Reviews

Reviews
In this category, we will include pedal reviews

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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.

An otherworldly reverberation machine

It is described by Earthquaker Devices as an otherworldly reverberation machine that uses a swarm of short delays to create wild and cavernous reverbs and scattered, short rhythmic delays with bizarre characteristics. The reverb created is beyond massive and goes well beyond the territory of most reverb pedals.

The end result is an ethereal, ambient wash that goes from hall to an infinite glitched-out orchestra pit warming up in a canyon at the bottom of another canyon inside a well.

I love that.

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.

But you can be sure about this: you’ll either love it or find it useless. You can read what other people say about this pedal here.

Features and controls

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:

  • Length controls the length (i.e. decay) of the reverb.
  • Diffuse adjusts the spread of the reverb. You will hear more the delays when turned counter clockwise, and more wash ambient as you turn it clockwise.
  • Dampen is something like a tone control. Roll it clockwise for brighter tones, counter clockwise for darker tones.
  • As said by Earthquake Devices (and as you will probably agree) Drag is the coolest control on the Afterneath. It separates the delay lines creating a stuttering, pingy effect. More delay as you turn it counter clockwise, more reverb as you turn it clockwise.
  • Reflect acts as a feedback control in a delay pedal. It controls the regeneration of the reverb: turn clockwise for more echos. You can make the sound self oscillate if turned up high.
  • Mix blends the wet signal into the dry. You won’t strictly get a fully wet sound by rolling it all the way up, but it would seem like you do. It is because the dry sound level will decrease as you turn the knob clockwise.

Sound

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…

Should you buy this pedal?

This question is difficult to answer in the case of the Afterneath. It’s not a typical reverb pedal, so you won’t want to think about it if you’re looking a pedal that recreates springs, plates, or even room reverbs.

When you listen to this pedal (or try it taking your time) you’ll either love it or hate it. If you love it, you’ll buy it, because you won’t find anything similar from other vendors. The Afterneath is unique, and when you play with it, it will inspire you and will take your playing to places that you wouldn’t go otherwise.

If you like playing with knobs researching for new sounds, this pedal may be a good pedal to consider.

Alternatives to the Earthquaker Devices Afterneath

I had written about some alternatives to this pedal but it was just bullshit. There ain’t no alternatives to the Afterneath, it is a unique device. You better see my list of the best reverb pedals if you’re looking for a more conventional stompbox.

Conclusion

This is a brief summary of my review of the Afterneath:

PROS

  • It is a unique pedal
  • True bypass
  • Fully analog dry signal
  • Hand made
  • It will take your playing to unexpected places

CONS

  • It is a little pricy, but it is unique anyway
  • It would be so cool if it was stereo
  • Difficult to use

I’ve said it a couple of times already, but I will summarize my review by saying that the Afterneath is a unique pedal. It is not just like any other reverb pedal, either it emulates spring reverbs or natural room ambiences. You will either love it or hate it. If you’re looking for a more classic reverb pedal, buy one. But get an Afterneath too!!!

You can check the price of the Earthquaker Devices Afterneath here.

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

Then, you may think “why to think about buying 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.  In this review, I’ve bring this pedal in its new (and smaller) version: the Holy Grail nano.

Before we get into the point, you can read a lot of reviews here.

Divine reverb for mere mortals

There isn’t just one Holy Grail. This pedal is based on the same circuitry as the Electro Harmonix Holy Grail, but in a smaller size, as many other icon stompboxes from the brand do (Big Muff nano, Memory Toy, etc.). It looks great, and just the most advanced high-resolution ears could tell any difference between the two versions of the Holy Grail (I can’t).

You’ll a better idea about what this pedal is all about by reading what the EHX people say about it:

Divine reverb for mere mortals. Down from the heavens comes the Holy Grail, a compact digital reverb guitar pedal that is priced so low thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s reverb tank any longer. 

The Holy Grail will make you a believer with its emulation of classic Spring reverb so faithful that even Dick Dale couldn’t tell the difference. Next, get lost in the lush spaciousness of the Hall reverb and ask yourself, “how did they fit Notre Dame into such a small package?” Finally, reach enlightenment with the haunting Flerb.

Features and controls

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.

  • Reverb is simply the mix between your dry and wet (reverberated) sound. If you roll this control up, the sound is fully wet.

Sound

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.

This pedal is essential…

Check out the videos in the playlist below, I’m sure you will love the Electro Harmonix Holy Grail.

Should you buy this pedal?

If you are looking for a reverb pedal, and you want something simple that just works, the Holy Grail is a safe bet. You won’t get lost by playing with too many knobs, because you will only have one. Just like in amps. But will have a little more versatility thanks to its three reverb modes.

If you don’t want to spend a fortune in a reverb pedal because you want something to just live it there so your sound gets warmer and more present, this pedal will do the job.

You will also want to buy this pedal if you love guitar pedals. This one is another myth, and will always fit on your pedalboard or in your gigbag.

Don’t think of this pedal if you want a more complex pedal that is able to provide you with plenty of different and complex reverb sounds. The Holy Grail has a Hall mode, but you have plenty of better alternatives to that.

You won’t like this pedal if you are serious about spring reverb. Even tough it sounds great, it doesn’t sound like vintage outboard spring tanks. You have better options for that.

