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There are tons of guitar pedals. Most of them can be grouped in categories. I’ve tried to describe most of them in the “guitar pedals explained” post series. However, there are 6 essential guitar pedals that any player should have. That is what this post is all about.

You may have seen similar posts here and there, but most of them include nearly all kind of guitar pedals. But we are talking about just the essential guitar pedals. Only a few, just like an starting point. Something to start building your collection of stompboxes.

I like the approach of Aaron Matthies of Guitar Gear Finder in this post, where he asks some of the top guitar bloggers about their essential guitar pedals.

This post (like most of them in this site) is about my personal opinion in this regard.

Why to start your collection of stompboxes from these essential guitar pedals? 

If you are a guitarist, you’re worried about your tone. It is vital to have what is called a great base tone, that is the basic sound generated by both your guitar and amp (and the cable you’re using). If you are a beginner, my advice is you better invest in a good guitar and a good amp. Then, you’ll be ready to add some more color to your sound by adding effects.

We all agree that  stompboxes are great. That is why you came to this website and are reading this post. If you are like me, you’d like to have ALL existing guitar pedals, or at least a few hundred…

But you have to pay for them, right? You have to be patient: your collection of guitar pedals is building up as you grow as a guitar player. Just like the toolset you may have, you’re always adding more tools to your collection.

In any case, there are a few essential guitar pedals that every guitarist should have on the pedalboard. If you are new to this, you should consider buying these pedals first, and then keep on with your collection.

In my opinion, the 6 essential guitar pedals are these:

  1. A good Tuner
  2. An Overdrive (or distortion if you prefer dirtier sounds)
  3. A Delay
  4. A Reverb
  5. Some type of Modulation
  6. A Compressor

Tuner

TC Electronic Polytune family
TC Electronic Polytune family

 

You must always play in tune. Especially if you play gigs with your band, you need a tuner pedal at the beginning of the signal path to tune your guitar whenever possible. It comes handy there because you mute the sound when switching it on.

Also for practicing, I find a tuner pedal very useful when learning how to bend. It is mandatory that any bending you do stays tuned. It you go from A to B, it is going to be a pure B. If not, you’re not going to sound good.

Also when learning vibrato (the one in which you bend the base note), a tune pedal is great so every bend stays in tune.

My favorite the TC Electronic PolyTune 2, a true bypass tuner that has a very cool feature: it allows you to check all the strings at once. For sure you can check each of them at a time, just like any tuner will do. But, with PolyTune, you simply strum all strings on your guitar or bass at once and it will immediately tell you which strings need tuning! It really is as simple as strum – tune – rock! 

Overdrive

Ibanez Tubescreamer TS808 (left) and Earthquaker Devices Palisades (right)
Ibanez Tubescreamer TS808 (left) and Earthquaker Devices Palisades (right)

 

Any guitarist uses some distortion. From just a little overdrive up to the dirtiest fuzzes, there is plenty of options to find the tone you like.

I think that you should have, at least, an overdrive pedal (with the time, you’ll have a few of them). It adds a little distortion, just like overdriven tube amps do when cranked up. You can also use it to boost your sound for playing a solo, even with no distortion at all (depending on the pedal).

There are thousands of overdrive pedals, with different looks, different controls and different sounds. However, most of them are based on the same unit: the legendary Ibanez Tubescreamer (either the TS808 and TS9).

Tray as many overdrive pedals as you can. If you don’t know which one to chose first, buy a Tubescreamer TS9. It is just great!

If you want some versatility, the Earthquaker Palisades will give you hundreds of different tones. It’s also based in a Tubescreamer, but it allows you changing a couple of things. First, you can select among different input bandwidths, which will change the characteristics of the input filter and hence the tone. And second, the sound of the distortion can also be changed by selecting among different clipping diodes.

Delay

Eventide TimeFactor (left) and MXR Carbon Copy (right)
Eventide TimeFactor (left) and MXR Carbon Copy (right)

 

A delay pedal will add magic to your sound. You can use delay to do crazy things (think off The Edge from U2) or just use it slightly to add some texture to the decay of the sound.

This way, you can select between a powerful, versatile, delay workstation such as the great Eventide TimeFactor, one of the best delay pedals. On the other hand, a simple analog delay pedal such as the MXR Carbon Copy is a great starting point (and a pedal you’ll keep forever).

Reverb

Eventide Space Reverb (left) and TC Electronic Hall of Fame (right)
Eventide Space Reverb (left) and TC Electronic Hall of Fame (right)

 

You may think that you don’t need a reverb pedal because you already have a built-in reverb in your amp. This reverb is, in most cases, a spring reverb. This kind of reverb is epic. It is where it all started. But it may be not optimum if using distortion.

In that case, a more natural type of reverb (like Room or Hall) will fit better with any sound you want and most music styles.

Just like delay pedals, you have, on the one hand, fully featured and powerful reverb workstations like the Eventide Space Reverb. On the other hand, my recommendation for your first reverb pedal is the TC Electronic Hall of Fame, probably the best reverb pedal for the value.

Compressor

MXR vintage Dyna Comp
MXR vintage Dyna Comp

 

Some people may argue that a compressor pedal is not really essential (i.e. for beginners).

However, it can help you making you sound better. How? When playing rhythmic guitar or arpeggios, a compressor can give presence to notes that you would’t miss otherwise.

A compressor pedal won’t just increase the volume of the weak notes and reduce the volume of the louder ones, giving a more uniform sound a presence. It can also act as a booster if required.

A must-have compressor pedal is the MXR Dynacomp.

Modulation

Boss CH-1 Super chorus (up-left), Strymon Mobius (up-mid), MXR Phase 90 (up-right), Eventide ModFactor (down-left) and Electro Harmonix Electric Mistress (down-right)
Boss CH-1 Super chorus (up-left), Strymon Mobius (up-mid), MXR Phase 90 (up-right), Eventide ModFactor (down-left) and Electro Harmonix Electric Mistress (down-right)

 

Modulation effects are probably the least essential guitar pedals of this list, but, due to their particular dynamics, they give movement to the tone of the guitar.

Most popular modulation pedals are chorus, flanger and phaser. You can check out each of them to see which of them you like the most, or invest in all-in-one modulation unit, such as the Strymon Mobius or the Eventide ModFactor.

For single-effect pedals, have a look to the Boss CH-1 Super Chorus, the Electro Harmonix Electric Mistress flanger (in any of its variations), and the MXR phase 90 phaser.

What is your opinion?

Of course, once you complete this essential guitar pedals collection, your GAS will have just started. From then on, you’ll be adding more pedals to your rig for ever (even a few more of the same kind of those presented here).

What is your opinion? Which are your essential guitar pedals? Drop a comment below and share the post if you liked it.

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Everybody knows how delay and reverb effects are like. In fact, they try to reproduce the sonic effect that occurs naturally to any sound that propagates within a closed environment.

Wether you play in a bathroom, in a concert hall or in a cathedral, you will experience how these type of environments affect the decay of the signal, as the (many) echoes bouncing back from every direction (from walls, ceiling, floor) add up to the tail of the signal, expanding its decay.

Depending of the nature (and number) of echoes adding up to the dry signal, you will have what is call reverberation or delay:

  • Delay. You can see the delay as a repetition of the sound delayed in time, either a single repetition or a higher number of them, spaced in time, decreasing in volume over time.
  • Reverb. Reverb is similar to the delay, but with a lot of repetitions, shortly delayed in time. The more delayed the echo is, the lower its volume. All the echoes are blended together, giving a continuous tail to the sound.

Delay pedals

As said before, delay is a natural effect. Now, how this effect is obtained by means of a guitar pedal depends on the technology.

Vintage tape delays were the first artificial means to generate this effect, but when it comes to stompboxes, delay pedals can be classified (roughly) in two groups: analog and digital delays.

  • Analog delay. You experience echo in the natural world when you  clap in proximity of a hard, flat, somewhat distant wall, and hear the sound come bouncing back to you at a delay determined by your distance from the surface. This effect generates echoes using analog circuitry, adding a little change in the tone of the repeats. Analog delay pedals are limited to relatively short delay times and number of repetitions.
  • Digital delay. The evolution of digital circuits allowed generating more complex type of delays, by adding more functionality and increasing the delay time and maximum number of repetitions. Some pedals even include a built-in looping function that allows you to record short (or sometimes pretty long) riffs and repeat them infinitely, playing over the top.

A little history…

Empress Tape Delay
Empress Tape Delay

The early implementation of any means of delay (artificially generated) was again by using electromechanical devices. By recording the signal in two tape reels, you could adjust one of them to be delayed in time with the other, obtaining a delay effect. This is how old tape delays worked. They allowed a new way of playing in the fifties, setting the bases of rockabilly and early rock&roll.

Some guitar players find the tape delay as the pure vintage tone. That is the reason why most manufacturers include in their catalogue modern versions of tape delay pedals. They are obviously not like real tape delays, but they model (either analog or digitally) its sound electronically. Empress Tape Delay is a great example of a great modern tape delay.

As always, the evolution of solid-state electronics allowed reducing the size and complexity of delays. Thanks to the Bucket Brigade Device (BBD) chip, delay pedals became very popular in the seventies. They also added more versatility to guitarists thanks to the controls they implemented and the longer available delay times.

They increasing capabilities and lower prices of digital solid-state technology brought small and affordable delay pedals in the early eighties. The first commercially available digital delay pedal stompboxed was the Boss DD2 Digital Delay in 1984.

Digital memories allowed to increase the delay time up to a couple seconds. Modern digital pedals feature infinite number of repetitions. Some even include a looper function, allowing you to record a phrase, and then play along while the recorded phrase is looped over time.

Every pedal manufacturer (even most of boutique brands) include at least one delay pedal in their catalog.

You can dig deeper in the history of delay by checking out  these articles, one by the great high-end pedal manufacturer Effectrode and the other by Wikipedia.

Controls and features

The number of controls of delay pedals is different depending on the type of delay that it targets.

An analog delay pedal will be simpler than a digital delay modeling workstation. Here the possibilities are endless.

You can be sure that you will find, at least, three knobs in any delay pedals: Level, Time and Feedback. However, there are a lot of different delay pedals in the market, and you will find a few of them implementing the following controls:

  • Level. As always, this knob changes the presence of the effect. You will be able to go from a completely dry sound to a fully blended, only-delayed signal.
  • Mode. Some pedals target different types of delay: ping-pong (in stereo stompboxes), analog delay, digital delay, echo, loop, tape, reverse, etc.
  • Time. With this knob you can change the delay time. A lot of pedals also have a Tap switch, with which you can change, by stomping on it, the time of the delay, adjusting it to the rhythm of what you’re playing.
  • Feedback. Feedback accounts for the number of repetitions. With this knob at its minimum, you’ll only hear a single repetition. Turn it all the way up and you’ll have infinite repetitions (in a digital delay). The delay sound is usually faded out with the repetitions.
  • Tone. Some pedals allows you to change the tone of the delay, especially analog delays. Some analog delays also include a little modulation in the repetitions.

Do I need a delay pedal?

Just like I sed with Overdrive pedals in the Part 2 of this series, I will say Yes, no doubt here.

You do need a delay pedal. Or two (one that you will have always on and the other just for playing with other sounds). It is very common to have a delay pedal for short delays and another one for longer delays.

