Sunday, July 20, 2014

Korg SDD-3000 "Programmable Digital Delay" ad, Keyboard 1982

Korg SDD-3000 "Programmable Digital Delay" full page colour advertisement from page 55 in the December 1982 issue of Keyboard Magazine.

Aaaah - the sun is out and I'm bathing in its warmth. But for how long? I got a lot to say... better get busy. 

First and foremost, from a marketing point of view, what's really interesting about Korg's recent announcement of its new SDD-3000 Delay Pedal is that this ISN'T analog. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE analog and was first in line to get Korg's reintroduced MS-20. But if the online response to this piece of retro DIGITAL technology is any indication, analog isn't necessarily king. RETRO is. Analog. Digital. It doesn't matter. A success here will open the door for Korg and many other companies to seriously think about reintroducing a wider range of retro gear. And that's good for everybody.

Korg has really been on a string of hits lately. First with the MS20 filter in those cute little Monotrons back in 2010 and 2011, and then in the MS20mini and the kit. Those units pretty much sold themselves.

But with two of Korg's most interesting recent announcements (for me anyways), it shouldn't go unnoticed that they have been brought in some heavy hitters to partner with.

First was the totally unexpected and surprising ARP Odyssey announcement back in February where they brought in none other than ARP original Dave Friend. That is just so amazing on so many levels. And now with the SDD-3000 pedal, who's name is appearing next to it? U2 guitar tech Dallas Schoo. That's who.

Korg knows that if they are going to come out with an SDD remake, who better than to partner with than the band that single-handedly put that effects unit back on the map. I have no doubt they could have pulled it off with him, but it just wouldn't have been the same. AND, think about the negativity that could have resulted if they hadn't brought U2 guitar tech Dallas Schoo in and then he comments on how he *didn't* like it. Ouch.

 Smart move. Which brings me to my next point - another smart move by Korg.

Although the official introductory news release for Korg's NEW SDD-3000 Delay Pedal is dated July 10, 2014, Korg USA tweeted the introduction of this awesomeness just after 8 p.m. (my time :) on July 9, linking to their product page. Social media wins again. Most stogy corporations won't let anything leak until a news release goes out. And that sucks bum. In this day and age, there is no problem with giving it to the people before you give it to the media when the story is this hot.

Anyways, no matter how the news got out first, the result was a lot more happy guitarists in the world. Even the Emo ones I'm sure. AaaaaND even those of us who aren't guitarists (or barely keyboardists) who have also looked back on the SDD-3000 with such great fondness. Korg continued the SDD- tradition by later releasing the SDD-1000, SDD-1200 dual delay, SDD-2000 sampling digital delay and my personal favorite, the SDD-3300 triple digital delay. 

But as happens in the musical world, the first born is usually the favorite. And so it is with the SDD-3000 and the masses. The U2-angle obviously helped, but I think its also a favorite because it was a first for Korg and people have a soft spot for firsts.

It wasn't their first effects unit, but it was their first cool looking digital effects unit. As far as I know, before this effects unit was released,  their effects looked... well... like older effects boxes. The era of the 1-unit cool-and-sleek looking digital effects rack was still just in its infancy, and this was Korg throwing their hat into the Keyboard-Magazine-ring relatively early in the game.  

This doesn't mean it was the first 1-unit digital delay off the block, but it was probably one of the first that me and many others heard about because the only place we read about anything music-wise was in Keyboard. I'm guessing there is a good chance that other digital rack gear such as those by Lexicon were getting promoted in other magazines, but as a kid who pretty much exclusively read Keyboard, I didn't see it. As far as I was concerned, it only existed if it was in Keyboard.  :)

Let's put it in perspective a bit.

Before this Korg ad, effects advertisements and spec sheet write ups in Keyboard for the most part came in one of two forms. You had pedals being manufactured and advertised by the likes of MXR, Electro-Harmonix, Pearl and Boss, and you had big bulky effects boxes created by companies like Bode and Roland. These were what I was most interested in and the real standouts for me at the time were Roland's RE-501 delay, Yamaha's E1010 and E1005 analog delay rack units and Sequential Circuits PRO-FX system (drooooooool).

But in amongst all those ads and spec sheets, readers of Keyboard were about to get a hint of what was to come in the sleek-and-clean digital rack world.

First, in late 1981 the spec sheet section of Keyboard magazine included the new Fostex model 3050 digital delay that featured 270 milliseconds delay time for a tidy $450.00. Ohhhh.

Then in April 1982, DeltaLab published an ad in Keyboard for their Time Line DL-4 digital delay 1-unit rack and followed that up in August and October 1982 with an ad for their $499 Effectron digital delay 1-unit rack. Both slim, sleek and almost digital looking. Almost.

And then, with DeltaLabs holding the door open, Korg walked through with this SDD-3000 advertisement at the end of 1982. And although the ad didn't appear more than two or three times, it did make a statement. First, the ad was designed to be horizontal. You had to flip the magazine 90 degrees to read it. Second, the unit itself was really different looking from previous Korg effects units with its digital read-out and puuurdy yellow buttons. 

Although ADA and Ibanez would end up advertising here and there throughout 1983, it was DeltaLabs that really tried to make Keyboard's digital delay territory their own.  That company began a manufacturing and advertising blitz, first in the March 1983 issue with an ad for the whole family including the ADM-256 ($499.00), ADM-64 ($399.00) and ADM-1028 ($699.00). By August 1983 they had no less than three ads running in each issue. To compare, Korg and Yamaha both had a maximum of three ads running in a single issue at the height of their advertising blitzes. DeltaLabs was in good company.

Interestingly, it wasn't until nine months after the Kord SDD-3000 ad appeared that it was finally featured in the Spec Sheet section of the September 1983 issue of Keyboard.
"The SDD-3000 is a programmable digital delay. It was designed to produce a number of effects including chorusing, flanging, doubling, reverb, doppler effects, infinite repeats, and so on. All control settings can be stored in nine different program locations and easily recalled via push buttons or footswitches. Specs and features include: up to 1032 milliseconds of delay, 30Hz to 17kHz frequency response; stereo capability; footswitch connections for program up and down, delay bypass, and hold modes; a feedback loop with 4-position high and lowpass filters; phase inversion of feedback loop and final loop; input and output facilities on the front and rear panel; triangle, square, and random waveforms from the LFO; external and envelope control of the VCO; and 3-position input and output attenuators. Price is $1,495.00. Korg, 79 Frost St., Westbury, NY 11590."
$1,495.00. Wowza. The new pedal is $399.99.  Another reason to like retro digital re-boots!

Well, I think I've rattled on long enough. Time to go out and enjoy the...

damn... raining again.

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