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Worship Structures & Melodies:
Triadic Improv

LATEST ARTICLE

Worship Guitar Chord Structures & Melodies Workshop

November 21st | 2014 by Bobby Kittleberger
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From the Blog

11.24.2014

Stringjoy Guitar Strings Review and Buying Guide

Stringjoy Guitar Strings Review and Buying Guide



Scott Marquart recently got in touch with me about the upstart guitar string company he founded called Stringjoy.

I've long been particularly interested music-related small businesses, so I'm excited to draw some attention to this Nashville-based company. Plus, it's always nice to see a review of a product or company that isn't stemming from a major retailer.

So what's so unique and interesting about Stringjoy other than the fact that they sell guitar strings?

Let's look at the highlights.

Good Stuff About Stringjoy

First, Stringjoy is not an offshoot of a larger corporation. They're an entirely autonomous organization without any ties to big retailers; not that there's anything wrong with big retailers, but it's nice to buy gear with a more local feel.

They're made up of guitar players and enthusiasts like me and you, Scott being one of them.

Stringjoy also sells their own brand of guitar strings, which are produced by a supplier who builds them by hand.

More specifically, their niche is custom strings, where they allow the consumer to choose a set based on a specific gauges for all six strings. While they certainly have competitors in this area, combining this customization with their own string brand makes them a fairly compelling option (more on the quality of these strings below).

Most major retailers (Ernie Ball, Elixir, etc) sell individual string packets, so Stringjoy is by no means alone in this market.

But where I think they could really have some appeal is with guitar players who want to try a different string that isn't tied to a major retailer.

And instead of buying packs of single strings (which are usually priced individually) you buy an entire set that can be customized upfront.

Gauge Customization

When you go to the Choose Your Strings page and select your guitar type (electric, acoustic, etc.) you'll be met with a page that allows you to choose each individual gauge.

Stringjoy Guitar Strings Review and Buying Guide
I went with a heavy bottom and light top, with 56 for the low E (the 6th string) and 10 for the high one. The complete set looked like this:
56 - 44 - 32 -18 - 14 - 10
Basically I told him to go with a bigger gauge for the bottom three and a lighter gauge for the top. I could have been even more specific and requested a unique number for all six.

The strings came in the mail within a couple days in a hand-addressed envelope.

Quality of the Strings

There was a part of me that thought this company's only claim to fame was offering a high level of customization for each string.

While that is a big part of their pitch, the hand-made strings themselves (customized or not) were impressively well-built.

I had originally asked for a coated string, since I'm pretty spoiled by Elixirs, but they don't offer them yet. So I was hopeful, but also skeptical as to whether or not they could live up to the same quality that I got from my $10 packs of Elixirs.

Stringjoy Guitar Strings Review and Buying Guide
In terms of construction they seemed to surpass most of the other strings I've used.

First, they didn't stretch at all while being wound or throughout the first few tunings. They also wound really "tight," which is hard to describe, but basically means they held the tuning peg in place really well.

The strings all just felt snug and sturdy from the beginning which isn't something I've ever really experienced with another set.

Tunings also held firmly right out of the gate, lasting several hours of playing on Sunday morning (two church services).

Having brand new strings hold a tuning that well isn't typical.

Sound Quality

Sound quality is yet another area where Stringjoy get high marks.

Not only did the strings resonate well and sound full, they didn't feel like an unbroken-in set of new strings. You know how a lot of news strings will just feel different and sound almost too bright? That wasn't a problem with this set.

They sounded perfect from the beginning.

There was no buzzing or "breaking-in period" needed. The strings bent well, had good sustain and played easy on the higher frets.

I have zero complaints when it comes to sound quality and would be willing to compare them with the quality I get from my 52-gauge Elixir sets.

Other Options

There are a couple things about Stringjoy that stand to improve, being exclusively related to their product selection.

Like I said, they don't offer a coated string. At this point I can't say whether the strings they sent me will last as long as Elixirs or other coated options, but since the strings are handmade and seem to be pretty tough, a coated option might not be necessary to compete.

Only time will tell.

Still, it's something you'd like to have available.

I also asked Scott about colored strings, which is something they don't offer yet either. Since they're a string company making customization a big part of their brand, it would have been nice to have a few more options that go beyond just the gauge.

