Almost since musicians used tape recording, there are also reverse delays. Very early artists like the Rolling Stones or Jimi Hendrix experimented with this type of delay sounds. At those days, creating reverse delays was pretty complicated because the recording tapes had to be cut and played backwards.
Audio tracks which are played backwards create totally new sounds because the string attack of a guitar appears at the end of a signal and the whole guitar track seems to be more fluent. Mostly, it is impossible to identify the sound of the guitar in a reverse delay.
Reverse delays today
Today it is much easier to emulate this technique digitally. As far as I know, there is no analog reverse delay so far (if somebody knows one, please don’t hesitate and let me know).
The digital reverse delays are sampling a short sequence and reproduce them, similar to the old tape technique, backwards. Mostly, the length of the sequences is adjustable. Not only for solo and guitar melodies but also regarding chords, this might create interesting soundscapes.
Some delays are furthermore able to transpose the reversed delay and thereby for example reproduce them one octave higher. For this, it is not mandatory that the reverse delay has been created exactly similar to the speed of the song and it does not necessarily need tap tempo. This little shifting of the reverse sounds might create unexpected and melodic sounds.
Reverse delay pedals
Interesting delays with reverse function are for example the Montreal Assembly Count To Five, that is also able to record loops which can be manipulated like a recording tape.
The sound on sound mode of the new Strymon Volante enables the user as well to produce reverse delays. Additionally, the Volante allows to stop the reverse delays via a virtual tape stop. The sound is similar to a stopped tape recorder: the tone stops and is transposed down.
The Red Panda Tensor is able to create these sounds, too.
The Electro Harmonix 16 Second Delay offers a constant sampling of the guitar signal. The speed of these short sound samples can be adjusted by activating the pedal.
And every multi delay effect like the Strymon Timeline, the Empress Echosystem, the Boss DD-500 and the Eventide H9 offer a reverse delay function as well.
Although the operating principle of the reverse delay pedals mostly is pretty similar, their sounds vary depending on the respective manufacturer. Some offer a more chopped reverse effect, while others produce a fluent sound.
Depending on the style of music you play and your own likings you can choose the right sound.
The sound of a reverse delay is always something very special and should be used with deliberation. But it is able to create an exciting variety of sound for every style of music.