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The Best Delay Pedals with a BPM Display (2023)

Delay can be the ultimate guitar tone shaper or the one faulty point in your entire rig – the difference lies only in how much of it you use and, most importantly, the delay time. Delay pedals with a BPM are your savior in getting the most out of the effect and getting out of trouble in live situations.

If set with the right timing, a delay pedal can help can emulate an ensemble of guitars, play heavenly-sounding leads, and fill up the entire sonic space; if wrong, it can throw off the entire band – this is why a delay pedal with a BPM display is so important.

Our Top Picks

Having tried dozens of delay pedals with displays in the studio and live, I prepared this list of my favorite delays with a BPM display.

Why Choose a Delay Pedal with BPM Display?

Delay is a make-or-break effect without which, neither David Gilmour’s solos would have the same epic effect nor U2’s ‘The Edge’ would ever make a name for himself. Beyond the obvious of not messing up the delay time when playing ping-pongy parts, having a display is very useful for the following.

  • You can blend in the correct delay time much more quickly and accurately
  • You can do ‘weird’ fx on stage and in the studio by playing with the knobs and then get back quickly in sync with the band
  • When stage monitoring is poor, visual signals are all you have left
  • Helpful in recording to sync other instruments’ FX to the exact BPM
  • Easier to communicate with other musicians in the studio or live 

Make sure to distinguish BPM from milliseconds (ms), they are different but are interchangeable, and most pedals show both, but not at the same time in most cases.

You can reference this chart, and if you’re really old-school, memorize the formula ‘60,000 (ms) ÷ BPM = duration of a quarter (¼) note.’ 

My Favorite Delay Pedals with a BPM Display

1. Boss DD-500 Digital Delay

The Boss DD-500 is one of the most refined all-in-one solutions with twelve delay modes and patch memories to store settings and loops. The display doesn’t only serve to show the tempo but helps you quickly go through different banks, effects, and settings.

Boss DD-500 Digital Delay

And, as you might know, Boss pedals are practically indestructible and can handle even more beating than the mighty SM-57! 

The downside to the pedals is that it’s relatively expensive and might not be fit for a gigging player who only wants a simple digital delay and is neither good-sounding enough to play a stadium nor record a hit record with.

2. Strymon TimeLine Multidimensional Delay

This pedal is almost on pair with the BOSS, but I find it superior sound-wise in some of its settings. In other words, it feels closer to that ‘vintage’ tone guitarists seek and doesn’t sound small but wide in its stereo image and deep.

Strymon TimeLine Multidimensional Delay Pedal

If you put it head to head with the BOSS, I’d say go for the BOSS if you’re only looking for a more straightforward pedal for live shows – the tone difference I am referring to is most palpable when you are recording or playing big shows where it’s crucial to be on top of your gear game. 

The only downside to this quality is the price.

3. TC Electronic ND-1 Nova Delay

The ND-1 Nova from TC Electronics is slightly over a decade old and not as impressive as the previous two with specs or tone – but it is more affordable and still of excellent quality.

I suggest this pedal to anyone who doesn’t need the looper or the multiple modes/preset. It’s perfect If you only want to add some separation to your guitars and are not picky about getting the next best pedal.

What I like the most is the ‘color’ knob that allows you to go from an analog-like warm delay to a digital one.

4. Providence DLY-4 Chrono Delay

A great pedal to use for your gigging pedal board is the Providence DLY-4 Chrono Delay. It’s a very simple-looking and easy-to-operate piece of gear with just the knobs you need to get a great tone and a very handy BPM to millisecond switch.

Providence Chrono Delay / Digital Delay Effects Pedal

The beat split knob with the various displayed on the side gives me a music school vibe, but it’s very helpful when you just want a timed delay and not too many options to get lost with.

5. Disaster Area micro.clock

The last one on the list is not a delay pedal itself but a solution to fix all your problems if you own a pedal without a display you want to keep but make it easier to use. Also, adding this to the rig could be more affordable than purchasing one of the other options.

Disaster Area micro.CLOCK Tap Tempo Controller

You can connect it to any remote tap tempo input jack, use it to show the delay, and tap it as a fixed expression pedal. It’s compatible with multiple pedals, some of which are on this list.

Do You Really Need a BPM Display?

Trusting your ears is a very overused quote in the gear world, but still rarely applied. While I do use a BPM or MS display as I’m required by studio work to deliver tones quickly – in ‘real’ life playing or jamming, I go by ear.

Most of the time, if I’m not basing my playing around the delay effect, I like to use some set times for my solos throughout a show; the same thing for rhythms or atmospheric cleans. 

Even in the studio, it’s great for the guitar not to be 100% in sync with the click, as it creates more separation if used sparingly. 

Prioritize the tone and simplicity of use before all, and if you come up with an excellent deal on a pedal without a BPM display but with all the rest – go for it!