Few players are as inextricably associated with a guitar effect as The Edge and his ’80s Korg SDD-3000, which became a fixture in his rig right around The Unforgettable Fire and The Joshua Tree. The sound is immediately identifiable: a stuttering cascade of notes dancing over a decaying trail of percussive pick attack. The effect has been an obsession for U2 freaks for decades. So with a little input from The Edge’s guitar tech, Dallas Schoo, Korg reissued the SDD-3000 digital delay, this time in a more convenient and versatile stompbox format.
From Rack to Floor
Though you can dive right in and get cool delay sounds, it takes time to explore all the SDD-3000’s capabilities. A four-footswitch array occupies the lower third of the pedal. Two of these are primarily navigation for the two sound banks, which hold up to 40 presets each. The A and B footswitches select banks, while the bank up/down footswitches navigate the presets. You can cycle through them in sequence, or hold down the up/down switches to move in increments of ten. The bank down switch is also a tap tempo control when you hit it twice, and engaging the synch function allows you to select tap-tempo divisions as short as 32nd notes.
The SDD-3000 is a treasure trove for the creative delay user. Apart from the classic SDD-3000 sound, there are seven delay types (reverse, tape, analog, modern, kosmic, pitch, and panning), a modulation section with a selectable waveform-generator and frequency knob, a feedback control with a 6-band filter, and a mix control. Additionally, there are two attenuators (input and output) similar to those on the original rack-mount design. The input attenuator can be switched to -30dB or -10dB. The output attenuator can be switched to -20dB or +4db. (The latter is good for going direct to a P.A. or desk.) An included 9V/600 mA adaptor provides power.
The 80 factory resets cover a broad sonic spectrum. (My favorites include patch 34, a “kosmic” delay setting with quick repeats that feel like a long-tailed reverb.) It’s fun to use these presets as launching pads for you own explorations—and the SDD-300 can get way out. Kosmic delay with sine-wave modulation and wet mix settings has an expansive, crystalline chime that evokes Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. But switch to a square wave and reduce the feedback/balance, and you get a ’90s-sounding British gated reverb effect.
Some of the pedal’s least glamorous functions are its most effective ones. For instance, when I switched to a Les Paul, I used the input level knob to control signal clipping (indicated by the headroom meter). If you regularly switch guitars mid-performance, the input level knob can be invaluable for keeping your echoes clean. That said, playing at near-clipping levels adds nice saturation that can color your repeats in cool ways.
The SDD-3000’s attributes are too numerous to list here, but a few merit special mention: The stereo delay sounds are beautiful and expansive, especially when using percussive delays. And of course, the new SDD-3000 excels at replicating the classic SDD-3000 delay voice.
U2 fanatics will love the new SDD-3000. But it should also appeal to experimentally minded players eager to explore the extreme ends of the pedal’s capabilities. There are seemingly limitless configurations for post-rock and ambient environments, and an effective control set with which to tailor them. What’s more, it’s relatively easy to use and navigate live. The $399 price tag is steep at first glance, but this is a highly capable delay that can take on many, many personalities. If your echo tastes extend beyond the ordinary, you’ll find the SDD-3000 an intriguing option—and perhaps a bargain, given how many delays it might replace.