From subtle spaciness to shimmering soundscapes, reverb is the word (is the word)…
A lot of guitarists will turn to an overdrive or distortion pedal when it comes to that first pedal purchase. It’s only natural, right? Make lots of noise! What about when that gets boring ? (haha, I jest, it never does). Alright, what about when you realise that all your favourite artists employ a little more sonic weaponry than an overdrive and possibly a delay. There is a myriad of options but overlook reverb at your peril. Including one of these babies in your setup can mean the difference between flat lifeless tone or full-bodied triumph. I realise upon reading back that sentence I could be talking about shampoo and conditioner, but I am sticking with it. We’ve picked out a range from stompboxes to multi-fx units what we consider to be the best reverb pedal(s) to suit any budget.
If you want more information on reverb itself, then check out our “What is reverb?” article. For the rest of you, let’s check out what’s on offer.
1. Zoom MS-70CDR MultiStomp
The first on our list is the Zoom MS-70CDR MultiStomp, which they’ve done a slight disservice to by simply calling it a Chorus/Delay/Reverb pedal – it can do so much more! Lightweight yet solidly built, the MS-70CDR is filled to the brim with effects that includes 26 mono and stereo delays, 31 chorus and modulation effects, and is chockful of reverb types to play with. By utilising a built-in digital signal processing (DSP) microchip to keep everything running smoothly, the MS-70CDR can run multiple patches like a dream.
Within this little gem are little known “emulations” of some popular classic effects too, mimicking the EHX Small Clone, BOSS CE-1, Univibe, and a cheeky simulation of Line 6’s Particle Reverb too. Shhhhhhh.
As if all that wasn’t enough, Zoom went several steps further to integrate their Noise Reduction algorithm to prevent unwanted sound, an adjustable tuner, USB connections for firmware upgrades, a line selector, and the option to run via battery or power supply. You can even use it for guitar or bass. All that for well under 100 notes. Whether you use it as a standalone unit or pair it with boutique gear, you can’t go wrong with the Zoom MS-70CDR MultiStomp.
2. Electro Harmonix Holy Grail Nano
Electro Harmonix didn’t call it the “Holy Grail” for nothing. As if sent from the Gods for us lowly folk to marvel at, the Holy Grail offers digital reverb that can go from what sounds like a soft shimmer to cacophonous rapture with the greatest of ease. If Loki ever lost his trickster powers, he could bamboozle foes with this little bad boy.
The EHX Holy Grail Nano is a compact masterpiece, making perfect for those with limited pedalboard space. A trio of reverb types are readily available via the Spring/Hall/Flerb switch. Spring recreates sparkling renditions of reverbs found in leading classic amps, think Surf Rock inspired magic. Hall throws back the boundaries to give your tone plenty of space to stretch its legs. Flerb (aka Flanged Reverb) is a bit of a new kid on the block, and isn’t just suited to guitar but also plays nicely with other instruments too – saxophone, anyone?
Really simple to use, really easy to power with supply unit included, absolutely solid as a rock too. If you’re a gigging regular or want a reverb pedal that’s not just for guitar, then check out the EHX Holy Grail Nano.
3. Boss RV-6 Digital Reverb
When it comes to guitar effects, you’d be hard pressed to find a company more prolific than BOSS. When it comes to reverb pedals, you’d also be hard pressed to find a series that are more widely used than the BOSS RV reverb pedals. Known for their resilient build quality and highly versatile effects parameters, the BOSS RV line has been adopted by many a guitar legend.
The latest incarnation is the RV-6 Digital Reverb, which extends that capabilities of the RV series further with a trio of functional controls that include Delay/Shimmer/Dynamics as well as a selection of reverb types including Room/Hall/Plate/Spring/Modulate.
We could go to town on how good the RV-6 is, but we’ve already done that in our Ultimate BOSS RV-6 review. However, if you’d like the quick run-through then check out the video below.
