Line 6's DL4 Mk2 Delay Pedal Is Better Than the Original

Don’t delay!

  • Line 6’s DL4 MkII is the sequel to its much-loved classic delay and looper pedal from 1999.
  • The MkII version is smaller, sturdier, and fuller-featured. 
  • It’s green. Really, really green.
Line 6 DL4 Mk2 in green on a white background

Line 6

In 1999, Line 6 launched a guitar effects unit, aka a pedal, which foreshadowed the computerized takeover of music gear. And now, almost a quarter-century later, it has a sequel

The Line 6 DL4 was an early digital modeling unit in the form of a guitar pedal, a box designed to sit on the floor and be operated with footswitches. It was a delay effect and modeled several then-popular (and now classic) analog delay units. It was also a looper, which allowed musicians to play more than one part by themselves. Now, the DL4 is itself a classic, albeit a flawed one. Pitchfork called it "the most important guitar pedal of the last 20 years," and the new Mk2 version looks like a worthy successor. 

"I remember the first time I saw and heard the original Line 6 DL4 in action. Singer-songwriter Howie Day was on tour, and the most memorable song he performed was his single, Ghost, guitarist and music journalist Andrew Dodson told Lifewire via email. "Using the DL4, he started looping a percussive beat that he created on his acoustic guitar, then kept layering more sounds until it sounded like an entire band was playing behind him."

A Flawed Classic

The DL6 may have been revolutionary, but it was far from perfect. While you still see them on guitarists' pedalboards to this day, anecdotally, this was more of a testament to repairability rather than build quality. 

"We used to joke that the MkI had a 7-year lifespan. Mine died in its 7th year, almost on cue," said musician and DL4 owner GovernorSilver in a music forum frequented by Lifewire. "Something about the design of the footswitches—contacts wearing out, and maybe some other problems as well. I had mine repaired and modded twice, which resurrected it for a while until it died again."

Rearview of the Line 6 DL4 Mk2

Line 6

It was also crazy ugly, a metallic green blob that took up a ton of space on a board. But it offered something that has since become the most important feature of any product or service: convenience. You could mimic most delay effects right there from one box, from rockabilly slapback to The Edge's luscious rhythmic echoes. Did they sound exactly like the original? Maybe not, but the digital recreations were good enough to make the DL4 a true success. 

"The DL4 was such a hit because it managed to find the perfect balance between having a whole range of useful sounds without sacrificing tone," guitar teacher and DL4 owner Andy Fraser told Lifewire via email. "In 2000, when it came out, this was pretty revolutionary. You ended up with the equivalent of five different pedals all in one, and it didn't sound awful."

MkII

If there was any doubt about guitarists’ love for the original DL4, it evaporated when the sequel was announced this week. Guitar forums are abuzz. Some of this is surely nostalgia, but in the world of guitar gear, where young and old players use ever more powerful hardware and software to recreate the sounds of Jimi Hendrix and Dave Gilmour, nostalgia is a powerful tool. But another part of the appeal is surely that guitarists want to use the classic, but to avoid its problems.

The new model is smaller and lighter than the original but still comes in a distinctive metallic-green shell. It has all the delays from the original, plus 15 news ones from Line 6’s own FX and amplifier-modeling powerhouse HX series.

top-down view of the Line 6 DL4 Mk2

Line 6

It also has a mic input, MIDI connections, and an SD card slot for keeping recordings. And Line 6 specifically calls out the new "heavy-duty footswitches," presumably because it knows about the original's reputation in that regard. 

But despite these improvements and additions, it doesn't stray from the original formula. In fact, it can even morph into the original.

"What do I like best about this pedal? It's VERY familiar. If you used to use this pedal and got away from it, you can literally hit one button, and it acts just like the original DL4 that you're familiar with," says Dodson.

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