But product selection is something that grows as a company does, so it should be noted that this is in no way a deal-breaker, considering what Stringjoy has already been able to do.

Pricing

Pricing is straightforward and pretty good considering the strings are made by hand.

Sets of six are $7 while seven-string options are $8. For 12-string acoustic and electric guitars, you'll pay $13 per pack. When you buy individual strings from say, Ernie Ball , you'll pay somewhere between $1.25 and $1.75 per string depending on the size.

Elixirs can cost upwards of $4 per string.

So Stringjoy is keeping costs low, especially when you consider that they aren't mass-producing their strings.

They even offer free shipping in the United States.

Overall

The only area I would dock points is product selection. Though again, it's a small complaint and more so an encouragement for future growth.

However, the customization of the product they already offer needs to take center stage.

While there are retailers that sell single strings, Stringjoy has a unique opportunity to tap into the world of custom guitar strings; something they've done well so far. Seeing more options and products would help set them apart from the larger companies.

The fact that they're not linked to a larger retailer helps too, giving them a solid foundation to build on for the future.

So you get the customization to go along with great-sounding, well-built strings that are priced a little below what you'll pay in most other places. This all makes Stringjoy's product competitive and worth your investigation.

Stringjoy Guitar Strings Review and Buying Guide
I added two categories here called "custom" and "options." Custom, short for customization, is to grade the customization you have over Stringjoy's current product.

Options is to grade their overall product availability and variety.

In the latter, they get points for offering seven-string packs, acoustic/electric strings and 12-string options. However I've docked a few points for a lack of coated and colored strings.

Personally, I'd recommend Stringjoy primarily on the raw quality of their product.

The gauge-by-gauge customization is just a bonus.

Your Turn

Do you have any experience with Stringjoy or other companies that offer custom-gauge strings? Do you use a custom set?

Find this review helpful (or not)?

Let us know over at Twitter and Facebook.


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About Robert Kittleberger

Robert is the founder and editor of Guitar Chalk and Guitar Bargain. You can get in
touch with him here, or via Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus.







11.21.2014

Worship Guitar Chord Structures and Melodies: Triadic Improvisation Workshop


Speaking to yourselves in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Ephesians 5:19

Christian worship is our context.

If that's not your thing, rest easy. You can still benefit from learning melody if you're any kind of musician. The context doesn't exclude those who aren't involved or interested in Christian worship.

But it does give us a type of music that has, in my opinion, been uniquely successful when it comes to creating and maintaining good melody, especially when it comes to how the electric guitar has been utilized within the genre.

So it's the backdrop of our canvas.

This article is ideal for guitar players who serve as worship leaders or musicians, though it's not irrelevant to other musical fields.

Much of this material I've referenced from this lead guitar workshop by Ben Gowell.

Developing Structures: Chord Shapes and Triads

Our goal is to learn musical structures, how melody fits into them and then how to develop our own melodies.

More specifically, we'll form melodies that are complimentary of vocal leads and music that's driven by a narrative in addition to a beat and bass line. We'll use the following approach: Instead of focusing on raw note-by-note progressions, we'll setup structures first in the form of triads and then build over top of those structures.

But what exactly is a triad?
A triad is any three notes that are played in unison as a chord.
These shapes are important because they allow us to pull melodies out of pre-defined chord structures saving us from inefficient movements or trying to guess at what will sound good.

Our shapes will come primarily from three different chords:

  1. D Major Form

  2. C Major Form

  3. Power Chord Form

You should have a passing familiarity with these concepts in order to make sense of what we'll be covering.

Let's look at our C form chords:

Now our D form:

The power chords we'll work with will include the following moveable shapes:

We'll derive our triads primarily from these six chord shapes

So let's go ahead and establish the actual triads we'll be using so that we have two layers of structure with which to build our cozy, melodic home.

You don't need to memorize the triads yet. Just be aware that we'll draw from these diagrams throughout the workshop.

Spend some time playing the chords and triads and getting familiar with them before moving on.

We won't necessarily use every single one, but the patterns are all worth getting familiar with.

Starting with Arpeggios

We'll use arpeggiated chord shapes throughout most of this workshop, so it makes sense to start by simply playing through one of our original chord shapes.