4. Electro Harmonix Oceans 11 Reverb
If they’ve already brought out the “Holy Grail” then what gives with the Electro Harmonix Oceans 11? Well my friend, wonder no more. Rather than trio of reverb options, the Oceans 11 has…11. Did you get there already? Fair enough. But they’re not just any old 11. Come closer.
At your disposal are Hall, Spring, Plate, Reverse, Echo, Trem, Mod, Dyna, Auto-Infinite, Shimmer, and Polyphonic. Between this crowd of choices, you have a wide range of reverb types in a dinky pedalboard-friendly stompbox. But wait, there’s more. Several effects – tremolo, mod, and dyna included – boast three different sets of parameters selectable via the mode switch. The mode switch in turn enables a tap tempo function for the echo setting with advanced parameter control over the Poly setting (whaaaaat?!)
Within the pedal there is a Tails switch for controlling whether reverb effects continue or immediately cut off when you engage the bypass switch. Alongside the mono input and output jacks there’s also an Infinite jack input. Slot a momentary footswitch into this and use it to control an infinite reverb tail.
There’s no battery option with the Oceans 11 but it does come with a power supply. As we’d expect from an EHX pedal, the Electro Harmonix Oceans 11 will be here long after the apes finally get their act together and claim dominion. Bill Ruppert does an outstanding job of showcasing what the pedal is capable of in the video below, so sit back, have a brew and prepare to be dazzled.
5. Laney Black Country Customs “The Secret Path”
I’m not ashamed to say that when the Laney & Black Country Customs gear was announced at NAMM 2019, I did get a little too excited. With regard to the BCC Secret Path Reverb I clearly wasn’t the only one either as to say it’s in demand would be a bit of an understatement.
Boasting a pedigree that is more boutique than its price tag would suggest, Black Country Customs put some effort into making the Secret Path a very special pedal indeed. Four dials adorn the top offering control over Pre-Delay, Size, Volume and Tone. Right in the middle of these you’ll notice a three-way toggle switch to access the trio of primary reverb settings with a three-colour LED for clear visual feedback: Spring (SPR – orange LED); Plate (PLT – blue LED); The Secret Path (TSP – purple LED). Between these three and the four dials you have classic spring reverb, bright plate reverb with high-end emphasis, and a large hall reverb for creating enchanting ethereal tones.
Where BCC go one step beyond is with the “enhanced mode”, which is activated by holding down the footswitch for a couple of seconds until the LED blinks. Spring and Plate reverbs receive a flourish of modulation, whilst The Secret Path is elevated with a shimmering quality for heavenly sounds. By incorporating the Edit button, you can mould and shape the overtones with impressive accuracy for absolute control over your sound. Finally, you can connect an expression pedal for real-time control over the effect beyond your wildest dreams.
Built like a tank and easy on the eyes too, The Secret Path is a triumph for Laney’s Black Country Customs.
6. Strymon Blue Sky Reverberator
When the name Strymon gets dropped, you know something impressive is about to follow. For one, they do not let us down when it comes to tonal quality, their proprietary SHARC DSP handles a plethora of functions with ease. High performance 24-bit 96kHz analogue to digital (and back again) conversion with a mighty 115dB signal to noise ratio, “Pfft, come at me” it says.
The blue Sky Reverberator is the kind of effects pedal that comes under the “one day” category for some, but when that day comes, you’ll wonder how you did without it. At first glance the layout can seem somewhat daunting, but it is actually easy to navigate once you get stuck in. The main things to remember are that there are three reverb types (Plate/Room/Spring) and three modes (Normal/Mod/Shimmer). I’m not going to say everything else is just shaping the sound to how you want it but in a way it is. It’s more the range of sounds that you can get and the level of tone sculpting possibilities – endless.
Whatever style of music you play from country to funk to fusion to metal it does it all. You could be noodling away at home or playing in the house band on a prime-time TV show and the blue Sky ReverberatorStrymon Blue Sky is good to go whenever and wherever.