Alternatives to the Electro Harmonix Holy Grail Nano

If you like spring reverbs, you have to check other pedals that are a little more complex than the Holy Grail, but are more indicated to recreate the sound of vintage outboard spring tanks. My top favorites are the Catalinbread Topanga Spring Reverb (the best one), the Wampler Faux Spring Reverb and the Mad Professor Silver Spring Reverb.

On the other hand, you have another pedal that is pretty similar to the Holy Grail: the Mooer Shimverb. It sounds pretty well and is tiny too. The sound is not that great though, but it has a Shimmer effect that can be very spiring. And its price is sooooo great

Conclusion

This pedal is a classic. And it’s just plug and play, here goes a little summary of what I think about it.

PROS

  • Simplicity. Roll the Reverb knob and sound great. Easy
  • Spring and Hall reverbs sound nice and warm.
  • Flerb gives you a unique tone
  • It fits on any pedalboard, it is tiny
  • Great price
  • It is a classic, an icon

CONS

  • It doesn’t have a Tone control
  • It is not true bypass

The Electro Harmonix Holy Grail Nano reverb is a safe bet if you’re looking for a simple pedal. Just select the reverb type you wanna use, roll the Reverb knob up and you will be ready to go. The Spring sounds pretty realistic, the Hall is ok, and the Flerb is cool. This pedal is a classic and the price is great.

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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 simple as that. The vintage sound of the sixties electric guitar. Well, that is what I thought at the beginning. However, the more I payed with the pedal, the more modern (less vintage) it sounded to me. Keep on reading…

You can read here what other people say about this pedal.

You can have your reverb be as bright as a day, or dark as night

This is what they say at Wampler Pedals about the Faux Spring Reverb:

The great thing about the Faux Spring Reverb is that it retains the Analog base tone, doesn’t send your signal through digital/analog converters and back again (wrecking your tone completely) allowing you to be as springy as you like without your sound becoming lifeless, dull and… well, bad. 

With the tone control, you can control your sound completely and have your reverb be as bright as day, or dark as night… As lively and bright as a small hall, or as deep as the biggest cathedrals.

However, I would say that this pedal sounds more like the spring reverb you could find built-in in the fender black face amps of the sixties, rather than the more aggressive and wet reverb from outboard units like the ’63 Fender Tube Reverb tank.

Features and controls

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).

  • Level controls the amount of reverb mixing with your dry signal.
  • Depth adjusts the size of the reverb.
  • Shade is like a tone control, which will allow you having more sparkling brighter tones when turning clockwise and darker, warmer, more analog tones when rolling counter clockwise.

Sound

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.

Check out the videos in the playlist below and see how it sounds like.

Should you buy this pedal?

That is a really difficult question. First of all, I’ll assume that you’re thinking of buying a reverb pedal. Now, are you looking for simply a spring reverb pedal? If not, perhaps you need to look for more versatile units, like the JHS Alpine Reverb, the Electro Harmonix Cathedral or the TC Electronic Hall of Fame. All of these are within the same price range than the Wampler Faux Spring Reverb, but include a few reverb types.

If you want a spring reverb pedal, you have to check if you prefer vintage spring tanks (a bit darker sounds) over more modern sounds (although preserving the sound of spring tanks, you get more like a HiFi reverb). If you prefer the second option, this pedal may be for you.

On the other hand, if you like older sounds like those of surf music in the sixties, you may prefer other options (see the next section for alternatives).

Alternatives to the Wampler Faux Spring Reverb

If you are looking for a great spring reverb pedal, you have plenty of awesome options out there: a very similar sounding pedal may be the Mad Professor Silver Spring Reverb. It will be a matter of personal taste what will make you to chose one over the other.

Now, if you are a spring reverb geek and are looking to emulate the sound of vintage outboard spring tanks, you have better alternatives. My personal favorite spring reverb pedal is the Catalinbread Topanga Spring Reverb. This one is really great, it sounds old school.

With less controls, but sounding like fender blackface amps too, you have the Mr. Black Deluxe Plus reverb. It’s a reverb+tremolo pedal, with the controls you had in this kind of vintage amps by Fender. The reverb sounds great too.

You may argue with that, but in my opinion, the Wampler Faux Spring Reverb (and the Mad Professor Silver Spring Reverb too) sound kind of more modern to me.

Conclusion

This is a brief summary of my review of the Faux Spring Reverb:

PROS

  • The Faux Spring Reverb is true bypass
  • The dry signal stays fully analog
  • Great build quality
  • Sounds like a classic Fender Blackface amp

CONS

  • It is a bit expensive
  • The maximum decay time may be too short (2.8s)
  • You may argue it doesn’t sound vintage

As a conclusion, the Wampler Faux Spring Reverb is great sounding pedal, although a little pricy and kind of modern-sounding for some people. In any case, it sounds awesome from the moment you start using it because its knobs react very naturally.

You can check the best prices for this pedal here.

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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.

Check out this video of Josh Scott from JHS pedals discussing the history of the Alpine reverb.

A highly tweak-able, versatile, inspiring and cost effective solution for any situation your gig might throw at you

That is what the people in JHS Pedals say about the Alpine: In a world full of reverb pedals we are proud to offer up a highly tweak-able, versatile, inspiring and cost effective solution for any situation your gig might throw at you. 

