Reverberation (also called reverb) is one of the oldest musical effects that is still around today. Centuries ago, the acoustic effects of a room or a hall were used in vocal music.
As time has passed, we have used that knowledge to improve the quality of our performances. Having reverb when performing music is essential; even if you’re playing your guitar in a room, you’re still going to have a slight touch of reverb that will make your tone just a touch warmer.
But, what exactly is reverb?
Reverb is the echo of a sound after is occurs as it reflects off of surfaces that are in the current environment until it’s audio volume reaches zero.
There are five main types of reverb. These are:
- Hall Reverb: This is a reverb that copies the type of echo that you would hear in a concert hall; this reverb typically lasts between one to three seconds. This reverb is best used for a long decay, large sounding reverb, or complex reflections. Is also commonly referred to at the Cathedral Reverb.
- Chamber Reverb: The chamber reverb gives a short decay time, which results in a sound that’s less muddy sounding compared to other reverbs. The chamber reverb only lasts about 0.2 to 1 second.
- Room Reverb: This reverb has a lot of early reflections with a quick decay and typically lasts from .02 to 1 second. This reverb is best used along with slap back echoes.
- Plate Reverb: This is a replication of an analog reverb, which is where the vibration from the sound created is sent through a plate of metal that also vibrate, which reflects the original sound created. This reverb is best used if you are looking for a focused reverb.
- Spring Reverb: This is an analog reverb that is emulated in digital verbs. This reverb is best used for surf, rockabilly music, vintage amp style reverb, or if you are looking for a bouncy tone.
Do I need a reverb pedal?
Reverb is an essential tool that you need to use if you desire to create space for your guitar to be heard within a mix of instruments, whether you are performing live or recording in a studio.
Reverb helps to create a sense of depth for the sound your guitar creates, by making the sound you produce more dry or more wet. The sound of a dry guitar is more prominent and in your face sounding, while a wet guitar is more distance and pushed back.
What’s the difference between reverb and delay?
A delay pedal mirrors the sound of your guitar playing. On the other hand, a reverb pedal produces ambient flections of the sound your guitar is producing.
While both of these effects are similar in application, they are both usually used at the end of an effects loop or a signal chain.
How do I use reverb with delay?
It’s more common than you would believe to see delay and reverb pedals being used together. Typically, the delay will come first and the reverb follows close behind. However, if you are looking to create a different sound, you can try reversing the role and having reverb first, followed by delay.
It is most definitely easy to become overwhelmed by the massive reverb pedal market that’s available; there are countless number of reverb pedals available in every single style in the world.
In order to know how to evaluate a reverb pedal’s quality to make sure that the reverb you’re looking at is the proper one for your needs, you need to understand what criteria is used to evaluate a reverb pedal’s quality.
All reviews of the reverb pedals listed will look at the following criteria:
- The quality of sound produced
- The materials that the pedal is made from
- Who the reverb pedal is best suited for
- How easy the pedal is to use
- The value of the reverb pedal for your money
In case you hate reading, I’ve created a master comparison chart for a quick summary of all five of the reverb pedals for you to take a glance at. If you want to read about the reverb pedals in more detail, keep on scrolling!
|Brand||TC Electronic||DigiTech||EarthQuaker||Catalinbread||Red Panda|
|Model||Hall of Fame||Polara||Afterneath Otherwordly||Topanga||Context|
|Reverb Types||Six- Spring, Hall, Plate, Room, Church, Ambience||Seven- Room, Hall, Modulated, Plate, Spring, Halo, Reverse||Modulated||Surf||Room, Hall, Cathedral, Gated, Plate, Delay|
|# of Controls||3- Tone, Decay, Level||4- Level, Liveliness, Decay, Type||6- Length, Diffuse, Dampen, Drag, Reflect, Mix||4- Dwell, Tone, Volume, Mix||Blend, Delay, Decay, Damping|
EarthQuaker Devices Afterneath Otherwordly Reverberation Pedal
Rather than imitating a plate or spring, the EarthQuaker Afterneath Otherworldly uses a sequence of short delays that cascade into each other in order to produce the reflections that are typically produced by reverb units. Each of the delays stands in for each reverb reflection that’s decaying; in return, this creates a large space.
