Effect history (Part 4): The 80s shaped in racks

Effect PedalIn the 80s there was a boom of pedals and some technical progress. Each of the most famous manufacturers (Boss, MXR, Ibanez and Electro Harmonix)) produced his own interpretation of each kind of pedal and all of them have been packed into colorful enclosures.


But also the rack-effects, which were intended to be used for record-studios, have been used on the guitarrig. The digital technique made it possible to create powerful and flexible devices.

Korg SDD-3000The most famous are the reverbs of Lexicon,, the Korg SDD 3000 and the TC Electronic 2290 Delay. Uncountable multi-effects were added. In order to be able to switch it usefully, producers like, for example Bob Bradshaw, invented specific switching- systems.

Midi-technique made it possible to vary all parameters of the digital effects. Some effect-racks became as high as a Marhall Fullstack. But the numerous connections caused some disadvantages: certain power supplies were needed to avoid the humming of the rack. Furthermore the long cables influenced the sound and because of this, the signal got affected by numerous buffers and boosters.

Other typical multi-rack-effects of the 80s are theYamaha SPX and the Roland GP.

Analog multi-effects

Multi-effects also were new in the 80s. Ibanez had its UE 400--series – overdrive, compressor, chorus and delay combined in one enclosure. It was built-up by putting together the analog wirings of the respective pedals.

The counterpart of Boss was the ME-5. In this case the effects could already be switched by midi.

The advantage of these effects was that the whole pedalboard could be supplied with power by a single power supply without the need for any patch cables.

Digital pedals

Boss DD-2The digital technique enabled the producers to use more compact enclosures. The Boss DD-2, developed in 1983, used the same Chip like the huge rack delays. The sound of the DD-2 was excellent and still today it is in great demand. The T.E.S delay by Pete Cornish is oriented to the DD-2.

At the end of the 80s the first pitch shifter pedals were put on the market. And even in this category Boss was groundbreaking with the release of the PS-2 in 1987.

But also Ibanez developed the DML-series digital delays, which unfortunately were unable to pass through. Electro Harmonix again exceeded all technical limits by introducing the 16 second digital delay.

The next episode I will tell you more about the 90s.

Click here for the article about the pedals of the 70s.