The heart of the Alpine’s design is the idea that you can have a reverb pedal that is straight forward, easy to use, but also extremely powerful in its functions all while still very approachable without requiring a degree in computer engineering to dial in a great sound.

Features and controls

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.

Despite its great versatility in recreating different reverberations, the JHS Alpine Reverb doesn’t include any knob for setting the reverb mode. However, playing with the knobs is pretty straightforward, and you’ll get the sound you like very easily.

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.

  • Reverb controls the mix between the dry and wet sounds.
  • Depth changes the size of the reverb, to emulate smaller or bigger reverberating environments.
  • Highs is essentially a tone control for high frequencies, allowing you to change between darker and brighter reverb tones. However, it is not as simple as that. This control reacts differently depending on how the rest of the knobs are set, creating different types of reverb (spring, plate, room, etc.)
  • Length is the length (decay) of the reverb.
  • Shift. This control is activated with the shift on/off stomp switch, and is an additional wet/dry mix of the reverb. This way, you can switch between 2 reverb presets when playing, which is great for onstage conditions

Sound

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.

I have to admit that I only had the opportunity to play with the Alpine Reverb for a few minutes. It was in a family trip to NYC and wanted to try other gear that I don’t easily find back in Europe, so had to diversify my time…

However, I realize that it was so easy to get a great sound from it! Either with crystal clear clean sounds or with dirty overdrives, I got the sound with a few tweaks with the knobs.

You will enjoy playing with this pedal because it’s very easy to use but very versatile at the same time.

Check out the videos of the playlist below to see how it sounds.

Should you buy this pedal?

If you are looking to a reverb pedal that is easy to use, but want something more than just a spring reverb, the JHS Alpine Reverb is a good option.

If you like experimenting by creating new different sounds, you will enjoy the effects loop in the Alpine Reverb. Depending on the effect you put within the loop, you can create very distinct and original sounds

You may like the Alpine Reverb to play live with too. The shift knob is activated with a stomp switch, and it comes handy for changing the reverb ambience within different parts in a song. It can be used to activate the pedals within the effects loop as well.

Don’t buy this pedal if you are looking for a pedal that will give you orbital sounds. The EHX Cathedral is a better choice for that within the same price range, and it is stereo.

You’ll probably prefer other reverb pedal if you are thinking in using it with other instruments apart from the guitar. For recording, you won’t get stereo with the Alpine Reverb, neither at the output nor at the input.

Alternatives to the JHS Alpine Reverb

You won’t find many alternatives to the Alpine Reverb that sound that great within the same price range.

You have the Electro Harmonix Cathedral, that is true stereo and allows you changing between 8 reverb modes. It’s also a versatile pedal, but a little more complicated to use, at least for the first time. You’ll need some time to get used to it and make it sound awesome (but you’ll get to it, and will absolutely love it).

You also have the T-Rex Room Mate Junior, that also incorporates a mode selector knob to play with.

On the higher end, you won’t get disappointed if you go for a Strymon blueSky. Also very versatile, and very easy to use. And it sounds AWESOME! One of the best reverb pedals out there. But you’ll have to spend a little more…

Conclusion

As I said before, I could spend the time I wanted with the Alpine Reverb (just a few minutes with it). These are the pros and cons that summarize my short experience with the JHS Alpine Reverb.

PROS

  • Great versatility with just 5 knobs
  • Switch knob that can be activated with a stomp switch for a 2 different reverb settings
  • It includes a built-in effects loop that will allow you create amazing sounds
  • It looks gorgeous (I love the look of JHS pedals)
  • Used with single coils sounds vintage!

CONS

  • You can’t select between reverb types
  • It’s not stereo. It would be great to have, at least, a stereo output for a more 3D ambience recreation

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.

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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.

Read here what other people say about this pedal.

Big wet and splashy. 60’s outboard spring reverb tank

This is what the guys from Catalinbread say about the Topanga Spring Reverb:

The outboard Fender 6G15 spring reverb unit is the sound of Surf guitar, Spaghetti Western and many other great guitar sounds from the sixties. 

Part of its magic, and how it differs from the internal spring reverb found in most Fender-style amps, is that it is run *in front* of the amp, causing the reverb signal to distort and sound more intense. Because there were additional knobs on the outboard units, you also have more control over the reverb qualities. 

The Dwell knob controlled how hard the springs were getting hit by the guitar signal. The Tone knob allowed the treble to be dialed back to just the right degree of brightness. 

It was also essentially a tube preamp, so it would color the sound going into the amp. All this added up to a very distinctive reverb sound with a lot of attitude and complex non-linearities that are hard to replicate. 

But we here at Catalinbread did just that! Besides giving you the classic three knob control compliment of the original, we’ve also added a great discrete preamp that you can control via the Volume knob for a healthy amount of great clean boost when you want it.

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.

Features and controls

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.

  • The Dwell knob controls how much signal is going into and driving reverb springs. As on vintage tube-drivenl units, cranking this knob up can cause clipping on the wet side due to the signal crashing the springs. It sounds real!
  • The Tone control will let you sound brighter (clockwise) or darker (counter clockwise).
  • Mix adjusts the amount of reverb that blends with the dry sound. Rolling it all the way up, you can get a fully wet sound.
  • Volume is the essence of this pedal. This knob acts as a volume control of any preamp, allowing you to boost the sound. You will hear the difference this control brings by connecting your overdriven tube amp (or an overdrive pedal) just after the Topanga. The spring reverb will scream…

Sound

I’ve said at the beginning. This pedal is different from any other spring reverb pedal. This pedal sounds like real outboard spring reverb tanks.

batman-robin-reverbWell, some hardcore surfers may argue with that…

From the moment you stomp on it, you can find the difference. It sounds great from the moment you switch it on, because the knobs do what they as supposed 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!!

