

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Please note that I'm not a recording engineer or sound mixer, but I've put in my best effort to capture the essence of these presets. To see the signal chain, please click the SoundCloud link.

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Are you contemplating the purchase of the Line6 Helix Ambient Preset Pack but still unsure? Or perhaps you stumbled upon this webpage while searching for high-quality ambient presets? In any case, you are welcome to download two of our presets.


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🎵 Using the presets is incredibly easy. Simply drag and drop the presets into your Line6 Helix device and you're ready to go. No need for any complicated setup or programming, the presets are ready to use right out of the box. The presets are only compatible with Helix Floor, Helix LT, HX Stomp and Helix Native devices. The free presets utilize only a limited number of snapshots.


🎁 What's in the box? Included in this package are two Line6 Helix presets along with a PDF documentation that provides additional insights on how to customize and fine-tune the presets. To utilize these presets, make sure you're rocking the Helix firmware 3.60 or newer.


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Share your Helix creations with us on Instagram by tagging #helixcustomshop for a chance to be featured!

You will get the following files:
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  • HLX (26KB)
  • PDF (62KB)
  • PDF (58KB)
  • PDF (58KB)