Not long ago you had to cough up the cabbage for a good analog delay, thanks to the scarcity of bucket-brigade chips. But now that the chips are back in production, we’ve been flooded—heh—with warm analog wetness. And man, the MF Delay is a stellar example. It’s a great-sounding delay with vibey tones and several remarkable features.
The MF Delay is analog in your face. The wet signal is dark, noisy, and distorted—exactly the qualities analog delay fiends crave. The initial echo is bright enough for snappy rockabilly tones when feedback is set near minimum. But as it cycles around, it quickly crumbles into darker, noisier territory. This is a feature, not a bug—it’s what makes the echoes sit so neatly behind the dry sound. You can slather on more effect hear than you could with a digital model.
With its four bucket-brigade chips, the $219 MF Delay provides 700ms of delay time—that’s long for an analog model, and nearly as much as the $700 Moogerfooger MF-104D.
I compared the MF Delay’s tone to my Moogerfooger MF-104SD, a limited-edition version from 2005. The 104SD has an even darker sound, and more delay time. On the less expensive MF Delay, the contrast is stronger between the initial cleaner delays and the increasingly distorted repeats. I actually prefer the tone of the newer model.
Naturally, the MF Delay omits some features found on the current Moogerfooger MF-104M delay. There’s no delay modulation. You can’t inject external sound sources into the delay line. There’s no tap tempo or master output level.
Yet enough advanced features remain to distinguish the $219 MF Delay from many rival analog delays. Again, there’s real-time control via expression pedal (not included), and here, you can assign it to one of two possible functions via an internal board-mounted toggle. With the switch set to control delay time, the pedal conjures eerie whoops and smears. Or flick the switch to “feedback” to provide tasteful dub-style touches—or self-oscillating mayhem. Also, you can dial in 100% wet sounds, which means that even though the MF Delay lacks the independent dry and wet output of the Moogerfooger delay, you can still kill the dry sound when inserting the pedal into an amp’s effect loop.
The coolest special feature may be the drive control. Much of the character of vintage echo units comes from the ability to shape tone by hitting the input at various levels—so much so that many guitarists are purchasing non-delay pedals specifically designed to imitate the distorted boost provided by tape-echo input sections. With its 22 dB of gain, the MF Delay actually gets significantly louder than the MF Boost, and the distorted sounds are smooth and attractive. (The drive control affects both the wet and dry signals.) I can totally imagine cranking the gain, dialing in a dry mix, and using this solely as a boost pedal. There are no tone controls, but the default color sounded cool with both humbuckers and single-coils.
Great-sounding delay. Great-sounding overdrive. Great real-time control via expression pedal (not included). Just plain great.