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The Best Buffered Delay Pedals (2023)

A good delay pedal is the needed extra element to blend in with the band or stand out when it’s the guitar’s time to shine. The delay timing, tone, feedback, and mix are all essential to sound right, yet among all the specs, one often gets ignored but is just as crucial – the buffer!

A delay pedal with a buffer preserves the strength of your guitar signal, no matter the number of pedals or length of cables. While a buffer can impact the ultimate tone of your rig, the effect is minimal and mainly felt when you have a complex rig or some specific gear combination.

Your goal is to keep your signal chain as pure as possible, whether you have a massive board or just the four pedals you can’t live without – a delay with a buffer can help you with that.

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Why Choose a Buffered Delay Pedal?

Back in the day, it was not as easy as it is today to connect your pedal. Different companies used different power supplies, voltages, and connectors, and it was long before the standard 9v supply became a thing.

A separate buffer, or buffered pedals, was used to balance the differences. If you think there’s a mess under your feet, imagine the number of adaptors and plugs you needed in the 80s!

A delay pedal with a buffer helps keep the original signal tone and the delay repeat’s tone. The buffer is handy when you have a large rig and have signal losses – for delay pedals, it’s even more critical as it keeps the high-end shimmer on the repeats and avoids muddying up the sound.

True Bypass Vs. Buffered Bypass

We’ve all read ‘true-bypass’ on pedals, a heavily marketed feature from pedal companies.

  • With a true-bypass pedal, the signal runs through unspoiled when the pedal is off as if it was not there.

The main advantage is generally having less noise and not altering the signal – the downside is that the signal might be lost along the chain, a process usually referred to as ‘tone sucking,’ and pressing the switch might be loud.

  • A buffered bypass buffers the signal even when the pedal is off.

The main advantage is avoiding degrading the signal on stage by the cables and the negative effect on tone caused by turning true bypass pedals on/off in a high-impedance signal path and quieter switching:  the main disadvantage is a possible slight tone coloring.

Pro Tip: Active pickups and wireless tech can replace a buffer pedal, compensating for the signal loss from the cables. Also, if your delay has a ‘trails’ option and is true-bypass by default, it will switch to buffered where the setting is on.

Can you use a buffered delay pedal with other true-bypass pedals?

Yes, you can mix and match a buffered delay pedal without negatively affecting your tone. Many pedals have a bypass mode switch, so feel free to test what sounds best for you if there’s a difference at all.

Pro Tip: If you run long cables on stage, use a separate buffer pedal or an effect buffered pedal in front of your chain. A delay pedal with a buffer is not fit for the job, as it rarely goes in front of the chain. A tuner with a buffer is a popular choice for the job.

Best Delay Pedals With a Buffer

I prepared this list of best delay pedals with a buffer for all player’s levels and budgets in mind. There’s something for you whether you’re looking for a recording rig or a jamming pedal.

1. TC Electronic Echobrain

The Echobrain is a simple, affordable, and down-to-the-basics buffered delay pedal. I like the simplicity above all, and the tone of the repeats is excellent for lead work in the rock and blues realm.

TC Electronic ECHOBRAIN ANALOG DELAY Vintage-Style Delay Pedal with All-Analog Bucket-Brigade Circuit

It’s not a jack-of-all-trades, so don’t go for it if you’re after ‘The Edge’ style riffs.

2. Boss DD-500 Digital Delay Pedal

The Boss DD-500 is a staple on all my lists of best delay pedals. Besides being an indestructible workhorse with multiple delay types and settings, it lets you choose between a buffered bypass or a true bypass.

Boss DD-500 Digital Delay

It’s not cheap, but not overly expensive, considering its versatility.

3. TC Electronic Flashback 2 Delay and Looper Pedal

This other pedal by TC Electronics is a perfect choice for intermediate players who want to get into the world of looping. It’s straightforward, with only one switch and four knobs, and just like the DD 500, it allows you to select the bypass mode.

TC Electronic FLASHBACK 2 DELAY Legendary Delay Pedal with Groundbreaking MASH Footswitch, Crystal Delay Effect and Built-In TonePrint Technology, Blue

Not my favorite delay repeats sounds to record in the studio, but great for most gigs. I wouldn’t hesitate to take it even on a big show, yet I’d stay away from the looper and only keep a set delay time for the whole set.

4. Universal Audio Del-Verb Ambience Companion Reverb and Delay Pedal

I listed this pedal once in the list of best pedals with a tone control for a good reason. It’s not only a great delay pedal, but the reverb is equally as good, if not better. It could very well replace two pedals in your pedalboard.

Del-Verb Ambience Companion

The spring reverb and the Tape echo effects perfectly replicate most ambient sounds in classic and modern records.

5. Walrus Audio Fable Granular Soundscape Generator Delay Pedal

The pedal that stands out the most from the design is, without a doubt, the Walrus Audio Fable. Besides the looks, it’s very versatile, as the many knobs indicate. It has five programs with treats for the reverse delay and pitch shift lovers.

Walrus Audio Fable Granular Soundscape Generator

Should You Go For A Buffer Delay Pedal or Not?

All the pros and cons of buffered pedals should be taken with a grain of salt. As I mentioned before, in most cases, you won’t feel the difference if your rig is simple, and it all changes depending on the cable length, chain placement, pickups, and power supply.

My biggest tip is to go for the pedal that sounds the best and does what you need it to do. A buffered pedal can’t help fix your tone; it can only amend for a few losses.