Pedals & FX, Tutorials & Tips

How to Use The MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay (+ 5 Settings)

Written By :Andrew Siemon

I bought and tested the MXR Carbon Copy Delay. It’s a real gem. It’s simple and it has a warm sound & rich modulation. While it only has 3 knobs and 1 button, there’s magic to how they work together.

To use the MXR Carbon Copy, place it at the end of your signal chain or in your amp’s FX Loop. Power it with a 9V battery or 9VDC power supply. Start by setting the Delay time to match the tempo for your project, then set Mix and Regen. Press the Mod button to give it a modulated “lofi” sound.

How To Set Up The MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay In Your Signal Chain

1) Near the End of Your Chain (With Reverb & Time-Based FX)

Delay Near the End of the Chain
The most common position for a delay pedal is near the end of the signal chain, usually before Reverb.

This applies the delay effect to your processed sound, like icing on a cake.

Usually, I place it before my reverb pedal, since the reverb can add more shimmer and presence to the delayed signal. Although you could be looking for something different.

Signal Chain With Drive/Distortion - Where To Put The Looper Pedal In Your Signal Chain - 1
Here’s a solid signal chain placement guide that I made for you.

It’s important to place any tone-shaping or gain-staging pedals like distortion and fuzz before the delay; otherwise, you’re going to have a very chaotic sound. 

Think about why that is. A delayed signal is essentially a repeated signal, so the distortion will be repeated over and over. If chaos is something you’re looking for, maybe give it a shot.

This’ll be doubled if you’re using a high-gain amplifier. The setup will be more troublesome.

The amp will end up distorting a delayed signal, which can sound muddy and noisy. The same thing goes for reverb and delay.

If you put delay after your reverb, you’ll essentially repeat the reverb sound a bunch of times. That’s where the FX loop comes in. 

2) In Your FX Loop

Delay in the FX Loop .jpg
Pedals follow the same rule of signal chain placement whether they’re in front of the amp or in the FX Loop.

Putting the MXR Carbon Copy in your amplifier’s FX loop is another great way to do it.

Preamp and Power Amp - Guitar Effects Loop Vs. Direct? - Which One's Better?
Here, the delay is applied after your amp’s preamp, which is where the gain is set, but before the power amp, which increases the overall volume. 
Preamp and Power Amp - Guitar Effects Loop Vs. Direct? - Which One's Better? (1000 × 600 px)
Another simple demonstration of the very basics of an FX Loop.

Just plug the EFFECTS SEND on your amp’s FX loop into the Input of your pedal, and the Output of your pedal into the EFFECTS RETURN.

You can also add other time-based and modulation pedals like reverb and flanger here. 

If you go this route, the delay signal should be fairly clean and noise-free, even on a distorted tone. Perfect for thick leads and overdriven solos.

On top of that, you can also use the reverb pedal to add more depth and dimension to your sound. But again, don’t overdo it. 

How to Power The MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay

1) Power Supply

I use my Pedal Power 3 + almost exclusively these days.

Powering your Carbon Copy Delay is as simple as using a 9VDC power supply or 9V battery. Plus, this pedal isn’t much of a power hog either – it draws just 26 mA.

With decent batteries, it can last a long while. 

The Power Port - The MXR Carbon Copy Delay
Using a 9V power supply is easy, just plug in the AC adapter on the power input on the right side of the pedal, next to the input jack. 

2) Battery

The MXR Carbon Copy Delay Battery Compartment
This is how you get batteries into the Carbon Copy Analog Delay.

To install or replace the battery:

1) Open the back compartment using a small Philips screwdriver. 

2) Remove any old batteries by gently pulling out the connector.

3) Align the new battery with the positive and negative terminals, plug it in, and place it back neatly in the compartment. 

Once you’ve opened up the back compartment, you’ll also see two trim pots to adjust the modulation width and speed; which I’ll talk about later on. 

How to Use the Features Of The MXR Carbon Copy Delay

The MXR Carbon Copy is relatively straightforward, with just three knobs and a Mod button. But as I said earlier, there are also two ‘hidden’ controls for the modulation on the back side. 

1) Front Panel Controls

The front panel of the Carbon Copy houses four controls: the Regen knob, Mix knob, Delay knob, and Mod button.

A) Regen Control

Regen - on the MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay
I would say that a little goes a long way for the Regen knob. Make small adjustments and listen.
  • The Regeneration control lets you set the number of repeats for the delay effect.
  • 00:30 in my video.

