Forums > Queen - Serious Discussion > For guitar players: How did they find the right delay timing

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Soundfreak user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 04 Apr 10, 07:32 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

When Brian May did his regular delay solo, he usually played some chords first to check the timing of the delay to get into the right tempo. 

But he also used this echo machine in some songs. The outstanding example is "White Man". 
But this can only work, when the echoes come back in the exact rhythm of the song.
How did they get into the timing on stage? Did they use a click track? Or was a stage technician busy during the first half of the song trying to adjust the delay to the right speed? 
Any guitar player here on board having an idea how they did it?

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Posted: 04 Apr 10, 10:43 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

You tend to play a given song at the same speed every performance. As soon as you know that speed in bpm, you can easily calculate delay time.



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Posted: 04 Apr 10, 14:58 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Brian used a modified echoplex originally, the machine being modified to give a longer delay. There days I think he uses digital delay; set at 600ms

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Posted: 04 Apr 10, 14:59 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



Soundfreak wrote:

When Brian May did his regular delay solo, he usually played some chords first to check the timing of the delay to get into the right tempo. 

But he also used this echo machine in some songs. The outstanding example is "White Man". 
But this can only work, when the echoes come back in the exact rhythm of the song.
How did they get into the timing on stage? Did they use a click track? Or was a stage technician busy during the first half of the song trying to adjust the delay to the right speed? 
Any guitar player here on board having an idea how they did it?   



The trick is to listen for the delayed signal and play in time with it. Not as difficult as is sounds...





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Posted: 04 Apr 10, 17:09 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



ANAGRAMER wrote:







Soundfreak wrote:



When Brian May did his regular delay solo, he usually played some chords first to check the timing of the delay to get into the right tempo. 

But he also used this echo machine in some songs. The outstanding example is "White Man". 
But this can only work, when the echoes come back in the exact rhythm of the song.
How did they get into the timing on stage? Did they use a click track? Or was a stage technician busy during the first half of the song trying to adjust the delay to the right speed? 
Any guitar player here on board having an idea how they did it?   


The trick is to listen for the delayed signal and play in time with it. Not as difficult as is sounds...



That only works if you're playing an unaccompanied guitar part. Otherwise, you'll still have to sync the delay with the pulse of the other musicians.







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Posted: 05 Apr 10, 05:41 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



ThomasQuinn wrote:



 



ANAGRAMER wrote:



 



 



 



 



Soundfreak wrote:



 



When Brian May did his regular delay solo, he usually played some chords first to check the timing of the delay to get into the right tempo. 

But he also used this echo machine in some songs. The outstanding example is "White Man". 
But this can only work, when the echoes come back in the exact rhythm of the song.
How did they get into the timing on stage? Did they use a click track? Or was a stage technician busy during the first half of the song trying to adjust the delay to the right speed? 
Any guitar player here on board having an idea how they did it?   



 


The trick is to listen for the delayed signal and play in time with it. Not as difficult as is sounds...



That only works if you're playing an unaccompanied guitar part. Otherwise, you'll still have to sync the delay with the pulse of the other musicians.





Exactly that's the question. It's no problem to get into the right timing while you play alone. But how did they do it, when the timing was given by the whole band before. And as we can see from many songs, for example "Now I'm here", some nights they were faster, some nights they were slower. 







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Posted: 05 Apr 10, 07:50 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Delay time settings have a certain tolerance. I've played with the same settings night after night without ever giving it a second thought, while I'm sure the tempo must have varied a bit from night to night with a human drummer. Time settings are just not as critical as you might think.

As far as Queen are concerned, keep two things in mind: sometimes Brian is the one to start off the song (e.g. Now I'm Here), giving Roger a clear hint to the BPM, and in many bootleg recordings the speed is off because of the recordings, not because Roger was actually much faster or slower. They did play most songs a bit faster than the studio versions though!

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Posted: 05 Apr 10, 09:15 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



ANAGRAMER wrote:

The trick is to listen for the delayed signal and play in time with it. Not as difficult as is sounds...





I agree, not difficult at all really. As long as you set the delay at the right speed and play roughly at the right tempo you can pretty much always get away with it. A band like Queen with a decent drummer, it is not a problem at all.

When I didn't play guitar, many years ago, I thought how hard it must be to play like Brian did with his two delays on the Brighton Rock solo's etc. But its actually quite easy and after a bit of practice you soon learn what you can and can't get away with and what tempo's you can play at relative to the delay timing. As Brian always played with the same delay settings, it made it relatively straight forward of him to use it both solo and in certain songs like White Man where he was trying to replicate multitrack guitars live (to an extent).