Our first exercise is to take the C major chord and pick through it, like this:

E|-----------------------
B|-----------1-----------
G|--------0-----0--------
D|-----2-----------2-----
A|--3-----------------3--
E|-----------------------


Now this isn't technically a triad.

Why?

As you probably noticed, there are only four notes. We need to remove one.

If you want to use the last note (at the first fret on the B string) you can, but go ahead and omit that one for now and play the following triadic arpeggio:

E|-----------------------------
B|-----------------------------
G|--------0--------0--------0--
D|-----2--------2--------2-----
A|--3--------3--------3--------
E|-----------------------------


So, when you're dealing with a worship song in the key of C (and there are many) how do we make this sound good?

Played through a clean amp signal, it's tough to hear or visualize how that could sound like much of anything, other than a raw C chord.

But let's work with it a bit.

The first thing you can do is transpose the pattern, but in this case we don't want to change keys. In Gowell's article, he mentions the importance of playing on the higher parts of the fretboard, so let's move our shape up an entire octave to get a different sound while maintaining our key.

E|--------------------------------------
B|--------------------------------------
G|----------12----------12----------12--
D|------14----------14----------14------
A|--15----------15----------15----------
E|--------------------------------------


The higher frets tend to do two things to your tone. First, the higher pitch is more clear and defined than the lower strings.

You might get a nicer "ringing" sound and resonance with the pick.

The second thing it can do is cut down on your sustain because the length between the fretted string and your picking hand is now considerably reduced.

That can be good for what we're going to do next.

Adding Effects

For this example we're going to use delay to begin decorating our melody.

We're not done with the actual melody yet (the notes are still going to change) but we want to start getting a feel for what the final product is going to sound like.

I'm going to use my Line 6 DL4 delay modeler to dial in a better sound.
Interested in purchasing a new delay pedal? You can checkout our review of the DL4 modeler for more information.
If you don't own a DL4, just do your best to dial in a delay effect with whatever pedal you have handy.
Now it should sound more full at this point, but it might also sound kind of straightforward and lifeless.

How do we fix that?

Adding a Dynamic Story

Triads in and of themselves do not make melody.

They're structures for melody, but playing straight through in a repetitive 1-2-3, 1-2-3 pattern isn't always going to work.

It can in some cases. But here, we need to add something more dynamic. We need a story line; something more substantive.

I have my own take on this (which we'll get to), but for now, just start by varying the picking pattern.

Try something like this:

E|------------------------------
B|--------------12----------12--
G|------------------------------
D|------14--------------14------
A|--15------15------15----------
E|------------------------------


We establish more of a root note presence and go between two major-third intervals before grabbing the G-note on the 12th fret.

It's simple, but it makes a big difference.

I'd like to build this out a little more. Since I've got everything I need here for a great melody, a little more creative experimenting yielded this:

E|------------------------------------------
B|------12------------------------------12--
G|------------------------------------------
D|--------------14------12--14------14------
A|--15------15------15----------15----------
E|------------------------------------------


So you can see the complexity starts to increase, but we're still using the same triad and the same three notes, with one added on the 12th fret at the fourth string.

The other notes, key and original chord shape, have all remained intact.

This pattern is more dynamic, interesting and collectively more creative than our original arpeggio.

The D Major Chord Shape and Our Second Arpeggio

Now that we understand the process and have a concrete example under our belts, we can delve into another arpeggio; this time, based on the D major chord shape.

First, the D major chord shape is heavily used in the realm of contemporary worship music.

It's so frequent that Jordan Taylor was able to have a little fun with it.



What you see in Taylor's video is actually quite true. And what I'm saying is that you should get away from boring and predictable patterns in favor of more dynamic and melodic lead sequences.
That way "the riff" will actually be worth listening to.

Starting Simple

Since it's the D major chord shape, I like to start with a basic D chord when teaching it. Here's our triadic pattern:

E|--------5--
B|-----3-----
G|--2--------
D|-----------
A|-----------
E|-----------


Now remember what we said about our triadic shape? It's a structure and not necessarily a note-for-note blueprint.

With this particular triad we can easily add notes that will work well with the root (in this case D) and allow us to create a more interesting and dynamic melody. Think of it as adding more chapters to the story.

