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The Mathematics of Guitar Delay Settings

     by Art Rock

If you are having a problem setting your delay time to match the beat of your drummer or drum machine, here is the solution to solve that problem. You can use this to set a delay time to match the beat of the song, (the tempo, beats per minute) or the other way around, if you have a song with a long delay and you want to find out what b.p.m.  ( beats per minute) to set your drum machine to.

 If you have a delay pedal or delay in your multi effect pedal that allows you to set the ms (millisecond) of delay you can just dial it in. If you don't, it is a little trickier, we will show you a work around towards the end of the article.

   This would be used if you wanted to pick a note or chord on your guitar and have it repeat in time with the beat of the song. You can set it to repeat on the 1/4 note, 1/2 note, 1/8 note anything you want.

   Let's start off with the math behind it. If you set your drum machine to 60 bpm (beats per minute) in 4/4 time this would equal 60 quarter notes per minute which is equal to 60 quarter notes per 60 seconds which is equal to one quarter note per second which is equal to 1,000 ms (milliseconds). Therefore an eighth note would be half of that 500 ms and a half note would be double 2,000 ms and whole notes would be four times the quarter note which is 4,000 ms. A dotted quarter note (counted as 1 & ) = 1.5 X a quarter note =1,000 ms x 1.5 = 1,500ms A doted eighth note is equal to 500ms x 1.5 = 750ms. A triplet is equal to 1,000 divided by 3 = 333.3ms call it 333ms.

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 Now let's do it at 96 bpm. 96 quarter notes a minute = 60 seconds divided by 96 notes = .625 multiply by 1,000ms = 625ms. An eighth note would be double as there are 2 eighths to a quarter = 60 sec divided by 192 notes = .3125 x 1,000ms = 312.5ms call it 312 or 313 ms as delay units do not usually have fractions of a millisecond in their delay settings. A half note would be 60 sec divided by 48 x 1000 = 1250ms. A dotted quarter note would be 60 sec divided by 96 quarters times 1.5 x 1000ms = 937.5ms.

    Now you can figure out at any bpm what delay setting to use, or reverse the procedure, to start with a delay time and calculate the beat. Or the easier way would be to check if it is on the chart I did for you below.

Guitar Delay Settings Chart BPM vs milliseconds

60 bpm 1,000ms 500ms 750ms 333ms
64 bpm 938ms 469ms 703ms 312ms
68 bpm 882ms 441ms 662ms 294ms
72 bpm 833ms 417ms 625ms 278ms
76 bpm 789ms 395ms 592ms 263ms
80 bpm 750ms 375ms 563ms 250ms
84 bpm 714ms 357ms 536ms 238ms
88 bpm 682ms 341ms 511ms 227ms
92 bpm 652ms 326ms 489ms 217ms
96 bpm 625ms 313ms 469ms 208ms
100 bpm 600ms 300ms 450ms 200ms
104 bpm 577ms 288ms 433ms 192ms
108 bpm 556ms 278ms 417ms 185ms
112 bpm 536ms 268ms 402ms 178ms
116 bpm 517ms 259ms 388ms 172ms
120 bpm 500ms 250ms 375ms 167ms

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If  it's not on the chart you can calculate like this. For instance say you have a good riff with a delay of 588ms and you want it to match the quarter note. To calculate to beats per minute. Sixty seconds x 1,000 ms = 60,000 ms divided by 588 ms = 102 bpm. You can extropolate the numbers. For example you want the 588ms to be an eight note. There are two 1/8 notes to a quarter note, so multiply by 2 = 1176 then go 60,000 divided by 1,176 = 51 bpm.

  If you can't set a number for the ms on your delay unit,  you can time it with the second hand on a watch or clock. When you find the delay setting you like, turn up the repeats which will make the delay repeat more times to make it longer and easier to time it on the second hand of your watch. If you get 17 repeats in 12 seconds figure out how many that would be in a minute 60 seconds. 60 divided by 12 seconds = 5 x 17 repeats = 85bpm.

  Usually you can never time it dead on, on a second hand. You will have to tweak the bpm to match your delay time. You should try tweaking it regardless. Being slightly ahead or behind the quarter note can give a slightly different feel to the sound.

    Enjoy and experiment away.

  article by Art Rock / / Absolute Music

  copyright Absolute Music 2020 all rights reserved

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Hooking up multiple guitar effect pedals

   You can hook up multiple guitar effect pedals / guitar effect units together very easily. The output of one effect pedal that normally plugs into the guitar amp, you instead plug it into the input of another pedal. The input is where you would normally plug your guitar into. You can keep adding pedals in the chain. You plug your guitar patch cord into the input of the first guitar effect pedal in the pedal chain and you plug into your guitar amp from the output of the last effect pedal in the pedal chain.

