Pedals by effect

Pedals by effect

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Mr Black Deluxe Plus

The Mr. Black Deluxe Plus is another example of a great spring reverb pedal.

It 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!

The sun’s out and the surf’s up, broham.

Load up the woodie, get down to the beach an kick off your kicks, we’re gonna have some fun today.
Splish-splash with a dripping spring and ride the motion of the ocean with smooth bias-modulating tremolo.

Do em one at a time, or two in tandem for the double whammy.  Plus.

This is gnarly, dude. Gnarly.

Features and controls

Another feature that I love about this pedal is how it looks. To me, stompboxes are like small pieces of art, and the paint job of the palm trees at the top of the Deluxe Plus will remind you a beautiful sunny Hawaiian morning. It looks gorgeous, doesn’t it?

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. This is how the controls of the Mr Black Deluxe Plus Reverb work like:

  • Reverb adjusts the amount of spring reverb that is mixed with the dry sound. If you turn the knob all the way down, you won’t have any reverb out from the pedal. Roll it clockwise, and you’ll obtain a really wet, deep and bright wet sound.
  • Intensity controls the depth of the tremolo. Rolling it clockwise to get a more evident presence of the tremolo. Turn it counter clockwise to get subtle less abrupt amplitude modulation. If turned all the way down, the tremolo will dissapear.
  • Speed changes the speed of the tremolo, as simple as that.

Sound

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.

You can hear this pedal by checking out the videos of the playlist below.

Should you buy this pedal?

If you are looking for a combination of spring reverb and tremolo in a single pedal, the Mr. Black Deluxe Plus is a great choice. You will get what you may expect having in Fender Blackface amps.

In my opinion, this is one of the best spring reverb sounds in a pedal. Of course it is not going to be like an outboard tube-driven tank, but is sounds great anyway. However, you’ll be able to adjust the amount of reverb (kind of like a dwell tone, just like in amps), but not the tone or mix. Be aware of that.

And concerning tremolo, it sounds really warm and is very responsive to the controls. If you are looking for a simple tremolo, this pedal is great too. But, you have to think if you’ll need to activate the two effects separately. If so, this pedal is not for you, as it’s got a single stomp switch.

Alternatives to the Mr. Black Deluxe Plus

I tried this pedal in my particular research for the best reverb pedal. Then it also appeared to have a built in tremolo. You have a serious alternative to the Deluxe Plus in the Strymon Flint, another great (as everything Strymon does) pedal. However, I haven’t had the opportunity to play with this guy. The price of it is higher, but it sounds awesome too (as far as I’ve heard from youtube videos).

The other alternative I’d consider if looking for a spring reverb pedal is the Catalinbread Topanga Spring Reverb. This one sounds vintage, you can read tons of positive opinions in forums like this. If you’re serious with surf guitar (and want a backup solution for your outboard unit), the Topanga is a must.

Conclusion

This is a brief summary of the review

PROS

  • You’ll get two great sounding effects in a single stompbox (spring reverb and tremolo)
  • The spring reverb sounds really well
  • Warm-sounding bias tremolo
  • It is true bypass
  • It is hand made in Portland, Oregon

CONS

  • The trem slightly drops the volume
  • You can’t switch on both effects independently

As a conclusion, consider the Mr. Black Deluxe Plus as the perfect solution to include, in a single stompbox, a spring reverb and a tremolo, just like Fender blackface amps do. It sounds really good and vintage. Some may find it pricy, but what you expect for a handmade quality pedal?

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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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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.

Here is an introduction of the pedal by TC Electronic.

You have to be sure that this is a great reverb pedal: it’s been awarded as the Editor’s Pick award by Guitar Player, MI Press Award, and Editor Award by Bass Player.

Think of a song with reverb on it you’ve heard in the last 20 years and chances are it’s us

TC Electronic is synonymous with some of the best sounding reverbs out there – think of a song with reverb on it you’ve heard in the last 20 years and chances are it’s us. We’re talking from Michael Jackson to Dire Straits all the way up to Lady Gaga and back and everything in between. We collected the iconic reverb sounds you know and love into a neat little package that simply sounds so insanely good, you gotta try it.

That is what you will read in the Hall of Fame official website. And you know what? It’s true…

You can read here what other people say about the Hall of Fame.

Features and controls

As one of the greatest signs of identity by TC Electronic pedals, you will also find the Toneprint feature in the Hall of Fame. What is Toneprint? It basically allows you to greatly parametrize your reverb sound with an App (Toneprint Editor) and download the setting to your pedal. You will find in the App great signature reverbs created by top guitarists, and it’s very easy to use. That is a big score for TC Electronic.

It features 10 types of reverb:

Room and Hall and Church recreate closed natural ambiences, from small rooms up to huge caverns.

Spring and Plate recreate vintage spring and plate tanks respectively.

MOD adds a little Chorus to the reverb for a warmer tone.

LOFI stands for Low Fidelity and is defined as a “down and dirty” reverb.

TILE emulates the ambience of a small room where a lot of reflections are produced, think of a bathroom-like sound.