I’ve read that there is a trick that allows you having a very different sounding reverb. It has something to see with modulation… It seems there’s a youtube video where you can see what it is like and how to do it. Drop a comment below if you try it!

I cannot explain why is that different, but check out the video playlist below and see how you can play with the Volume control to make it scream!

Should I buy this pedal?

If you are into surf music and are serious about that, you’ll probably have a tube-driven spring tank. If you want a backup solution for convenience, or just practice at home, you MUST buy this pedal.

If you just love the sound of real outboard spring tanks rather than the spring reverbs that are built-in tube amplifiers, you’ll want the best spring reverb pedal. Buy the Topanga, it’s the best.

If you’re happy with the reverb you have in your amp and don’t see the possibilities that driving your preamp with a reverb up front gives you, you won’t probably think of buying a reverb pedal. Therefore, you won’t be thinking about buying (another) spring reverb device.

You should’t buy this pedal if you want to be able to recreate different reverb sounds, like rooms, halls, etc. This will give you the sound of a spring tank.

Alternatives to the Catalinbread Topanga Spring Reverb

To be honest, the best alternative to the Topanga is an outboard spring tank, like the ’63 Fender Tube Reverb reissue.

If we are talking about stompboxes, you should probably look to the Fender FRV-1 ’63 Fender Reverb. This pedal recreates the sound of the ’63 Fender Tube Reverb in stompbox format. It is a bit cheaper, and doesn’t sound as pure (although sounds pretty realistic) as the Topanga. But this pedal is cool (has the Fender logo on it…)

Other spring reverb pedals alternatives are the Wampler Faux Spring Reverb and the Mad Professor Silver Spring Reverb. These units sound great too, but not as dark, old school, and pure as the Topanga. They sound a little more modern to be.

Conclusion

These are the pros and cons that I found when tested the Catalinbread Topanga Spring Reverb.

PROS

  • It does a great job by recreating the sound of vintage tube-driven spring tanks. It gets really close…
  • The volume knob allows you adjusting how hard you will drive your gain stages, just like old tube units did in the sixties
  • Quality of the pedal. It’s hand built using the best components
  • Wide range of the knobs
  • Bright reverbs don’t sound harsh. By rolling the Tone knob all the way up, the sound’s still warm
  • It sounds excellent when fully wet. You won’t feel any digital reminiscence in the tail of the reverb
  • The dry signal is fully analog

CONS

  • The purist surf guitarists will say that (like every other spring reverb pedal) it just can’t replace an outboard spring tank
  • It can be easily clipped (you have to be careful with the Dwell knob and you may use a 18V power supply)

The conclusion is clear to me. After playing the pedal for a while, and after watching the youtube videos of the playlist above and reading a few reviews by real users and expert opinions in forums, I would say that the Catalinbread Topanga Spring Reverb is the best spring reverb pedal.

If you are a purist, you’ll say that there is no way that a solid-state spring reverb pedal could ever replace a tube-driven spring tank. I agree with that, the same way as you may argue that a solid-state amp could never get close to the vintage sound of a tube amplifier. BUT, the Catalinbread Topanga Spring Reverb really nails it. It gets close indeed.

You can check the price of the Topanga here.

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Strymoon 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

As I don’t have words to describe this pedal, I better paste what Strymon says about it.

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

The world below you fades into the distance, and you’re elevated into a glow of lush, glorious, radiant reverbs. To create a reverb experience as natural, beautiful, and immersive as BigSky required tremendous feats of sound engineering and artistic imagination. 

Using the fundamentals of acoustical science as our beacon, we carefully studied and scientifically analyzed reverb technology from the past fifty years. We faithfully captured the essence of these classic sounds, and forged ahead to dream up our vision of reverbs from the future.

Features and controls

You will be really impressed with its sound. It includes 12 reverb modes.

Room and Hall recreate different sizes of reverberating environments, from a small studio up to the biggest cathedral;

Plate and Spring recreate real plate and spring tanks;

Swell brings in the reverb gradually behind the dry signal for subtle evolving textures, like having a volume pedal on the wet signal;

Bloom features a ‘bloom generating’ section that feeds into a traditional reverb ‘tank’, and adds a unique Feedback parameter that expands the possibilities exponentially;

Cloud obscures the distinction between reality and fantasy;

Chorale will make you sound like a vocal choir;

Shimmer uses two tunable voices add pitch-shifted tones to the reverberated signal, for resplendent, unearthly ambience;

Magneto machine sets up a multi-head echo with all heads on;

Nonlinear includes a variety of physics-defying reverb shapes, like three ‘backwards’ shapes (Swoosh, Reverse, and Ramp), or a Gate and more; and

Reflections, which is a psycho-acoustically accurate small-space reverb that allows you to move your amp anywhere in the room. The Reflections algorithm precisely calculates 250 reflections based on the source position within the chosen room shape. The psycho-acoustic modifiers adjust for human auditory perception to create unparalleled ambient-space realism to dry instrument or vocal tracks.

