Learn how to play Ambient Guitar | Drone | Soundscapes

Stacking delays: dotted notes

In this tutorial I will show you some ideas how to settle two delay effects and what you can possibly get of it.

Gear used:

Delays stacking is a wide-spread technique when playing ambient guitar. Often the main goal of using delays is to create a broad rhythmic pattern that will let you effectively fill the musical space. One of the most common and interesting approaches is a combination of two delays where the second delay correlates to the first one as dotted note. Let’s say quarter note and quarter dotted note.

Normally you don’t have to play much with stacking delays, because only one note will create a cascade of repetitions with a complicated rhythmical structure. But it doesn’t mean you don’t have to!…

Of cause you can use other effects before or after the stacking delays in your chain. Just be sure not to over-saturate the sound with effects if you need a clean one.

Different kinds of arpeggios in two octaves go well, but there hardly will be any space left for anything else… 

Any combination of delays will sound good with a Volume Swell. Dotted stacking delays are no exception. The more sophisticated delays structure is the more even and filled up tone you will get.

Here is an example of an advanced technique when using two stereo delays panned like that:

  • Left channel: (1st delay) quarter note > (2nd delay) eighth dotted note
  • Right channel: (1st delay) eighth note > (2nd delay) quarter dotted note

Many guitar effect processors let you construct rather complicated signal chains using several delays in serial or even in parallel mode. Note that there are pedals on the market that have two (or even three) delays in one. If you are looking for a good pedal of this kind consider these as a starting point: Strymon DIG, T.C. Electronic Flashback Triple, Eventide TimeFactor, Earthquaker Devices Disaster Transport SR.

All the examples were played with delays set around 480ms or 125 bpm. You can search internet for “bpm to ms” to get notes duration in ms. For example, here



Initially this tutorial was planned to be an illustration of how I formed the rhythmic structure of the main part in my video Ambient Guitar: Stacking Delays (Strymon Timeline, Bigsky, Roland VG 99)


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