7. Electro Harmonix Holy Grail Neo
I present to you the second in the “Holy Grail” family to feature on the list, the Electro Harmonix Holy Grail Neo.
‘Wait but isn’t it just the same as the Holy Grail Nano?’
Whoever said that can get to the back of the class.
Alright, that was a bit harsh, you can come back. At first glance it might appear to be. However, look closer and you’ll see that alongside Spring and Hall there’s Plate instead of Flerb. So, Spring reverb that you’d find in a classic amp, Hall reverb that mimics the grandest of concert halls, and Plate reverb that closely emulates those used in recording studios throughout the Sixties and Seventies (think everyone from The Beatles to Pink Floyd (I know right!). The only thing that you need to do is decide which reverb you want to go with, dial in the desired effect level and you’re all set.
Again, EHX manage to deliver the Holy Grail Neo at an affordable price, in a pedalboard-friendly size, housed in a chassis that can withstand the standard abuse that comes with life of the road. As musicians we’ve truly never had it so good.
8. Strymon Big Sky Multidimensional Reverb
If you thought the Blue Sky was good, then check out Strymon’s Big Sky Multidimensional Reverberator. I’m not going to say it’s better, but if you want more reverb types and greater flexibility to extend into exciting new sonic territory, then you’re in for a ruddy treat old chum.
There’re a whopping 12 reverb types to play with, including: Room, Hall, Plate, Spring, Swell, Bloom, Cloud, Chorale, Shimmer, Magneto, Nonlinear and Reflections (just remember to breathe). The control dials each afford masterfully accurate attenuation over a range of parameters including: Value (control over reverb parameters, global settings and fine-tuning decay time); Decay (controlling decay time); Pre-Delay (for Nonlinear and Magneto it controls Feedback); Mix (controls balance of analogue dry signal and wet signal); Tone (control high end content for that shimmering sparkle); Mod (injects a bit of modulation to the reverberated signal), whilst a pair of parameter dials allow you to dictate what they do. Each reverb type responds in its own unique way to each setting and adjustments that you make. Delightful.
When it comes to presets there are 300 built-ins for you to save to, which are scrollable via the bank up or down buttons. You can see quite easily using the onboard display, and you can even choose presets via an external MIDI controller. Attach an Expression pedal for real-time control over a signal knob or even a combination of knobs, including the parameters assigned to each Parameter knob. Attach an external momentary Tap switch to remotely control Pre-Delay or Decay Time, and tap dance your way through performances.
Ditching the amp?
As reverb often comes at the end of a sometimes-lengthy chain of effects, Strymon’s handy Cab Filter allows you to leave the guitar amp at home or wherever as long as it’s in a safe place. Instead connect to a PA system, recording direct into your DAW of choice, or even play via headphones, flick the Cab Filter switch on the rear of the pedal unit and bask in the glory of sophisticated speaker response sans speaker cab. We love you Strymon!
For those who like to dabble in MIDI connectivity you’ll be pleased to know that the BigSky allows total MIDI integration with remote control over any knob, parameter or switch. Whether you use Strymon’s Librarian software or favour backup using a MIDI to USB adapter the (digital) world is your oyster with the Strymon BigSky.
I know it’s at the top of this article already but if you fancy digging deeper into the effect itself, check out our “What is reverb?” article. Alternatively, view a complete range of reverb pedals at the Dawsons website.
If you want any more advice, then get in touch with our Customer Service Team who are more than happy to help over the phone on 01925 582420. Our in-store specialists will guide you through the wonderful world of Guitar, just pop into your nearest Dawsons store.
Jon is a multi-instrumentalist with a passion for inspiring others to get involved in making music. After spending many years playing venues here, there and – pretty much – everywhere, he joined the Dawsons’ Music Web Team before progressing into his current role managing the Dawsons Blog.