Do It Yourself

Bucket Brigade Devices Explained

  • By Andy Martin @tonereport
  • December 18, 2013

Modern Analog/Digital Devices

Since BBD chips are harder to come by these days, you’ll find vintage analog delay prices soaring. However, reproduction of certain BBD chips, like the MN3207 give builders a shot at creating new analog delays with modern conveniences like tap tempo, along with tone shaping and noise level improvements. You might have seen the Duncan Déjà Vu delay demo that uses both BBD and digital circuits so you can choose either or a mix of both. If that doesn’t satisfy, there are plenty of digital delays, including the DD-7 you heard that will emulate the decay of analog repeats. One of my favorites in this category is the Mad Professor Deep Blue Delay. It has very low hiss in the repeats but retains the darker and dirtier nature of analog replication. Plus, these analog-like digital delays will run away or self oscillate, probably the greatest charm of analog in my opinion. This phenomenon creates time warp/spaceship sounds with the regeneration maxed while tweaking the delay time knob. I always make it a point to show off this quality in a demo because it’s not only fun but one of the top questions we get regarding delay pedals. A cool technique of dialing in the repeat level just on the edge of oscillation also makes for a dynamic sound that strays into surreal textural tones while staying in your control.

Of course, if none of these sounds are what you’re going for, there’s no reason to look for a BBD delay. It’s just one specific type of delay in a world of many. Do remember that the “best” delay is subjective and you should try to match your gear to your musical taste. For instance, I would think a rockabilly guitarist looking for a slapback echo isn’t going to worry about self oscillation, reverse delay or even tap tempo. So, good luck on the search and I hope that some light was shed on the great “analog vs. digital” debate.

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