Reverb is something we like to call ‘musical MSG’ – it just makes everything sound that much better. And when your amp’s onboard reverb doesn’t cut it, there are hundreds of pedals to pick from. The problem is settling on the best reverb pedal for your needs.
Do you use reverb to enhance your tone or as an effect unto itself? Are you a virtuoso looking for depth in your solos or a shoegazer who absolutely must have reverse reverb? Whatever your needs are, you’ll find a stompbox here – they’re in no particular order – to fit them.
Back in 1987, the Boss RV-2 became the world’s first digital reverb stompbox, and three decades later, the sixth edition of the pedal still flies the Boss flag high. Like the legendary original, the RV-6 is an affordable, unfussy compact digital ’verb that produces an impressive array of tones, with eight versatile modes on board, including a decent shimmer effect. With just three controls and the usual bomb-proof Boss build quality, the RV-6 is the perfect digital reverb for people who want great sounds without too much hassle or tweaking.
2TC Electronic Hall Of Fame
Do you need one small form-factor pedal to cover all of your reverb needs and then some? Look no further than the Hall Of Fame from Danish pedal wizards TC Electronic. Featuring 10 different reverbs, along with TC’s innovative TonePrint system, there’s no limit to the number of algorithms the Hall Of Fame can provide. Now in its second iteration – plus a Mini version, which features one knob and is only tweakable via the TonePrint app – it’s easy to see why they nestle on so many players’ boards, and why TC Electronic have been making reverbs for film production and high-end recording studios for years.
If the Hall Of Fame doesn’t quite have the amount of reverb you were looking for, then Strymon has the answer. Famed for its 12 different reverbs and 300 presets, the BigSky is the mothership of multi-faceted reverb pedals. Introduced as an updated and expanded version of Strymon’s blueSky, the BigSky provides all of the essentials you need, plus Strymon’s own formulas, sure to satisfy both enthusiasts and professionals alike. Also included are press-and-hold Infinite Sustain and Freeze functions, plus Spillover and Reverb Persist modes, which are all saveable to presets.
4Neunaber Immerse Reverberator
Some might argue that price alone puts the likes of the BigSky and Eventide Space completely out of reach, and with good reason. Enter the Neunaber Immerse Reverberator, a compact reverb pedal with eight different modes and stereo outputs – all for under £230. Four knobs control level, time/tone, depth and varying types of modulation, and although things can get decidedly epic, you never become truly swamped. A richly atmospheric ’verb with lush modulation controls, this might be the best reverb unit available at its price point.
5MXR M300 Reverb
The M300 was an instant success at Winter NAMM 2016. Featuring a simple three-knob configuration, the tone knob also allows you to cycle through six algorithms, from Plate, Spring and Room emulations to the more esoteric Mod, Epic and Pad modes. The M300’s low noise floor is also impressive, and while MXR took longer than expected to introduce a reverb to the market, it was definitely worth the wait. It’s relatively affordable, too.
Described as “reverb and beyond”, the Eventide Space lets you explore the depths of the cosmos with 12 different reverb-and-delay combination effects, including BlackHole reverb with Gravity and Anti-Gravity features. It also covers your more rudimentary reverb needs back here on Earth, with spring, reverse and modulation types all included. This small metal box also includes over 100 presets, some of which have been generated by the likes of Justin Meldal-Johnsen and John Agnello (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr.). With its studio-quality reverbs based on the company’s flagship rackmount processors, there’s little chance the wonders and intricacies of Space will be unexplored for long.
7Electro-Harmonix Cathedral Stereo Reverb
While not nearly as powerful as the big boys – we’re looking at you, Strymon BigSky – the EHX Cathedral manages to pack in eight very tweakable reverb types. It’s a stompbox ideal for players who primarily use reverb as a finishing touch but who still want the flexibility of dialling in out-of-this-world ambient sounds. Where the Cathedral excels is in the bevy of straightforward controls to shape your tone. You can control the blend, reverb time, pre-delay of up to two seconds, feedback, and damping/tone. That last parameter is particularly useful. It can take your, say, hall reverb from an ominous wash all the way to a bright sparkle.
8Free the Tone Ambi Space AS-1R
Free the Tone has been making waves for its no-nonsense pedals that issue out pristine, as-they-should-be tones. And the Japanese brand’s reverb unit, the Ambi Space AS-1R, does exactly that. What it lacks in features it more than makes up for with stunning, studio-grade reproductions of the four common reverb types: spring, plate, room and hall. These are the reverb equivalent of the best burger you’ve ever wolfed down. Not the most exciting meal, but it impresses for doing something so simple so well. These four modes are some of the most non-intrusive, natural-sounding we’ve come across in pedal format, from the subtle nuances of the plate ’verb to the lush hall.
9Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail
For beginners or players who use reverb as a garnish rather than the main ingredient, the Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail is all you really need. And like any good garnish, this diminutive box will elevate your tone from pedestrian to professional. It’s affordable, sweet-sounding and incredibly easy to use, but there’s not a lot going on in terms of features. There are only three modes and one knob to control your wet/dry mix. Spring is your typical drippy simulation of classic analogue units, hall is a lush, spacious mode that doesn’t stray too far left-field, and Flerb is EHX’s signature flanger-reverb combination.
10EarthQuaker Devices Transmisser
The Transmisser evokes soundtracks from imaginary sci-fi flicks and lurid nightmares – think sounds from John Carpenter and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. This stomper is a modulated reverb with an extremely long decay that’s then fed into a resonant filter. The truth is, the reverb section on the pedal isn’t very editable – you can only control its time and tone. It’s the Freq, Warp and rate knobs, and their interplay, that define the Transmisser. Freq controls the frequency of the pedal’s resonant filter (it behaves very differently depending on the note or chord you’re playing), while rate handles the speed at which the entire pedal modulates. And Warp is a system-wide ‘slew’ control that affects the filter and modulation.