Victoria’s highly sought-after Reverberato, a hand-wired recreation of the Fender brownface-style harmonic vibrato and blackface tube reverb, has retained a major cult following ever since Mark Baier introduced the unit in 1996 (only available built-to-order now). The company’s new limited-edition Reverberammo packs the same circuit (but with space-saving solid-state rectification) into a smaller enclosure—an authentic U.S. Army ammo box measuring roughly 11" x 6" x 7".
Unlatch the steel lid and you are greeted by five controls: Tone, Level, Dwell (reverb), Intensity, and Speed (vibrato). In addition—voila!—the short-spring reverb pan lurks under the lid itself, with in/out connections to be rigged up to their partners at the back of the unit via the supplied cable each time you set it up. It might seem like a fuss to some, but for the gigging musician, the neatly compact and robustly housed unit is quite convenient. Visually, the Reverberammo exudes a fun and alternative look, and the construction quality is the full pro-spec deal we’ve come to expect from Victoria. Behind its vented Plexiglas shield, the Reverberammo uses four 12AX7s and a 12AT7 preamp tube to get the job done, along with a hefty power transformer, a small choke and reverb transformer, and a tightly knit array of hand-wired circuitry. The back panel carries RCA connections for the two-button footswitch that turns each effect on and off.
These two tube-based effects co-existed in the Fender lineup of the early ’60s, but never in the same package. The harmonic-filter vibrato—which gives the impression of a subtle pitch-warbling true vibrato effect rather than volume-modulating tremolo—took two and a half tubes to produce in amps like the brown Super, Concert, and Pro, while the three-knob reverb only came in a stand-alone unit (and, of course, the much later Vibro-King 3x10 combo). Tested with a Koll Superglide Almighty, a Thorn SoCal C/S, and a Fender Telecaster through the front end of a Tone King Sky King and a Dr. Z Remedy amps, the Reverberammo proved adept at replicating these hallowed vintage effects, sounding utterly hypnotic in the process. Taken individually, there’s a depth and presence to each effect that feels extremely well judged, and, while your signal won’t go out the other side in anything approximating true-bypass when the effects are switched out, many players will also dig the way the tube circuit juices up the tone even with everything dry.
Together, though, is where they make the most impact. I had a blast with the rotor-like, multi-dimensional vibrato, and the reverb perfectly nails my mind’s-ear impression of what vintage tube reverb should be, and with surprising depth and richness from this short-spring pan. With both dialed in to taste, the Reverberammo is perfect for everything from Bo Diddley-beat rhythm grooves to trance-y atmospherics to period-perfect surf-twang. Some players might seek a slower vibrato speed now and then, but largely the control ranges are entirely sufficient. Sure it’s expensive, but the Reverberammo sounds excellent, is well conceived, and delivers exactly what you expect from a piece of high-end tube gear.
PRICE $1,250 street
CONTROLS For reverb: Tone, Level, Dwell. For vibrato: Intensity, Speed.
TUBES Four 12AX7s, one 12AT7
EXTRAS 2-button footswitch for individual on/off of each effect.
WEIGHT 7 lbs
KUDOS An inventive recreation of Fender’s famous tube-powered analog effects. Great tone. Outstanding build quality.
CONCERNS Some might desire a slower vibrato speed than is available.