Field guide to DOD's FX-series pedals

The design of an effects pedal should be durable but also marketable, with its own brand identity to help it stand out from its competitors. Boss hit the jackpot on the first try with their compact pedal design, and while there have been some small design changes (as detailed in The Boss Book, ISBN 0-634-04480-X), the overall appearance of their pedals (case design, logo, etc.) has really not changed in over 30 years. At the other end of the spectrum, Ibanez completely revised the design of their compact pedals at least five times over that same time period (808-series, 9-series, 10-series, 5-series, 7-series, and finally the reissue 9-series). DOD was forced to redesign the "foam" rubber treadle of their original FX-series of pedals due to excessive wear within the first year of release, setting the stage for a wide variety of cosmetic variants.

DOD's FX-series pedals can be generally classified into the three different designs listed below, plus a "transition" design. Given our lack of insider access to DOD marketing/design info, we made up our own names to classify the graphics, DOD marque plates/logos, and treadle designs used. Note that some DOD FX-series design features (control knobs, battery covers, bottom plates/labels) can be easily (and inadvertently) changed; we hope to sort through these features later in 2011. Finally, note that DOD's marketing department appeared to be slow to keep up with these design changes during the late 1980s and early 1990s, and thus DOD's catalogs and advertisements from that time period did not always reflect the current "look" of DOD's pedals.

Original FX series (1982-88):

Although the treadle design varied during the first 3 years, the first 12 effects pedals released as part of DOD's FX series shared the same "bars" graphics. The first pedals with "box" graphics was the FX56 American Metal, and the rest of DOD's lineup eventually followed suit, although the first 4-knob pedals featured a different graphical design altogether ("beams"). Finally, the FX-17 Wah / Volume pedal had its own unique graphical design, although there is some overlap with the information presented here.

"Transition" pedals (late 1988):

These pedals were produced in late 1988 (circa serial number range 765k-782k) and were usually identical to the original series except for the new "outlined" DOD logo on the marque plate, as shown below. However, we have also seen "transition" pedals with "2S" treadles (two screws, no DOD logo) as well.

Second FX series (1989-98):

The years 1988-90 were a time of transition for DOD, with the departure of company co-founder and namesake David O. DiFrancesco and the sale of DigiTech/DOD to the Harman International group. Although the basic pedal housing did not change much, nearly every other detail was updated in 1989, as described below. The fact that DOD's FX pedals then had a uniform appearance for the first time in several years likely helped the subsequent sale of DOD/DigiTech to Harman International circa 1990.

Final FX series (1996-VFX):

The final series of DOD's FX-series of pedals were completely redesigned, addressing problems such as the easily lost battery cover, the poorly-protected footswitch, and the by then-unusual 3.5 mm center positive AC adapter (in favor of a Boss-style adapter). However, the final series was sold alongside the second series into 1998. Note that even after the second series was effectively discontinued in 1998, the FX40B was never redesigned for the final series, and the black-graphics FX70C Corrosion variant was also produced into 1999, possibly to help profitably use up older second series parts.

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