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  • Tighten Your Timing with Delay Effects

    By Chris Loeffler |

    Does your timing need a little work? The metronome is the traditional practice tool to tighten your playing, but sometimes it can feel a little uninspiring. Bring out your favorite delay/echo effect and find inspiring new ways to stay in synch while you master this classic effect. 

    By Chris Loeffler


    One’s No Longer the Loneliest Number

    Using a delay pedal is a simple way to get feedback (literally) of your own playing and can feel more creative and responsive than a simple metronome or click track. By setting the delay time for about 500ms-1000ms you can get a nice beat (especially with two or three repeats that have a bit of analog-like degradation). Use the repeat as the “and” between picked notes in whatever time signature you choose. Run this up and down the neck and try to stay in the pocket. A week or two of this and you’ll have timing so synched your drummer will ask you to count in the songs!


    Any old delay will do...

    A great way to build in a little extra practice while you’re working on your timing is to play alternating arpeggiated triads to get more comfortable with the scale notes in close physical proximity to the chorded notes. It’s a nice way to find potential embellishments and can be especially rewarding if you alternate between notes “in chord” and notes “in scale”.


    Off Beat Exercises

    Where things get really interesting is when you run two (or three!) delay effects in series with different delay times. Dial in the first delay to a nice, long delay time with at least a few repeats and pluck a note. Listen to how it rings back and synch your internal clock to the beats per minute you’ve set. Now turn on a second delay effect (placed after the original effect in the signal chain) with a different delay time. Depending on how close the second delay time is to an even fraction of the original, you will either have a sprawling mess (which can be a lot of fun in its own right) or a nice, syncopated delay pattern.


    Try a two-in-one...


    A nice place to start is having the second effect at half (or one and a half) the delay time of the first. The result will sound very familiar to the delay effects used by The Edge; a cascade of ping-ponging notes bouncing off each other. Play a simple arpeggio or chord one note at a time and listen how the notes duck around as multiple notes begin blending in the delay trail. Practice listening and playing to one delay line, then alternate with the other. Insert quarter notes and extended rests. Not will you be having fun creating your own sonic gumbo, but you’ll also be honing your skills at keeping time within a syncopated setting. 



    Or try three-in-one!

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