Written by Guitar Chalk Editorial
Updated by Bobby
Recently updated on August 21, 2020
Added new photos and checked product links for accuracy. No pedal recommendations were added or removed.
REASONS TO TAKE OUR WORD FOR IT? All our pedal recommendations are based on the opinions and experiences of real guitar players who have spent time using the pedal's listed here.
Our Top 4 Picks
We've narrowed down our recommendation to four delay pedals, all of which have a reverse mode or algorithm.
While there are others that have a similar reverse mode, we've had direct experience with these four and can recommend them from personal experience. Note that all four of these pedals are digital delays without any analog components.
Line 6 DL4
Digital Delay Modeler
One of the most versatile and feature-rich digital delay pedals on the market.
The tap tempo and 11 delay modes quickly make the DL4 ideal for studio work, live performing and almost any skill level.
The reverse mode is a digitally modeled algorithm that can be tweaked to where you only hear the reversed playback in the mix.
Pros of the DL4
Cons of the DL4
Digital Delay Pedal
The DD-8 has several delay modes, including reverse, and actually supports a tap tempo function as well.
For the amount of tools it provides, the price is extremely reasonable.
The usability isn't quite as good as the DL4 since the tap tempo is harder to use and there are no preset switches. Though it is a lot cheaper at only $160 retail.
Pros of the DD-8
Cons of the DD-8
EarthQuaker Devices Avalanche Run
True Bypass Digital Delay Pedal
The Avalanche Run delay has some boutique appeal with a true bypass circuit and a ratio selector for choosing delay subdivisions.
In terms of tone quality, it's closer to an analog mimic than most other DSPs.
The tap tempo switch also gives it a leg up in functionality over the DD-8. You'll also find that this is one of the more "tweak-friendly" delay pedals in this list, perhaps even more so than the DL4. If they could add a few storable presets, they'd be a lot closer to justifying the $300 price tag.
Pros of the Avalanche Run
Cons of the Avalanche Run
TC Electronic ND-1
Digital Nova Delay
In terms of tone manipulation and versatility, the ND-1 is one of the most tinker-friendly and dynamic digital delay pedals available.
We don't like the tone quite as much as the others on this list, but it's definitely the most customizable of the four pedals, with presets and tap tempo built into the bypass switches and interface.
I'd recommend buying if sound flexibility is your top priority.
Pros of the ND-1
Cons of the ND-1
The Process Used for Including Each Delay Pedal
What determines how these delay pedals were included in our roundup list?
Obviously, the delay pedal had to have a reverse mode, which basically takes a sample of your tone and - predictably - plays it backwards. All of the pedals included have this mode as a built in algorithm with at least basic controls enabled, allowing you to mix only the reversed sound if that's all you want to hear.
Here's how it sounds on the TC Electronic Flashback delay - another good option, though one we haven't had the chance to test:
What does reverse delay sound like?
We also based our inclusions off a number of reliability factors including first-hand experience with the delay pedals in question, consumer feedback/reviews, scope of models considered, and overall product value.
Of the four pedals recommended, we're most familiar with the DL4.
For a more broad list of options, checkout our parent guitar pedal buying guide.
Other Delay Pedal Features to Consider
What about other delay pedal features?
Which ones matter, aside from getting the reverse mode? There are few different things we would recommend considering as you shop.
1. Other Delay Modes
Most delay pedals that have a reverse mode will have additional modes like rhythmic delay, slapback, tape echo, and perhaps more.
The more modes you have, the more versatile your delay pedal is going to be.
So even if the reverse sound is your primary concern, make sure you check on other modes afforded to you for each pedal you're considering.
2. Tap Tempo
Not all pedals have a tap tempo control, yet it's one of the most important features to consider when buying one.
Tap tempo controls, usually in the form of a button, let you control the timing or "pulse" of your delay, allowing you to dial in with whatever song you're playing as you play it.
Some delay pedals are even divided into time divisions, allowing you to select a division and then fine-tune it with your tap tempo.
If the delay pedal has a MIDI connection, we'd consider that a bonus, because it'll give you a lot of extra control and tweaking capabilities.
3. Analog or digital?
Both analog and digital delay pedals can sound great, though some guitar players prefer analog circuits just because they're viewed as more "pure" and do tend to sound better. If a delay pedal doesn't specify whether it's analog or digital in the marketing copy, that usually means it's going to be digital or at least partly controlled by a digital signal processor.
This isn't necessarily bad, but we'd rather have an analog circuit (often wired by hand) than a cheaper, factory-produced delay algorithm.
While digital delay pedals tend to have more control and are more likely to provide the tap tempo, analog delay pedals often sound better and win the tone battle.
Tips for Using the Reverse Mode
How might you use reverse mode in a delay pedal context? Here are a few best practices to consider.
Tweak the Mix (wet/dry) Balance
You should be able to set the reverse sound to apply to the original (dry) signal, which means you'll only hear a reverse version of what you play. The alternative is to hear the original signal and then hear the reversed version after as an echo. This can likely be changed by the Mix knob or whatever controls the wet/dry balance.
A lot of delay modes, including reverse, will sound really good with some reverb added. You can usually get this from a reverb pedal, or your amplifier. Some delay pedals even have a reverb effect included, since the two sounds are such a popular combination.
A reversed delay requires some strategy and temperance when deciding where and when to use it. Even more ethereally-minded guitar players like Mike Einzinger (Incubus) only use it sparingly, when it makes sense. A well placed reverse delay can be a pleasing add-on to a song, or an over-saturated, chaotic mess.
Conclusion and Questions
A lot of pedals have a reverse mode, but we've made these recommendations based on actual experience and use of each pedal.
Not only do they have the mode we want, but they're also really solid options overall, with more to offer than just the aforementioned feature. In other words, we're not calling them the best options, simply because they have a reverse mode. They have a lot more to offer as well.
Also note that all the delay pedals in this list have a tap tempo (even the DD-7 via expression).
If you have questions about the delay pedals recommended here, or others we didn't mention, feel free to leave those in the comments section below.