GEAR REVIEW: DIRTY LEADS DONE DIRT CHEAP – Ibanez DE7 echo/delay

WRITTEN AND PRESENTED BY SHANE WHITBREAD of LOVIATAR

So, I like cheap pedals. I mean, don’t get me wrong; I love cork-sniffing, high end, ultra exclusive stuff as well. Ok, I like high end stuff in theory. A lot of it sucks. Well, it doesn’t suck, it just does nothing for me. Even the more out there sounds are kinda pedestrian. Anyway, before I start on that rant, I’ll derail that thought process.

This article is purely about the wonders of shit you can typically buy for under $150. More often, it will feature pedals in the sub-$100 range. Cheap stuff that sounds great and plays well in your rig, tone wise; the stuff that you can buy for the same price as a night on the town. Stuff you can grab on pay day, have enough left over to buy a case, and have some fun with.

I have a deep love for Ibanez pedals. Often better-sounding than most of the mass-produced stuff, and often built to last [beyond the soundtank series]. Ibanez has a long history of making great boxes that I could bore you with, but fuck that, let’s get to the point.

So, a pedal that is on all my boards, more often than not, is an aging Ibanez DE7 echo/delay. It looks like shit, keeps going and sounds great. 2600ms [2.6 second] of delay time, a echo/delay mode switch, a switch that alternates delay amounts [short, medium and long]. The knobs recess into the pedal so you can set them and lock them in transport so they don’t get bumped. Handy feature. The “Made in Taiwan” ones had some design flaws so look for the “Made in China” version.

For a modern delay, it is super simple. No looping, no reverse, no swell, just a couple delays voiced differently. The echo is very analog-delay like, dark and murky. Repeats mush together at higher feedback levels beautifully and create a nice smear of ambiance. At higher feedback levels, the echo mode will do all the typically analog delay spaceship landing bullshit. It doesn’t sound exactly like true analog, but it also doesn’t have a digitally encoded knob so the pitchshifting on the delay trails is smooth and doesn’t alias or zipper at all. Hours of fun at home, great for annoying your band mates or pretending you’re in Mogwai and unleashing a wall of feedback at the end of your set. The digital mode is crystal clear. Lots of high end, so you don’t get lost in the mix. It never gets all that crazy, even at maximum feedback levels. The layers just stack and stack, never exploding into a wall of semi-controllable noise. Maximum delay time is more than generous. In a band setting, I suspect most people will just leave it on mode 2 for the delay time and the knobs all about halfway, and set for the echo mode. Live, it seems to work best there, and still cut through most mixes. Used in front of a distorted amp, you’ll probably wanna dial back the feedback and switch it to the digital mode just to add clarity. It’s one of the few delays that seems to have no preference for a clear or dirty amp, you just have to tweak for those differences accordingly.

Yeah, it lacks a lot of the bells and whistles of the more advanced delays out there. It has no special features, no tap tempo or any of that stuff. But if you are going to use a delay, you should learn how to set delay times by ear. Trust me, it’s a great skill to have and impresses studio guys, as they don’t have to do it for you. It is a simple delay meant to sound like delays from the 70s, nothing more. You can sometimes find them locally in the $60 range, and there are always a ton of them on eBay for a good price. Grab one before someone in a major touring band discovers how good they are and drives the price up.