Here's what the diagram would look like. It basically becomes a free-form scale.

I've highlighted the original shape with hollow circles and a connecting dotted line. The notes around it can serve as extra tools to use as we craft our melody.

Take the note on the second string at the fifth fret for example.

We can add it to an arpeggiated pattern and begin to draw out our original tab.

E|-----------5--------------
B|-----3-----------5-----3--
G|--2-----2-----2-----2-----
D|--------------------------
A|--------------------------
E|--------------------------


Let's take it a step further by adding a couple more notes.

E|-----------2-----3-----------5--
B|-----3-----------------5--------
G|--2-----2-----2-----2-----2-----
D|--------------------------------
A|--------------------------------
E|--------------------------------


Emulating Chord Changes

You might notice that we haven't actually played the root D note (which in this case would be the open fourth string).

That's on purpose, since our goal is to create melody and not to lay down a thick rhythm line.

But what if we wanted to track with the chord changes a little bit?

In this particular shape, you can do that by treating the notes on the third string as your root note, and moving them in a tetrachord pattern.

What is a tetrachord, you might ask?

It's basically two whole steps and a half step, making it a building block of the major scale.

In this case, we'll simply reverse it, going one half step and two whole steps, giving us the following pattern:

E|--------------
B|--------------
G|--1--2--4--6--
D|--------------
A|--------------
E|--------------


Try playing through this next tab and pay close attention to how the notes on the third string sound.

E|--------------------------
B|-----5-----5-----5-----5--
G|--1-----2-----4-----6-----
D|--------------------------
A|--------------------------
E|--------------------------


Now, if you combine this pattern with what we came up with earlier, you have a lot of different notes and options to work with.

So instead of just playing the second fret on the third string the entire time, you can change it up and move along with the chord change or bass line of whatever you're playing.

Once you get familiar with the sounds, you can mix things up on the top three strings, (G, B and high E) in order to come up with your own structured melodies.

Contextual Example

So how does this actually work?

How do we apply it in the real world?

I think the best way to illustrate this concept is to come up with a melody and add it to a song that we can easily become (or already are) familiar with.

Phil Wickham's Singalong albums are great for this sort of thing, because it's just Phil and his acoustic guitar.

The song we'll work with is off Singalong 2 and is a short rendition of "Spring Up Oh Well".

Here's the track for you to play along with:



Our goal is to come up with a melody to compliment Phil's vocal line and the chord progression he's playing on his acoustic guitar.

Ideally, this should be purely driven by your own creativity at this point.

You've got all the music theory and structures in place, so there's nothing left but to use those tools in order to add something to the song.

If you feel stuck, I'll go ahead and give a few examples.

First, let's go over the chord progression:

        I've got a river of life, flowing out of me.
E|-------------------------------
B|--3--------------------3----3--
G|--2--------------------0----2--
D|--0--------------------x----0--
A|-----------------------x-------
E|-----------------------3-------


        Makes the lame to walk and the blind to see.
E|-------------------------------
B|--3--------------------3----3--
G|--2--------------------0----0--
D|--0--------------------x----x--
A|-----------------------x----x--
E|-----------------------3----3--


       Opens prison doors, sets the captives free.
E|-------------------------------
B|--3--------------------3----3--
G|--0--------------------0----0--
D|--2--------------------x----x--
A|--2--------------------3----x--
E|--0-------------------------3--


       I've got a river of life, flowin' out of me.
E|-----------------------------
B|--3----------3-------3----3--
G|--0----------0-------2----0--
D|--2----------x-------0----x--
A|--2----------3------------x--
E|--0-----------------------3--


So our chord progression looks like this: D-G-D, D-G, E-C-G and Em-C-D-G.

Our song is thereby in the key of D.

That means a good place to start would be here:

E|-----
B|-----
G|-----
D|-----
A|--5--
E|-----


If you know the notes on the fretboard, you can target your root note and then setup the triad from there.

We'll set our triad at the seventh fret on the third string, based on the root D at the fifth fret.

I've added one more note that I want to use. The following pattern I thought sounded good with the track.

