Meanwhile, at Roland… Check your bingo cards, because I’ve got … “the 1980s…” … “digital” … “Roland rackmount digital delays” … “BOSS” … “floor pedal” and … “Eddie Van Halen.” Who has bingo?

And yes, I do mean with Eddie Van Halen himself – the collaboration evidently started before his untimely death in 2020.

Let’s start in the 1980s.

Source material: the 1983 hardware, at top.

Whoever thinks Roland is going to run out of vintage gear to reimagine hasn’t studied our Roland book. And in fact the device in question – the 1983 SDE-3000 rackmount digital delay – is a legend to guitarists, even if synthesists may scratch their heads. It’s up there with the likes of Lexicon for establishing that early digital delay sound, designed to fit the bounds of technology at the time. (Guitarists can argue about how the Roland sound compares to KORG’s rival, the SDD-3000 – listen.) Here’s a couple of demos of the original hardware:

Of course, the one thing you wouldn’t bring back is the push-button interface and retro display and … wait, no. Here’s the BOSS. They actually did wind up bringing back the look of the original gear.

Updated digital editions. EVH version on left.

Yoshi Ikegami describes the design process and why they were inspired by this ivntage gear in a genuinely interesting video from BOSS:

BOSS have two units here today. There’s the SDE-3000D Dual Delay, which incorporates the delay phase, modulation response, and other characteristics of the original in a floor unit – essentially what the 1983 hardware really wanted to be. (It took BOSS a few years before they would shift to floor form factors and out of racks.)

You get two discrete delays you can run in series or parallel, with mono or stereo modulation on each. Incredibly, they really did recreate all the original parameters and interface, but with more flexible I/O and MIDI.

And then the upgrade/splurge is the SDE-3000EVH Van Halen edition, which recreates his signature three-cabinet wet/dry/wet stage sound. It’s 80s hardware in its 90s configuration – run a dry path in the center and wet-only on left and right.

That’s just the sort of lush, extravagant sound we had in the 90s. Parents, you can tell your kids, assuming they aren’t now binging The Kids in the Hall after my recommendation yesterday.

I’m guessing we might only be seeing this now and not back in 2020 not only because of Eddie’s unfortunate death but also the chip shortage that came at the same time. But BOSS tells us they’ve packed a bunch of custom-designed presets developed in collaboration with the late artist. You get both the description above and stereo amplifier versions for practicality.

“There’s no difference in mix levels, input levels, or delay times—it’s one-to-one.”

matt bruck, managing director Eddie van halen, on the digital presets.

It’s not just paint and presets – the EVH version has expanded I/O. There’s the external loop send/return, plus output separated as direct and left and right effects. What’s partly interesting to me is that someone who isn’t working like Van Halen might take advantage of the same soundstage, which honestly while it’s extreme in studio use makes loads of sense live.

Matt Bruck, Van Halen’s managing director, says they literally have included the presets from Eddie’s rack –  “There’s no difference in mix levels, input levels, or delay times—it’s one-to-one.” And of course that’s something you can do precisely with reissues or adaptations of digital gear.

But yeah, basically the EVH model is the same unit, with expanded I/O capabilities and the additional presets, plus a different paint scheme. From the presser:

EVH and BOSS worked closely in the development of the SDE-3000EVH to ensure it delivers Eddie’s personal delay tone with complete authenticity. After a long process of testing and feedback, both companies proudly bring the finished product to guitarists everywhere, filled with exact sonic replicas of his presets and emblazoned with the signature EVH stripes.

$499 for the standard model; $599 for the EVH. That EVH model looks like it’ll hold its value.

Available at Sweetwater:

Boss SDE-3000D Dual Digital Delay Pedal

Boss SDE-3000EVH Dual Digital Delay Pedal

If you buy something from a CDM link, we may earn a commission.