Boss RC-3 No Power Problem Review

Boss RC-3 No Power Problem
Boss RC-3 No Power Problem

Today I picked up a Boss RC-3 Loopstation that looks pretty much brand new. The only problem was that it wouldn’t power on using either the Boss PSA adapter or via batteries. I bought it for $10 thinking I might get lucky and be able to get the pedal going but so far I’ve had no luck. Basically the pedal is dead and after some further research on the internet, there appears to be a power issue trend starting with these.

Now, I’ve had a Boss RC-3 before and had zero problems with it before I sold it. I am using the same type of batteries and required PSA adapter to power this newly acquired RC-3. Again the problem is that the RC-3 won’t power on. There are no lights or anything. I do get sound going through the pedal. Meaning I get a clean sound when either the battery or PSA adapter is connected. If I disconnect the PSA adapter or take out the battery, I get no sound. Note that no LED lights or any sign of life appears when trying to power on the pedal.

I’ve also used Mono cables and inserted appropriately the cables to the A output jack which acts as the “power on” to the Boss RC-3. Still nothing. I then took a good hour and dismantled the entire pedal and check for any obvious issues. Again nothing. In addition, I checked for continuity on most of the points and also checked for any cold solder joints. I couldn’t find anything wrong at all.

Thus it’s very strange that this Boss RC-3 won’t power up at all. Others have claimed that the Boss RC-3 while working fine one day will suddenly stop and not turn on. It’s dead! This is a great little pedal, but I’m afraid that unless the problem is found, we could see quite a few more of these “very expensive” pedals crapping out in the future. So I thought I’d post my experience and will update if I make any progress. Beware of possible power issues with the Boss RC-3.

Stay tuned!

29 thoughts on “Boss RC-3 No Power Problem Review

  1. Thanks for the info Keith.

    It’s makes perfect sense that the RC-3 would be in sleep mode. The pedal appears to be running in bypass mode because when it’s plugged in or on batteries, I get my guitar sounding through it just fine. ( No LED lights though ). I also know that the sales clerk I purchased the pedal from would have no idea about sleep mode and thus would think it’s broken. I also know that most likely the pedal has not been in use for over 10 hours which automatically kicks the sleep mode into gear. With my previous experience, I was thinking I would get lucky and have something as simple as sleep mode be the problem….chuckle.

    However, after reading the instructions, I can’t seem to get the RC-3 to turn on or snap itself out of it’s funk. For reference, I have posted the sleep mode notes from the manual here. I was hoping this would work, but so far it hasn’t. I great appreciate the suggestion though.

    When ten hours have elapsed since the last operation or audio input, the RC-3 will enter sleep mode (power conservation mode; only the bypass sound will be output). From sleep mode, you can press the pedal to return to normal mode.

    * Battery power continues to be consumed even in sleep mode. To prevent battery consumption, turn off the power by removing the plug from the OUTPUT A jack.

    * The RC-3 will not enter sleep mode if there is a phrase that has not been saved.

    Disabling Sleep Mode
    1. While holding down the pedal, turn on the power (insert a plug into the OUTPUT A jack).
    2. Continue holding down the pedal for five seconds. The display will blink “__.”
    3. Release the pedal; the RC-3 will resume normal operation.

    Enabling Sleep Mode (default setting)
    1. While holding down the pedal, turn on the power (insert a plug into the OUTPUT A jack).
    2. Within two seconds after the display appears, step on the pedal two more times.
    The display will blink “SL.”
    After two seconds, the RC-3 will resume normal operation; sleep mode will be enabled.

    Again, I don’t seem to be getting any green/red lights or numbers/— on the LED screen. The pedal is completely dead with the exception of getting bypass mode. My guitar signal does pass through the pedal with either plugged in with a PSA adapter OR when a battery is in use. If I unplug the pedal and remove the battery, I get to bypass mode and thus my guitar does not sound.

    Thanks again!

  2. Also FYI, I’ve seen in a lot of these Boss Pedals a protection diode of sorts, but upon inspection of the newer RC-3 was unable to locate it. It makes sense that a diode might need to be replaced, but without a service manual to locate the diode, it might be difficult. I’m checking on that.

  3. Well I got all excited today thinking I might be able to fix the RC-3 by replacing the SS14 surface mounted diode located next to the power input jack. It didn’t look burned out at all but when I tested with a multimeter it was reading “short” so I thought perhaps the diode was shorting out or something. I replaced it and after initial testing, the Boss RC-3 still won’t power on. Crap! I really thought I had it there for a moment.

    Now my thinking is that the Output A jack when inserting a mono cable is NOT powering up the RC-3. Or, there is a ribbon cable inside the RC-3 that delivers power to the display, LEDs, and everything else. Perhaps that ribbon cable is not working properly and thus there is no sign of life.

    I can say this though. I will never buy a future Boss RC-3 new. No way! To be fair I don’t know what caused this, but for a pedal this expensive to go dead while it still looks new is not a risk I’d like to take. I’m willing to bet that in 2-3 years time, I’ll come back to this post and find that the there are quite a few dead RC-3 pedals out there. We’ll see. I believe this pedal was released in 2011.

    Anyways, I’m on to the next bit of testing.