E|---------------
B|-----7-----10--
G|--7-----7------
D|---------------
A|---------------
E|---------------


Here's one way you could expand on the pattern:

E|-----------10------------
B|-----8---------8-----10--
G|--7-----7---------7------
D|-------------------------
A|-------------------------
E|-------------------------


Remember to add your effects and apply what we learned earlier about dynamics. At this point, it's up to you to find out what works and what doesn't.

Here's a full set of notes, including an embedded tetrachord that gives you a grid to work from.

Breaking in More Triads

Now that we've been through the process we can work on developing some familiarity with a few other triads.

If we go back to the triadic shapes we started with, there are two particularly familiar patterns I'd like to cover in more detail.

For now, don't worry about which key we're in. Just get used to the shapes.

You might notice that the second shape can be easily turned into the D major shape we've already covered.

We can expand this pattern on the fourth and third string (D and G) to give us what begins to look more like a regular scale.

You can think of this as a scale and it's also wise to memorize it as one. Just run through the pattern like you would any other scale shape.

Here's your tab:

E|-----------------------3--5--6--
B|--------------3--4--6-----------
G|--------3--5--------------------
D|--3--5--------------------------
A|--------------------------------
E|--------------------------------


Once you get that many notes together and you can make sense of them, your musical options really start to open up.

With just this pattern you can play almost any melody (in a major key) you can think of without even moving away from the third fret (or whatever fret you start the pattern on). I'll give you two of my own examples, but I'd encourage you to use the skills you've learned and come up with some tabs of your own.

E|--------------------
B|-----6--4-----3-----
G|-----------5-----3--
D|--3-----------------
A|--------------------
E|--------------------


E|-----------3-----------------
B|--------6-----4-----3--------
G|-----5-----------5-----3-----
D|--3-----------------------3--
A|-----------------------------
E|-----------------------------


Now let's do something with the second pattern I highlighted, which is basically an F chord moved up to the third and fifth fret.

We can quickly access the notes highlighted (in hollow circles) on the fifth and sixth fret to expand this triad.

Try the following tab:

E|--------------------------------------
B|-----3-----5-----------6--5--3--------
G|--------4-----5--4--------------4-----
D|--5-----------------5--------------5--
A|--------------------------------------
E|--------------------------------------


Got any of your own variations? You've got the structure.

The rest is up to you.

How it Works in Worship

I want to setup the process for how we get to our end product in a worship service. If you're a lead guitarist, how does this actually work?

First, I want to lay some basic musical structures and then talk about melody and how it relates to the God of the Bible and our modern worship services.

First, the musical structures.

The Structure Behind Melody

We've already mentioned playing in key and playing something over a given chord progression.

For most of us, that process is going to be instinctual as we'll come up with lead patterns and melodies that sound good, simply by using our ear.

But it's helpful to understand what's actually happening, in addition to being a good ear player.

The two disciplines should coexist.

So if you want to understand how to get from silence to a melodic lead guitar pattern, here's how the process goes:

  1. A Song's Key: Usually the first chord of a song will give away the key of the song itself.

  2. Bass Line: The bass line will be made of notes that correspond to the key. For example, if the song is in the key of E major, there's a predefined set of chords and "common" chord progressions. .

  3. Chord Progression: Usually chosen before one would identify the key of a song, a chord progression is technically derived from the key it is played in. It serves as the backdrop and canvas on which a melody is painted.

  4. Melodies: Often made up of single notes, either from human vocals, piano or guitar, these notes make a melodic, musical line that are laid over top of the chord progression. This helps to distinguish it from other songs that share the same progression, as many of them do.

This is the track that you travel (whether you realize it or not) when you create melody. It makes your music unique and identifiable.

Because a beat, bass line and even a chord progression by itself doesn't make a song unique.

It might make a good backing track, but there are often songs that share one or more of these qualities. So while you don't need to think about process every time you play a lead pattern, it's helpful to know and study initially so that you understand the ground on which you're standing.

But why is melody so important when it comes to worship in the Christian church?

Why Melody is Important in the Church's Music

I believe there are a few specific reasons Christians should aspire to be more melodic guitar players and musicians.

1. Melody is the primary carrier of creativity and variety.

The work of God's Spirit is evidenced by originality and uniqueness within a given structure.
And he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs. (Exodus 35: 31-32)
While the musical realm is highly structured it also gives us room for an incredible amount of artistic expression and movement.

