Hey folks! Today I'd like to share with you a bit about one of my most favorite recent acquisitions. While I'm incredibly late in the game on picking up this pedal, I have fallen head over heels and am very happy nonetheless. What dastardly piece of magic could I be speaking of?! Well, none other than the "King Of All Analog Delays!" Ok... sorry for shouting!
While there are many incredible and amazing analog delay pedals in this musical world, the Deluxe Memory Man from Electro Harmonix could quite possibly be the reigning champ. Specifically the "big box" Deluxe Memory Man from the 90's with the attached AC power cord, which is the one that I currently own. My pal Dave Phillips, resident pedalboard and tonal guru who is the genius behind LA Sound Design, recommended this particular iteration of the EHX Deluxe Memory Man. As many Los Angeles gear hounds will tell you -- when Dave recommends something it's usually right on the money. This particular DMM (as many of us gear geeks will call it) is nothing short of that.
The Deluxe Memory Man has been made by Electro Harmonix since the 1970's and has undergone many different versions of itself. Originally, the DMM only had 330ms of delay time and was a simple analog delay. This 90's version I have is the most famous version with vibrato/chorus/delay. Essentially it's a fantastically voiced analog delay with roughly 400ms of delay time. 400ms is quite enough for most parts you might use this type of delay for --- which is simply gorgeous and juicy tones. That my friends is the beauty of this giant beast of a pedal... the tones of the Big Box DMM's of yesteryear are just something you need to hear in person (and hopefully play) to really get the whole picture.
In my opinion, the tone of the DMM is in part due to the analog chips it uses (mine uses the fabled geek alert Panasonic MN3005 delay chips, which are no longer made); but also equally in part due to the pre-amp that powers the whole enchilada. There's just that sweetness that even when you run the pedal at minimum blend, there's no delay effect but the signal is still running through the entire circuit. It's just one of those things in this life as a guitarist and gearhead that once you try it --- it's quite hard to replicate or replace. It just has "that" thing that makes your heart and music flutter.
You can't really speak about the big box DMM without talking about it's gorgeous modulation. It has a subtle or crazy vibrato, chorus tone, and delay. It's what makes this pedal perfect for clean ambient passages or crazy noise filled explosions. It's all in there. Even if you don't play guitar or have no interest or dog in this fight, you've heard the Deluxe Memory Man in so much of our musical vernacular. One of the most famous users would be Edge of U2 fame. Much of their early recordings were just guitar, Vox AC30 and the Deluxe Memory Man. It goes without saying, the DMM is a venerable and historic monster of a pedal.
If you'd care to delve into the history and very interesting journey of the DMM, take a look at this great piece from Tone Report. Thanks for the Memories, Man: Evolution of the Legendary Analog Delay
Lastly, I must give a shout-out to Mike Piera of Analogman Effects who helped return this particular DMM to it's fullest potential. The 1990's are at this point (much to my dismay) of "vintage" era, and this pedal needed some TLC after purchasing it. It had a previously awful true bypass modification which caused the pedal to cut out intermittently along with some noise issues. The crafty artisans at Analogman took great care and got it fixed up and re-calibrated, hence making it sound as good as it can. It's nice to know that you can always make this beautiful gear of a bygone era not only function in this fast paced digital landscape, but also sound incredibly beautiful.