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.

  • Type control allows you selecting up to 12 reverb machines: Room, Hall, Plate, Spring, Swell, Bloom, Cloud, Chorale, Shimmer, Magneto, Nonlinear, Reflections.
  • Value can be used to scroll through different presets, among other additional functionalities (i.e. set presets, assign parameters to the knobs, etc.)
  • The decay knob changes the length of the reverb.
  • The pre-delay sets the delay time until the reverb effect appears.
  • By rolling the mix knob you’ll change from a 100% dry sound up to a 100% wet one.
  • The tone control has an impact over the high frequency response of the reverb.
  • Both Param 1 and Param 2 can be assigned to different parameters depending on the reverb machine you are using. It is a very useful feature when playing live.
  • Mod adds a little modulation to the reverb. From just a little effect up to some more noticeable presence, modulation provides a nice warmness to your tone.

Sound

What can I say about how this pedal sounds?

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.

Just check out all the videos of the below, and start saving some money… When you hear this pedal, you just start wanting one

Should you buy this pedal?

First, you must decide if the Strymon BigSky fits within your budget, because it’s not cheap. You can check the best price here.

You should buy this pedal if you are looking for the best reverb pedal of the market. You won’t use this pedal just for gigs or playing at home, but for the highest quality sound applications and studio recording. Any music you play will fit the possibilities that the BigSky can bring you. You can plug it to any instrument too, and even the voices will sound crystal clear with it.

You won’t think about buying this pedal if you are on a tight budget, or you are simply looking for a simple reverb pedal to add some texture to your sound. The possibilities are endless, and you have to be a little teckie, better if you do like playing with knobs…

Alternatives to the Strymon BigSky

There are only two devices out there (in stompbox format) that can be comparable to the Strymon BigSky.

One of them is the Eventide Space, very similar in features and versatility. It will allow you to store 100 presents too, so will be very handy when playing live too. The Eventide is in the same price range of the BigSky, so you will have a tough decision here.

Check out the video below to see the two of them face to face.

The other is the BigSky’s little brother, the Strymon blueSky. It doesn’t have that many reverb machines, nor can you control so many parameters. However, the two of them sound pretty similar with the reverb modes that the blueSky has. The price of the blueSky is also considerably lower, so check that option out if you love the BigSky but don’t want to spend that much.

Watch them both in this great comparison video by Shnobel.

If you want to have a lot of versatility regarding reverb modes and knobs to play with, you can check the Electro Harmonix Cathedral reverb too. Its price is way lower, and the sound quality is great too. Using the Cathedral in stereo could give you magnificent ambiences with it endless decay, so check that out too.

Conclusion

Check out the pros and cons that summarize the Strymon BigSky review:

PROS

  • Great versatility. Up to 12 reverb types very parametrizable with the knobs. You can set two knobs to control the parameters you want
  • The ambient reverbs (rooms and halls) are hugely realistic
  • True stereo and the best sound quality
  • You can store up to 300 presets
  • Orbital sounds that you won’t get with any other pedal

CONS

  • The only concern could be its high price, but it is a great value. You have to pay to own the best reverb pedal

My conclusion is that the Strymon BigSky is a great (the greatest) device, without any doubt the best reverb pedals that I’ve ever played. Apart from being realistic in the recreation of different reverberation ambiences and techniques, it features outerspace sidereal sounds, that will blow your mind in stereo.

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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 built-in digital signal processing algorithms do a great job by emulating the sound of this mythical reverb. It uses a modeling technology called COSM, which also gives character to other great Boss products. If you’re interested about digital sound modeling, check out this great article about the COSM technology.

The legendary sound of the 1963 Fender® Spring Reverb returns as a modern stompbox

You can read here what real people say about this pedal. In the words of Boss:

A classic reborn — the legendary sound of the 1963 Fender® Spring Reverb returns as a modern stompbox. BOSS and Fender® USA have collaborated to create the FRV-1, a stunning recreation of the legendary ’63 Fender® Reverb via COSM technology. 

The FRV-1 puts that timeless tube-driven reverb sound under your foot in a tough, reliable compact pedal. A timeless classic — the Fender® Spring Reverb is the sound that launched the surf-music phenomenon, and is a staple of rockabilly, country, and blues. 

Later, it became commonplace in grunge and other modern genres. Now the same legendary sound can be had in an affordable, rugged compact pedal.

With this pedal you won’t simply get just another spring reverb pedal: what you’ll get is the sound of a ’63 Fender Tube Reverb.

Features and controls

You must recall that this reverb was different than spring reverbs you can find in any vintage (and modern) tube amp. These reverbs only have a knob that basically controls the amount of reverb that is mixed with the dry sound, being the reverb placed between the power and preamp stages.

On the other hand, the ’63 Reverb was used in front of the preamp, not good for distortion sounds, but it could give an special taste to overdriven amps.

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:

  • Mix controls the ratio of the dry and wet sounds.
  • Tone shapes the high frequencies, by making the reverb sound brighter or darker.
  • Dwell adjusts the amount of the original signal that is sent to the reverb circuit.

Sound

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…

Check out the videos in the playlist below and find out if you like how it sounds

Should you buy this pedal?

