The Korg SDD-3000 faithfully recreates Edge’s rack unit with 7 other delays, programibility, dual amping and awesome sounds

By Stephen Pate – The Korg SSD-3000 digital delay rack unit has long been the holy grail of digital delays. Favored by U2 lead guitarist Edge, the SSD-3000 has achieved almost mythic status among guitar players and vocalists both in performance and in the studio.

Edge is so worried about losing the effect that he collects old and long-discontinued SDD-3000 rack units. He also has a guitar tech to keep them running in top condition.

Now you and I can own the same sound with modern features like saving presets and different delay sounds.

Korg has obliged fans by recreating the Korg SDD-3000 Programmable Digital Delay Pedal in a large foot pedal that faithfully re-creates the airy rack-mount while adding other popular delay effects like Analog, Tape, Kosmic, Reverse, Pitch, Panning and something simply called Modern. The delay settings range from 1ms to 4,000ms. I can’t personal imagine why a guitarist would need 4,000ms but it’s there.

What makes the Korg SDD-3000 standout from the other delay pedals in the market are the SDD-3000 modeled pre-amp, programability, dual amping and other cool features. At first it seems like too much pedal but it didn’t take long to feel comfortable.

The SDD-3000 pedal includes one of the most unique features of the original rack mount is the pre-amp. Using both input level and gain controls you can over-drive the guitar into some delicious overtones before the first note hits your guitar amp.

The input is switchable between 30dBm, -10dBm, +4dBm which helps to keep the pedal in sync with your guitar, keyboard or other gear. It also lets you get a hot sound right off the bat. Once the input is set just dial in the pre-amp to get the distortion on the delays you like. This was one of the secrets of the original SDD-3000.

You can use the pre-amp in two bypass modes ignore the delay or mod the delays only. Personally, I didn’t bother since the delays are delicious and didn’t want to use the pedal without them.

The Korg pedal has almost unlimited mods on the delay effects including delay time, wave form, waveform, feedback, modulation intensity and frequency. In fact, there are so many possible settings figuring them all out is daunting.

Thankfully the pedal comes with 80 presets that you can try out, which I did. I ran through all 80 – which is 40 presets in Bank A and B. I did that several times until I settled on the presets that I liked – about 6. Then I was able to tweak them and save my own variations.

With so much to play with, I kept the pedal on my workbench and not the floor during the learning curve as you can see in the top picture. I still like it there so I can try small variations in the settings looking for the perfect sound.

If that sounds dodgy, I learned the trick from every piece of complex gear I owned. They give you hundreds of choices but it boils down to less than 10 pre-sets on each unit. Pro’s do the same thing. It’s nice to store them for easy recall.

In the early 80’s, Edge introduced producer/musician Daniel Lanois to the Korg SDD-3000 and the rack unit is part of Lanois’ stage and studio kit. Notice in the picture Daniel Lanois has taped the song settings for Emmylou Harris Wrecking Ball tour.

Daniel Lanois's Korg SDD-3000 settings for Emmylou Harris

Daniel Lanois’s Korg SDD-3000 settings for Emmylou Harris

The nice part about the pedal is you can develop your personal settings in practice, save them and recall instantly during performance or in the studio.

As you might imagine, my first few weeks with the SDD-3000 was intense. Play, try, listen, tweak and play again – rinse, shampoo, lather and rinse over and over. I’m not sure my wife appreciated it but hey, she married a musician.

One of the small but cool features are 6 different and tunable cutoff filters that shape how the delay tails sound, but not the guitar.

To get an idea of how Lanois runs the Korg, his gear and two amps, check out this Rig Rundown for Premiere Guitar starting at about 9 minutes. Lanois explains how he sets the input level on the pre-amp to get better dirt, the two amp setup, and the various settings on the SDD-3000 itself.

Again at 15 minutes in he starts talking about the settings on the Korg for various artists he has produced.  Of course, my way of doing it is not his nor will it be your setup. It’s just a good example.

I didn’t think I would like the dual amp feature but in the end it became my standard setup. While not essential, it sounds awesome to drive two amps at the same time. I drive Marshall and Fender pawn shop tubes amps hot and then AB switch a Fender Eric Clapton Vibro Champ for the dry or reverb amp. With 2 or 3 amps being driven it’s like guitar heaven.

Two amps are required to get the Panning and Pitch delays perfect. Of course, Kosmic sounds out of this world with two amps, at least in practice since that’s not a delay I have a use for….yet.

Korg SDD 3000 back showing dual inputs and outputs, MIDI connections

Korg SDD 3000 back showing dual inputs and outputs, MIDI connections, and expression pedal input ( along with the two dodgy brackets I rigged up to elevate the back of the pedal on the bench)

Korg has Soundcloud files you can listen to which are worth the time although the pedal sounds better live. Anytime people compress the shit out of sound files and put them on the internet you lose the real sound. There are also several reviews of the Korg SDD-3000 on YouTube and they suffer from poor sound as well. There is nothing like the sound of this pedal live.

The Anderton’s video is more informed and fun than the others. The demo twins approach the pedal like I would – plug it in and play.

The only downside to the pedal is Korg’s manual is very limited. To get a better idea of the theory behind the pedal, since I didn’t own the original, I downloaded the original SDD-3000_owners_manual which helped, including the preset explanations.

I was looking for a new delay pedal for years and almost made the jump on a great analog only pedal in the $300 range. I didn’t think I wanted just the SDD-3000 sound – kind of 80’s right – but this pedal answered all my needs and then some. Awesome at about $400 street price.

Buy your Korg SDD-3000 Programmable Digital Delay Pedal from Amazon.com for $399 – Amazon.ca $499 in CanadaAmazon.co.uk £330.00 in the UK.