What Brian did with replicating the Bohemian Rhapsody 'trumpet' section at the end on stage by himself is an example of great playing that requires a lot of skill. Messing around with delays during Brighton Rock is not! :)






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Posted: 05 Apr 10, 09:20 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



Soundfreak wrote:







That only works if you're playing an unaccompanied guitar part. Otherwise, you'll still have to sync the delay with the pulse of the other musicians.





Exactly that's the question. It's no problem to get into the right timing while you play alone. But how did they do it, when the timing was given by the whole band before. And as we can see from many songs, for example "Now I'm here", some nights they were faster, some nights they were slower. 




You'd be suprised what you can get away with!  The only way you'll ever really understand is if you try it for yourself! :)
It's all about listening and reacting to what you are hearing.

The other thing to add too, is most of the time when he turned the delay on during a song, the parts he was playing were relatively simple.  Probably the most complicated parts of him doing it i can think of off the top of my head, is the solo in the middle of Keep Yourself Alive - even that is pretty straight forward.


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Posted: 05 Apr 10, 11:43 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

They have this thing called a 'sound check' where they tinker with things like that?!

I guess once they have settled on the speed of the delay its the delay that sets the tempo for the rest of the band, rather than the other way round. Too risky to change it on the fly.

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Posted: 05 Apr 10, 17:21 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I've used something along the lines of > Brian's typical delay = 800ms for one side and double that for the opposite side. Just the other day, I was reading something about Brian and it basically confirmed that setting.
Adam.

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Posted: 06 Apr 10, 04:56 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



panasonic wrote:



 



Soundfreak wrote:



 



 



 




That only works if you're playing an unaccompanied guitar part. Otherwise, you'll still have to sync the delay with the pulse of the other musicians.






Exactly that's the question. It's no problem to get into the right timing while you play alone. But how did they do it, when the timing was given by the whole band before. And as we can see from many songs, for example "Now I'm here", some nights they were faster, some nights they were slower. 




You'd be suprised what you can get away with!  The only way you'll ever really understand is if you try it for yourself! :)
It's all about listening and reacting to what you are hearing.

The other thing to add too, is most of the time when he turned the delay on during a song, the parts he was playing were relatively simple.  Probably the most complicated parts of him doing it i can think of off the top of my head, is the solo in the middle of Keep Yourself Alive - even that is pretty straight forward.

I agree when it comes to maybe "Keep yourself alive", where the speed of the song or the echo may vary and then he plays it different each time. But in "White Man" he plays a line, and builds another line on top of it's repetition. And in this case it has to be precise. Sure it's no problem when he starts a song or a solo alone with the echo.







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Posted: 06 Apr 10, 06:47 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Doesn't the equipment used by Brian May have an option to set the delay timing using some sort of tapping?
The user just taps a pedal (or some button) for some time using the correct timing and the delay will be automatically set on the specified interval on the fly. This way, the delay can be set dynamically according to the tempo of the song that is being played.
In his case, this is probably done off-stage by his technician.


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Posted: 06 Apr 10, 11:48 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































ThomasQuinn wrote:



























































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































ANAGRAMER wrote:































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































The trick is to listen for the delayed signal and play in time with it. Not as difficult as is sounds...





























































































































































































































































That only works if you're playing an unaccompanied guitar part. Otherwise, you'll still have to sync the delay with the pulse of the other musicians.

Right, so if your drummer has a good sense of time and knows what the right tempo is, it'll work out perfectly.

I've heard about 30 live versions of White Man and about a hundred versions of Keep Yourself Alive from the 70s (when they still played the full song), and they nailed it every time.

This can only suggest that Roger's sense of tempo was just about perfect (and it probably still is).  I will forever say he's one of rock's most under-rated drummers.  There's more to good drumming than flash.



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Posted: 06 Apr 10, 12:41 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote







Sir GH wrote:



This can only suggest that Roger's sense of tempo was just about perfect (and it probably still is).  I will forever say he's one of rock's most under-rated drummers.  There's more to good drumming than flash.


THIS is exactly one of the major sore points of arguments I had with my band. They, especially the singer at the time, were too fucking stubborn to understand that I needed to work on my technique and skill (including timing and making my speed more precise) first BEFORE I can focus on building the visual flashy image they wanted. And I honestly think too that the fact we never also played enough shows also hindered things quite a bit too. There's only so much you can try and 'perfect' in rehearsals until you play a show - and even then, shows are never 100% perfect.







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Posted: 07 Apr 10, 02:17 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I guess also when playing live one of the technicians could always adjust the timing of the delays if they're slightly out with the band.  But as mentioned, start playing with delays and it's fairly easy to work with the timing (most of the time)