You should buy this pedal if it’s clear to you that you want a pedal that gives you the sound of a classic Fender spring reverb tank of the early sixties.

If you are a hardcore surfer guitar you will see that there is no way that this pedal may sound like an outboard spring reverb unit. Well, you know, it gets pretty close. Give it a go, it can come handy as a backup for your outboard unit. Either to play at home or when is not practical to bring your tube-driven reverb unit to a gig, you will be happy to see the Boss FRV-1 in your gigbag or on your pedalboard.

You won’t like this pedal if you are looking for a “natural” sounding reverb. If you want to recreate natural reverberating environments, The Boss FRV-1 is not for you. Spring reverb is by no means natural; in fact, it was the artificial way to recreate a natural reverb in the sixties, when no digital modeling technology was available.

Alternatives to the Boss FRV-1 ’63 Fender Reverb

If vintage spring reverb sound is what you like, you should check the Catalinbread Topanga Spring Reverb. It is a very similar stompbox, but it includes an extra knob (preamp volume control) that will add a magic juice to your tone when driving your tube amplifier. In my opinion, it sounds a little better than the Boss FRV-1.

You have other great spring reverb pedals that don’t sound that old (to me). They have a slight more modern sound, and they can even recreate room-like reverbs, even though they have very simple controls (don’t allow you selecting between different types of reverb). These models are the Wampler Faux Spring Reverb and the Mad Professor Silver Spring Reverb.

Conclusion

The Boss FRV-1 has loads of positive reviews, and that’s because it’s a great pedal. This is the short summary of my personal review.

PROS

  • The recreation of the ’63 Fender Reverb gets pretty close to the original unit
  • You will agree that you love to see the Fender logo on the pedal, its look is awesome
  • It is a Boss pedal, so it’s clear that is a reliable and durable pedal
  • Great price

CONS

  • The signal is fully converted to digital, processed and then back to analog. A dry fully analog would be great
  • The sound of the reverb may get too harsh when the Tone control is set all the way up.
  • It is not true bypass

My personal conclusion is that the Boss FRV-1 ’63 Fender Reverb is a great reverb pedal if you’re looking for a vintage spring reverb sound. Not good if you’re looking for natural room-like reverbs or crystal-clear orbital sounds… The pedal looks great, sounds pretty close to the original outboard Fender unit and the price is great!

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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.

You can read what other people say about the Cathedral here.

Enter the Cathedral and surround your music with the aria of divine presence

This is what Electro Harmonix says about this baby: Enter the Cathedral and surround your music with the aria of divine presence. True stereo reverbs reveal your inspirations while programmability recalls your spirit of creation. 

The Cathedral is the performer’s mantra creating the perfect space for your instrument or voice while offering an elegance that takes your music to a higher ground.

Something is clear with the Cathedral: it’s great not just because I think is great. Some of the most prestigious magazines definitely agree that this pedal is one of the best reverb pedals out there.

In fact, this pedal was chosen as the 2009 Stompbox of the year by musicradar.com, it was marked as “top gear” by Top Guitar Musician’s Magazine, and was also rewarded the Guitar Player Magazine Editor’s Pick award for outstanding sonic performance, among others.

Features and controls

The 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.

  • Blend is essentially the mix between dry and wet sounds.
  • Reverb time changes the length (decay) of the reverb.
  • Damping/Tone control makes the reverb to sound darker or brighter, and is available for each reverb mode.
  • Feedback controls the amount of reverb signal that is sent back to the input section.
  • Pre-delay adds a delay to the reverb sound. This control can be changed with the knob and with the tap tempo switch.
  • Mode allows you to change the type of the reverb. The modes are Grail Spring, which is the same sound as EHX’s Holy Grail reverb; Accu Spring, based on a 17″ Accutronics spring tank with 6 springs; Hall, Room, Plate, Reverse, which mimics the popular reverse reverb effect, Grail Flerb, a reverb combined with a flanger, again taken from the Holy Grail, and Echo, which turns the reverb into a digital echo/delay.

Sound

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 connected it stereo. I enjoy every day playing with the knobs coming across new sounds.

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.

Check out the videos in the playlist below to see how it sounds.

Should you buy this pedal?

First, you must decide if the Electro Harmonix Cathedral fits within your budget. You can check the best price here.

If you are reading this review is because you are thinking of buying a reverb pedal. Your amp doesn’t have a built-in reverb? Your amp has a built-in reverb but you want more versatility in your sound?

The Cathedral will be a good choice if you’re looking for a reverb pedal that allows you emulating different types of reverb with a lot of flexibility in its controls. Also consider this one if you want stereo-pristine reverb sounds without spending a fortune.

It is also a good election if you plan to use it with other instruments, or in your home studio. It is true stereo and nearly noiseless, so it’ll give you good results for synths, vocals and bass.

Don’t buy this pedal if you don’t like playing with knobs and want a straightforward sound. You’ll need some patience to get most out of it.

Alternatives to the Electro Harmonix Cathedral

You will find other alternatives to this pedal in this guide. Considering the versatility of this pedal and the high quality of its sound, it is hard to find great contenders.

If the budget is not an issue, you should check the two Strymons: the Stymon SkyVerb for the greatness of the best reverb pedal and the Strymon blueSky for another sidereal reverb, but with a few more features than its big brother.

