Like most gear junkies, I sometimes have moments of weakness. I get that almost irresistible urge to buy something new and different just for the sake of new and different, at the expense of parting with something I know ill probably regret parting with. Not mater what I buy, what itch I think I’m scratching, this is ALWAYS the case when it comes to delay pedals, and letting this one go could have been the big mistake that finally taught me a lesson about realising what you have. Something about trying to capture the sound of your notes gently fading off into the distance while still sounding organic seems to be the everest myself and others try to climb. For me, tape delay is where its at! I’ve had the 2 of the biggest hitters in the tape delay “simulation” world – that being the Strymone El Capistan and the Empress Tape Delay – both of which were outstanding. Its that tape warble sound that keeps me coming back for more, that subtle out-of-tuneness that makes your open chords sound like you are using a bigsby or tremolo to inject a little more character into the tone.
Naturally my love for this modulated sound led me to looking at the EHX Deluxe Memory Man – or DMM for short – and my eyes were opened to the hoards of loyal followers who swore by this pedal for any and every application/musical style conceivable, salivating over its lush, organic and modulated trails. Of course I’m a gear junkie, so I had to have one. But there was 2 things that were off putting about the pedal; 1) The rather large ‘big box’ size (of course i was after an old big box model, that should be no surprise) and 2) the 24v power requirement to power it, in particular the latter. It just didn’t seem all that viable to upgrade my power supply powering my board to accommodate the ridiculous power consumption of this holy grail of delay pedals, I did have a swanky über-hip El Capistan after all… did I really need to get a Deluxe Memory Man?
I knew it was eventually going to happen but I was resisting with all my might, that was until I stumbled up the DMM550tt and 1100tt line. I found I could have a smaller sized (compared to the big box model), 9v powered, expression pedal supported, tap tempo DMM and what sweetened the deal is when I saw a number of my favourite players using one on their boards. I was sold. Here in Australia, the DMM550tt retails at around $550 which, okay is pretty pricey for a delay pedal but if this is THE delay pedal then I could find a way to make it happen. As for the DMM1100tt with its double available delay time on tap and very rare, now discontinued MN3005 delay chips… I could even find one for sale, anywhere in the world! For any price! It seemed this baby had been snapped up by everyone for the short time they were being made and the owners are holding on to them for dear life! So not really wanting to part with $550 for a new DMM550tt seeing as I did love my El Capistan and didn’t NEED (still wanted though) a new delay pedal, I admired defeat.
That was until one cool winters night, hopping into bed and flicking through my essential eBay saved search list before sleepy time – the ‘Deluxe Memory Man’ saved search lights up and what do you know, a DMM1100tt has been listed in Australia for an I N S A N E L Y cheap price. The buyer listed “moved onto an axe-fx so no longer need all my pedals”. Im not exaggerating when I say i think my thumb nearly went through my phone screen I hit ‘buy it now’ so quickly! So a few days and a few pennies later, the blue goddess arrived at my door with the original box, paperwork and all. I wasted no time in plugging it straight into the front my my amp, setting everything how I thought I might like it, turning it on and BOOM! Not even David Copperfield could have pulled off the magic I heard from my amp. This thing is the real deal. I have never heard a delay pedal that sounds so natural and gooey in my life, it just melts into the amp and makes every single thing you play sound so much better. Listening to its luscious repeats is truly an experience when it comes to good guitar tone. Without doubt my favourite feature of the pedal is the modulation section. Here the rate and depth knobs allow you to dial in some subtle chorus all the way through to completely wacky, out of tune vibrato – which you may be surprised to know actually is a usable sound when coming from this pedal. Since putting it on my board have a coupled it with a Roland EV-5 expression pedal to allow me to blend the amount of delay in I want at any given time, so that I can go from a depth providing reverb-esque delay to a very wet dripping delay where the modulation really shines through and brings out those open chords. There is also the luxurious option to insert an effect like a phase or octave pedal in the fx loop of the pedal so that you can affect just the delay repeats to achieve some pretty unique sounds. The only slight downside of the pedal to me is the foot switches that – particularly on the tap tempo side – are a little stiff, clunky and noisy when stepping on repeatedly but hey, that’s like when Robben Ford said his only ‘complaint’ about his Dumble was that it is “sensitive to power”, hardly a complaint, just something that in a perfect world would make this pedal all the more sweeter!
The bottom line is that this pedal has for me, lived up to its reputation and blown me away with its incredible sound. In my moment of weakness, I almost considered selling it to buy (another) Strymon Timeline to give me a few more bells and whistles. All I can say is that I’m relieved that I came to my senses and decided to hold on to this gem! If not for simply the absolutely stellar sound my ears get the pleasure of experiencing every time I step on it, but for my retirement fund years down the track when these – along side the Klon – become the Dumble of the pedal world! Do yourself a favour and keep an eye out for one.