By Damian Fanelli and Josh Hart
You don't have to be surf-rock legend Dick Dale to appreciate a touch of reverb on your guitar's signal.
Even a smattering of the 'verb adds character and generally makes things sound warmer, friendlier and twangier, all while fooling your poor brain into thinking you're rocking out in a fan-packed stadium.
And if you've got the hankerin' for reverb — and something in the ballpark of $200 — you can try and buy a ridiculous number of pedals that supply you with every variation, from plate to gate, from room to hall, and of course, the most legendary of them all, spring. Yes, majestic spring reverb — that fat, wet tone that makes your mouth water just thinking about it.
Here's a list of five of our favorite reverb pedals. Like last week's gear feature, this list was compiled by a group of Guitar Aficionado staffers, including Technical Editor Paul Riario. As always, these five pedals are presented in no particular order.
Boss has been making top-notch, user-friendly, road-worthy reverb pedals (and pretty much every other kind of effect) for many years, so there was bound to be some form of Boss presence on this short list.
The model we’ve decided to go with is the recently introduced FRV-1, which was created by Boss and Fender in an attempt to reproduce the sound of an original 1963 Fender Tube Reverb unit (known in surf-rock and rockabilly circles as a reverb tank).
Like the Wampler pedal on this list (It's a few pedals down), the FRV-1 does a damn fine job. It even offers the same controls as an actual '63 Fender Tube Reverb: Dwell, Tone and Mix knobs let you dial in everything from buttery warmth to serious sparkling twang. And while we’re stopping way short of saying the pedals’ looks have anything to do with our choice, we do love the vintage-brown, retro appearance of the FRV-1.
Once again, this is a Boss pedal, so it can take a licking — plus it’s a lot easier to carry in your gig bag than an actual reverb tank. It’s a lot more affordable too. Please enjoy the gigantic photo below.
MSRP: $222.50 | Buy at Amazon
The Holy Grail Plus from New York City-based Electro-Harmonix offers strong spring and hall reverb, a neat little Flerb feature plus a simple room reverb (That’s the “plus” in the name). Its multifunction control lets you control the decay, damping and modulation speed.
In Spring mode, the Amount knob controls the size of the spring reverb. In Hall mode, the Amount knob makes the reverb space larger and larger (You can go from a room to a large hall). And speaking of rooms, the new Room mode is a simulation of the reverb heard in small spaces. In this mode, the Amount knob controls the reverb's damping factor.
From personal experience, we can tell you that the Flerb effect is quirky but pretty cool. It’s made up of a reverb followed in series by a flanger. In this mode, the all-important Amount knob controls the rate of the Flerb’s modulation.
MSRP: $195.60 | Click here for more info on this pedal.
As we mentioned earlier, there’s a whole universe of bite-size pedals out there that attempt to replicate the distinct, soaking-wet sound of the gigantic ’63 Fender Tube Reverb. That said, Wampler’s Faux Spring Reverb pedal does a damn fine job.
The pedal retains your analog base tone and doesn't send your signal through digital/analog converters and then back again (pummeling your tone in the process), allowing you to be as “springy” as you like, without your sound becoming lifeless, dull and horrible.
Its Shade control lets you adjust your sound and make your reverb as bright as day or dark as night — and everything in between. Other controls include Depth and Level, both of which are self-explanatory.
Wampler pedals are built in the U.S. and designed by tone-crazy Brian Wampler, who owns the small Indiana-based company.
MSRP: $229.97 | Click here for more info or to buy this pedal.
Packing 10 different reverb types into one compact unit, the Hall of Fame from TC Electronic lives up to its moniker by providing more iconic reverb sounds than you can shake a proverbial stick at, including room, hall, spring, plate, church, mod, lofi, tile, ambient gate and TC Electronic's TonePrint mode.
TonePrint, for the uninitiated, allows users to load presets from an ever-expanding roster of the world's top guitarists. For the Hall of Fame alone, you'll get access to custom settings from the likes of Steve Morse, Paul Gilbert, Greg Koch and more, all uploadable to your pedal by way of USB.
But for all the new-fangled technology, the Hall of Fame is still a top-notch reverb pedal, each effect displaying soft tails and plenty of detail for even the most discerning stompbox aficionado.
MSRP: $204 | Buy at Amazon