The EarthQuaker Afterneath Otherworldly offers several different controls. Some of these controls include:
- Length: controls length of the decay
- Dampen: changes the tone
- Diffuse: changes the spread of the effect
- Drag: controls the speed
- Mix: controls the wet to dry ratio
- Reflect: changes the regeneration, also feed output back into the pedal
A lot of the devices that EarthQuaker creates are famous from producing unique guitar effects; the Rainbow Machine, Organizer pedals, and the Bit Commander are just some of their most famous pieces.
The EarthQuaker Afterneath Otherwordly isn’t the typical reverb pedal; that most guitarists are used to playing with. I would not suggest that you purchase this pedal if you are just looking for a moderate echo, any sort of conventional sound, or a bit of a subtle ambience.
The Afterneath produces an original sound; however, the sound the Afterneath Otherwordly produced is comparable to a multi-tap digital delay algorithm that is combined with a reverb. However, if you’re looking for a unit that has all of the combined effects that the EarthQuaker Afterneath Otherwordly, you’re not going to find one.
When I first got my hands on the EarthQuaker Afterneath Otherworldly Reverberation Pedal, I was a bit overwhelmed at the offering of six knobs. On the far right, there are two knobs. Knob number one allows the user to adjust the reverb tone from dark to bright.
The dark to bright range has a consistently full sound. The second knob is the mix knob, which sets the amount of the wet reverb signal that is heard; this knob ranges from no reverb to a wet signal that sufficiently covers the dry sound without it actually being one hundred percent wet.
In other words, it’s safe for you to turn the mix knob all of the way up or to keep at the 3 o’clock position and in turn you’ll have amazing results.
The reflect and the length knobs are also an important part of the pedal that you need to learn about, as they both are very interactive parts of the pedal. The length knobs determines the decay time of the reverb, which creates the overall length of the sounds that are heard. The longer that you have your length knob on, the more hall inspired reverb you’re going to receive.
On the other hand, the reflect knob increases the regeneration, which adds to the length of the reverb. If you have your reflect set too high, the pedal will self-oscillate. I personally suggest that if you have one knob set high, you keep the other knob low. However, it is a whole lot of fun to have both knobs turned up high and throw yourself into reverberating bliss.
The most enjoyable part of using the EarthQuaker Afterneath Otherwordly is that the drag knobs allows you to affect the reverb sound by changing the spacing between short delays.
You can change this knob to produce more of a rhythmic delay, a reverb ambience, or you can slowly turn the knob while it’s reverberating in order to produce a pitch with different reverberated sounds.
In case you’re not entirely sure what this would sound like, there are plenty of YouTube videos out there that can you show you this. If you have listened to this, it’s a completely different experience when you are playing.
Diffuse knob allows you to add definition to the delays; if you are looking for articulated repeats, turn the knob counter clock wise. However, if you are looking for a legato production, turn the knob clock wise. If you happen to be someone who wants a clear delay sound, make sure you turn down your diffuse, length, drag, and reflect knobs!
DigiTech Polara Reverberation Pedal
The Polara reverb pedal is a small but solid reverb pedal that has its home made in the same space as it’s ambient cousin, the Digi Tech Obscura. The cosmetic appearance of this pedal is a bit bulky, but that may be appealing to some players.
This reverb pedal has four sliding knobs, as well as a tails switch. In a stereo pedal such as the Polara, switches that are side mounted are very common to come across.
There is one common complaint among some users of the Polara, but it truly is just a complaint that doesn’t affect the performance of the pedal. Some users wish that the Polara as a bit taller, in order to fit a top mounted I/O configuration, just to save some space.
The Polara is smaller than a Tube Screamer, but larger than a Ditto. One of the most raved about parts of the Polara is the Stomplock knob guard that was installed in order to keep your settings locked in, avoiding an accidental movement while performing on stage.
The Digi Tech Polara has seven Lexicon Reverb voices. These voices are:
- Room- This is a fast decaying reverb; you should use this option if you would just like a touch of ambience
- Plate- Studio reverb that is typically found on classic recordings
- Reverse- Crescendos from a piano to a fortissimo; this is reverb in reverse
- Halo- Reverb with surging octave changes
- Modulated- This reverb is ideal for chords
- Hall- Large reverb paired with a warm decay
- Spring- This is also called the ‘classic surf’ reverb, but it also great to use along with Rockabilly.
On this pedal, the Room reverb copies the tone of a reflective room that’s medium sized. As for the Plate, the Plate emulate a vintage, fizzy wash that comes from the boutique scene. If you have the liveliness turned down low you can play over a dark, soft base; this adds a creepy element which can be really cool paired along with vocal solos.