Reverb pedals

Reverberation can be defined as the persistence of a sound after it has been produced. Reverb is commonly experienced in an empty, unfurnished room, or really in any chamber with walls,  where multiple short echoes with long delays build up to an atmospheric recurring delay in the sound created in that room.

It can be imperceptible in an open space or a crowded and fully carpeted chamber,  and you can really notice its effect in a cathedral or a big cave.

Even though reverberation can be considered as a unique effect that occurs when some number of different echoes (at different delay times) add up to the end of the sound you play, reverb pedals try to emulate different types of reverbs.

Here are the most common types included in many reverb pedals:

  • Room. Room reverb try to emulate the kind of reverberation you may have naturally in a chamber. That is, in a relative small closed space, where you don’t expect to have long reverb times.
  • Hall. In this case, this reverb accounts for bigger spaces. Imagine yourself playing the guitar in a cathedral, or in a big cave. Similarly to the Room reverb, Hall emulates a reverberation that occurs naturally.
  • Plate. Plate reverb was an electromechanical way to reproduce natural reverberation in the late fifties. By using an electromechanical transducer, they create vibration in a large plate of sheet metal. A pickup captures the vibrations as they bounce across the plate, and the result is output as an audio signal.
  • Spring. Spring reverb is kind of similar to the plate reverb, because they also use an electromechanical transducer to create vibration in a spring (or more than one). A pickup captures again the vibrations of the spring. A lot of vintage tube amplifiers had built-in spring reverbs in them.
  • Shimmer. It is a kind of reverb that introduces additional notes (usually an octave up) that gives you a choral sensation. It is a sort of ghost-like effect that will give you a strange (but sweet) sustained tone.

A little history…

Electro Harmonix Cathedral reverb
Electro Harmonix Cathedral reverb

The first artificially generated reverberation was made thanks to spring reverberators. Spring reverbs are bulky electromechanical devices that utilize a transducer and a pickup to create and capture vibrations within a few metal springs, creating a very peculiar effect.

After spring reverberators, plate reverberators were used in the sixties to generate reverb in recording studios. They a similar to spring reverbs, but in this case they capture the vibrations along a metal plate, producing a different sound.

In the guitar world, spring reverb became mainstream due to the fact that most vintage tube amps started to incorporate built-in reverbs. Some of the most mythical devices being made by Fender in the sixties (i.e. Fender Princeton Reverb, Fender Deluxe Reverb, etc.).

Apart from modern reissues of vintage tube amps (of any brand), modern amplifiers include built-in spring reverbs. On the other hand, the history of reverb pedals (as stompboxes) is shorter, due to the fact that most of them use digital technology, and everybody was very happy just using proper spring reverbs…

It was in 1985 when the first reverb pedal appeared. The DOD FX45 Stereo Reverb (perhaps along with the Arion SRV-1 Stereo Reverb) the was based on analog technology and preceded the first digital reverb pedal ever made: The Boss RV2 Digital Reverb.

Nowadays every manufacturer incorporates some reverb pedals in their portfolio. They are great units, some trying to emulate spring-based vintage sounds, some others allowing you playing with endless types of reverb sounds.

Controls and features

All reverb stompboxes are digital. Therefore, the functionalities of these pedals are countless. However, most of them try to emulate real environmental sensations.

There are pedals for a single kind of reverb. This way, you can find spring reverb pedals with a single control on them, just like some amps have built-in.

However, some other pedals have infinite possibilities do to the amount of controls they include. Take as an example the Strymon BigSky, without any doubt, the best reverb pedal ever made.

In any case, you may expect to play with these controls in most reverb pedals:

  • Level. As in most guitar pedals, the level knob in your reverb pedal (also called Mix, Blend, etc.) changes the volume of the reverb. If you turn this knob at its minimum, you’ll only have the dry signal (without any reverb). Turn it all the way up, and you’ll only hear the reverberated sound. This knob will allow you to dramatically change the presence of your guitar, whether if it feels at the very front (dry) or behind any other instrument (fully wet).
  • Mode. Some pedals implement different kind of reverbs. With this knob, you’ll be able to change the type of the reverb.
  • Time. With this knob you will control the decay of the reverberation, i.e. how long does the sound takes to vanish. With less time, the reverb will emulate smaller spaces, whereas larger times stand for larger environments.
  • PreDelay. This knob controls the time until the reverb sound happens.
  • EQ. Some pedals implement different means to equalize the tone of the reverberation.

Do I need a reverb pedal?

My answer is yes. In fact, looking for a reverb pedal for me was the reason to start this website.

Everybody will tell you that there is nothing like natural reverberation. Just play in a good sounding room, and that will be the best reverb for your tone.

In addition, if you are playing live with your band, the sound engineer will tell you to play dry so he will ad reverb to the whole mix (if necessary). The same applies to the studio. When recording, just play dry, the reverb will be added afterwards.

Well, that is ok, but a reverb pedal may give you the possibility to change the presence of your guitar when playing live, and it can also change how your amp sounds like at different volumes.

You may also think: “my amp already has a built-in reverb”. Yes, you’re right! But you will have to stick to a single (and very peculiar) kind of reverb: spring reverb.

If you want versatility, and you like to create different kind of sound ambients by using reverb, you better get a good digital reverb pedal.

You will enjoy it just playing alone. you will sound different. You will sound great.

Here is the complete list of posts of this “pedals explained” series:

5

If you own a bunch of guitar pedals, you’ll probably putt them together on a pedalboard. A pedalboard power supply allows you power supplying all of them with a single device, keeping things tide, nice and safe.

Now, why should you consider buying a pedalboard power supply?

Because is not always a good idea to rely on batteries. You won’t like to run out of batteries in the middle of a solo onstage. A pedalboard power supply is a reliable means of providing the electric power your pedals need.

Perhaps your pedals use different supply voltages. Even though most pedals use 9V (DC), you may have some that use different voltages, like 12V, 18V and 24V (DC) or even 9V (AC). A pedalboard power supply have a bunch of outputs with different voltage values.

You also have to take into account that not all pedals can be run with batteries. Depending on the supply voltage they use and their supply current needs, the manufacturer will sometimes provide you with an AC power adapter. What happens if you supply your 10 pedals with their respective AC power adapters? Yeah, you end up with a big mess…

For all these reasons (and a few other i’ll discuss here), a power supply unit for your guitar pedals is a great investment.

Before digging in, there are some basic terms you need to know first.

Some terms you need to know first

Voltage

Voltage is the difference of electric potential between two points. It is measured in Volts (V).

Either AC or DC, any single electric (and electronic) circuit needs a voltage supply to operate. Normally, one of the points is used as a common reference and is called ground. Most of the times ground will be 0V.

Current

When a voltage is applied to any conducting material, a flow of electric charge appears. This flow of electric charge is produced by electrons moving from lower to higher voltages. It is measured in Amperes (A).

Take the gravitational field again as an example. Movement is defined as the displacement of a mass from higher to lower gravitational potentials.

Similarly, electric current is defined as the displacement of electric charge from higher to lower electric potentials. Notice that the flow of electrons is opposite to the sense of the current!

Power

Electric power is defined as the rate at which electric energy is transferred by an electric circuit. It is measured in Watts (W) and given by the product of voltage (V) and electric current (I). Sometimes you may see different power ratings concerning power supply units:

  • Input power (i.e. supply power) is the electric power required for any device to operate. In the case of a pedalboard power supply, it is the power consumption taken from the AC mains supply.
  • Output power is the power delivered to the load connected to its output. If the power supply has more than one output, the total output power will be the sum of all single output powers.

The total output power will be lower than the input power. This difference is given by the efficiency of the power supply: a 100% efficiency corresponds to equal power at both input and output.

Voltage source

Pedalboard power supplies are basically voltages sources. A voltage source is an electrical device that is capable of maintaining a constant output voltage between two terminals, no matter what load is connected to this output.

How are guitar pedals powered?

Bottom side of a pedalboard
Bottom side of a pedalboard

 

Most guitar pedals need a DC supply voltage to operate (some pedals like Line6 modelers use AC voltage). When you supply them with a voltage, an electric current flows from +V to ground, allowing the circuits to do their stuff.

Now, how’s this current like? It depends on the circuits. Usually, digital circuits draw higher currents, while simple circuits (like most overdrives) require just a few milliamperes.

In any case, any pedal will tell you how much current it needs to operate. It is not exactly how much current it actually draws (is usually much less), but what is the minimum current that the power supply is able to deliver.

How do you actually deliver electric power to a guitar pedal? Check out this article for more details. In any case, these are the basics:

  • Power supply input jack. Every single pedal has an input jack to connect an external power supply. Although the characteristics of this jack may vary among pedals, there is a sort of de-facto standard: the 2.1mm tip-negative jack and plug arrangement, first introduced by BOSS pedals.
  • Internal battery. When the current consumption of the pedal is not too high, it may use a 9V battery. However, there are some pedals that don’t allow using batteries. This is the case of most digital pedals, such as delay, reverb and modulators. In any case, I find the use of batteries a little risky: imagine you’re in the middle of a solo and your distortion pedal runs out of battery. Now what? Either for a hardcore use of pedals when gigging or for sporadic use at home, my recommendation is to rely on a pedalboard power supply. Just pick the option that is best for you.
  • Input Jack as a on/off switch. It is very common that guitar pedals incorporate a stereo jack for the input plug, even tough the signal path is mono. This is because one of the tips of the plug, when connected to ground, will the pedal to be actionable only if a jack is plugged in. Otherwise the pedal won’t switch on. This is very practical if you use the pedal with batteries.

What is a pedalboard power supply?

A pedalboard power supply is basically a device that provides a few guitar pedals with the electrical power they need to operate.

It is the most convenient way to power supply all the pedals on your pedalboard. Instead of having a bunch of different power adapters (one for each pedal) or use a battery for each pedal (when possible), you simply connect the pedalboard power supply to the mains socket and connect every pedal to it.

But how does it work? It takes the line AC input and converts it to DC. The number of outputs, their nominal output voltages, the maximum current they’re able to provide, and the quality of the supplied power vary from device to device.

As always, the more you spend in a power supply, the higher the quality. And depending on how and when you use guitar pedals, you’ll probably need a good quality power supply.

On the other hand, if you simply want to avoid using batteries and want a pedalboard power supply for using it at home, you may use cheaper solutions.

Now, what makes pedalboard power supply units different from each other?