AMB gives you a little ambient. A short reverb, just to smooth the dry sound coming out of your cabinet.

GATE is classic reverb type typically heard on snare and kick drums on many records of the eighties.

Toneprint to play with your tone prints.

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).

You can also use the Tone Transfer. It is so cool… I won’t tell you how it works, you better watch it in action in the following video.

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.

  • Mode allows you selecting between 10 different reverb modes: Room, Hall, Spring, Plate, Church, Mod (Modulated), Lofi (Low Fidelity), Tile, Amb (Ambient), Gate and Toneprint.
  • FxLevel controls the level of the reverb.
  • Decay sets the length of the reverb.
  • Tone control changes the emphasis on high and low frequencies, giving you darker or crispier tones.
  • Pre-Delay is a small switch that allows you switching between long and short delay times at which the reverb appears.

Sound

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.

Check out the videos in the playlist below and watch the Hall of Fame in action.

Should you buy this pedal?

If you are on a budget, YES. No way. If you are looking for a reverb pedal that sounds great and got a lot of features, buy one.

If you also like to play by tweaking parameters, you will enjoy using the software that allows you setting different toneprints. There is room for geeks with this pedal…

You can use this pedal for your home studio too. You can use the stereo output so the sound has more 3D presence, but you can use its stereo in with stereo instruments too, like synthesizers.

The only reason that I can think about why you shouldn’t buy a TC Electronic Hall of Fame is because perhaps you’re looking specifically for a great spring reverb pedal, like the Catalinbread Topanga Spring Reverb; or perhaps you want to spend more money and get something like an Strymon blueSky, a JHS Alpine Reverb or a Electro Harmonix Cathedral. Maybe because you either prefer the features of those, or just because how gorgeous they look.

Alternatives to the TC Electronic Hall of Fame

The only alternative that comes to mi mind is the Electro Harmonix Cathedral. It’s got similar features (although the reverb modes are different) and is also true stereo. However, the Cathedral is more expensive than the Hall of Fame.

You can watch these two pedals face by face in the following video.

There isn’t really any alternative that sounds as great, has that many features and controls, within the same price range than the Hall of Fame.

Conclusion

The TC Electronic Hall of Fame is one of the most used reverb pedals. Why?

PROS

  • Great versatility thanks to its 10 types of reverb
  • The Toneprint feature is soooo cool
  • The dry signal stays fully analog and the pedal is true bypass
  • Stereo in and stereo out
  • Great value. The price of the Hall of Fame is great

CONS

  • I have to say something here, so I would just say that I don’t like how it looks. At least, I must recognize that there are a few reverb pedals that look awesome out there.

My conclusion is clear. The TC Electronic Hall of Fame is great, has a lot of features with its reverb types, includes a very cool feature like the Toneprint, is true stereo and the price is great. You know what? You better buy one.

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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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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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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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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.

You have two choices if looking for a micro reverb pedal by Mooer: the Skyverb and the Shimverb. I’ve included the Shimverb in my Best Reverb Pedal Top-15 list because of its shimmery effects, which I absolutely love. It also has Room and Spring reverb modes, so plenty of flexibility here.

You can read here what other people is saying about this pedal.

Features and controls

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.

In any case, I’m not very fan of daisy chaining and I haven’t verified the power consumption, so you better take this feature with some care. It includes the mono input and output connectors in the common asymmetrical layout to optimize staging a few more Mooer pedals with their special PC-Z connectors.

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:

  • Level controls the amount of reverb that will add to the dry sound.
  • Color changes the tone of the reverb by taking over high frequencies
  • Decay will adjust the length of the reverb.

Sound

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.

In any case, you better check out the videos in the playlist below and see what this little boy is capable of.

Should you buy this pedal?

You may be interested in buying this pedal if your budget for a reverb pedal is very tight. Don’t spend 40 bucks in other cheap reverb pedals that you may find, just spend a little more and get a Shimverb.

On the other hand, you may like this pedal for its Shimmer feature. Some people hate it, but other love it. If that is your case, you’ll buy it, the price is great.

Think about it if you don’t have much room on your pedalboard. The Shimverb is really tiny and very easily daisy-chained, as its power consumption is low (I’ve read some other reviews that say its just about 10mA).

Don’t think about the Shimverb if you are serious about reverb. If you are looking a reverb pedal that sounds analog or love vintage spring tanks, you have better options out there.

Alternatives to the Mooer Shimverb

You may find other cheaper reverb pedals in the market, but they are more toys than real pedals. The Shimverb in the cheapest pedal on the best reverb pedal list, and its alternatives are all more expensive. And yes, they sound better too…

A kind of alternative could be the Electro Harmonix Holy Grail Nano. It also has Spring and Room effects (Hall in the case of the Holy Grail), and they sound much better than the in the Shimverb. It doesn’t have Shimmer, but has a mixture between reverb and flanger called Flerb, that is kind of unique among reverb pedals.

Conclusion

The Mooer Shimverb is a tiny little pedal that sounds pretty good and has a great price. This is the summary of my review.