Rotating it clockwise will increase the repeats (also called feedback), while counter-clockwise will decrease it. 

I recommend starting at the middle position (12’o clock), and working your way from there. Want a single echo? Keep this knob dialed down to the lowest.

Looking for a cascade of repeats, Gilmour-style? Crank it all the way to 4:00.

You can use this to create a feedback loop where the delay becomes kind of infinite; it keeps itself going with the delayed signal. Try raising the volume on your amp for this. 

This can quickly get out of hand and sound very chaotic, but it’s a nice way to experiment and get some wacky effects. This video demo does a nice job of showing what it sounds like

B) Mix Control

Mix - on the MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay
Fully clockwise results in a strong wet signal that matches the volume of your dry signal.
  • The Mix control affects the blend of wet (delayed) and dry (original) signals.
  • 01:17 in my video.

At its middle position, the delayed signal is about half your original tone’s level, so it’s nice and balanced. 

Setting it fully counterclockwise gives you a dry signal with no delay effect.

I prefer starting it at 50%, and then working from there to see what fits the song. For some snappy echo riffs, I set it to about 80%.

C) Delay (up to 600ms)

Delay - MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay
The official MXR Carbon Copy manual says this time ranges from a short 20ms up to a lengthy 600ms. 
  • The Delay knob lets you set the delay time; that is, how fast the delayed signal will be heard again.
  • 00:59 in my video.

The fully clockwise setting is the max delay time, about 600ms, so it’ll be slow. I like this for slow leads and ambient chords.

And the lowest setting feels very fast, perfect for speedy licks and riffs. 

Setting this knob to match the exact tempo of the song you’re playing can be a bit tricky, so what I like to do for this one is increase the mix, strum my muted strings, and listen to the delay.

Without any notes, you can hear the delay much more clearly. 

Then, use a metronome or your song’s backing track, feel the groove, and just adjust this knob till it matches the tempo. It won’t be perfect because it doesn’t have a tap-tempo feature, but you can get close.

D) Mod Button

Mod - on the MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay.jpg
The modulation only applies to the wet signal, not to your original, dry signal. 
  • The Mod button adds a rich modulation to the delay effect and is indicated by the blue LED when engaged.
  • 01:49 in my video

This can give your repeats a swirling, chorus-like quality.

For me, the Mod button is the best feature of the Carbon Copy. It adds a lot of depth and character to the delayed signal, perfect for dreamy, lush, and analog vibes.

2) Back Panel Controls

If you unscrew and open up the back panel where the battery lies, you’ll also see two controls to adjust the modulation.

Both of these controls can be adjusted via a 2mm screwdriver. 

Before you start adjusting these, I recommend taking some pictures of how they look as default, so you have some reference to go back to. 

A) Modulation Width

Modulation Width and Speed - MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay
If you’re into lofi, the MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay is a great choice for you for this reason.
  • Modulation width basically refers to the depth or intensity of the modulation effect.
  • 02:20 in my video.

This width control determines just how much of the modulation effect is applied to the delayed signal. 

You can increase it by rotating the knob clockwise, giving the sound a more ‘wobbly’ effect, like a chorus. And you can decrease it by rotating it counterclockwise. 

B) Modulation Speed

Modulation Speed on the MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay
MXR’s official manual states the modulation speed can vary from 0.2 Hz to 2.2 Hz. 
  • This is the rate at which the modulation is applied, or the oscillation of the effect. 
  • 01:58 in the video.

A higher modulation speed will create a faster fluctuation in the sound, while a lower speed will create a slower, more gentle oscillation.

So you can adjust this to taste based on your style of playing. There’s really no right or wrong here. This YouTube video shows how the modulation changes with these trim pots. 

Adjust them in modest steps because the change in effect is significant. 

Other Cool Features of the MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay

1) Analog Circuitry

The Carbon Copy uses 100% analog technology with bucket-brigade circuits. This gives it a warm, vintage tone that digital delays can’t quite replicate. 

Digital delays tend to have a very accurate reproduction of the delayed signal, which can sound a bit sterile and bland.

This MXR delay has much more nuance and character, especially once you switch on the Mod button. 

2) Durability

Durability of the MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay.jpg
While it’s hard to depict its durability with a picture, the Carbon Copy Analog Delay is built like a tank.