What should you ask to a pedalboard power supply

OMG pedalboard (source: Effectsbay)
OMG pedalboard (source: Effectsbay)

 

When looking to the pedalboard power supply unit that better fits your needs, you have to take into account the following considerations:

  • Number of outputs. How many pedals do you have on your pedalboard? This is number that you’ll need to take into account, because the pedalboard power supply must have enough outputs to supply them all. If you have a large pedalboard, you may need more than one unit.
  • Voltage of the outputs. Most pedals are supplied by 9V DC. That’s the reason why most of the outputs of most pedalboard power supply units are 9V. However, you may have 12V pedals, or even some using 9V AC (like Line6 modelers). Be sure that the pedalboard power supply incorporate the voltage outputs that match the needs of all your pedals.
  • Current rating. Each output of the power supply is rated for a maximum current. This is the maximum amount of electric current that is able to supply to the pedal. Be sure that the current rating of the power source is higher than the current consumption of the pedal. The current consumption of the pedal is usually specified by the manufacturer.
  • Type(s) of output(s). There are some pedalboard power supplies that have isolated outputs. That means that every output is electrically (and physically) isolated from each other, which prevents the apparition of coupled noise, avoiding buzz or hum. This is definitely the way to go, but this units are more expensive though.
  • Load regulation. The load regulation is the ability of the power supply to maintain a constant output voltage despite changes in the load. This changes may occur when different functionalities are switched in an stompbox, requiring different supply currents. This may cause a voltage drop if the power supply is not well regulated.
  • Supply filtering. The pedalboard power supply transform a high voltage AC signal to a low voltage DC signal. The more filtering you apply to the voltage supply, the more stable the supply is. Cheap units slightly filter the voltage, which can make some pedals not to function properly. This can be even worse if you play in some venues, where the AC mains may present overvoltages and interruptions.
  • Total output power. Apart from the voltage and current ratings of each of the outputs, the unit is going to be able to supply a maximum power overall. Be sure that this total power is higher than the total power required by all of your pedals, when switched on at the same time.
  • Value. You have to valuate how you’re going to use your pedalboard. If you just play at home, to use a simpler (i.e. cheaper) unit should be just ok. Think that the power at the input of the unit is going to be pretty stable. In addition, if you’re not going to take your pedalboard from home you won’t probably need a very rugged unit. Now, if you’re going to take the pedalboard with you more often (to gigs, rehearsal, and so on) you better buy a more solid (i.e. more expensive) unit. And if you play live more often, you do need a reliable power supply, with isolated outputs to get rid of any noise or disturbance coming from the input mains.
  • Size. Size matters. You’ll have to place the power supply unit somewhere on the pedalboard. Due to the fact that the top of the pedalboard is usually very populated with all your pedals, you’ll prefer to put the power supply at the bottom. If this is the case, be sure that there’s enough room to allocate the unit, and fasten it securely.

Should I get a good pedalboard power supply?

You have to balance the previous factors. In general, good pedalboard power supplies have the following features:

  • Each manufacturer has different models featuring different amounts of outputs
  • They have “special” outputs, with higher current ratings and output voltages different than 9V
  • The outputs are isolated, well regulated and appropriately filtered
  • They are able to provide high total supply power
  • They are solid and rugged (and SAFE).
  • Great value. Even though you may find some of them rather expensive, they really worth it.

… And what about cheaper solutions?

Cheaper power supplies come in the form of power adaptors, with a single output that is daisy-chained. You can also find multi-output supplies from Chinese manufacturers.

In either case, use them carefully, when the input mains are safe and stable, and they’re going to supply just a few pedals.

Lower quality power supplies have the following general characteristics:

  • Reasonable amount of outputs
  • Good variety of voltage and current ratings
  • The outputs are not isolated, and both load regulation and voltage filtering are poorer
  • The built quality is lower, and they are less safe to use due to poorer EMC protection
  • Worse value. They’re cheap, but less durable and less reliable anyway

Best pedalboard power supplies

In this section, I’ll list 15 of the best pedalboard power supplies. I haven’t test them, but I include them in this list because they are the ones I see more often at the stores and on the pedalboards of most guitarists.

I have copied the description and main features of all of them just like they appear in their websites.

1Voodoo Lab Pedal Power Mondo

Pedal Power® MONDO is a high-current capable power supply that can power the largest and most diverse pedalboards. From digital power-hungry effects like those from Strymon, Eventide, Line 6, TC Electronic and more, plus compatibility with all standard 9-volt battery stompboxes, MONDO is perfect for large to gigantic pedalboards. Features 12 completely isolated, filtered, and regulated output sections that will keep your pedals dead quiet and free from high-frequency noise that occurs with digital “switching” power supplies.

Pedal Power MONDO also features an internal thermometer that controls a silent fan keeping the unit cool even under the most adverse heat conditions of outdoor festival stages. Even with poor AC line conditions, it delivers clean, consistent power. Handmade in the USA using the finest components, Pedal Power MONDO was designed to meet and exceed the needs of our most demanding professional users.

  • 12 isolated outputs sections eliminate ground loops and hum
  • All outputs compatible with 9V battery operated pedals
  • 6 outputs high-current capable for modern digital effects
  • Powers Strymon, Eventide, Line 6, Boss Twin, TC Nova, Moog and more
  • 2 outputs with Sag simulate low battery
  • Toroidal transformers and linear regulation for lowest possible noise
  • Temperature controlled variable speed fan
  • Includes cables and detachable AC line cord
  • Courtesy AC outlet
  • Engineered and handmade in the USA
  • 5-year warranty

Click here to see what users say about Voodoo Lab Pedal Power Mondo.

2Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 Plus

Pedal Power® 2 Plus does it, and does it well, becauseany less will degrade your pedal’s performance. Players everywhere upgrade to Pedal Power 2 Plus because it powers what conventional power supplies can’t. Pedal Power 2 Plus is hand made in the U.S.A., comes complete with cables, detachable AC power cord, a 5-year warranty, and simply makes you sound better!

  • 9/12V (x4) – Standard 9V and 12V Boss ACA
  • 9V (x2) – High Current 9V and Line 6 Modelers
  • 9V (x2) – Standard 9V With Battery Sag Control
  • 18V/24V – Using Custom Cables
  • Isolation is more than fixing ground loops
  • Proprietary balanced transformer makes it possible
  • Switching power supplies aren’t for everything

Click here to see what users say about the Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 Plus.

3Cioks Ciokolate

To mark the 20th anniversary of the company we’ve made the most powerful and versatile power supply for effect pedals on the market – CIOKS CIOKOLATE. With some additions and a slightly different design we’ve put the DC10 and AC10 power supplies in one box. Loads of power, almost endless compositions of different voltages and a great selection of included Flex cables make this power supply a really strong tool for powering big pedal boards with many different pedals. CIOKS CIOKOLATE power supply will power several high current digital pedals, high voltage 18, 24 or even 40V pedals, one or two AC pedals, one or two Radial Tonebone pedals or simulating a dying battery it will power your old favourite fuzz or overdrive. On top of that it will of course also power all your standard 9V pedals from its many isolated outlets.

  • 16 outlets configured in 12 isolated sections
  • two toroidal transformers with additional magnetic field shielding
  • four powerful DC sections, three with 400mA each and one with 600mA
  • two powerful AC sections with 800mA each and voltages 9, 12 and 16V AC
  • two 15V outlets for Radial Tonebone pedals
  • possibility of 18 or 24V from a single outlet
  • will power a 40V pedal with Stack Flex
  • one outlet with adjustable voltage in the range 4-15V
  • short circuit protection of all outlets
  • advanced LED monitoring of each section
  • temperature monitoring
  • 120 or 230V mains voltage operation
  • a total of 24 Flex cables included
  • Split Flex and 3-way Daisy chain Flex both for powering more than one pedal of a single outlet included
  • Stack Flex and Serial Adapter Flex for powering a 18, 24 or 40V pedals using two isolated outlets included
  • Flex cable for Electro-Harmonix vacuum tube pedals included
  • durable enclosure with bottom made of 1.3mm steel for stability and 2.0mm aluminium top for better cooling and lower weight
  • silent microprocessor controlled fan to ensure optimal operating temperature for long term reliability
  • complete mounting kit for pedal boards included (two mounting brackets and all the needed screws are included, no need for taller feet with PT-3 or PT-PRO)

Click here to read some opinions about the Cioks Chocolate.

4T-Rex Fuel Tank Classic

This is the Classic FuelTank that has 3 different output sections: 9 volt DC, 12 volt DC and 12 volt AC. Each section is isolated.

No more batteries to change. No more tangled cables to trip over. FuelTank is the perfect power supply unit for guitarists who want to focus on their performance, not their gear.

Delivering 1.500 mA through ten DC plugs, FuelTank powers all your pedals – keeping you running on full power night after night.

With a compact design, FuelTank fits conveniently every pedal board including the T-Rex ToneTrunk effect board. And it comes with all the cables you need to get you up and running. The dimensions of the FuelTank are: (WxHxD) 160 x 39 x 81mm (inches 6,29 x 1,53 x 3,18).

FuelTank delivers 1.500 mA of reliable power. Two of the ten outputs provide 12-volt power with isolated ground – one DC and the other AC, for AC pedals.

  • MAINS input power plug, 3-pin standard plug
  • Voltage selector, 115/230 volts
  • Eight 9-volt DC output plugs, all sharing the same ground.
  • Giving a total of 500 mA
  • One 12-volt DC output with isolated ground, giving 500 mA
  • One 12-volt AC output with isolated ground, giving 500 mA
  • Slow burning fuse 250V 250mA

Click here to read some opinions about the T-Rex Fuel Tank Classic.

5T-Rex Fuel Tank Chameleon

The Fuel Tank Chameleon is only the latest addition to the T-Rex Fuel Tank family. Our original Fuel Tank Classic features 9V DC, 12V DC and 12V AC outlets in three isolated blocks of 500mA each and is ideal for medium-sized pedal boards. It comes with lots of single patch cables and a multiple link cable. The Fuel Tank “Juicy Lucy” powers 5 12V pedals and also offers great extras, like multiple unit linking. The baby of the family – Fuel Tank Junior – is a good choice for a small number of 9V pedals. It offers both current doubling to 240 mA and voltage doubling to 18V.

  • 5 outputs each with 300 mA ( = 1500 mA)
  • Output 5/6 choice of either 9/12v DC or 12v AC
  • Choice of 9V DC, 12V DC, 112V AC or 18VDC -150mA
  • Noise-cancelling galvanic isolated outputs
  • Traditional EI Transformer
  • Several different voltage types served
  • Current doubler = the possibility of as much as 600 mA
  • Switchable 115V or 230V
  • Compact, rugged, road-ready design

Read here some opinions about the T-Rex Fuel Tank Chameleon power supply.

6Pedaltrain Powertrain 1250

For years folks have asked…”Why don’t you have a power supply of your own?” We had a lot of excuses. The main reason was that we felt there were plenty of great power supply choices out there, and there are! But over time we saw a need for a super quiet, primarily 9volt supply with a few innovative optional features. So we partnered with the brilliant electronic engineers at Creation Audio Labs in Nashville and are now proud to introduce the Powertrain1250.

With selectable input voltage (115v or 230v) operation you can confidently use your powertrain1250 anywhere in the world! The powertrain1250 mounts conveniently underneath all pedaltrains (excluding NANO and MINI) by simply drilling 4 small holes using our custom designed mounting template. No mounting brackets necessary!

  • Seven 9V outputs
  • one variable-voltage output
  • Variable-voltage input switches between 9, 12, 15, and 18 volts
  • Mounts neatly, without mounting brackets, underneath your Pedaltrain
  • Mounting template included

Click here to check out some opinions about the Pedaltrain Powertrain 1250.

7Eventide Powerfactor 2

Eventide PowerFactor 2 has 8 regulated and well-filtered DC outlets configured in 8 isolated sections. With a total of 2200mA it’s a perfect solution for bigger rigs only with pedals using a DC power source. Its four powerful sections with 400mA each will power up to four Eventide stompboxes. The first 4 outlets, offering 2x100mA and 2x200mA, are perfect for standard 9V battery operated pedals.