The Reverse reverb takes out the dry signal that comes from your guitar and reaplces it with a wet reserved reverb. I love using the Reserve reverb to add an eerie effect to crescendos and decrescendos.
Modulated is great to use if you are looking to pop your chords out of the mix without adding any muddiness to the sound produced. If you have the Modulated reverb in use while you are in stereo, it can be very easy to get lost in the sound.
When I played around with the Halo reverb, I was surprised at how little part liveliness played in the sound produced. With the liveliness set at a higher rate, the lower octaves were more clear to the ear, but the higher octaves were muffled. I enjoyed the Halo reverb though because it added warmth to the sound produced and faded into a cozy decay.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the Spring tone because it made my tone harsh sounding. The harsh sounding tone was even worse when I had the Liveliness set all the way up. However, when I had the liveliness turned to around six o’clock, the Spring became tighter over single coils, which was enjoyable.
Catalinbread Topanga Reverberation Pedal
If you are someone who enjoys the 60s surf reverb, this is the pedal for you. The Catalinbread Topanga Reverb Pedal was designed to copy the sound of the Fender 6G15 reverb unit that usually sells around for around $1,000.
If you love the Fender 6G15 but can’t afford the price tag that comes with that reverb pedal, the Catalinbread Topanga Reverb Pedal is an amazing dupe.
Catalinbread created this reverb pedal to have the distortion and overdrive go directly into the front of your amp. I personally think that the Catalinbread Topanga is the best spring reverb pedal that I have ever used; I am saying that because of how well it works, but I’m also saying that because of the price range.
A spring pedal that performs this well isn’t usually this affordable, but Catalinbread somehow managed to do it.
This reverb pedal not only have an attractive cosmetic appearance, but it also has a very warm and realistic tube-driven spring tank sound to it. Catalinbread’s reverb pedal was born to be connected to the input part of your amp; I highly suggest that you don’t use this pedal in the effects loop.
By driving your preamp, this reverb pedal is going to provide you clean, vintage sounds; if you are looking for a sound that’s more intense, turn the volume knob. By turning the volume knob, you’re going to increase the sound which allows the reverb to saturate your amp a bit further.
The Catalinbread Topanga Reverb Pedal has four knobs. These knobs are:
The Dwell knob provides you with the ability to control how much signal is going into your reverb springs; cranking the dwell knob up can shorten the wet side, which is due to the signal crashing the springs.
As for the Tone knob, this knob allows you to control the brightness of your sound; if you are looking for your sound to be a bit brighter, turn your knob clockwise. If you are looking for your sound to be darker, turn the knob counter-clockwise.
Mix provides you with the ability to adjust the amount of reverb that blends in with the dry sound. By turning this knob all of the way up, you are going to receive a fully wet sound.
The Volume knob is the rock on this pedal. The Volume knob is the volume control of any preamp, which allows you to increase (or decrease) the sound.
TC Electronic Hall of Fame Reverberation Pedal
The TC Electronic Hall of Fame Reverberation Pedal is a reverb pedal that’s pedal board friendly but offers several different versions of the reverb effect. TC Electronic Hall of Fame has just launched a couple of years ago and was marketed as a basic pedal.
Just by adding a basic reverb pedal to your guitar, you are going to open up a range of ambient vistas for you to explore and play around with.
The basic setup of this reverb pedal is a pedal board friendly, compact, battery powered pedal that has been loaded up with new sounds; these new sounds are now called Tone Prints. Each pedal has a small number of several sound variations that you can choose from; one of these variations being Tone Print.
Tone Print allows you to download the settings that celebrity guitar players have designed and upload them to your pedal by using a mini USB cable or by using your smartphone. You can use your smartphone by aiming the speakers on your phone to your pickups; this beams the data directly to the pedal.
This pedal has two inputs and two outputs that you can use for connecting to a stereo; this pedal is powered by a 9V negative supply and draws a current of 100mA.
There are a pair of dip switches that are inside of the Hall of Fame pedal that allows you to choose between the default bypass switching and the buffered bypass; this switch also allows you to set a ‘dry kill’ node so that you just get the effect of the pedal, with no added dry sound when the reverb pedal is used along with your amp’s FX loop.
Another cool thing about the TC Electronic Hall of Fame is that it is both operable in stereo, as well as standard mono guitar pedal mode.
Also, the Hall of Fame has controls that allow you to set the amount of reverb, as well as how long you want it to take to decay; there is also a tone knob that you can use in order to make the tone brighter or darker.
