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.
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.
This is a brief summary of the review
- 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
- 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?