  • 8 outlets configured in 8 isolated sections
  • Toroidal transformer with additional magnetic field shielding
  • 4 powerful DC sections with 400mA each, able to power four Eventide Factor pedals
  • Mounting kit included
  • Short circuit protection of all outlets
  • Advanced LED monitoring of each section
  • Temperature monitoring
  • 115V/230V mains voltage selector switch
  • Standard IEC Power Cable (included)
  • Durable steel enclosure with 2mm thick top
  • Size: 8.5” x 3.5” x 1.75”, 216mm x 89mm x 44.5mm (with rubber feet on)
  • Weight: 3.25 lbs , 1.47 kg
  • 5-year warranty

Check out the opinions about the Eventide PowerFactor 2 here.

8Digitech V-10

Your pedalboard is the sum of all its parts. Power your pedals with the same high-quality materials that every HardWire pedal is built with. The CSA-Certified HardWire V-10 Power Block ensures ultimate tonal integrity, protection, and low noise for your pedalboard. The HardWire V-10 Power Block’s 10 fully-isolated DC outputs are arranged to provide the power your pedals need with four 9V 150mA outputs, two sets of 9V/12V outputs that can be merged to provide 300mA or 400mA, and two more variable outputs to starve voltage from 5V-9V for the drained battery tone.  The V-10 Power Block powers anything from vintage fuzzes to modern power-hungry digital pedals, all with low-noise fully-isolated outputs.

Power your pedalboard with the HardWire V-10 Power Block knowing that your pedals are protected and performing at the highest possible level night after night. And as expected, the HardWire V-10 comes with our exceptional 6-year warranty.

  • 10 fully isolated outputs eliminate ground loop buzz
  • Shielded toroidal transformer eliminates interference
  • Short circuit protection and filtering on each output
  • 2 sets of merging outputs for power hungry digital pedals
  • Heavy-gauge aircraft-grade aluminum for maximum heat dissipation
  • Durable compact design mounts under Pedaltrain™ pedalboards
  • 6 year manufacturer warranty

Check out here the price of this power supply.

9Accel FX Power Source 8

Accel’s FX Power Source 8 Eight Output Power Supply is designed with a high efficiency transformer. Each output is fully isolated, regulated with over voltage protection. The all aluminum anodized enclosure dissipates the heat rapidly and keeps components cool. Equipped with a voltage select switch, allows the power supply to work properly anywhere in the world. The “FX Power Source 8” mounts conveniently into the front load bay of all Accel pedal board modules with only three M4 mounting screws (supplied). The FX Power Source 8 powers, 9V, 12V & 18V effects pedals. While there are 2 adjustable outputs (9V-18V & 5V-9V) and 4 selectable outputs (9V or 12V), 9V’s is available on all outputs to work with the majority of effects pedals on the market.

  • Detachable AC cord
  • 150W AC output outlet
  • Input AC voltage select switch
  • All DC Outputs are isolated and regulated
  • Over current protection on each output
  • Mounting pattern template
  • Power good indicators for each output

Click here for more opinions about the Accel Power Source 8 power supply.

10MXR DC brick

Keep your pedals powered all night long with the MXR DC Brick, a revamp of the DCB10. Now under the MXR brand, the new DC Brick features all of the short circuit and overload protection of the original but now handles twice the power, allowing you to use virtually any combination of effects. Additionally, each 9v output has a red LED that illuminates if there is a short so you can quickly identify and troubleshoot any power problems. The MXR DC Brick has eight 9v outputs and two 18v outputs, a change from the DCB10’s seven 9v outputs and three 18v outputs. And of course, the AC adapter and all necessary cables to connect pedals to the unit are included.

  • A rugged, reliable, and compact pedalboard power supply
  • Powers 8 x 9V pedals and 2 x 18V pedals
  • Short Circuit Protection gives it a stable working mode
  • 8 x red LEDs clearly indicate short-circuited pedals
  • All power distribution cables included

You can read some opinions about users of this unit here.

11MXR ISO brick

The MXR Iso-Brick Power Supply is small and light with tons of quiet, noise-free DC power on tap ready to run a wide range of pedal types without crowding or weighing down your pedalboard.

Each of the Iso-Brick Power Supply’s 10 outputs is fully isolated, eliminating gig-ending ground loop noise. Whether analog or digital, positive or negative ground, this power box has you covered. The MXR team broke down these 10 outputs to accommodate a variety of voltage and current requirements: two 9V outputs at 100mA, two 9V outputs at 300mA, two 9V outputs at 450mA, two 18V outputs at 250mA, and two variable outputs adjustable from 6V to 15V at 250mA. The two variable outputs can be used to emulate voltage “sag,” a drained battery effect sought by many vintage tonechasers.
On top of all that, the Iso-Brick Power Supply comes in a small, lightweight housing that’s built like a tank. Features power on/off and connection status LEDs. Put this little box on your pedalboard to make sure it runs reliably and quietly gig after gig.

  • Rugged, reliable, and compact pedalboard power supply
  • Modernized for your digital effects pedals
  • Great for vintage analog pedals
  • LED indicators keep you aware of pedal status
  • Right-angled power cable for pedalboard friendly mounting flexibility
  • Variable-voltage outputs

12Walrus Audio Aetos

The Walrus Audio Aetos is an 8-output, isolated power supply, utilizing an internal custom wound toroidal transformer to provide the highest noise filtering and cleanest power, giving artists the purest sound in their signal chain. The Aetos is housed in a solid die cast enclosure and is 4.7”long  x 3.7” wide x 2” height and  has 8 total 9VDC outputs, 6 are 100mA and 2 outputs are high current outputs (300mA)  for higher current drawing pedals like line 6 DL series modelers, the Boss Twin Series Pedals and many digital modulation pedals on the market.  It comes with a detachable 120V AC Power cord and also has a 120VAC complimentary power output. This unit comes with 8 – 2.1mm barrel black power cables and 2 black-to-red (Line 6) power cables. Fits under most pedal boards including Pedaltrain (PT JR and up), Pedal Pad, Blackbird Boards, Creation Music Company, and Holeyboards.

  • Dimensions – 4.7”long  x 3.7” wide x 2” height
  • Weight –  3lbs.
  • Input – 120VAC
  • Output – 6 outputs – 9VDC (100mA), 2 outputs – 9VDC (250mA)
  • Fully Isolated DC Power – (Toroidal transformer based supply)
  • Items Included – (5 ft 120VAC detachable power cord, 8 – 2.1mm black power cables, 2 – 2.5mm to 2.1mm (red to black) line 6 cables)
  • 5 year warranty

Read here some opinions about this unit.

13Walrus Audio Phoenix 15 Clean

The Walrus Audio Phoenix 15 is a 15-output isolated power supply, utilizing two internal custom wound toroidal transformers to provide the highest noise filtering and cleanest power, giving artists the purest sound in their signal chain possible. It comes in two voltages, 120V and 230V, serving artists all over the world.

With its four isolated 300mA outputs, the Phoenix has to power to run the larger Strymon units like the BigSky and TimeLine. Three outputs include a toggle option to run 9V or 12V (two outputs) and 9V or 18V (one output) giving life to pedals with unconventional power requirements. The Phoenix fits under most pedal boards such as the PedalTrain PT-2 and up.

The Phoenix comes in a durable tour-proof midnight blue texture enclosure. Exact size is 9.75” long, 2.6” wide, 2” high. The artwork features original sketch artwork of a Phoenix bird with its wingspan sprawled across the top of the enclosure.

  • Two internal custom wound toroidal transformers to provide the highest noise filtering and cleanest power
  • All outputs are isolated
  • Four 9V, 300mA (can power the larger digital pedals like the Strymon BigSky and Timeline)
  • Eight 9V, 100mA
  • Two outputs include a toggle switch option to run 9V or 12V, 100mA
  • One output includes a toggle switch option for 9V or 18V, 100mA
  • One Courtesy Outlet

14Caline Pedalpower 5

I haven’t found Caline’s website, but I have decided to include this power supply unit here because I’ve tried myself. I wanted a small and cheap unit to use at home, where I have a very clean power supply available. I’ve tested the outputs changing the loads and the regulation is pretty good. I’ve also tested it’s ability to deal with voltage transients at the input, and the outputs work fine

However, the built quality is way far from the rest of the guys from the list. It could result noisy if any of your pedals adds a little buzz (the outputs are not isolated).

  • 100% brand new and unused Isolated Output 10 Isolated Short Cricuit/Overcurrent Protected Powers For 9V, 12V or 18V PEDAL
  • Bright Blue LED For Pedal Board Lighting & Short Cricuit Indicate Includes Cable
  • Power: AC 110v-240V
  • Input: DC 18V
  • Dimension: 150 x 50x 30mm
  • Weight: 388g Color: black
  • Package included: 1pcsx Caline Audio CP-05 Power Supply Compact W/ Improved Features 10 Output + US Plug

Read here some opinions about the Caline Pedalpower 5.

15Visual Sound One Spot (now Truetone 1 spot)

The 1 SPOT is the original 9V pedalboard power supply that only takes up one spot on an outlet strip or wall outlet. It solves an annoying problem that people have complained about for years, and does so with quiet, reliable performance!

  • Handles from one to well over twenty guitar pedals (1700mA max!)
  • Heavy duty output cable.
  • Use with optional multi-plug cable(s) for powering more than one pedal.
  • Guaranteed to work with over 90% of the effects pedals on the market!
  • With optional converter plugs, the 1 SPOT will work with virtually ANY 9V pedal! …even Line 6 modeling pedals!
  • Will even convert international voltage (100V-240V) automatically; no transformer needed!
  • 3 meter (10′) cable is almost twice as long as other adapter cables.
  • Only takes up ONE position on your outlet strip or wall outlet!!

Here you have tons of opinions about this little power supply.

Conclusion

I hope that this post will help you decide whether you need a pedalboard power supply or not. As you’ve seen, there is plenty of options that will fit your needs, mainly concerning the number of outputs and the voltages that all the pedals on your pedalboard.

The quality of most of them is top of the range. You’ve seen a couple of cheap options too.

Think about how you use your pedalboard (from time to time at home or hardcore-like onstage), which one better suits your power needs, the price that fits your budget, and why not, what you feel when you look at each of them.

What is your opinion? Don’t forget to drop a comment below.

0

Apart from the effect pedal typologies described in the other posts of the series, there are many other kind of pedals that cannot fit into any of them.

Some of these can create create sounds that have nothing to see with the sound of a guitar. In fact, they fit more in the category of synthesizers, as they apply such a deep signal processing that the tone of your guitar can be transformed into any other instrument.

Apart from these, you have other pedals (actually pedal-shaped) that can be utilized for controlling parameters in other pedals (expression) or the volume of your guitar.

It is impossible to include here any other pedal that could not fit in the rest of categories. In any case, these are the most common worth mentioning:

  • Synth pedals. They apply synthesis to the signal coming from the guitar, and can therefore make your guitar sounding like any other instruments.
  • Talk vox pedals. With these pedals you will use your mouth to shape the sound of your guitar, making it just like if it talks.
  • Expression pedals. Expression pedals are used for changing parameters in other pedals or devices, by rocking them with your foot.
  • Volume pedals. Volume pedals allow you to modify the volume of your guitar, just like the proper volume knob in your guitar does.

