Ernie Ball Expression Ambient Delay Guitar Effects Pedal Review

When we first heard about the Ernie Ball Expression Ambient Delay guitar effects pedal, it definitely had us intrigued. It combines the real-time active control of a foot rocker with the tonal capabilities of a delay and reverb effects pedal. Even without so much as hearing the pedal in action, it was obvious that the Expression Ambient Delay was aimed at delivering something different. We recently had a hand's on with Ernie Ball’s other foot-sweepable pedal, the Expression Overdrive, and loved what they cooked up, so we were eager to see what that same concept could do with delay and reverb. Long story short – it’s a definite winner in our book! Read on for our full impressions on the Ernie Ball Expression Ambient Delay.



The Features of The Expression Ambient Delay

As far as the build goes, the Expression Ambient Delay shares a lot of similarities with its OD counterpart. The bulk of the pedal consists of a rose-gold metallic housing, giving it a quality, tough as nails construction on top of beautiful aesthetics. The foot rocker itself feels just as solid. More importantly, Ernie Ball has opted to go with a synthetic cord for the expression pot connection, meaning it won’t break on you nearly as often as a cotton cord. The treadle itself features a grip pad that does a solid job at ensuring the pedal won’t slip while you’re rocking away.

For the delay effect itself, the pedal features three control knobs – Time, Reverb and Feedback. The Time knob handles the amount of delay time (anywhere from 50 up to 750 milliseconds), Feedback handles the number of delay repeats while Reverb handles the level of plate reverb to be layered on top of the delay effect. As for the expression foot rocker portion of the pedal, heel down gives you nothing but the original signal with no effect while the toe all the way down pushes the delay and reverb to its maximum settings. And speaking of settings, there are two internal trim pots available on the Expression Ambient Delay that can further increase the delay time and reverb intensity from the factory preset maximums.

As for power, the Expression Ambient Delay requires a 9-volt adapter which is not included. Battery operation isn’t an option. Yeah, it would have been great if Ernie Ball decided to throw in an adapter but we can’t fault them too much as they are far from the only pedal maker to do so. Overall, the features are what you would expect from a great delay and reverb effect while the build itself has the hallmarks of a pedal made to last you years.




The Sound Of The Expression Ambient Delay

As with Expression OD, Ernie Ball obviously made sure the effects component of the Expression Ambient Delay was good enough to be able to stand on its own. If you're a fan of the signature Echoplex-type slapback delays made famous by legendary players such as Check Atkins, this pedal delivers. Or if you want something a little closer to that distinctive ambient, chiming sound akin to U2's The Edge, it's in there as well.

While it might not be displayed prominently in the name, the Expression Ambient Delay features versatile reverb effect that adds a lot to the already great delay. From a slight, subtle echo to full on, spacious hall reverb, it is definitely something owners should take advantage of to get the most out of this pedal.

Despite being a digital delay and reverb, the effect never feels cold or sterile. In fact, it has a lot of that smooth organic character that analog delays are praised for. It does feel a little more subdued compared to other delay and reverbs, though. Even with its settings cranked all the way up, it never goes into a frantic craze of waves and heavy oscillation. Don't get me wrong -- you can definitely crank out a good amount of reverb and delay but the pedal shines best when used to add just the right amount of ambiance and character to your sound.

And what better way to add just the right amount of effect than with the precision of a foot rocker. It does take some practice to get the hang of controlling it with this method but once you do, you’ll be able to call up big echoes at precise moments, add a splash of smooth swells to a lick or even gradually build them up as you progress through a lead. Check out the video below to hear it in action for yourself:



The Verdict

As a pure delay and reverb pedal, the Expression Ambient Delay is a very good one, capable of delivering smooth swells, full room reverb, and rich ambiance without ever feeling too cold or too digital. Add in the ability to control it with the precision of a foot rocker and you have a powerful tool that can add a ton of dynamic character and creative potential to your play style. The Ernie Ball Expression Ambient Delay definitely earns our full recommendation.



Ernie Ball Expression Ambient Delay Guitar Effects Pedal ReviewErnie Ball Expression Ambient Delay Guitar Pedal @ $199.99

The Expression Series Ambient Delay provides 50 to 750 milliseconds of delay time layered with reverb, for everything from slap-back to extended repeats. It features settings for delay time and feedback, as well as reverb level, with a foot sweepable effect level control to integrate anything from subtle textures to ambient soundscapes.


If you have any questions regarding the purchase of the Ernie Ball Expression Overdrive or any other piece of gear we carry, don't hesitate to chat with one of our friendly PAL pros by using the live chat feature below or by calling us toll-free at 1 877-671-2200!



Your Turn to Sound Off!

Does the addition of an expression foot rocker make you more or less likely to consider this delay pedal?

Let us know in the comment section below!

Leave a Reply