The Korg A3, now out of production, was originally released during the 1980’ and is fondly remembered as one of the best of the early rack mount effects units. Korg marketed the A3 an all in one multi Digital multi effects unit. The unit had 19 built in effects groups including 41 different types of effects to choose from and came with 20 built in effects chains. The chains and individual parameter settings of each effect could be edited and stored in one of 100 program slots on the RAM memory.

Effects available included reverb, compressor, distortion, delay, stereo delay, modulation delay, phaser, pitch shift and EQ. The A3 included Korg’s Digital Signal Processor which aimed to eliminate signal degradation. The A3 also utilized 4 times over sampling techniques to preserve the tones and provide a high quality output. The A3 allowed upto 6 effects at once which could be set up in a chain – the chain could then have his it’s own master volume, noise gate etc.

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Users were able to upgrade the A3 through adding expansion cards which upped the number of presets and effects available. There was also an optional foot controller (the FC6) which enabled the user to control the unit via stomp boxes, especially useful during live situations.

The A3 did have some problems associated with it’s design – the soldering on the circuit mounted input/output jacks could be temperamental and loosen or break from time to time – necessitating minor repair work – backlights for the screen could also fail over time. Given the A3’s age the expansion cards can also be hard to come by (check out the usual auction sites) – these really are a must if you want to get the full A3 experience.

The A3 was widely used within the music industry (not just as a guitar unit!) and presets can often be heard if you listen close enough – one of the A3’s famous users was U2’s The Edge – take a listen to Mysterious Ways from the Achtung Baby cd and you can hear the Korg A3 in all it’s glory.

Where the A3 sits against today’s units is debatable – the POD XT series for example has such a range of effects and modeling capabilities that the A3 isn’t really able to compete – however what the A3 can offer is a range of impressive tones that would grace any guitarists sound.

As we said the A3 is now out of production – units crop up on auction sites from time to time for fairly reasonable prices – a quick search on google should be able to source the files needed to replicate the expansion cards – throw in a foot switch and you’ll have a great vintage unit capable of a broad range of tonal options.