This post will be the last (and shortest) of the “Guitar pedals explained” series.

Synth pedals

Synthesizer-like pedals create amazing sounds just like keyboard-like synthesizers. Instead of feeding the digital processors to synthesize sounds with a piano keyboard, you feed them with the strings of your guitar.

And how do they work? They capture the pitch and volume of the notes (or chords) you are playing and generate a raw digital signal. Now you can do whatever you want with this signal: play a Hammond organ, a sitar… you name it.

Just like other synthesizers do, but instead of generating tones with a piano keyboard, you do it with your guitar.

Electro Harmonix B9
Electro Harmonix B9

Controls and features

In this case, I just can’t write here which controls you can expect having in an average synth pedal, just because there isn’t such an average synth pedal. Every synth pedal is different.

Do I need a Synth pedal?

Synth pedals are very different from one another, and are great to play with. You don’t really need them (unless you need to emulate, for example, the sound of a hammond organ). But you can probably end up by adding a few of them to your collection.

Talk Box pedals

This pedal is used to create kind of voicy effects. They take the sound of the guitar and direct it to your mouth via a plastic tube with an adjacent microphone. Then you modify the sound by changing the shape of your mouth, “vocalizing” the sound of your guitar; this way you make your guitar to appear to “speak”.

Controls and features

Jim Dunlop Heil Talk Box
Jim Dunlop Heil Talk Box

You won’t have any controls as such in a talk box pedal apart from the plastic tube you will use to vocalize the sound. However, some models implement a some knobs to change the volume, gain and tone of the “voiced” sound.

Do I need a talk box pedal?

To tell you the truth, you don’t need a talk box. But be sure that you won’t sound like David Gilmour without having one…

Expression pedals

Some stompboxes my have an additional input for an expression pedal, allowing you to control any of the pedal parameters (like effect level, speed, etc.) by rocking the expression pedal with your foot. It can be very handy as you may change some effects parameters while you play.

Boss FV500H expression/volume
Boss FV500H expression/volume

Controls and features

These pedals are, in general, very simple. Don’t expect to see a few knobs on them. Instead, you’ll simple have the pedal itself, so you will be able to control any given parameter of another device (pedal, amp, etc.) by rocking on it with your foot.

Do I need an expression pedal?

You may need an expression pedal to be able to change parameters of some other effects while playing live. But first think which pedals in your pedalboard are controlable via an expression pedal.

Volume pedals

A volume pedal may be seen as an amplitude modulating device.

It allows you to control the volume of the guitar with your foot while playing. Usually placed at the beginning of the signal chain, it can change the way the rest of the subsequent pedals (and the amp itself) are driven.

On the other hand, you could put them at the end of the signal chain too. This way, you will simply change the volume of the tone you generate with your whole gear, not the way you drive the subsequent pedals.

They are designed to be transparent so the tone of the guitar remains unaltered; however, the way they react to your foot may be different among different pedals, as you may prefer either a linear or a logarithmic response when stomping on it.

VM Pro Volume pedal
VM Pro Volume pedal

Controls and features

Volume pedals are very similar in shape than expression pedals. In fact, you will find some units that can act either as expression or volume pedals.

You’ll simple have the pedal itself, so you will be able to control the volume of the guitar by rocking on it with your foot.

Do I need a volume pedal?

Volume pedals can be used in two different ways.

Put them at the beginning of the signal chain (right from your guitar) and it will act just like the volume knob of your guitar. If you like using this knob, you may not need a volume pedal.

On the other hand, you can place them at the end of the signal chain, just before the input of the amp. This way, it will modify the volume of the sound created by your whole setup. Perhaps you find this functionality more usable…

In any case, have look to Mark Knopfler mastering the use of the volume pedal, and you will see the juice you could get from it.

 

Here is the complete list of posts of this “pedals explained” series:

8

Some months ago I wanted to buy a reverb pedal. In fact, I wanted to buy the best reverb pedal. But, with so many models available on the market, how the heck could I pick the best among them? Is there any best reverb pedal at all?

Well, let me be honest with you: there is no such a thing as the best reverb pedal. At least, not in absolute terms. It depend on your needs, and ultimately on which one YOU like the most. The best reverb pedal for me may be the worst for you, and vice versa.

Now, what is this post about then?

First, I’ll be covering general stuff about reverb pedals, what is reverb, are reverb pedals something you need to consider, most common features and controls, etc. Just some general knowledge in case you are not familiar with these kind of devices.

The main goal here is not trying to convince you about which is THE BEST reverb pedal, but helping you figuring out if you need a reverb pedal first, and then helping you selecting the best reverb pedal that fill your needs.

Later in the post, I will describe my conclusions (and my personal opinion) about which are the top 15 best reverb pedals that I like the most, from those that I’ve had the opportunity to try myself…

You’ll have the opportunity to listen to them in a dedicated youtube playlist.

You’ll find some links to deeper reviews of each reverb pedal in their description too.

At the end, I will tell you my conclusions.

This post is structured as follows:

  1. What is reverb?
  2. What is a reverb pedal like?
  3. Do I really need a reverb pedal?
  4. Reverb pedals: features and controls
  5. What would you ask to the best reverb pedal?
  6. Summary of the Top-15 best reverb pedals
  7. Youtube playlist with Top-15 best reverb pedals in action
  8. Conclusion: the best reverb pedal by category

What is reverb?

As I’ve explained in the Part 4 of the “Guitar pedals explained” series, Reverberation can be defined as the persistence of a sound after it has been produced. Reverb is commonly experienced in an empty, unfurnished room, or really in any chamber with walls,  where multiple short echoes with long delays build up to an atmospheric recurring delay in the sound created in that room.

Think about the difference if you play in a small room full of furniture or in a big church. In the first case, the sound is very raw, because it is mostly absorbed by the furniture and the walls. However, in the second case, the acoustic waves are reflected on the walls, and you will hear a long decay in the sound from the reflections coming from the walls at different distances.

Sprink tank reverberation unit
Sprink tank reverberation unit

The described effect is known as ambient reverb, or natural reverb, because it is just what happens with the sound depending on the environment. You’ll have reverb pedals emulating this kind of effect, for different room sizes. This way, you’ll have studio, room, hall, stadium, cathedral, church, etc. kind of reverbs.

On the other hand, early reverb effect units used artificial means to emulate natural reverb sounds. These were plate and spring units (more info about how they work here). There are also some reverb pedals that recreate these kind of reverbs. In addition, some of the most popular (and numerous) reverb stompboxes are spring reverb pedals.

What is a reverb pedal like?

Let me first tell you that reverb pedals are great. Perhaps not very popular (at least not as popular as overdrives and delays). You may think that you don’t need one because you’re very happy with the built-in reverb of your amp, but these guys can make you sound great.

Even though reverberation can be considered as a unique effect that occurs when some number of different echoes (at different delay times) add up to the decay of the sound of your guitar, reverb pedals try to emulate different types of reverbs.

Some of them are very simple devices with a single kind of reverb. Other are like true synthesizers with tons of parameters and reverb types. Stereo or mono (stereo sounds amazing, giving you a 3D surround sound). Small or big… as you see, plenty of options.

Here are the most common types of reverb you will see in most reverb pedals:

  • Room reverb try to emulate the kind of reverberation you may have naturally in a chamber. That is, in a relative small closed space, where you don’t expect to have long reverb times.
  • Hall reverb accounts for bigger spaces. Imagine yourself playing the guitar in a cathedral, or in a big cave. Similarly to the Room reverb, Hall emulates a reverberation that occurs naturally.
  • Plate reverb was an electromechanical way to reproduce natural reverberation in the late fifties. By using an electromechanical transducer, they create vibration in a large plate of sheet metal. A pickup captures the vibrations as they bounce across the plate, and the result is output as an audio signal.
  • Spring reverb is kind of similar to the plate reverb, because they also use an electromechanical transducer to create vibration in a spring (or more than one). A pickup captures again the vibrations of the spring. A lot of vintage tube amplifiers had built-in spring reverbs in them.
  • Shimmer. It is a kind of reverb that introduces additional notes (usually an octave up) that gives you a choral sensation. It is a sort of ghost-like effect that will give you a strange (but sweet) sustained tone.

Do I really need a reverb pedal?

Honestly, I’d say that everybody should include a reverb pedal on the pedalboard. A natural reverb sound (like the one you’d experience in a good sounding room) will always make your sound better. Even if you’re using distortions and other effects, adding a natural reverb makes a real difference. The difference is even bigger if you’re playing in stereo.

In any case, you may take the following aspects into consideration to think about if you really want (or need) a reverb pedal.

  • Do you already have reverb in your rig? Your amp will probably have a built in spring reverb. You may be fine with that. But the spring reverb is a very peculiar kind of reverb. Think about if you want to have more flexibility by recreating more natural reverberated environments like rooms or halls. I’m a huge fan of reverb. Even if you already have any means of reverb, there’s always room for another reverb pedal
  • What type of music do you play? If you love raw sounds, perhaps reverb is not for you. However, you don’t have to think about reverb like sidereal space-like stadium reverberated sounds. For any kind of music, just a little amount of reverb will provide you with a more natural sound.
  • What are your priorities? Perhaps is not a good time for buying a reverb pedal (yet). In order to have a great tone, you’ll need a good base, i.e. guitar and amp. Maybe you prefer to invest now in other kind of pedals, like a few overdrives, or a tremolo, a delay, or a whammy… That is ok for now.

But trust me: no matter what music you play, if you already have reverb in your rig (even a reverb pedal), if you have other buying priorities… there is always room for a great reverb pedal. It’ll simply make you sound better.

Most common features and controls

Although reverb pedals may seem different from each other, there are some common features. Here I list their most common features. I’ll also describe some of the controls you will see in reverb pedals. Be aware that there each reverb pedal may incorporate a different set of controls, although they will be a lot of similarities.

Reverb modes

Some pedals allow you recreating different reverberated sounds, either natural ambiences (room, hall, studio) or artificially generated reverbs (spring, plate). You’ll usually see a knob or a switch to select the reverb mode.

Connectivity

As in any guitar pedal, you will find an input jack for the power supply, as well as IO jacks. In some cases, you’ll only see a single input and a single output (mono). In other cases, you will see a single input and a double (L/R stereo) output. Finally, there are some pedals that are considered true stereo, with double jacks for both input and output.

Controls

The single control that you’ll see in any reverb pedal is the amount of reverb added to the sound. In any case, there are different ways to do so. These are the most common controls:

  • Level. As in most guitar pedals, the level knob in your reverb pedal (also called Mix, Blend, etc.) changes the volume of the reverb. If you turn this knob at its minimum, you’ll only have the dry signal (without any reverb). Turn it all the way up, and you’ll only hear the reverberated sound in some cases. This knob will allow you to dramatically change the presence of your guitar, whether if it feels at the very front (dry) or behind any other instrument (fully wet).reverb-volume
  • Mode. Some pedals implement different kind of reverbs (i.e. spring, room, hall, etc.) With this kind of knob, you’ll be able to change the type of the reverb.
  • Time. With this knob you will control the decay of the reverberation, i.e. how long does the sound takes to vanish. With less time, the reverb will emulate smaller spaces, whereas larger times stand for larger environments.
  • PreDelay. This knob controls the time until the reverb sound happens.
  • EQ. Some pedals implement different means to equalize the tone of the reverberation. In most cases, this EQ will be related to high frequencies, in order to change among brighter or darker tones.
  • Switches. You may also see some switches on reverb pedals to select between different modes of operation, or different functionalities for a single knob, etc.

