On this post we will take a look at 5 of the best delay pedals made by Boss. These are not necessarily the newest ones (I’m looking right at you DD-500), but they definitely helped to create a standard when it comes to compact delay units.Without further due, here they are:
- Boss DM-2. I was battling about which pedal had to take the number one spot, and I think the DM-2 should be here (at least for now). Boss really made a good job trying to create an analog compact delay pedal; remember, the Boss DM-1, the first ever compact delay pedal from the company was pretty much twice the size. The engineers at Boss had to do the impossible to fit everything together and make the BBD chip capable enough to achieve this goal; as result, the repeats generated by the unit ended up having a very distinct and interesting warm sound.Up to date, this little bug is eagerly sought after by players, guitar aficionados and collectors; it can reach prices up to 350 U$ on eBay! I think that because of this, Boss finally cave in and relaunched the pedal in 2014 as part of their Waza-Craft series. It offers the same features plus more delay time (and less noise).
- Boss DD-5. This pedal is a gem. It was introduced during the mid-90’s and it had tons of features for a compact delay unit during that time; it offered something like eleven delay modes and internal and external tap-tempo; so yes, basically your dream of having those dotted eight repeats in sync with the band finally came true with the DD-5. It also had a two second loop (not very impressive, I know…), but it was basically a replacement of the “freeze” function of the DD-3. I’ve seen this pedal on lots of boards during the beginning of the 2000’s, especially on the worship music scene. Rumor has it the DD-5 came with a “defect” that made it sound cooler; the repeats somehow came up brighter. Boss though it was going to replace the DD-3 with this one, but sadly, the DD-5 went out of production in 2003. You can still get one through eBay or similar sites, but I think its price can go easily beyond 80 U$.
- Boss DD-3. In 1986 Boss introduced the DD-3. It was the successor of a previous digital delay pedal the DD-2. What happened is that during the production of the DD-2, in the early 80s, the chip that made it possible was pretty expensive, so the pedal itself wasn’t affordable; that changed in 1986 and instead of re-pricing the DD-2 (it would have looked like they previously boosted the price on purpose), Boss decided to relaunch the pedal with a new name and some minor appearance changes. Because this pedal has been in continuous production for 30 years (!) it has something like 3 versions, being the earliest ones, the boy wonders of the pack. The crucial factor for this consists in that the first versions where pretty much analog pedals except for the section of the circuit board that produced the delay. As the production moved from Japan to Taiwan (to reduce costs mainly), the circuit board also experimented some changes and the newer DD-3s produce a more digitalized sound, which means, they’re not as organic as the aforementioned versions. If you’re hunting for the earliest versions on eBay, you should go after the ones with blue labels (basically the made in Japan ones).
- Boss DD-7. This might be one of the best featured compact delay pedals of the market. Boss introduced the DD-7 in 2008, replacing the infamous DD-6. Learning from the shortcomings of the later and expanding from the success of the DD-5, this pedal has a loop function (up to 40 seconds!), analog delay emulation (base on the DM-2), reverse delay and modulation delay; it also recovered the external tap-tempo function from the 90s brother as well as keeping the internal function from the previous version. Additionally, it comes with an input jack for an expression pedal to control feedback. Unfortunately, people tend to underrate this pedal and my feeling is that once Boss decides to put them out of the market, they’re going to start appreciating it a little bit more; it’s been almost 10 years now, so, you never know… For what it’s worth, it’s an excellent digital delay pedal.
- Boss DD-20 Giga Delay. During the beginning of the 2000s the company introduced its Twin Pedal series and by 2003, they came up with the Giga Delay. I like to think of this unit as the TimeLine of its time and a response from Boss to tackle the Line6 DL4. A few years later though, it had some serious competition with TC Electronics Nova Delay, but overall this pedal is very robust. It had eleven sound modes and 23 seconds of delay (yes, 23 seconds, you’ve read that right). The dual stomp-box design helped to control some parameters more easily, like tap-tempo, preset select, loop functions, etc., but it’s safe to say it made the pedal look something big, consuming important pedalboard space, but it’s a little smaller for instance than the DL4, and perhaps little bit more intuitive and straight-forward for live usage; for instance, you can use the SOS function to create simple, yet effective ambient pads than be the layer of what you or the band is playing on top. People nowadays are in love with the Strymon TimeLine and tend to compare both, but I’m not sure they are that much comparable and certainly, the TimeLine is way more expensive. Sadly, Boss doesn’t produce this pedal anymore, but you can still find used ones through online portals and luckily in some music stores. Good hunt.
What’s In Store For The Future?
As we mentioned before, the Waza-Craft DM-2 is one of the “newest” addition (it’s a reissue actually) of the Boss delay family. There is other couple of pedals that I think are worth mentioning to keep an eye on. Time will tell if they will be considered classics or forgettable devices.
Boss TE-2 Tera-Echo. It’s not strictly a delay pedal; it mixes delay, reverb, filtering, modulation etc., can produce really dreamy sounds. It uses a new technology called MDP and this allows the pedal to respond to your dynamics. It was introduced in 2013 and has the distinction of being the company’s 100th pedal model.
Boss DD-500 Digital Delay. The successor of the Giga Delay and the challenger of the TimeLine (imho). It basically possesses the ability to recreate pretty much every delay pedal created by the company, plus some other interesting features to achieve more sounds in order to give the players a true sonic canvas. If you thought the Giga Delay felt shy by having only 4 preset banks, you don’t have to worry anymore; this one can have over 290 banks! Adding an interesting final note, you can notice that these series of pedals depart from the usual Boss single and dual stomp-box design; an indication of more changes to come?
Until the next time,