Well my Timeline is officially back, which means the world is welcome to start turning again. And with the official announcement of the new Timeline coming out, I figured it might be worth it to see how much better the Timeline really sounds than my current standby…the DD20.

The DD20 is probably the least cool delay pedal you can own. It says ‘Boss’ on it, which as anyone who’s anyone knows, means it can’t possibly sound good; it has no handpainted letters or cartoon characters making guitar puns out of regular words like ‘Echolution’, anywhere to be seen on it; it’s called the ‘Giga Delay’; it’s sold at Guitar Center; it’s still in production; you don’t know the builder’s first name and hence can’t say ‘Sven’s DD20′; and most importantly…and I mean most importantly…everyone has one. And the amount of tone decreases exponentially with each person that owns a version of any one guitar pedal.

And yet…it sounds…well, good. Really good. It has a ton of features, 5 presets, a bpm readout, and can be powered off of a PP2+. How many times have you seen someone on Gear Page (myself included…hehe) start a thread asking for all the delays with those exact features but ‘not the DD20!’ We guitarists are awesome. The main thing about this pedal is that it is currently one of only two multiple preset delay pedals on the market that does not digitize the dry signal. The other one? The Damage Control Timeline. The new Timeline will be the third, but it’s not out yet. The T-Rex Replica and the TC Vintage Delay don’t, but they don’t have presets. The Strymon Brigadier and El Capistan don’t, but they are only capable of 2 presets. The rest of them either do convert it to digital, or are still shrouded in mystery. (Which means they probably do.) So I figured we’d have a clash of the analog dry signal preset titans. Although, they are delay pedals, so the clash will be taking place on top a billowy cloud of ambience.

Clean Tone

Godin SD fat strat (humbucker, neck, and neck-middle used)–>

Fryette Valvulator–>
Hartman Vintage Germanium Fuzz (used)–>
Loop-Master–>
Loop-Master–>
(Loop 6–>DD20 or Timeline
(Loop 8–>DD20 or Timeline
Barge Concepts looper–>

Matchless HC30 (EF86 channel used)–>
65 Amps birch cab (Celestion Blue mic’d)

And these delays sounded so close at times that I went ahead and mic’d up my cab and recorded it ‘the right way’. ;)

Shootout

Well…regardless of what I said in the video (and what I wore…sorry, it was hipster day…I also rode my bicycle down the middle of the street, drank tea with a name I didn’t understand but pretended I did, and wrote a song on the ukelele)…after listening back to it, the Timeline wins on the vast majority of settings. It is pretty spectacular. I think the DD20 holds its own, especially on its analog and tape settings, but there is a ‘spread’ to the Timeline that really seems to fill the room. And that multitap setting low in the mix…yikes. Amazing. I’ve tried so many delay pedals, and none of them have a spaciousness like that. Timefactor, SuperDelay, Hazarai, TC…can’t find it. Well, at least I can’t. I’m sure others can. But for me personally, so stoked the next Timeline version is coming out.

However, the DD20 still sounded very good. On a few of those settings, it was difficult for me to tell which was which; and on the analog setting, I may have actually preferred that the DD20 could get warmer and muddier. Of course, the Timeline was still ‘bigger’ sounding, but the DD20 might have had the upper hand right there. Might. The Timeline sounds so good that it’s difficult to hear any shortcomings. hehe But still, I really liked the analog setting on the DD20. So for the money and for how versatile it is, the DD20 for me is the ultimate sleeper delay pedal. The one that’s not cool enough to like, but sounds good enough to stay with if not perhaps beat, most of the others. And it keeps the dry signal analog…which helps your tone’s dynamics, weight, and feel so very much. And for what it’s worth, here’s a couple hidden settings on the DD20 which I keep hearing from folks that they didn’t know about them. If you already do, my apologies and just skip this part:

–While in modulation mode, hold the on/off switch. You can now use the time knob to set the modulation rate. While still holding the on/off switch, press the time knob. You can now use it to control the modulation depth.
–Holding the on/off switch also accesses settings in dual delay mode and in tape delay mode.
–If you hold the right switch while you power the pedal on, you can choose what you want an external pedal to control: tap, on/off, or presets.
–If you hold the left switch while you power the pedal on, you can choose output modes…including ones where you can get a 4db boost.
–If you hold ‘Write’ and ‘Select’ while you power the pedal on, you can select ‘Pedal Mode 3′, where you can leave the right switch as tap tempo, and cycle presets by pushing both the right and left footswitches at the same time.
–Holding both ‘Tap’ and ‘Tempo’ allows the backlight to stay on.
–Holding ‘Tap’ toggles between a bpm readout and a ms readout.

Just some more ways that the DD20 is a swiss army knife. A very toneful, inexpensive ($150 average price used), swiss army knife. That I love so much. That I will probably sell when the ‘Timeline: bpm readout!’ is released. Ah, tone. Both such wonderful pedals. And it’s not really fair to Boss that Strymon is obviously putting magic into their pedals. The coolest thing about this shootout is that neither pedal died. Instead, they were able to look past their differences, and realize that they would be much more powerful if they joined forces. Much like every movie ever.

Splendid.
Karl.