What would you ask to the best reverb pedal?

As I’ve said at the beginning of this post, there is no such a thing as the best reverb pedal (in general terms). Instead, you could find the best reverb pedal for you. Now, what makes you prefer a pedal over the rest? Think about your budget, features, simplicity to use… Here are a few aspects that you have to take into account when looking for the best reverb pedal for you.

  • Value. How much do you want to spend in a reverb pedal? Not only the price in absolute terms is what matters, but the value (i.e. the ratio between price and features/sound)
  • Simplicity. Do you like playing with knobs? Think about if you prefer a pedal that is simple to use, just a couple of knobs to adjust the amount of reverb and tone, that’s all. Now, think about if you want to have control over tons of parameters related to the reverb, navigate between preset banks, etc.
  • Features. There are some features to consider for (your) best reverb pedal.
    • True bypass. Do you prefer a buffered pedal or a true bypass switch?
    • Stereo. Are you going to use the reverb pedal with a single amp? Then mono IN/OUT is enough for you (like most spring reverb pedals have). If you’re using two amps in stereo or want the pedal also for recording, then go for stereo. It’ll make a huge difference in ambient sounds.
    • Dry analog path. It could be important for you that the dry signal stays fully analog In case the whole signal is digitized, pay attention to the quality (resolution) of the ADCs. I think 24 bits are a standard now.
    • Reverb modes. There are pedals with a single kind of reverb. This way, you can find spring reverb pedals with a single control knob on them, just like some amps have built-in. However, some other pedals have infinite possibilities do to the amount of reverb modes (and controls) they include. Take as an example the Strymon BigSky, without any doubt, (one of) the best reverb pedal ever made.
  • Quality. The build quality of a pedal really matters. Are the electronic components top quality? What about the stomp switch, is the pedal robust? What about noise?
  • Size and look. Look matters. I love guitar pedals also because how they look. They are little art pieces for me. If you’re like me, the look of the pedal will help you making a decision when you’re in trouble. On the other hand, there are reverb pedals in many sizes. Think about the room you have on your pedalboard.
  • Power consumption. When you’re using a power supply for your guitar pedals, you’ll have to pay attention to the power consumption of the reverb pedal. Make sure that your power supply is able to provide the current required by the pedal. Pay attention too to the voltage supply of the pedal (most of them will have 9V center negative supplies, but it may be different).

Summary of the Top-15 best reverb pedals

Now, how should the best reverb pedal be like? Only incorporating spring reverb, or perhaps you prefer to have every reverb types in a single stompbox? Is it a tiny little stompbox or it is boxed in a bigger-sized shinny purpled enclosure? I told you before, it depends on what you need, what you want, or what you like.

Now I’ll list my personal selection of the Top-15 best reverb pedals in no particular order. I’m not able (and honestly think nobody can) to sort them from 15 to 1, because all of them are great.

You’ll see a short description of each of them. For a more in depth review, click on the links below.

JHS Alpine reverb

The JHS Alpine Reverb is the first reverb pedal by JHS pedals. It is based on the Sky Cloud 9, keeping its main core features, but taking it into the next level.

The Alpine reverb has a 9V negative power supply connector, drawing a current of about 100mA. It’s got an instrument input (mono), instrument output (mono) and an effects loop (EFX loop) connectors. You can connect to the Alpine a TRS stereo to 2 mono cable and add any pedal you want into the loop. This way, you can create great shimmer effects with an additional octaver, or endless reverbs by adding a delay pedal.

The JHS Alpine Reverb has 5 controls: reverb, depth, highs, length, shift, and two stomp switches, one for activating the pedal, and another one that activates the shift knob. This switch can be used to activate the effects loop too.

This pedal looks gorgeous, and sounds awesome. Apart from the sound, my favorite feature of the pedal is the EFX loop and the shift function, which allows you dramatically changing the sound of the reverb.

When doing my research about reverb pedals, I instantly fell in love with the JHS Alpine Reverb. I must admit that it was because how it looked first. Then because how it sounded like by watching reviews in youtube (see the playlist above). Finally I could try it and my experience was great. Short, but great. Loved the different ambiences I was able to recreate with just 4 knobs, in a few minutes.

If you want a great sounding reverb pedal for your guitar that is easy to use, the JHS Alpine Reverb is a great choice.

Read the full review of the JHS Alpine Reverb

Electro Harmonix Cathedral

The EHX Cathedral is one of the most popular choices for reverb, due to its versatility and sound quality. It has 7 different types of reverb and an echo mode. You can also set one preset for each mode, so you can save all your favorite tones and recall them by pressing the mode knob.

The Electro Harmonix Cathedral has a 9V negative power supply, drawing a current of 200mA. It has true stereo input and output connectors, and it is true bypass. Thanks to its 24-bit ADCs, the effect of the pedal is totally transparent.

The EHX Cathedral has 7 controls: blend, reverb time, damping/tone, feedback, pre-delay, and mode. It also has 2 stomp switches, one for activating the pedal, and another one with tap/infinite features.

I love this pedal (it is on my pedalboard…)

It is very versatile thanks to the built-in reverb modes and its controls. However, it may result a bit difficult to make it sound great at the beginning, but you won’t be able to stop playing with it and will get its juice right away.

It added magic to my amp, and you will get amazed if connect it stereo.

Apart from the two Strymons (BigSky and blueSky) and Eventide Space Reverb, I haven’t heard such as 3D ambience in any other reverb pedal I’ve had the opportunity to play with.

Read the full review of the Electro Harmonix Cathedral 

Catalinbread Topanga spring reverb

I must say this: in my opinion, the Catalinbread Topanga Spring reverb is the best spring reverb pedal I’ve ever played.

It looks beautiful, and it has a je ne sais quoi that makes it sound think, warm, and very realistic. It sounds like a tube-driven spring tank from the sixties.

This pedal is conceived just as vintage reverb tanks were, to be connected at the input of your amp. You won’t want to use this pedal in the effects loop. This guy will provide you with holy vintage sounds by driving your preamp. By using its volume knob, you can boost the sound so the reverb is a little saturated by your amp, creating a more intense sound.

Catalinbread Topanga spring reverb is very simple regarding its connectivity: it’s got mono in and out, and is powered by 9V negative power supply. It requires some 80mA of current.

The controls of this pedal are the typical ones you will find in most spring reverb pedals, but with an additional Volume control, which takes more juice out of the Topanga. It has 4 knobs: Dwell, Tone, Mix and Volume, and a single stomp switch.

From the moment you stomp on it, you can find the difference. It sounds great easily, because the knobs do what they as suppose to do. It’s true that it’ll give you its best by connecting it just before your gain pedals (or preamp of your tube amp).

Unless you’re using fuzz, its reverb sound will get sweetly and warmly distorted, but the reverb doesn’t get like dirty or noisy. It’s just great!!

Read the full review of the Catalinbread Topanga Spring Reverb

Strymon BigSky

Let me say this: The Strymon BigSky is the best reverb pedal I’ve ever played. It is not just a stompbox pedal: it includes 12 reverb machines with studio quality, allowing you to generate whichever reverb sound that you could imagine.

Plug into BigSky and instantly lift your sound into the stratosphere.

It includes 12 reverb modes: Room, Hall, Plate, Spring, Swell, Bloom, Cloud, Chorale, Shimmer, Magneto, Nonlinear and Reflections.

The Strymon BigSky is also hugely versatile concerning connectivity. It has right and left in/outs for true stereo, and expression pedal control. It also features MIDI in and out, and a Cab Filter speaker emulator, to connect the BigSky directly to the PA or recording console. It is powered via 9V negative power supply, drawing some 300mA.

It has 9 controls (type, value, decay, pre-delay, mix, tone, param 1, param 2 and mod) and 3 stomp switches (A, B, C). The switches allow you to activate/bypass each preset, navigate among different banks, and freeze or (infinite) sustain your reverb.

There is nothing related to reverb that this guy can’t give you. You’ll get any type of “classic” reverb sound, plus many other sidereal interstellar-like tones. Not to say the great versatility that it offers with its parametrizable controls and switches.

Ok, the price is high, but if you want more than just another reverb pedal, the Strymon BigSky is the one you should pick. Needless to say that this pedal will give you its full potential at the studio, in full stereo.

Read the full review of the Strymon bigSky

Eventide Space Reverb

The Eventide Space Reverb is another great reverb unit, kind of similar in features and quality of sound (and price range) than the Strymon BigSky. It includes12 built-in reverb modes: Room, Plate, Spring, Hall, Reverse, Shimmer, ModEchoVerb, DualVerb, Blackhole, MangledVerb, TremoloVerb and DynaVerb.

The connectivity of the Eventide Space is total: Apart from the stereo input and output, it includes a connector for an expression pedal and an additional programable output switch, MIDI connectivity trough USB and In/Out-Through. You can also adjust the level of the input and the output. It is powered via a 9V positive power supply, drawing 1200mA.

It has 11 controls (Mix, Decay, Size, Size, Low, High, Xnob, Ynob, FxMix, and Contour and another one navigate through the different presets, you can store up to 100) and three stomp switches: the left-hand switch always turns the effect on and off, while the other two have different functions, depending on the mode you’re using the pedal in.

This is another great pedal (well, it’s Eventide, what did you expect?). It features any kind of reverb you may imagine, and even more as it can add other effects (like modulation, tremolo, etc.) to the mix.

It sounds great, and you can tweak any reverb mode thanks to its 10 controls, though it can be sometimes a little tricky, as some of the knobs functionalities change with the reverberation mode.

Read the full review of the Eventide Space Reverb

TC Electronic Hall of Fame

TC Electronic is very well known for their rack mounted effects for guitarists and recording studios. Now they’ve included the features of their great reverb machines into a stompbox: the TC Electronic Hall of Fame.

It features 10 types of reverb: Room, Hall, Church, Spring, Plate, MOD, LOFI, TILE, AMB, GATE, and Toneprint, which allows you to greatly parametrize your reverb sound with an App (Toneprint Editor) and download the setting to your pedal.

This pedal has 2 inputs and 2 outputs for stereo connectivity, and is powered via 9V negative supply, drawing a current of some 100mA. It also includes a Mini-B USB to download your favorite Toneprints from your computer (Mac and PC).

The Hall of Fame has 4 knobs: Mode, FxLevel, Decay, and Tone, a toggle switch to change the pre-delay features and a single stomp switch to activate the pedal.

How does it sound like? Great. Otherwise, you wouldn’t see this pedal in that many pedalboards out there. This guy is super popular.

I think this pedal is the perfect solution for setting a permanent reverb sound to your guitar tone, and let it there onstage. You will have a great time by playing with the Toneprint Editor, and you can download your presets with a cool feature: Tone Transfer.

Read the full review of the TC Electronic Hall of Fame

Fender FRV1 63 Reverb

The Boss FRV-1 ’63 Fender Reverb pedal is a (great) attempt to reproduce the reverb sound of a vintage Fender Tube Reverb, the popular spring tube-driven reverb tank that contributed shaping surf and blues music in the early sixties. And you know what? Boss really nailed it.

