1984 BOSS DM-3 Delay

Model Description:

Introduced around 1984, the Japanese BOSS DM‑3 was the last original analogue delay pedal produced by BOSS during its heyday in the 1980s. The DM‑3 is very similar to the out‑going DM‑2, with the addition of a built in high speed noise reduction circuit and a filter that cleaned up the delay repeats for a clearer sound with less noise. It also improves on the DM‑2 by having a direct output that can be used to create a pseudo‑stereo effect, sending dry signal to one amp and the wet effect signal to another. Like the DM‑2, the delay time is variable between 20ms and 300ms, very typical for the ubiquitous Panasonic MN3205 BBD (Bucket Brigade Device) integrated circuit at its heart. Like its predecessor pedals require the earlier, more powerful 12V BOSS/Roland ACA power supply to bypass the battery. The control layout is also identical to the DM‑2, although the newer pedal’s knobs were unique, only featured on the DM‑3 (and some early CE‑2Bs). By 1988, the DM‑3 had been discontinued amid a rush for digital delay effects, including from BOSS itself with the DD‑2 and DD‑3. It wasn’t until 2014 that BOSS reissued an analogue delay (the Waza Craft DM‑2W) to recapture the now‑vintage authentic tones. The DM‑3 is a bona fide classic and is rapidly becoming a hot commodity on the vintage pedal market. Purist collectors may veer towards the DM‑2 over the DM‑3, citing warmer, muddier repeats, but it really is a close run thing.

Pedal Description:

I really like the way old analogue echoes degrade as they fade, even (or especially) solid state ones. This 1984 BOSS DM‑3 fits that bill perfectly. They may not have the tape and head wear of mechanical echoes but in my book, the convenience more than outweighs the hassles. Digital delays may be ‘better’ in so many ways but they just don’t capture the sensuous analogue echoes in quite the same way. The BOSS DM‑3 looks and sounds very much like its esteemed predecessor, the DM‑2, with which it shares a great deal. It doesn’t ‘wig out’ like many other delays and it has been described as ‘polite’ and therefore particularly suited to the guitar. The sonic differences between the DM‑2 and DM‑3 are very small and, essentially, of little consequence. I’m not sure that I can really tell the difference. The trailing echoes are supposed to be a little more pristine but that’s about it and only for the keen‑eared (i.e. not me). Visually, the only differences are the white lettering instead of black and the unique (original) knobs, which I must say look very odd on an old BOSS pedal. This one is in pretty good condition for its age with only a few places of wear to the finish and it works perfectly. Analogue solid state delay pedals are my favourite effect, so I’m biased about how good I think they are. It is undoubtedly very good but it still does not compare with my vintage Electro‑Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man, which is still top of my pops. I may be repeating myself but, actually, isn’t that the point of a good delay pedal?


  • Made in Japan by Roland Corporation in July 1984
  • The ‘Repeat Rate’ knob controls the interval between the original note and the delayed note
  • The ‘Echo’ knob controls the volume of the delayed note compared to the original note
  • The ‘Intensity’ knob controls the number of echoes, from a single echo to multiple repeats
  • The ‘Check’ LED light indicates when the effect is in use
  • The BOSS treadle footswitch turns the effect on and off
  • Standard ¼” single input and a pair of mixed or wet/dry output mono jack sockets
  • Delay time: 20ms~300ms
  • 12V DC power supply (BOSS ACA) or 9V battery
  • Green ‘Made in Japan’ label on the base of the pedal
  • Dimensions: 70mm (w) x 125mm (d) x 55mm (H)
  • Weight: 450g
  • No box or instructions

Detail Gallery:

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