The Boss DD-3 Digital Delay was original released in 1986. There’s been some tweaks made to the design over that period but the pedal has continued to be a popular choice. The pedal’s predecessor, the DD-2, was released in 1983 and was the world’s first compact digital delay pedal. The DD-3 suits guitar players who want a quality delay pedal which is affordable and simple to operate. The current version of the pedal is made in Taiwan. It is a 12-bit delay which combines an analog feedback and mixing stage with a digital delay chip. Each delay repeat is re-sampled through the 12-bit delay chip, degrading the signal and creating slightly dirtier repeats each time. The newer DD-500 was released but some still believe the DD-3 is the way forward. Fortunately, we have a huge guide to help you find the best Boss delay pedal.
Durable build for Boss DD-3
The Boss DD-3 design is straight-forward and durable. It has the familiar Boss rugged metal chassis. The unit can be powered with a 9V battery or via an AC adaptor. It ships with a battery, but there’s no included adapter, so expect to shell out some more for that. The base is made of non-slip rubber which works well on most surfaces. The pedal has the standard broad foot-switch seen on most Boss designs. The four control knobs are recessed and generally out of harm’s way. The unit has an input, output and direct out. The last can be used to send your dry signal to a second amp or a tuner. The pedal comes with a five-year warranty.
No-nonsense control scheme
The controls, located on the face of the pedal, are: Effect level (E.level), feedback (F.back), delay time (D.time) and mode. ‘Effect level‘ controls the volume of the delay repeats, ‘feedback‘ controls how long the delay repeats ring out for and ‘delay time‘ controls the amount of time between each delay repeat. ‘Mode‘ is a different way of controlling the delay time. It sets the macro delay time while the delay time knob fine tunes the same parameter. The delay time range is 12.5ms to 800ms, which is quite limited by modern standards.
The control set-up is about as simple as it gets. Naturally this means that there are less tonal options available on the pedal. However the tones that can be coaxed from it sound good. The design will be attractive to guitarists who want to spend more time playing and less time fiddling with knobs. There’s no tap tempo function on the pedal, which will disappoint some users.
Useful in a range of styles
The Boss DD-3 responds well to use in a versatile range of styles and genres. It’s not a vibe pedal – it just produces a crisp digital delay sound. While used on a clean guitar the pedal sounds clear and pleasant. It also responds well to overdriven sounds and is shred-friendly. When set to longer delay settings the DD-3 can produce some ethereal synth-like tones. For such a simple delay it is surprising the range of tones you can get out of it. The pedal may be inexpensive but the tones it produces are good enough that it’s used by a number of top-level professional players. It is worth noting that many of the pros who use the pedal would be using vintage or modded versions. Just how different the earlier “big chip” Japanese-made version of the DD-3 actually sounds to the current version is highly debatable though.
Boss DD pedal line-up
The DD-3 has a number of siblings in the Boss line-up: The DD-5, DD-6 and DD-7. If you like the tone but dislike the no-frills design you may want to consider them. The DD-5 and DD-6 are discontinued but the DD-7 is still available. The discontinued models are easy to find on the used market. The DD-5 has four switchable delay ranges, 11 modes and a delay time range of 1ms-2000ms. It also has tap tempo via the optional FS-5U footswitch. The DD-6 has stereo delay effects and reverse and warp modes. It has a built-in tap tempo and a delay/hold time of 5200ms. The DD-7 offers stereo delay although it returns to the tap tempo via external footswitch design, similar to the DD-5. The DD-7 also has an optional expression pedal, modulation delay mode, modelled analog delay mode and a delay time of 6400ms.
The Boss DD-3 Digital Delay is a classic pedal that continues to appeal to consumers despite some design shortcomings. There’s no tap tempo, the delay time is limited and the tonal range is not extensive. However the pedal is affordable and simple to use. It produces pleasant, clear delay sounds and is reasonably versatile given the simple control scheme. For many users the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.
The DD-3 is very warm sounding for a digital delay and holds its own against more expensive models.
Boss is built tough. Boss sounds awesome. You can always expect that from them.
This delay is very simple and straightforward, without the multiple modes found on newer designs.
It doesn’t have tap setting, but the knob is easy to use, and does everything from slapback rockabilly echo to longer U2-style rhythmic delay at 400 milliseconds and beyond.
Input Impedance: 1 M ohms
Output Impedance: 10 k ohms or greater
Residual Noise Level: –95 dBu (IHF-A, Typ.)
Connectors: INPUT Jack, DIRECT OUTPUT Jack, MAIN OUTPUT Jack AC Adaptor Jack (DC 9 V)
Power Supply: DC 9 V: Dry Battery 9 V type, AC Adaptor