The new Delay Llama Plus from Jam offers up to 600ms and useful expression pedal capability. Review by Martyn Casserly
Description: Analogue delay pedal. 9V power supply (not included). True bypass switching. Handmade in Greece
Price: £269 (expression pedal £49 extra)
Contact: 440 Distribution – 01132 589599 – www.jampedals.com
Before we begin, can we just stop and take a moment to enjoy the sheer majesty of the name this pedal bares? The Delay Llama. Utter genius. Sure we’ve had some corkers over the years – the Big Muff Pi being a perennial favourite of the tittering classes – but this one really does up the stakes for those that would dare to follow. The unit is also handmade in Greece, which only adds to its exotic nature.
Amusingly named, brightly decorated, handwired pedals are becoming something of the norm these days. You can hardly flick through the pages of G&B without your senses being assailed by lurid designs and outlandish titles. Nothing wrong with that: music is all about self-expression and these units allow you not only to do that sonically but visually as well. The Delay Llama’s metal case has a scruffy red and white paintjob, with stencilled names for the three control knobs (Time, Level, Repeats) and the silhouette of the eponymous creature itself.
The features that differentiate this Plus model from the standard Delay Llama are the extra footswitch which acts as a Hold button (simply depress it and the delay effect will continue to oscillate until you remove your foot), and the input jack for an expression pedal. Otherwise it’s a standard unit requiring power from a (not included) 9v supply.
Expression pedal controls delay time
As you might expect from the quirky livery and name, the Delay Llama is an old-school true bypass analogue pedal. The chips are ‘faithful reproductions’ of the Panasonic MN3205s that were used by many sought-after bucket brigade delays. Whatever the mojo that goes on inside, the sound that comes out is warm and seductive.
The controls offer enough range to go from a classic slapback all the way around to 600ms, which will have you in lush, atmospheric surroundings for more ambient tunes. A careful hand is needed as the repeats are not cancelled when you turn the pedal off and will happily resurface once switched back on. It’s normal for many of these types of delays but one worth remembering if you’re more accustomed to digital.
There’s also no tap tempo, so you’ll need to line up the dials correctly if you want to stay in time. Experimenting with cool, weird delays is a must on this unit and to get the best ones you’ll need to employ the expression pedal, but be warned, it’s a dangerous weapon; move your foot too quickly and the sound goes from computery, detuned layers to the sound effects department from Space 1999. Get it right and you’ll sound like a legend, but within a wayward ankle lurks the possibility of disaster.
If you’re always playing live and cover a range of material then you might find the Delay Llama a little eccentric for your tastes. The lack of tap tempo can be an issue, but not one that is insurmountable; for studio work or writing, this is a wonderful pedal that can inspire and surprise. You need the expression pedal to get the best out of it, plus time to learn its quirks, but the potential rewards are fascinating and even liberating. Can the Llama be tamed? We’re not sure, but something in us needs it to remain wild.