  4. John McEvoy

    Hey Jim I don’t have this unit, but if the unit runs at a greater voltage than that supplied by the adapter, it could be the charge pump capacitors if they’re electrolytic, they are ticking timebombs and they fail exactly how you described peace jm

  5. In the past, I have purchased a lot of broken Boss/Roland pedals and synths hoping to repair them. The older models are quite easy to repair because of the “through hole” components. So far, I’ve been able to repair 100% of the older gear but 0% of the newer gear. I like newer compact technology with SMD components but really miss the older “through hole” boards. They were a breeze to fix.

  6. Plan to change the capacitors one by one and see what happens. I just fixed a JP-8000 by changing those surface mount caps with older leg versions. Worked fantastic. I will do the same with the RC-3 and hopefully it will come back to life. Stay tuned!

  7. Phillip

    Mine passed out a few days ago in the middle of playing. Heard a bit of buzzing then it just died. Keen to hear the news after you’ve changed the capacitors

    1. Thanks of your interest and I’m sorry to hear your RC-3 is having problems too. I ordered the caps about a week ago from China. They’ll get to Japan in a week or so and then it will take about a day or two to work on the board. I’ll update this post for sure about the result. Thanks again and I’ll keep everyone posted.

      1. Brian Lee

        I was lucky enough to solve my problem within a few hours.
        Here’s my story, hope it can help others too.
        I moved my RC-3 from my main pedal board to a smaller board for travelling. I used a different Boss power supply and it worked for many hours like this. So it was surely safe to assume the power supply is 100%.
        Mid gig the looper died, but other pedals running off the same supply were still running ok. I assumed the pedal must be the fault.
        After extensive troubleshooting, no need for that detail, I noticed I was measuring 14V on the PCB, somewhat high for a 9V supply. Although it had been working with this supply for many hours before. #confused
        Nevertheless I tried a fresh battery and it worked!
        Again, I plugged in the power supply and the pedal was dead.
        In summary, I was using an ACA boss power supply. (Non regulated) DO NOT USE ACA POWER SUPPLIES!!
        Now I have it working with either a 9V battery or a PSA Boss power supply.

        Hope this helps someone!

  8. Brian Lee

    My RC-3 died last night. I have a suspicion that it may be the SD card that has failed. Just a suspicion. I am going to try source a similar 2GB micro SD card and replace it. No idea if this will work or not, but sure worth the try.

  9. Jon

    Just adding my story. I too have exactly the same situation as Jim. I have had my RC-3 for less than a year. Now, suddenly, it is behaving precisely as Jim describes. Maybe there is an issue with this product.

  10. Tom

    I’m having the same issue with mine. Only played once or twice and left in a box for a year.

    SL disable process, done the holding down mono cable. Several cables, several Amps. Power outlets and still nothing.

    I get the _ _ blinking and then release the pedal, then everything goes blank. Can still get sound out of amp but no loopage, £180 for a guitar lead extension! Class

  11. same thing for me. used it for quite awhile (maybe a year) a few days ago it just went dead & won’t power on with the adapter or a battery. surprised as i have a few boss product from the 80’s that still work. i guess having them repaired is not cost effective. shame my friend (an amp builder just moved to Arizona to work for Fender,he builds effects & amps. sure he could have figure it out………………..
    timing is everything (LOL)

  12. Marius

    Hey, Im having the exact same problem with my RC-3…two days untill concert where I need it like air…hope someone will find a universal cure for this problem, because its really annoying…my pedal does show some signs of life but it doesnt go out of the sleep mode

  13. John

    Similar problem, the unit was not used for a little over a year. Pulled it out today and nothing, no bypass and no lights. I changed the battery and used the AC power source, nothing has helped, this unit is dead. The worse part is I only used it a handful of times, cripes the foot pedal is not even dirty.
    Is there somewhere to send it for repairs, or am I better off eating the cost and just buying a different brand looper


  14. Shrigis

    Mine has been working great, until last night after I took all of my pedals off the pedal board and cleaned them.

    The issue came as part of a set of external pedals [2 FS-5U pedals]. The left works as Stop/Tap Tempo/clear, and the right one works to change memory banks [step to increment, step and hold to decrement]. It uses a cable that splits.

    The left one does work as expected, but the right one does not. I’ve swapped FS-5U units around and changed the cables. I even performed a factory reset, and have determined that the issue is inside the unit.

    I opened it up, thinking that maybe there was a clip in the 1/4″ socket that I could push forward, but these do not appear to be easily accessible.

    Has anyone else encountered this issue? I will take it apart again for an even closer look, since it’s usability is significantly deprecated for me with this issue.

    1. Shrigis

      UPDATE: There was a polarity setting combo on the FS-5U that I had failed to try. This is working fine now [too bad that comments cannot be deleted].

  15. Kirsty

    Same problem here with my RC-3. Not used for a while, then doesn’t power up yet am getting sound through it including the aux line-in at the back. Only used it a few times!!

  16. Just bought an RC-3 Brand new from a reputable local shop, Tried it out yesterday, all seemed good, loaded some loops, all good, mounted it on my pedal board and it is completely dead with a power supply plugged in, only works with a battery. Have double checked with a working Boss PSA and nothing doing. Have tried an isolated supply as well. Surely these un its should be withdrawn, as from my surfing today there are hundreds of them (at least) with power and reliability issues?

  17. Steven McKenzie

    Resetting the sleep mode worked, but it I don’t have a cord plugged into the output and input it will appear dead. Thank you so much!

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