For as much as artistic culture claims to esteem creativity and self-expression, their music is often extremely repetitive, predictable and without any real variety, even down to lyrical choices.

Worship of God must be different.

As a guitar player you have unique opportunity to make it different by developing original melodies.
Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men. (Proverbs 22:29)

2. Melody expresses and/or compliments words.

The scriptures instruct us to sing to the Lord a new song, which again would lead us to believe that originality is of some value.

But additionally we see the importance of singing and using words to offer worship.

We can even see a correlation between melody and our vocal praise. In Isaiah 23, making a "sweet melody" is followed by instruction to "sing many songs." In Isaiah 51 we read about "the voice of melody."

The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesians is even more explicit.
Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; (Ephesians 5:19)
So if we can use our guitars to develop, anchor and compliment the vocal aspects of our music, we doing something more than just "adding flavor."

We're actually engaging in a firmly scriptural and beautiful aspect of musical worship.

3. It's the most effective musical tool for retelling history and God's redemptive story.

Once again, I'm going back to Phil Wickham for my example. The dude is just an excellent musician and songwriter.

If you listen to "Mercy" off of The Ascension Wickham tells the story of redemption almost entirely with the melody of his own vocal cords.



The rhythm and chord progression are both exceedingly simple.

And that's not to say that rhythm and chord progressions aren't valuable, but they can't tell stories or illustrate ideas on their own. Melody is what we use in music to retell God's story of redemption and to look forward to what he's going to do in the future.
“May the church not be formed by the world in which it lives, but by the narrative to which it belongs, the story of God.” - Robert Webber, author of Ancient-Future Worship

Learn Melody and Learn to Tell the Redemptive Story

Modern music is easily replicated and imitated.

As Christians, the music we use to glorify God should be expressly different than that. It should actually be much more difficult. Not necessarily in terms of technical prowess, but in that we need to carefully craft our music to tell God's redemptive story.

In other words, our music (just like our preaching, community, study, etc.) should be Gospel-centered.

The best way to do that is to learn melody and be able to use it as a way to compliment or illustrate the Gospel narrative.

Your thoughts?

If you'd like to comment but don't see a comments section (that's on purpose by the way) you can catch up with us on our Facebook page or via Twitter and Google Plus.

For contact info check out the bottom of our about page.

Flickr Commons Image Courtesy of jareed


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About Robert Kittleberger

Robert is the founder and editor of Guitar Chalk and Guitar Bargain. You can get in
touch with him here, or via Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus.







11.17.2014

Line 6 DL4 Review and Buying Guide: Delay Modeler and Effects Pedal

Line 6 DL4 Delay Modeler Review and Buying Guide















I've wanted the Line 6 DL4 for a long time and a couple weeks ago I finally bought one.

But I'm an admitted delay junkie. I just absolutely love what it brings to both an electric and acoustic guitar rig. So my impressions and thoughts about it might be a little biased, but I can tell you up front that this is one of the best delay pedals in its price range.

I could've told you that even before I bought it.

Widely used by pros and amateurs alike, this green box is capable of modeling just about any delay sound you can think of.

We'll cover the broad capabilities, sound quality and a few of the specifics in this review of the Line 6 DL4.

Overall Sound Quality

There are so many different delay sounds available in this box that it's difficult to assess each one on its own. However, the quality of each effect is incredibly good, as they don't feel cheap or "thrown together."

In other words, it doesn't feel like a low-end multi-effects pedal.

Here's a shot of all the delay sounds available:

Line 6 DL4 Delay Modeler Review and Buying Guide
Two of my favorite modes are the Rhythmic Delay and Auto-Volume Echo. The volume echo simply does an automatic volume swell whenever you pick a note, and allows you to set the amount of time that it takes.

The Rhythmic Delay is designed to work with strumming or repetitive patterns, but I find it to be one of the better-sounding modes for lead guitar riffs as well.

All the sounds are full, with good definition that doesn't compromise the tonal integrity of your amp.

A Quick Overview of Functionality

Tap Tempo and Time

Tempo can be controlled via a Tap button that's the right-most button on the pedal.

This essentially allows you to control delay time, with a tempo response that's completely accurate.

The speed will be half of the tempo with which you tap the button.

