Delay can be one of the biggest advantages of plugging in your ‘ukulele. If set subtly it can fill out your sound. If mixed high it can be played off of. Personally, I like my delays to be a “filler” and only noticed once you turn it off. I’ve found that an analog style delay hides better in the mix due to the rolled off highs and muddy repeats. That eliminated popular digital options like the Boss DD series that is used by most of the ‘ukulele artists I know. So the search was on for an analog delay…
Aptly named for sketchy duplication, the MXR M-169 Carbon Copy came into my possesion and fulfilled my delay needs.
- The Box: Sparkly dark green and made of metal, there are four screws on the bottom corners to access the battery and guts (trim pots).
- The Controls:
- Three top-mounted black knobs with glow-in-the-dark direction lines control “Regen” (feedback), “Mix” (delay level), and “Delay” (delay time) left to right.
- A push on-off switch controls the modulation feature which adds vibrato to the delayed notes.
- A stomp-switch that turns the unit on or off.
- Two internal trim-pots for controlling the width and speed of the modulation.
- Ins and Outs: Two metal input and output jacks are located on the sides and a power adapter jack located on the right side below the input.
- Indicators: Two LEDs blast blue light through closed eyelids and leave no question as to whether the unit and/or mod feature is engaged or not.
- True Bypass
- Weight: 14oz.
- Size: 4-3/4″ x 2-3/4″ x 1-9/32″
Overall, the assessment is that the Carbon Copy is the best looking pedal I’ve seen. It’s also very sturdy. There were reliability issues with the M-169 in the past, but I’ve heard that Dunlop’s support is awesome and the new version 2 circuit board fixed the problems.
If you’re looking for a crisp clean delay sound, look elsewhere. The Carbon Copy’s repeats are dark and muddy – almost distorted and fuzzy sounding. And if you add the modulation in, things get even more blured. But I love it. The warm repeats just fill up your sound. Once you get playing, it’s hard to tell where one delayed note starts and another ends.
The regeneration knob controls the amount of times the delayed note is played back. It can be adjusted so that there is only one repeat or so many that the pedal feeds back forever and becomes an ear destroyer. (Really. Be careful of this. I thought I broke my ears and a friend’s amp at one point.)
The mix knob takes the delay volume from non-existent to boosted louder than the normal signal.
Delay time ranges from 20 to 600 milliseconds.
The mod switch adds vibrato to the delayed notes and bends them up and down. The vibrato settings are tweakable via two trim-pots on the inside. (If I recall correctly, with the speed trim maxed, the LFO sweeps about two times a second. The depth trim would make things pretty seasick as well. Of course, you can dial back the controls to unnoticeable and everywhere in between.) This feature tries to emulate the modulation found on pedals such as a Deluxe Memory Man. It sounds sweet. I found a mild-but-hearable setting that makes the delayed notes sound more full. That in turn backs up the original notes I’m playing in a pleasant way. This pedal really does make you feel like Superman when it’s behind you.
The stomp switch instantly kills all delayed notes when you turn the pedal off. Some other pedals allow for “delay trails” where just the new notes are stopped from being delayed and the old ones are allowed to fade out.
Being that the Carbon Copy is made with bucket brigade circuitry, it doesn’t have a huge amount of headroom. The delayed notes started clipping on me when I was running my EQ into it as a mid boost. Usually delay is *supposed* to go at the end of the signal chain unless you are running a reverb pedal (then the chain would just be everything else>delay>reverb). I made a compromise and put the EQ after the M-169 and now everything runs smoothly. According to Dunlop support, this is normal for the style of circuit they use. You can run the Carbon Copy at 18 volts (double the norm) for more headroom and a bit clearer sound. I have yet to try it, but it’s something MXR approves and some guys really like the way it operates with the extra power.
Of course, hearing is believing in the music world, so here’s my demo. A MISI Acoustic Trio pickup fitted Kamaka HF-3 into the M-169 into a Roland AC-90:
The Carbon Copy is a warm and cuddly delay pedal. Not like all those cold, despicable delays you hear of (actually, I haven’t heard of any…). For a general purpose, analog delay sound with an old-school vibe, I would highly recommend it.
*Price as of Feb 24, 2016. Affiliate link. This means I get a commission on anything you buy through this link. It doesn’t cost you any more and helps keep the site running. Mahalo.