While Rage Against The Machine may be a beacon of musical revolt, but there is very real order to Tom Morello’s tone. As a matter of fact, Morello is one of the best guitar players of our time and for a good reason. His ability to create a full sound with only basic tools has solidified that title for sure. One of those tools is Boss DD-3 Digital Delay. Morello is known for his affinity of Boss delays, and DD-3 is one of the more recent additions to his pedalboard. Today we are going to check it out closer and see what it has to offer. As you can see from the video below, the DD-3 factors largely into Tom’s overall sound.
Boss DD-3 Digital Delay Review
The evolution of Boss digital delays is definitely an interesting one. Back in 1980s, we had the almighty DD-2. It was a first compact digital delay pedal that actually worked. The DD-3 we are talking about today is the next model in the lineup. They have basically taken what was a rather solid platform, and built a whole new pedal upon it. As a result, we have a familiar tone with much more functionality and great performance. The real question is whether or not DD-3 has managed to overcome the issues commonly associated with digital delays?
By now, it has become pretty futile to talk about Boss pedal chassis design. They haven’t changed much ever since Boss first came up with their universal chassis. With that said, Boss DD-3 sports a white enclosure you will immediately be familiar with if you have ever used a Boss pedal before. As sick and tired as some people get from this design, there is a very strong sense of safety in knowing that most Boss pedals come natural. Same goes for DD-3. It’s intuitive, easy to use and all about performance.
When it comes to features, things get far more interesting. Controls are more or less straight forward, but fairly diverse. Here’s what we mean by that. Going from left to right, you have your effect level knob, which is self explanatory. That is followed by a feedback knob which determines how long of an echo you will have. Next two knobs are where most of the action happens. Delay time allows you to manually set the amount of delay. The pedal itself goes from 5ms to 800ms. Mode knob next to it features several preset delay times, namely short, medium and long. Short is limited to 50ms, medium sets you up with 200ms while long goes to the max value of 800ms. Last mode labeled as Hold allows puts DD-3 in infinite delay loop. In other words, you can choose to access predetermined modes or set the delay time manually.
In terms of I/O ports, there is the standard input/output pair along with a direct out. One feature that is missing is tap tempo. That is about the only drawback we can find although it isn’t really a drawback when you consider where DD-3 fits into the Boss Digital Delay lineup. There are other pedals in this range that come with tap tempo. Compared to those more advanced pedals, DD-3 comes across as a tribute to good old times when things were simple and you had to manually set just about everything.
Whatever drawbacks we may have listed in the features segment are pretty much compensated by the raw performance of this pedal. Boss delays were always revered as a impressive no matter how strict your requirements are. With DD-3, it’s the same thing. Despite the lack of tap tempo, it isn’t actually that hard to find the right amount of delay. Chances are that some of the three offered modes are going to work for you, but even if they don’t, the delay time knob is pretty intuitive.
As far as the actual sound of the pedal goes, Boss brings a very solid performance. Compared to other digital delays, DD-3 can be described as warm and somewhat organic. Those two words aren’t commonly associated with digital delays, which should tell you a lot. DD-3 works great for just about any genre of music, ranging from blues and pop all the way to metal.
What really stands out is the flavor of DD-3. There is something so smooth about it, which completely voids the fact that it is after all a digital delay. We can attribute this to Boss and their know how. To be fair, they have smudging the line between digital and analog ‘flavors’ for a while now. In the end you are left with two great reasons why DD-3 is the way to go. One being its well known performance and the other what we’ve just mentioned. Once again we see proof that simplicity isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
While DD-3 may not fully meet the standards some users have, it is important to understand who this pedal is catered to. If you need all the bells and whistles, there are other Boss models from the DD series which will most likely fit your needs. DD-3 was introduced as a direct successor to the popular DD-2, and thus comes with only the core features. As we can see from the fact that Tom Morello uses one of these, you can push a seemingly basic delay quite far.
On a more serious note, Boss DD-3 is like a checkpoint between your super cheap delays and your boutique models. It’s there, at the middle of the road providing pure security and reliability. To some, such nature could come across as a flaw, but to many it is exactly what made Boss into the company they are today. If all you need is a proper delay and you don’t plan on getting the any deeper into this effect, it is fair to say that DD-3 is about as good as it gets all things considered.