In other words, if you hit the button twice, two seconds apart, the delay tempo will repeat every second. If you hit the button every second the delay will repeat every half second, and so on.

Delay Time and Repeat Knobs

Delay time changes the length of time between each delay, which is similar to the tempo, though you've got to do it by hand. The Repeats knob does exactly what you would guess, changing how many times a single frequency will repeat after it has been engaged.

Turning the knob clockwise will increase the number of repeats, while counterclockwise will decrease it until it is not repeating at all.

Looping Feature

The pedal also comes equipped with looping and playback capability. Though it's not immediately clear how to use it, the learning curve isn't terribly steep.

This is an excellent demo video from Reverb.com that showcases some of the pedal's sounds and abilities:



For having so many sounds crammed into one box, the quality of the effects is certainly above reproach. This is just something that Line 6 tends to do really well, both with their amps and other pedals, and the DL4 is no exception.

Overview of the Modes

Many of the other modes are modeled after popular delay models, both digital and analog. Here's a quick list of all the sounds available to you:

  • Tube Echo: based on Maestro EP-1

  • Tape Echo: based on Maestro EP-3

  • Multi-Head: based on Roland RE-101 Space Echo

  • Sweep Echo

  • Analog Echo: based on the Boss DM-2

  • Analog Echo with Mod: based on Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man

  • Lo Res Delay

  • Digital Delay

  • Digital Delay with Mod

  • Rhythmic Delay

  • Stereo Delays

  • Ping Pong

  • Reverse

  • Dynamic Delay: based on T.C. Electronic 2290

  • Auto-Volume Echo

A short, and handy description of each effect can be found in the user's manual.

Controls

Line 6 DL4 Delay Modeler Review and Buying Guide
Here's a review of the five controls straight from the DL4 Pilot's Handbook. Keep in mind first that depending on the mode, these knobs will do different things; though this can be thought of as a general overview of each one's functions.

Line 6 DL4 Delay Modeler Review and Buying Guide








Delay Time

This knob changes the length of time between each delay, effectually speeding it up or slowing it down. It can also be thought of as changing the tempo.

Repeats

The repeats knob does what you would expect and changes the number of times that a delay repeats or echos.

Tweak

This control is unique to certain delay models, which are addressed in the description of those models in the manual.

Tweez

The same goes here as this function is only utilized by certain modes.

Mix

This knob sets the mix between the dry (direct and unprocessed) signal and the process signal. So essentially it's changing the level of the effect's influence on your original tone. You can turn the knob counterclockwise for a more dry and unimpeded signal.

Retail Pricing and Value

Retail cost for the DL4 is $250, which is a bit high, but not unreasonable if you consider how many sounds you're getting in one box.

It's also quite common for used versions to dip below $200.

So if you get this delay for $190, and most single delay pedals like the Boss DD-7 cost over $100, you're getting a lot of value since the DL4 gives you such a high degree of customization. As someone who uses a lot of delay, I find it to be pretty ideal.

If you don't need or want all those sounds, you might be better off to go with a smaller, less loaded box.

So in light of the value you're getting, it's hard to complain about the price tag.

Final Grades

There's little not to like as the DL4 takes strong marks for sound quality, price and reputation, as it makes frequent appearances on professional rigs.

Shinedown's Zach Myers, Ace Frehley, Phil Wickham and Sarah Lipstate are just a few of many who've made the DL4 a regular guest of their pedalboard.

If you want some more concrete and down-to-earth endoresments, some of the Amazon reviewers provide helpful information.

I would speculate that most negativity about this pedal would have to be a matter of preference. One could make the case that since it has been out so long (since the late '90s) it should be dropping in price. But that's a small complaint for a stomp box that I personally think is well-worth $250.

Make sure it's not more than what you need, but if you're confident that scope is not a problem and you're not overbuying, it should be pretty ideal for you.

Line 6 DL4 Delay Modeler Review and Buying Guide

Your Experience

Do you own the DL4 or a similar delay pedal? What has your experience been?

Are there other delays you prefer?

Let us know over on Twitter and Facebook.

Or perhaps you've got a product you'd like me to review. Get in touch via our about page or email me and we'll talk.

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About Robert Kittleberger

Robert is the founder and editor of Guitar Chalk and Guitar Bargain. You can get in
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