The stompbox is very simple concerning its connectivity: it has an instrument input (mono) and instrument output (mono), and it’s powered with a 9V negative power supply, driving about 37mA of current.

As the original unit, it has 3 knobs: Mix, Tone and Dwell, and a single stomp switch:

Now, how does it sound like? Of course, like with any other digitally modeled effect, the sound the Boss FRV-1 will get is not exactly like the one of a vintage tube-driven unit. But it’s indeed very close. It would definitely challenge you in a blind test.

Once thing that I like about this pedal is how easy is to make it sound great. It is not my favorite spring reverb pedal though, but it’s a good choice if you one to get the approximate sound of the ’63 unit reissue, but in a stompbox size (and for less than one fifth of the price).

The only thing that I didn’t like about its sound is when I turned the Tone control all the way up. I was using a Fender amp with its EQ controls at noon, and it sounded a little harsh. But it is ok, you may not need to go that bright anyway…

Read the full review of the Boss FRV-1 ’63 Fender Reverb

Wampler Faux Spring reverb

Pedal designer Brian Wampler, owner of Wampler Pedals, is fanatical about great tone.

The Wampler Faux Spring Reverb is a great example of that. It goes right to the point: instead of including reverb modes that you’ll never use (like reverse plate reverbs) unless you’re bored at home, you’ll get the sound of an old school, vintage spring tank.

As most spring reverb pedals, the Faux Spring Reverb is very simple when speaking about connectivity. It’s got mono in and out, and is powered with a 9V negative power supply, requiring about 80mA of current to operate.

It includes the common knobs that you’ll see in most spring reverb pedals too. In this case, you can adjust the level, length and tone of the reverb with 3 knobs: Level, Depth and Shade controls. It has a single stomp switch too (true bypass).

This is another great sounding pedal. As it is true bypass and the dry sound stays fully analog, its presence will remain unnoticeable until you need it.

Despite it may seem a little pricy for “just” a single mode reverb pedal, you can be sure that, if you love the vintage old school sound of a spring tank, you will be happy spending what it cost.

Perhaps one thing that some people may find a little annoying is the length of the reverb. It goes up to 2.8s, which could be a little short for those lovers of cavernous deep sounds.

Read the full review of the Wampler Faux Spring Reverb

Mad Professor Silver spring reverb

Mad Professor is a synonym of sound quality, and the Silver Spring Reverb is a great example of it.

The dry signal stays fully analog and only the reverb is digitally filtered. It’ll be killer when placing it within your FX loop, but it won’t get nasty if placed before the overdrives and distortion pedals. It is super easy to use, and you won’t ged mad just trying to sound great.

As most of spring reverb pedals, the Silver Spring Reverb is mono, so you’ll only see single input and output connectors. On the other hand, this stompbox is powered with a 9V negative power supply, requiring at least 80mA of current.

The controls of the Silver Spring Reverb are pretty standard too. It has 3 knobs: Time, Tone and Reverb, and the true bypass stomp switch. This is how the knobs will affect your sound like:

I’ve already said that the Mad Professor Silver Spring Reverb sounds great. It’s capable of recreating studio-quality room reverbs with different sizes: from a small warm studio and a plated bathroom to a big church.

But here comes something that some people may argue about. Despite including the Spring word in its name, I don’t personally think that you’ll get a spring reverb sound with this pedal. At least, not the sound of the old school, vintage tube-driven spring tanks.

I didn’t have the chance to enjoy playing with it for a long time, but I wasn’t able to hear those characteristic sounds of springs anyway.

You won’t get disappointed if you’re looking for a simple reverb that just sound great, is simple to use, and can get along perfectly with your amp and distorted sounds.

Read the full review of the Mad Professor Silver Spring Reverb

Earthquaker Devices Afterneath

The Earthquaker Afterneath is not, strictly speaking, just a reverb pedal. This pedal essentially provides a special kind of reverberated sound that is made up of a bunch of short delays.

Even though is not like the other guys in the best reverb pedal buying guide, I decided to include it just because it’s different, and it’s great. It is worthy bringing here just because of the fact that it’ll take your playing to places you wouldn’t go otherwise.

It is powered with a 9V negative power supply, and it requires a minimum current of 65mA. It as mono connections at both input and output.

The controls of this pedal are very different from what you may see in any other reverb pedal. It has 6 knobs: Length, Diffuse, Dampen, Drag, Reflect, and Mix. It also has a single (true bypass) stomp switch:

I can’t just say that this reverb pedal sounds great, but it does. Put another way, this reverb can’t sound great (from a pure reverb sound perspective) because it isn’t like other reverb pedals, but it sounds great because it is a crazy device that will take to unexpected places when you play with it.

You can check the videos in the playlist below to see what this pedal is capable about and think about if you like what it does more than the classic reverb tones will give you.

One thing is clear: the Afterneath is not a simple device; you will have to spend some time to catch up with it, but you’ll enjoy doing it…

Read the full review of the Earthquaker devices Afterneath

Electro Harmonix Holy Grail nano

If you are looking for the best reverb pedal from Electro Harmonix, get an EHX Cathedral.

Then, you may think “why to include in this list another pedal from EHX whose features are included in the Cathedral?”. The answer is clear to me: because the EHX Holy Grail is an icon. It had to be here. However, I’ve bring it in its new (and smaller) version: the Holy Grail nano.

The Holy Grail features three types of reverb: Spring (the kind of spring reverb built-in vintage tube amplifiers), Hall, and Flerb, which is a cool mixture between reverb and flanger that you won’t find in any other pedal (apart from the EHC Cathedral). It will get right to the point because it is super easy to use: you just select the type of reverb and roll the Reverb knob for the amount of reverb you want. Easy.

This pedal is mono, and it’s powered with a 9V negative power supply. I haven’t tested the current consumption, but it’s for sure lower than the 200mA that you’re supposed to provided at least, according to EHX.

The Holy Grail has just a single Knob (Reverb) and a small switch, to select the reverb type (spring, hall, flerb). It also has a true bypass stomp switch.

As every single pedal made by Electro Harmonix, the Holy Grail sounds awesome. The easiest reverb pedal to use, just like the Reverb knob in any vintage tube amplifier with built-in spring reverb.

And know what? You won’t need any other control. For sure that additional tone and depth controls would give you more versatility with the reverb, but these parameters have been preset in such a natural way that you won’t miss them at all.

Another thing worth mentioning is the Flerb. It’s a unique feature, and it’s not just a reverb and a flanger blended together. You’ll discover that when playing with the Flerb and the Reverb knob there’s plenty of sweet spots than will take your playing to places any other reverb pedal will.

Read the full review of the Electro Harmonic Holy Grail nano

Mooer Shimverb

I absolutely love the Micro series of Mooer pedals. They are small, you have a wide selection of pedals to chose from, they look nice and they sound awesome. And, if you are looking for budget gear, you should check them out.

This pedal is powered via 9V negative power supply. Even though Mooer says that the pedal requires 128mA of current to operate, I’ve read some reviews saying that the Shimverb only draws 10mA, which will allow you to daisy chain a lot of these pedals with a standard power supply.

This pedal has three knobs (Level, Color and Decay), a small switch for changing the type of the reverb (Room, Spring, Shimmer), and a single stomp switch (true bypass) to activate the pedal. This is how the knobs of the pedal work:

Now it’s time to talk about how it sounds. Well, the Mooer Shimverb is the cheapest pedal of this list, and you can be sure that it won’t sound like the others. However, I think it sounds pretty good too.

In my opinion, the Room mode sounds warm and feels analog. You can set small studio-like reverbs or bigger hall ambiences. On the other hand, I love the heavenly sweet sounds that the Shimmer gives you by adding a 5th.

However, the Spring reverb doesn’t sound as realistic as it does in other spring reverb pedals. It feels a little digital. Once thing that I noticed is that the output volume is kind of reduced when using this pedal, so better use a boost in front of it.

Read the full review of the Mooer Shimverb

T-Rex Room Mate Junior

T-Rex only makes high quality pedals. And this one is another example. The T-Rex Room Mate Junior is something like the little brother of the T-Rex Room Mate, another great top-of-the-range reverb pedal with an awesome tube-driven analog circuitry.

The Room Mate Junior will let you play with four modes of reverb: room, hall, spring and LFO.

The Room Mate Junior is powered with an standard 9V negative power supply, requiring something about 85mA of current for its operation. It has three jack connectors, one for the input and two for a stereo output.

The controls that you’ll see in this pedal are simple. It has five knobs: four of them are on the top of the pedal (Mix, Level, Decay and Mode) and the other is on the righthand side (Input Gain). It’s got a single (true bypass) on/off stomp switch.

This pedal sounds pristine. The rooms and halls are warm and they reproduce real reverberation ambiences.

On the other hand, the Spring Reverb sounds very clear, and not noisy at all. Well, this might be good for some, but not for me. I love how vintage spring tanks sound, and they are many things but clear a noiseless… Some means of changing the high frequency response of the reverb could be great for having darker sounds.

However, the Room Mate Junior could be a great choice to use it with other acoustic instruments. In fact, as you may see in the pedal’s user manual, the LFO mode is a Reverb embellished with chorus, perfect for acoustic guitar.

Read the full review of the T-Rex Room Mate Junior

The features of the blueSky are reduced with regard to those of the SkyVerb. You won’t have that many reverb machines, nor that many controls and parameters, and you won’t be able to store presets. It is more like any other regular reverb pedal. But it is not just like any other reverb pedal…

The Strymon blueSky is also true stereo. You’ll find the four jack connectors in the back of the pedal, aligned with the power supply socket. The blueSky is powered with a standard 9V negative power supply, and you will need to feed it with at least 250mA. It is an awesome pedal, so you’ll need an awesome power supply too.

The pedal have 2 small switches, one of them controlling the type of the reverb (plate, room, spring), and the other to add an additional effect to the reverb: norm (no effect added), mod for some modulation, and shimmer. It also has 5 knobs: Decay, Mix, Low Damp, Pre-Delay and High Damp, and two stomp switches: one for activating the pedal and the other to select a preset, where you can store your favorite sound.

This pedal is true bypass and the dry signal stays fully analog.

You’ll have amazing experiences when playing through any Strymon pedal. I took it easy trying this pedal in a guitar store in Paris during a work trip, and I got shocked. You won’t have such a great dynamics with another pedal, it responded great to both Strat and Les Paul.

It is a little pricy too, but you have to pay for the best stuff.

Apart from my poor english vocabulary (I’m sorry for that), there is nothing I could say that makes justice for how this pedal sounds like. As it’s said, a single image is worth a thousand words, so check out the videos in the playlist below to listen to the Strymon blueSky.

Read the full review of the Strymon blueSky

Mr Black Deluxe Plus

The Mr Black Deluxe Plus recreates the reverb of those holy spring tanks of vintage tube amps, but also the tube-driven tremolo of the early days. This pedal sounds vintage indeed. Without any doubt, my favorite old school spring reverb pedal along with the Catalinbread Topanga.

With the extra feature of having, in a single stompbox, a great sounding tremolo too!

Just like in the vintage tube amplifiers that included both built-in reverb and tremolo, the tremolo stage comes after the reverb in the Deluxe Plus. But, in the case of this pedal, the controls have been implemented with much wider ranges.