This pedal is built to last, as it’s housed in a rugged full-metal chassis that feels road-ready to me.

Definitely a plus point if you’re planning on gigging with it; it could probably survive a bumpy tour just fine. 

3) Knobs Glow in the Dark

Glow in the Dark - Carbon Copy Analog Delay MXR
This is an often overlooked but really neat feature.

The knobs glow in the dark, which is a godsend on a dimly lit stage. This makes it easy to see your settings even under poor lighting. 

Plus, it looks very cool on your pedalboard, contrasting elegantly with the sparkly finish on the body and the blue LEDs. 

4) True Bypass

The Carbon Copy also features true bypass, which means that when you disengage the pedal, there’s no effect on your original signal.

No tone coloration at all, so your guitar’s natural voice shines through. 

This is something I really like, and I wish more pedals in my setup had this.

Mixing the true bypass pedals with buffered bypass ones can be a bit troublesome due to impedance, however.

5) Versatility

From short slap-back echoes to long, spacey delays, the Carbon Copy can cover a wide range of sounds.

It’s just as at home in a blues setting as it is in rock, country, or ambient music. 

That’s why I’ve included some of my favorite settings on this pedal below, from Pink Floyd to Guns N’ Roses, so you can check just how versatile it can be. 

6) Easy to Use

As a simple analog delay pedal, the Carbon Copy is really easy to use. There are just 3 knobs and a button on the front, so it’s quick to adjust what you need.

Compared to some of the complex delay pedals from Strymon and all, I often prefer this simplicity.

The hidden modulation settings are more ‘set and forget’, as adjusting them regularly would just take too much time. 

5 Cool Settings for the MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay

As with any delay pedal, the most important setting is the delay time, so you can match the tempo of the song.

So here are some starting points for popular songs for you to get a feel for the Carbon Copy’s flexibility. 

1) Tears Don’t Fall – Bullet For My Valentine

1) Tears Don’t Fall - Bullet For My Valentine
BFMV’s “Tears Don’t Fall” is a metalcore classic and to me it sounds like the intro has a lot of delay on it.

To get something like Michael Paget’s tone, try these delay settings on the Carbon Copy: 

Regen: 12:00

Mix: 3:00

Delay: 11:00

You could increase the Mix and Regen if you want the delay to be more prominent. 

2) Moonchild – Iron Maiden

2) Moonchild - Iron Maiden.jpg
A tough sound to get with just a delay pedal, but this is as close as I could get.

Iron Maiden’s Moonchild has a cool synth-like riff in the beginning with a slap-back delay. You can get pretty close with these settings:

Regen: 12:00

Mix: 11:00

Delay: 9:30

3) Run Like Hell – Pink Floyd

3) Run Like Hell - Pink Floyd.jpg
I already showed you how to get this one in more detail in my reverb tutorial.

David Gilmour’s guitar tones have always been great, with some unique effects. In Pink Floyd’s Run Like Hell, he used two delay pedals in tandem to achieve that signature riff.

So while that’s a complex setup, I got a similar tone from the Carbon Copy with the following values:

Regen: 11:00

Mix: 11:00

Delay: 5:00

If you do have another delay pedal, you can run it in parallel (in stereo), with a longer delay time of about 500ms and a single repeat. 

4) Infinity Setting

4) Infinity Setting .jpg
This is a setting that I came up with when I was trying to get the “Big Sur Moon” sound from Buckethead.

I call it Infinity because a High Regen makes it sound like it’ll just repeat into the stratosphere.

Regen: 2:00

Mix: 3:00

Delay: 11:00

5) Welcome To The Jungle – Guns N’ Roses

5) Welcome To The Jungle - Guns N' Roses
Slash’s intro on Welcome To The Jungle is the best example of what a delay riff sounds like.

And it’s so catchy it just gets stuck in your head. To get that feel, try these delay settings:

Regen: 11:30

Mix: 3:30

Delay: 11:00

The interesting thing about this riff is that many of the tabs I’ve seen are wrong; Slash plays it while hitting the open B string between each note. That adds to the staccato delay effect. 

If you’re looking for more inspiring delay sounds, this video by Antoine Michaud has some excellent tones.

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Andrew Siemon is the principal creator for, a website entirely devoted to all things guitar. From repairs, music theory, chords, and improvisation, to recording at home. I've been doing this for 20 years and I've got another 50 in me.

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