Another pricy alternative is the Eventide Space, very similar to the Strymon SkyVerb. It has different features and is also full of features. You should like playing with knobs to get most of the Space too…

In a similar price range you will find the TC Electronic Hall of Fame. This is another great reverb pedal, and includes a cool feature: the Toneprint will allow you downloading (directly to the pedal) your favorite reverb sounds preset by your favorite guitarists.

Conclusion

Check out the pros and cons that summarize the Electro Harmonix Cathedral review:

PROS

  • Great versatility. Up to 8 reverb types very parametrizable with the knobs
  • Spring, Room and Hall reverbs sound very realistic
  • True stereo, very high sound quality (24-bit ADCs and DACs)
  • You can store a preset for each reverb mode
  • Power supply included, though you can use a standard low current 9V negative power supply

CONS

  • A little tricky at the beginning. You’ll have to play around with the knobs to get the best out of it
  • You can hear a little change in sound (it is slightly interrupted) when switching it off

My conclusion is that the Electro Harmonix Cathedral is a great device, one of the best reverb pedals out there. However, my opinion could be a little biased here, as I bought this pedal after my thorough research about reverb pedals.

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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.

Never before has there been a more dazzling collection of reverb algorithms

Eventide is known for its top-of-the-range rack effects processors. Now you have the best reverb presets from the history of eventide (with additional features) included in a stompbox: Room, Plate, Spring, Hall, Reverse, Shimmer, ModEchoVerb, DualVerb, BlackholeTM, MangledVerbTM, TremoloVerb and Dynaverb.

These are the words from Eventide about the Space Reverb:

Space features 12 of Eventide’s signature reverb combination effects culled from the H8000FW and Eclipse V4 along with some startling new magic. 

Space includes 100 presets, including presets crafted by Flood and Alan Moulder (The Killers, Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins, My Bloody Valentine, 30 Seconds to Mars, PJ Harvey and Them Crooked Vultures), Justin Meldal-Johnsen (Beck, Nine Inch Nails), Richard Devine (sound designer, synthesist, performer, remixer), Vernon Reid (Living Colour), Amedeo Pace (Blonde Redhead), Alex Somers and Jonsi Birgisson (Jonsi and Alex, Sigur Ros), Amadeo Pace (Blonde Redhead) and John Agnello (Patti Smith, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., and Kurt Vile). 

These unique effects, previously available only in Eventide rack processors, are now available in a compact, roadworthy package. 

Never before has there been a more dazzling collection of reverb algorithms combined with delays, pitch shifting, tremolo, modulation, and spatial effects in such a compact and affordable package.

If you need some proof about the magnificence of this pedal, you better take a seat: it has been awarded with the TEC Award, the Wish I had one Award by musicradar.com, the Guitar Player Magazine’s Editors’ Pick Award, the TMR Zoo Editor’s Choice Award, and Premier Guitar’s Premier Gear Award, among others.

Features and controls

The Eventide Space Reverb includes 12 built-in reverb modes:

Room is designed to dial in realistic room sounds from vocal booths to small halls.

Plate simulates the sound of early analog-mechanical artificial reverbs.

Spring models the sound and character of the popular artificial reverbs found in guitar amplifiers.

Hall simulates the sound of large enclosed spaces.

Reverse stands for a true reverse reverb followed by a forward reverb with delay and feedback.

Shimmer. This is what Eventide says about this preset: We don’t have proof, but we’re pretty sure this is what the guitars sound like in heaven.

ModEchoVerb is based on a popular reverb structure from the Eventide H8000 that brought about such presets as “Echo Space of God” and “Glorious Flange Canyon.” It feeds the output of an infinite reverb into an infinite feedback delay and slathers on an extra helping of modulation.

DualVerb combines two different high quality studio reverbs (A and B) with independent controls for decay, size, pre-delay, and EQ.

BlackholeTM is larger than the Hall or Room, BlackHole is an Eventide H8000 classic capable of cathedral- type spaces to out-of-this-world soundscapes.

MangledVerbTM. While Space produces many beautiful sounds, we recognize the universe is a chaotic and often violent place, so in the spirit of the yin and yang, we included MangledVerb from the Eventide Eclipse. Technically, MangledVerb feeds a non-standard stereo reverb into distortion, but sonically it can range from the light friction of a bow scraping a cello string to the mayhem of a caged beast being poked with a red hot flounder.

TremoloVerb is a celestially large reverb cut back down to Earth size by an aggressive tremolo. Use the Sine, Triangle, Peak, Ramp, or Square waves to create a rhythmic ambience.

Dynaverb couples an Eventide Eclipse reverb with a model of the Eventide Omnipressor® to create an adaptable dynamics reverb. The Omnipressor is capable of all types of dynamics processing from gating, expansion, compression, limiting, and even its signature “dynamic reversal,” where loud signals are squashed, but quiet signals are amplified. In DynaVerb, the Omnipressor can dynamically control the output of a reverberator based on, either the input signal for maximum control, the reverb output for incredible chaos, or any mixture of the two.

This pedal’s connectivity 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.

