EarthQuaker Devices Ledges Tri-Dimensional Reverberation Machine review: a refined three-mode reverb with huge range
On the surface, it seems limited. In reality, it’s anything but.
EarthQuaker Devices Ledges Tri-Dimensional Reverberation Machine
Hey, what’s this? An Earthquaker Devices pedal with some relatively restrained-sounding reverb modes, and no mentions of wizards or spells or caves or rainbows in the product manual! The world’s gone topsy-turvy. Or has it?
On the face of it, this is the most ‘normal’ EQD reverb pedal in recent memory. Here we have a three-mode pedal with room, hall and plate modes, organised in order of shortest to longest decay time.
Controls are simple. Length, damping and mix actually adjust the reverb, and a six-position rotary switch acts as a preset bank. An expression pedal can be assigned to any of the three reverb controls, via a simple knob-twiddling process. It’s all quite neat and self-explanatory, especially for a pedal with – mercifully – no screen.
In the first instance, I threw Ledges into the effects loop of an Orange OR15 and, well, I’m happy to report that – surprise surprise – EQD still makes a damn good guitar pedal. Setting all controls at noon is a great starting point, with the hall setting basically just being the sound in your head when you think ‘reverb’.
Hitting the toggle switch over to room and shortening the decay time gives me something a little more rock ‘n’ roll and slapback-y. But heading to the plate mode and lengthening the decay and something interesting happens: it doesn’t stop. On maximum length, the plate mode sort of ‘freezes’ your signal, decaying indefinitely – although it never gets quite to the point of runaway oscillation. It’s a very cool sound, with obviously massive potential for the drone and ambient players out there.
Additionally, the buffered bypass of the pedal lets the trails continue after you’ve disengaged the effect – this is good for smooth transitions, but even better for making an infinite plate pad and noodling over it.
While this ambient droning has already allowed Ledges to transcend its basic room-hall-plate premise, it would still be a disservice to Earthquaker if I didn’t grab a guitar with a wiggle-stick and run the Ledges into some fuzz. Given co-founder Jamie Stillman’s music taste, are you surprised to learn that this sounds freakin’ great?
There’s something about where in the spectrum the wet signal sits that lets a fuzz turn it into a wonderfully washy MBV swirl rather than unmusical mush. And, of course, set it to plate, crank the mix and decay time, and your guitar is suddenly a noisy synth at the bottom of a haunted well. Great stuff. We’re back in EQD home territory: the more standard sounds are grand, but this is where this pedal really shines.
A-ledge-dly good value
But with only three modes and a relatively simple control set, what sets the Ledges apart from other, more affordable pedals? Why buy this, when you could get more modes with something like an Oceans 11?
In short: fidelity. Even in the infinite plate mode, with lengthy ambient chords pulling themselves apart, Ledges remains sparkly clear and artefact-free. Leave a cheaper reverb pedal to do the same, and it’ll quickly sound like you downloaded your guitar from Limewire in 2003. This is not an ambient wash you’ll be reluctant to actually use live or on an album – even just the plate reverb decaying on its own bears a certain Disintegration Loops-like charm.
So Ledges is for the player who’s spent enough time with a do-it-all multi-mode reverb to find that both drippy spring and sparkly shimmer are both beyond their needs. The player that’s realised most ambient patches are just remixes of hall, room or plate sounds, and have decided to take things into their own hands. That’s not every player, but no pedal is all things to all guitarists. If you know what you want, well, EarthQuaker Devices has it.