PROS

  • True bypass
  • It’s tiny and looks great
  • Very low power consumption, so you can daisy-chain a lot of pedals from the Micro Series by Mooer
  • A different sounding (but so cool) Shimmery effect
  • Great price
  • The Room reverb sounds warm and analog

CONS

  • Spring reverb sounds a little fake and too digital
  • Not very natural sounding at higher frequencies (Color control all the way up)

The Mooer Shimverb is a tiny little reverb pedal that will do the job, unless you are serious about reverb. Its price is great and it will fit on any pedalboard, so it can be a good thing to include in your gigbag, just in case.

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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.

Without the tube, but with great quality analog circuitry, the digital signal processing of the Room Mate Junior does a great job emulating warm and realistic reverberation ambiences.

The Room-Mate Junior will eradicate any speculations about unwanted noise and vibrations in a live-setting

With some amps their built-in spring reverbs often can make the sounding very trebly as well as having to deal with noise issues. The Room-Mate Junior will eradicate any speculations about unwanted noise and vibrations in a live-setting. This is what it sounds like when you marry cutting-edge digital technology and superior analogue craftsmanship to deliver a superb vintage reverb sound. Have you ever wondered what it sounds like when angels sing? Try the Room-Mate Junior and you’ll get the idea!

This is another great versatile pedal. The sound quality is great (as usual with T-Rex devices) and you’ll get the best out of it straight away. It’s super easy to use and the knobs will respond just like you want them to do.

Features and controls

The Room Mate Junior will let you play with four modes of reverb: room for small studio-like ambients recreation, hall for emulating bigger (up to huge) venues, spring for the old reverb sound of the vintage spring reverbs that were built-in in vintage tube amps from the sixties, and LFO, that will add some chorus to the mix.

A cool feature of the Room Mate Junior is that it includes an Input Gain knob on the side of the pedal. As you’ll probably guessed by its name, it’ll let you tune the input level of the signal coming to the pedal. On the side of this knob there is a red LED to indicate clipping if present. This is a pretty unique feature among reverb pedals, and it comes handy when placing the T-Rex within your effects loop.

As I’ll describe later, you can adjust the output level of the signal coming from the output of the pedal too. The Room Mate Junior will get along extremely well with any amp and the other guys on your pedalboard thanks to this adjustability.

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 is how the knobs in the pedal work like:

  • Mix controls the bluend of the dry and wet signals.
  • Level is the volume (overall) of the signal coming out from the Room Mate.
  • Decay sets the length of the reverb.
  • Mode sets the reverb mode (spring, room, hall, LFO).
  • Input Level. You can adjust the input level of the signal entering the pedal, so you don’t overload it in case you place in an effects loop.

Sound

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.

Check out the videos in the playlist below to see if this pedal is for you.

Should you buy this pedal?

The straightforward answer to this question is: it depends. If you are looking for a pedal recreating natural room ambiences, this one sound great. Both Room and Hall modes sound pretty natural, but you have to take into account that, although it has an stereo output, the input is mono. It may be ok for you if you are using just reverb for your stereo path, but think about it if you’re going to use another stereo pedal (like an stereo delay) in front of the reverb: you might prefer a true stereo reverb in that case…

If you are into vintage sounds, you may prefer a pure spring reverb pedal. There is plenty of options here, just check out the following section to see the alternatives to the Room Mate Junior.

If you are not serious about reverb and you are looking for a pedal that will enforce your sound by giving some presence to your sound, this may be a great option. Just adjust the knobs to have the sound you like, and forget about it.

Alternatives to the T-Rex Room Mate Junior

Considering the features of the Room Mate Junior, the alternatives you might be considering are those offering several reverb modes (sounding great).

You will have to look to both Electro Harmonix Cathedral and TC Electronic Hall of Fame. These offer a few more reverb modes though, and both a true stereo. They sound great too and have some more versatility, and their price is lower.

On the higher end, you should have a look to the Strymon blueSky. I’m serious here, this is one of the greatest reverb pedals. Strymon pedals sound like nothing else and you will love them from the moment you play with them.

You have, of course, its bigger brother: The T-Rex Room Mate. Tube-driven, sounds great, but it discontinued, although you can still find some deals in amazon.

Conclusion

This is the brief summary of my review of the T-Rex Room Mate Junior:

PROS

  • It is true bypass
  • The Room and Hall reverbs sound warm and natural
  • The LFO reverb (blended with a chorus) is very cool for acoustic instruments
  • It is noiseless; high quality built
  • The input level can be adjusted with an additional knob on the side of the pedal
  • The T-Rex is built like a tank

CONS

  • The input could be stereo too
  • You have plenty of alternatives for spring reverb
  • A little pricy, although you can find good deals on amazon

As a conclusion, the T-Rex Room Mate Junior is a good reverb pedal offering several types of reverb. It sounds great when recreating natural ambiences (with Room and Hall modes), and the LFO is a cool feature too. You may think though that the spring reverb doesn’t sound like old school vintage outboard units… For some people, the ability of adjusting the input level with a dedicated knob will be very cool, specially when placing the pedal within FX loops.

Although you may find it a little pricy, you can find good deals in amazon.

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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.