  • Preset for changing between presets.
  • Mix establish how the dry and wet sounds are blended.
  • Decay is basically the length of the reverb.
  • Size is the size of the reverb.
  • Delay at which the reverb appears.
  • Low and High for the reverb sound EQ.
  • Xnob and Ynob controls functionality depends on the reverb mode.
  • FxMix is also mode dependent, most of the times introducing some modulation to the reverb.
  • Contour is essentially a tone control, whose functionality is also mode dependent.

Sound

Wow.

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.

Check out the videos in the playlist below and discover if this great reverb pedal is for you.

But be aware that you’ll have to save a little money…

Should you buy an Eventide Space Reverb?

The Eventide Space Reverb is not just a reverb pedal. It is a powerful electronic synthesizer capable of generating amazing reverb-like sounds. It is so complete (and so complex at the same time). You’ll have to love playing with knobs and parameters if you want this pedal. And, of course, you need some money too…

Alternative to the Eventide Space Reverb

The only alternative you have to the Eventide Space Reverb is the Strymon BigSky. Both of them are the most complete reverb pedals that you’ll find, and both sound awesome. The only differences could be related to some of the algorithms that are unique to each of them. Concerning how they are built and how they sound in general, the two are very similar. Check out this video by Shobel demonstrating the two pedals.

Conclusion

This is a brief summary of my review of the Eventide Space Reverb:

PROS

  • Extreme high quality device
  • Great connectivity
  • It feels so good playing with it
  • A lot of reverb modes
  • The sound is very parametrizable

CONS

  • You have to remember the function of each knob
  • It could be a little difficult to use
  • The price is a little high

There is now doubt the Eventide Space Reverb is one of the greatest pedals of any kind. Sounds great, feels extreme high quality and is the most versatile reverb pedal. The main constraint is its price, but it is definitely worth it.

Check the best offers for the Spice Reverb here.

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I do love Strymon. And I love the blueSky reverb, which you may consider to be like the little brother of the Strymon bigSky, which is, by no means, the best reverb pedal I’ve ever played.

Producing the most lush, majestic and stunning reverbs ever

The philosophy behind our blueSky Reverberator is simple—take a ridiculously powerful SHARC DSP and dedicate it to doing one thing only: producing the most lush, majestic and stunning reverbs ever. Many hours and sleepless nights in the Strymon sound design labs were devoted to developing the complex reverb algorithms found inside blueSky. We squeezed every last drop of processing power available.

Whether you’re a classic spring reverb fan or a studio rack aficionado, you’ll find your mojo here. blueSky provides three different reverb types, each with three modes, for a total of nine completely unique reverb experiences. blueSky even delivers an extremely versatile plate reverb, a rarity for a stompbox pedal. A full pre-delay and damping section provide deep reverb tone shaping. Add the mod and shimmer modes and you’re in store for unending reverb bliss. Couple that with 24-bit 96kHz converters and 115dB typical signal to noise, blueSky is equally at home on top of a studio console as it is in front of a tube amp.

I’m sure that is true.

Features and controls

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…

You can check the differences between the two Strymon units in this great video by Shnobel.

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.

This is how the controls work like in the blueSky:

  • Decay controls the length of the reverb. Set low for small rooms, plates and short springs. Roll it up for cavernous sounds, big plates and longer springs.
  • Mix adjusts the balance between the dry (fully analog) signal and the wet reverberated one. You’ll get a 100% dry at lowest, and 100% wet when turned all the way up. The 50/50 mix occurs at about 3 o’clock.
  • Low Damp controls the amount of low damping in the wet signal. When turned counter clockwise you’ll reduce the amount of low end in the reverb decay trail.
  • Pre-Delay sets the delay time between the dry signal and the apparition of the reverberated one. This control is great for recreating different environments.
  • High Damp controls the amount of high damping in the wet signal. When turned counter clockwise you’ll reduce the amount of high end in the reverb decay trail.

Sound

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.

Simply one of the best reverb pedals you can get.

Strymon blueSky playlist

Should you buy this pedal?

As always, it depends.

If you’re looking for a spring reverb pedal, you have better options out there. The blueSky has also a Spring reverb mode, but the Catalinbread Topanga Spring Reverb, the Wampler Faux Spring Reverb or the Mr. Black Deluxe Plus are better alternatives for that.

If you want to add an ambient reverb to your tone and don’t want to get lost among tons of knobs, presets and parameters, the blueSky is the best choice for that.

Alternatives to the Strymon blueSky

That is hard to say.

You may find similar functionalities in both the Electro Harmonix Cathedral and the TC Electronic Hall of Fame. Both are stereo too, and will let you play with different reverb modes. However, you won’t find in them the pristinness you’ll experiment with the Strymon. But, they are cheaper, so definitely something to consider if the price is an issue.

It the price is not an issue, the alternatives are simply the big guys: the Strymon bigSky and the Eventide Spice Reverb. Those are, without any doubt, the best reverb pedals.

Conclusion

This is a short summary of the review:

PROS

  • It is Strymon
  • The sound is just amazing
  • It is true stereo
  • Dry analog path and high res ADC and DAC
  • Great responding five knobs
  • Made in USA

CONS

  • Price
  • You may not feel its full potential live

The Strymon blueSky is, by no means, one of the greatest reverb pedals for natural ambience sounds. It will show you its full potential in stereo, and it’s killer for recording, but it is great to play with at home too. If you can afford it and don’t (or can’t) go for the big fishes (Strymon bigSky or Eventide Space), get one!