Reverb and tremolo are two of the most distinctive sounds of the guitar history, mainly from the early sixties. They both sound great when mixed together, creating the characteristic guitar sound of what was called Americana music. In this pedal, you can use both effects at the same time, or each of them individually.

This pedal has instrument input and output mono jacks, and is powered with a 9V negative power supply, requiring 60mA of current to operate.

It’s also very simple with its controls. It has three knobs, one of them to control the reverb (Reverb) and the other two for the tremolo settings (Intensity, Speed). It also has a true bypass stomp switch.

As you will probably noticed if you read the other reviews from the best reverb pedal series, you will find better sounding pedals than the Mr Black Deluxe Reverb. But none of them is based on the concept of vintage tube amplifiers: a tremolo and a reverb with very simple control knobs, integrated in a single stompbox.

Some people my argue that this pedal would be more versatile if implementing two separate stomp switches, one for the reverb, one for the tremolo. If you need to switch the effects separately when playing live, this could be a drawback for you.

In any case, both effects sound great individually, and they feel great when blended together.

Read the full review of the Mr. Black Deluxe Plus

Conclusion: the best reverb pedal by category

I told you at the beginning of the post: there’s not such a thing as the best reverb pedal. It’s just a matter of which is the best pedal for you, considering what you want, what you need, what you like and what it makes you feel.

In any case, I’ll give you my personal view of which are the best reverb pedals considering different points of view.

What is your opinion? What is your best reverb pedal? Drop your comments below, and let’s start the discussion…

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Filtering pedals modify the frequency spectrum of the signal. You may know that any sound you generate is a combination of billions of sine waves, each at a given frequency, with a particular phase and with different amplitudes.

It is very straightforward to visualize the effect of filtering pedals if you think that they simply change the amplitude of some sine waves (at single frequencies) within a given frequency span.

But these pedals are much more than simple tone equalization devices, as they can apply filtering in the time domain, which provides cool dynamics to the tone and creates synthesizer-like effects.

Apart from the basic filtering of the input signal via a graphic EQ, these pedals can produce awesome effects that you would instantly recognize as one of the most representative tones of the history of rock guitar.

In this category, you will see amazing end epic effects, like the Wah-wah that Jimmy Hendrix (once again) made so popular in the sixties. But you’ll also see other awesome effects that use envelope filters.

  • Wah-wah pedals. I’m sure you know this effect. It takes its name for the kind of sound it generates. It is so great because you control it with your foot while playing.
  • Filter pedals. Known as envelope filters, these stompboxes are really cool. Auto-wah could be included in this category.
  • Auto-wah pedals. The effect it creates is very similar (even identical) to the one the conventional way pedal generates. However, you don’t control it with your foot, but it’s created automatically.
  • Equalizer pedals. These are really easy to understand. They allow you to equalize different frequency bands, very much like the tone controls of your amp, but with more versatility.

Wah-wah pedals

This effect takes its name from the kind of sound that it generates. It ¡s another example of the great classic pedals of the sixties rock scene; it also took disco music and funk in the seventies into the next level.

Wah-wah pedals work in very simple way: by rocking the pedal with your foot you sweep the center frequency of an envelope filter, or band-pass filter, through the frequency spectrum.

When that peak is swept through the portion of the spectrum in which the current note or chord is being played, it emphasizes those frequencies and produces a characteristic wah-wah-like sound.

Cry Baby Wah
Cry Baby Wah

A little history…

Wah-wah sound has its origin back in the mid twenties, when trumpet and trombone players in the jazz scene produced such a sound when muting the instrument with their hand.

Regarding guitar world, it seems that the wah-wah pedal was invented by accident. It was mid sixties when VOX engineers were tweaking old tube amps, and they accidentally came up with an weird sound that everybody just loved.

They wanted to replace the expensive Jennings 3-position MRB circuit switch with a transistorized solid state MRB circuit. After adjusting the circuit, they connected its output to a speaker, and the sound surprised everybody around.

They used it with a saxophone, and after that they used a volume pedal to control the wah with a guitar. The rest is history…

VOS wah pedal was released in 1967. Once again, Jimmy Hendrix was the first to amaze the whole world with what this pedal could do with the sound of the guitar. From then on, Wah is considered to be essential in rock music.

The other mythical wah pedal is the CryBaby, which got its name due to the similarity of the tone that it generates with a baby crying. It came out in 1968, and I would say that it’s the most widely used wah-pedal .

In the seventies, funk, soul and disco music guitar players started massively using wah, which took this sound into the next level.

Controls and features

Wah pedals are very simple devices. You won’t usually see any knobs in them, although there are some models that allow you to change the bandwidth of the envelope filter. This way, if you select a narrow bandwidth you will get a sharper wah. On the contrary, if you increase the bandwidth the effect will be less noticeable.

Now, all wah pedals look the same, just like an actual pedal. By firmly stomping on it, you will activate the pedal so you can start rocking.

Do I need a Wah pedal?

It is a classic, and every guitarist should have one, so yes, you need a wah pedal.

Envelope filters pedals

Filters (envelope filters) are very similar to wahs and auto-wahs, although more versatile because they include more controls that allow you to amazingly shape the tone of your guitar.

Most of them include a low frequency oscillator (LFO) that is mixed with some of the controls that the filter has. In some cases, you can even modify the shape of the signal generated by this LFO (sine, square, triangle, etc.).

This is a wide category because there are very different filtering pedals, with very different functionalities and tonal possibilities. Some of them (really complex devices) provide, just with filtering, synthesizer-like sounds that will take your guitar out from conventionality.

SolidGoldFX FUNKZILLA
SolidGoldFX FUNKZILLA

A little history…

The history of envelope filtering is very related to the history of synthesizers.

Just check some recordings of the early progressive rock in the seventies and you will hear a lot of psychedelic synthesizer applying crazy filtering. Once again I will refer to Pink Floyd and “The dark side of the moon” and their mastery (though being just novices experimenting) with the use of synthesizers in the studio.

The first envelope filter was the Mu-Tron III, first made in 1972 and quickly becoming an essential effect for many funk musicians. Other examples of envelope filter pedals include the MXR Envelope Filter and the Boss AW-2 Auto Wah.

Envelope filter pedals are not really mainstream pedals. Although most mainstream brands have an envelope filter in their catalogue, there are not many models in the market (at least not as many as overdrives…)

This pedal also shaped the sound of funk.

Controls and features

In the case of (envelope) filter pedals, the controls vary widely among different stompboxes.

In any case, these are the most commons controls that you can find in the majority of filters:

  • Rate. With the rate you will control the time in which the frequency sweep occurs. Think about a wah pedal that you control with your foot: the faster you rock the pedal, the faster the wah sound is generated. You can obtain the same effect by increasing the rate of an auto-wah.
  • Depth. The depth knob changes the bandwidth of the envelope filter. At its minimum, you will get a subtle effect, whereas turned all the way up you will reduce the bandwidth, obtaining a sharper wah tone.
  • Sensitivity. Sometimes you can obtain a dynamic change in how the pedal reacts to your playing. If you play louder, the wah effect will be more pronounced. You will obtain more natural effect by tuning this control.
  • LFO. With this knob you can change the speed (frequency) of the LFO, from a slight vibe-like effect up to a high frequency helicopter-like high speed tremolo.
  • Envelope. Sometimes you can select between different shapes for the signal generated by the LFO (sine wave, triangular, square, etc.).
  • Mode. Some really cool pedals allow you to select between different modes of operation. Instead of having just a steady LFO with a constant output, they include a few presets with crazy oscillator patterns.

Do I need a filter pedal?

Not really. But trust me, they will boost your creativity, because they allow you to sound so amazing that you will get inspired by the effect itself.

I must admit that, when I’m writing these lines, I am waiting for a present that I’ve made to myself. A friend of mine is about to come from NYC, where he got for me a SolidGoldFx FUNKZILLA. What does this name suggests?

Do you like funk? Then you need a filter pedal.

Auto-wah pedals

Auto-wah is very similar to the classic wah, because it is also based in an envelope filter circuit.

However, you now don’t control the frequency characteristics of the filter with the foot; instead, this is done by the pedal automatically, depending on the dynamics or you playing and the settings of the pedal.

This is a really cool funky effect that gives you a sound kind of different than a classic wah. If you are into soul and funk music, you definitely must have one of those.

Mad Professor Snow White AutoWah
Mad Professor Snow White AutoWah

A little history…

Auto-wah can be considered as a particular case of envelope filtering, so the history of envelope filters apply here.

Controls and features

Auto-wah pedals can be considered as a group within the envelope filters category. However, there are some models in the market with just auto-wha functionality.

in general, they will share these controls:

  • Rate. With the rate you will control the time in which the frequency sweep occurs. Think about a wah pedal that you control with your foot: the faster you rock the pedal, the faster the wah sound is generated. You can obtain the same effect by increasing the rate of an auto-wah.
  • Depth. The depth knob changes the bandwidth of the envelope filter. At its minimum, you will get a subtle effect, whereas turned all the way up you will reduce the bandwidth, obtaining a sharper wah tone.
  • Sensitivity. Sometimes you can obtain a dynamic change in how the pedal reacts to your playing. If you play louder, the wah effect will be more pronounced. You will obtain more natural effect by tuning this control.

Do I need an auto-Wah pedal?

Unless you are into funky stuff, you won’t be thinking in including an auto-wah in your pedalboard… But if you do like how synthesizers can color different sounds by adding filtering and LFOs you will love what these pedals can do with a guitar.

Equalization (EQ) pedals

This effect is pretty straightforward. It consists on a graphic EQ that includes a number of band pass filters at different frequencies. Depending on how many bands the EQ has, you really can change the tone of your playing. EQ pedals usually have slider-based controls to tune each band, that present a graphic image of the shape of your EQ settings.

A little history…

MXR 10 band Equalizer
MXR 10 band Equalizer

Graphic equalizer pedals were widely used in the seventies. They’ve always been used to adequate the sound of the guitar when playing live at a particular venue.

The most popular EQ pedals were those offering 6 frequency bands. Everybody was offering EQ pedals, so you will find Electro Harmonix, Ibanez, DOD and other brands competing since these pedals first appeared.

Controls and features

Graphic equalizers are usually very simple devices to control. They usually have these controls:

  • Volume. You can boost (or attenuate) the output of your guitar with a volume control, after having equalized the sound.
  • Frequency band. You will be able to boost or attenuate different band frequencies independently, with the respective knob or fader. Faders are very convenient because they give you a graphic view of how the frequency equalization is shaped. In fact, they sometimes include an led so you can see the frequency shape on stage.

Do I need an EQ pedal?

You may think that this pedal is not for you, because you have enough EQ control with the knobs of your amplifier. Well, that is true if you are playing at home…

If you play live with a band, you will need some means of quickly equalize the sound coming out of your amp. The sonic characteristics of the venue may impose to boost some signal while attenuating others. You could even need to notch a given frequency to avoid an unwanted feedback to occur.

In addition to that, an EQ can make your guitar sound like it was produced in a recording. They will provide you with a lot of flexibility.

As I said before, if you play in a band in relatively big venues or you just want to be able to change drastically the tone of your guitar, put an EQ pedal on your pedalboard!

Here is the complete list of posts of this “pedals explained” series: