Arion SAD-1 and the Untold Magic of Delay Pedals
There is a youtube clip that features Kevin from the KROQ Kevin and Bean Show doing something stupid (ya know). And in the middle of that clip, as he is walking down a hallway, he says simply, “I love fire, Ralph.”
Well, I love delay. (Hmmm….that lead-in didn’t quite work, huh. Oh well. I’m keeping it.) I love delay so much. I think, if I had to, I would sell my amps and guitars before my delay pedals. Then I would just sit my lone pedalboard of delay pedals on stage, close my eyes, and listen to the sweet, lush tone that would be coming out of them if only I had a guitar and an amp. Mmmm……delay.
So, needless to say, I have a few delay pedals. And I’ve bought and sold quite a few more (from what I can remember, I’ve owned 23 delays over the years…..which isn’t much compared to some people, amazingly enough). It pains me to sell them, but I have to let my rig pay for my rig, if you know what I mean. If a certain pedal isn’t doing it for me, I can’t afford to keep it in my closet (or with delays, an airtight display case with loud alarms); I have to sell them to buy new ones. I hate that I have to do that. It’s like selling off your children in order to buy………more children, I guess. Better children!
But amongst all the children (just a warning: from here on out I might refer to all my delay pedals as children) that I have bought and sold, one has been on my board for three years and I just can never seem to sell it. It’s my trusty Arion SAD-1.
(Note: it is almost impossible to find one in this good of condition. My current one is way more beat up than this one. I sold this one because, well, if you own an Arion pedal, it kind of has to be beat up to keep its mojo, you know? This one was way too clean for me.)
Every time I try to sell my current SAD-1, it puts up a protest by making some sound that none of my huge, expensive boutique delays can make. It’s a simple, 3 knob, 300 millisecond analog delay from the ’80′s. The upsides:
–Incredibly clear original dry signal.
–Incredibly clear delays…most delays of this nature sound warm by dirtying the repeats. But with this pedal, it seems to actually maintain their clarity and smear the delays depending on the dynamics of your playing.
–In this way, I can actually use it as a washy, watery chorus sound at the end of other effects.
–With the mix down and repeats up, it can also give a wonderful reverb in the back of your playing.
–Doesn’t color your tone.
–Great slapback delay.
–Great reverb delay.
–Great solo delay.
–Great ambient delay.
–Great ‘little something extra’ delay.
–Arion built these with leftover playskool plastic. One time a strong wind blew during an outside gig, and the pedal almost disintegrated. I keep mine in a bypass loop so I never have to step on it.
–If you don’t use a true bypass loop, it will suck tone when disengaged.
So, overall, if you’re careful with it, an incredible pedal. Obviously, it’s limited with its short delay time and no tap tempo, but that is the nature of this type of delay. It’s an ambient effect on purpose. And they are relatively cheap if you look in the right places. I have owned three over the years:
The first: found it in the back of the used case at Guitar Center in Ontario. 40 bucks. Killer deal. The sales kid said he wasn’t sure the overdrive sounds worked in it. I plugged it in, and he was like, ‘Oh, it’s like a phaser or something!’ Good times. I bought it for 40.
The second: the one currently on my board. No battery cover, the battery wires are taped up instead of soldered, unmatching replacement knobs, and the 9 volt adapter jack does not work. Looks bad. But it sounds fantastic. I got this one in Hollywood’s Guitar Ghetto, in the now defunct Future Music (RIP). Awesome store for rare vintage stuff. I miss them. Got it for 60.
The third: a grey box version in (incredibly) great condition. It’s the one pictured above. Bought it on e-bay for $100, and sold it for $110 on said e-bay. Put the $10 towards renting Tombstone, I think, and towards replacing that delay with a T-Rex Replica delay (or, child). Ya, the $10 didn’t go too far.
So, if you’re looking for an inexpensive analog delay for ambient sounds, slapback, reverb, solos, or even chorusy stuff, keep your eyes open for one of these. If you look hard, you can get them for fairly cheap. Add it to your children collection.