The two-way switch on the reverb allows you to set whether or not your reverb has a short or long pre-delay, which allows you to put a little bit of space in between your notes before the reverb begins to kick in.
As for sound, the spring simulation is a typical essential for people who play without one built into their amp. The Hall of Fame spring recreates that sound almost to a T.
The other simulations on this reverb pedal add a realistic sense of space that you may not hear on other pedals.Tone Print’s default setting has plenty of other reverb styles to choose from too; the setting that comes with the spring reverb that turns the reverb down and up, all depending on how long you play.
Red Panda Context Reverberation Pedal
Using a reverb pedal can be intimidating, especially if you have never used one before.
Reverb pedals have so many different parameters around them and if you don’t know how to properly use one, you may not get the dramatic effect or overall sound you are looking for.
One of the most popular reverberation pedals in the entire world is the Red Panda Context reverb pedals; while the Red Panda isn’t a reverb pedal that’s highly talked about, it is a pedal that you’re going to find in many guitar players arsenals all around the world.
The tone on the Red Panda is amazing, but it is a pedal that is less versatile than other pedals on the market.
There are six delay modes on this pedal, which are all familiar options to any experienced reverb pedal user. The true bypass is switchable internally, which allows you to have a tail if you prefer. In order to consistently maintain the clarity of the notes, the Red Panda pedals comes with a dedicated dry path.
The Red Panda Context Reverberation Pedal had four controls. These controls are:
The Red Panda Context Reverberation Pedal also has six different modes. These modes are:
- Delay: Adjustable delay time with repeats
- Plate: Dense and bright reverb that also has an adjustable reverberation time with a low and high-frequency response
- Cathedral: Bright reverb with an extended response
- Gated: Adjustable gate time with a nonlinear decay
- Room: Fast build up
- Hall: Slow buildup with a moderate diffusion
The Room mode gives users an expected sound for reverb that also comes with a quick commencement. If you are looking for a snappy, short reverb that adds just a little bit of dimension and presence to your sound, the Room is the mode that you’re going to want to use. If you are looking for an infinite reverb ambience, turn up the Decay while in Room mode.
When you push the Delay past twelve o’clock, you’re going to receive an echo that sounds as if your sound was bouncing right off the wall and back at you. By pushing the Decay, you’re going to extend the reflections and muffle the sound. If you don’t like this because the sound is too bright, you can push up the Damping.
The Hall mode begins to pick up right where the Room mode left off, just be offering a more substantial set up for your guitar’s sound to bounce around.
If you turn up the Delay up to 12 o’clock and turn the Decay all the way down, you’ll create a burst of echoes, which sounds really cool.
As for the Cathedral mode, this is an infinite, expansive, reverb that will make your guitar sound like it’s traveling all around in outer space. This mode is bright and fluffy, so if that isn’t something that you’re into, you should try turning the Damping knob if you are looking to darker up your tone.
Gated mode is an interesting reverb, as it makes the reverb more prominent while you are playing and it silences any space in between. In other words, the Gated mode creates a small burst of ambience and begins to trail off to a quick stop when you stop playing, even if you are on a high Decay setting.
If you are looking for something that’s a little eerie or different, the Gated mode will quickly become your favorite mode.
The Plate mode offers the huge plate style reverb, without having the large plates around. This mode provides you with a smooth extension of the reverb, while also elongating your guitar’s sound with a reverb trail.
As for the Delay mode, this is one of the most surprising parts of the Red Panda context, because it gives you with a clean digital delay, with the option of having reverb.
That’s right, there isn’t a spring mode on this reverb pedal. The Red Panda Context isn’t traditional enough to have a spring setting, but you will find other familiar modes on this reverb pedal, such as Room, Plate, Hall. Just to make things a bit more exciting on this reverb pedal, Red Panda has added a delay mode with a modulated reverb.
The Red Panda Context also has a minimal parameter layout that is comparable to some of the more complex reverb pedals on the market today. Most guitar players don’t play with two maps or even use their effects loop, so Red Panda only made this mono. For such a minimalist reverb pedal, the Context has a unique collection of reverberation sounds.
The reverb pedals that I have listed above are not listed in order from best to worst; each of the pedals listed above will cater to guitarists who have different needs. We hope this list has the perfect guitar pedal for you! You can also check out How to Find the Best Guitar Pedals.
Danny grew up playing anything that looked like a guitar. Since some kids just don’t know how to grow up, he continues to write about guitars because you can do that these days.