  All the pedals in between the first and last guitar pedal, you plug the output from one effect pedal to the input of the next effect pedal. When you get beyond 5 or 6 pedals you may need a noise suppressor / noise gate pedal to get rid of some of the noise, especially if you are using a lot of distortion.

   The gain knob, sometimes called level, volume or other names is usually some type of op amp design or gain stage amplifying section of the effect circuit that multiplies the gain stage of the next pedal and the next pedal and the next pedal. So usually you will have to cut the gain levels lower than you would normally run them on an individual effect pedal to get a good sound. Otherwise it will be balls to the walls noise that may sound great to you but not to your listeners.

 To get the best bang for your buck you might want to start  with pedals that are different and have a more varying effect compared to each other. This way you get a more dramatic effect and different sounds right away, versus buying two distortion pedals.

  A good progression if you're into rock would be overdrive or distortion first, then chorus, then a wah pedal,  (if you want that effect), then delay,  then pitch shifter or harmonist or octave (if you want that effect), then reverb, then phaser, then look at compressor, harmonizer, pitch shifter, octave, noise suppressor, and flanger. If you only had two effect pedals a distortion and a chorus would give you a good sound.

 The art of joining  guitar effect pedals together is often referred to as pedal stacking, or daisy chaining pedals, or a pedal train, or an effect stack.

  To join the effect pedals you can use a regular patch cord or you can buy short cords that are available in  6", 12", 18", 24", 36", and  48" lengths. You can also get effect pedal couplers which are a one piece metal unit with two  1/4" jack plugs back to back. If you have a wah pedal or some boutique pedals, sometimes the input jack is higher off the floor than the standard pedal. You can get an offset pedal coupler or Z plug they are normally called, so you still have an all metal,one piece plug, with no cable but one input jack can be higher off the floor than the other.  

   You can also get a pedal board to place your effect pedals on. Some have an upholstered board that lifts out of a padded bag. Usually they come with small strips or a long length of  Velcro tape. You cut off a piece of the Velcro, peel the paper off the back of it, and then stick it to the bottom plate of your guitar effect pedal. Then the effect pedal will stick by the Velcro to the upholstered pedal board. Some pedal boards will come with a few short 1/4" patch cords to hook the pedals up. Some pedal boards  will come with a 9 volt AC/DC power supply that you plug into the AC wall plug, and splitter cables that will split the DC output power from the single 9 volt transformer to multiple effect pedals.

   Some people choose to build their own pedal case. You can buy 9 Volt jumper cables / daisy cables which allow you to use one 9V adaptor plug ( AC/DC adapter) for multiple effect pedals. If you have too many pedals on one adaptor some of the effects may be reduced. Usually the chorus is the first one you will notice a degradation in it's sound quality. It will lose some of it's depth.

  That's when you know it is time to add another 9 volt adaptor and daisy chain cable. If you go that route check the mA (milliamp) rating of the 9 Volt power adaptor. The standard guitar effect pedal adaptor is 200ma, but some go as high as 1,000ma which will power a lot more pedals. You will pay more but it might be cheaper in the long run.



   Changing the order of your effect pedals will change the overall sound. Take a pedal and try it as the first effect pedal in the pedal chain. Then move it to the second position, then third, through to the last effect unit in the pedal chain. Some effects you won't notice much of a difference, some you will hear a huge difference. It's all subjective. It's whatever sounds good to you.

   If you are using the 9 volt batteries to power your guitar pedals,  instead of an AC adaptor, note that on most guitar pedals, the pedal is turned on by inserting the 1/4" guitar patch cord in the guitar pedal's input plug. It is sort of an invisible on / off switch. Be sure to unplug the patch cords from your effect pedals when you are done to keep the batteries from draining. Otherwise next time you go to play your guitar, you will hear nothing, for one of the batteries in one of your effect pedals is dead.

  If you are using an AC/DC adaptor to power your pedals, it is a good idea to pull the battery clips off of the batteries inside the pedals or remove the batteries from the pedals altogether. This is to avoid battery leakage, which can happen in any electronic device if a battery sits for an extended period of time,not being used. Typically it can take months or years for a battery to leak, but it could happen sooner. When a battery leaks in the battery compartment of your effect pedal it usually corrodes the inner surfaces. If it gets into the effect's circuit it can damage the electronics causing the pedal not to work anymore.


  article by Art Rock / / Absolute Music   copyright Absolute Music 2020 all rights reserved


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