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The Best Reverb Effect Pedal

Updated on April 17, 2015

Opera Halls Have Huge Reverb Effects

Can you imagine the sound of the room reverb in the Paris Opera Hall?
Can you imagine the sound of the room reverb in the Paris Opera Hall? | Source

How to Pick a Reverb Effect Pedal

Many guitarists wonder how to pick a reverb pedal. As guitarists start to mature and develop their own unique sound and style, they realize that equipment plays a large role in finding their “voice.” A good pedal can help you further refine your own sound, or it can inspire you to play in ways you’ve never imagined.

For example, when you think of a guitar great like Jimi Hendrix, you associate his sound strongly with that of a wah pedal. Similarly, when you think of a legend like Carlos Santana, a singing, clear bell-like tone comes to mind. These artist, and many others, use tools - like reverb effects - to further express themselves.

Jimi Hendrix' Sound Was Defined by his Effects Pedals

What is Reverb?

Many people confuse reverb and delays. In some respects, they are two sides of the same coin. A reverb typically gives a sense of space. Close your eyes and imagine clapping your hands in an empty cement basement. Imagine the way the sound reverberates harshly off the walls. Next, imagine yourself clapping in a large, empty concert hall. You may never hear your clap bouncing back because the large room, full of soft curtains and plush carpet absorbs the sound.

In contrast, a delay represents an echo. Imagine being in a canyon and yelling “ECHO!” You’d expect to hear it repeated back to you, gradually getting quiet: “ECHO….EChooooo….echoooo….”

In short, when you’re deciding how to pick a reverb pedal, stick to this rule: a good reverb allows you to control the perception of the space you are playing in, even if the acoustics of the room aren’t great. It also allows you to subtly create artificial soundscapes that transport your listeners far beyond the confines of where you're actually playing.

Canyons Have Huge Echos, AKA Delays

Imagine the repeating sound of your voice echoing through a canyon
Imagine the repeating sound of your voice echoing through a canyon | Source

What Is a Reverb Effect Pedal?

Some guitar amps include built-in reverb. These can often sound quite good, but they don’t allow you much control over their tone and character. Instead of allowing you to choose how big or small of a space your reverb creates, or how bright or dark of a room, guitar amp reverbs typically limit you to mixing in only how much of a pre-determined reverb.

In contrast, a guitar reverb pedal is an external box that is inserted into your guitar amp. In the most typical setup, you plug your guitar into the reverb pedal, and then the reverb pedal into your amp. When you want to activate the pedal, you step on the include switch. These pedals modify the sound of your guitar and typically add a precise degree of control to your sound. Just don’t forget that you’ll either need batteries or a power adapter.

Pink Floyd's David Gilmour Uses Reverb Effects Perfectly

TC Electronics - Hall of Fame Reverb

Simply put, I love this reverb effect pedal. It allows you to select from nearly a dozen different types of rooms, and tweak the sound of the reverb, including the wet dry signal mix and the brightness of the reverb. Every setting is very musical. Even if you just put it on the lightest setting, it really adds a lot of character to your playing. Plus, you can download custom patches to it via USB! This is my "go to" reverb pedal.

TC Electronics' Hall of Fame Reverb Effect on an Awesome Pedal Board

An great pedal board with the TC Electronics' Hall of Fame reverb pedal.
An great pedal board with the TC Electronics' Hall of Fame reverb pedal. | Source

Electro Harmonix - Holy Grail Reverb

This is the holy grail of reverb effects (some pun intendended). While the Electro Harmonix Holy Grail Reverb effect is a much simpler reverb with fewer choices of reverb type compred to the Hall of Fame, ever sound on this pedal sounds great! And this thing creates out-of-this-world tones if you crank up the reverb all the way, if you're feeling like experimenting with Brian Eno-esque tones.

Electro Harmonix Holy Grail Reverb pedal as part of an insane effects set up

Wow, this is a lot of pedals. But he made time to include the Holy Grail.
Wow, this is a lot of pedals. But he made time to include the Holy Grail. | Source

Used or New?

While I'd be hard pressed to recommend buying an amp or a guitar used on the internet (you really need to get a fell for how they work in person - plus there might be minor defects), I think buying a used effect pedal online is a great way to save money. First, most of these pedals are tough as nails, so they'll work just fine. Second, who cares if your effect pedal has cosmetic scratches? No one is ever going to see it, probably. Third, there are hundreds of videos on youtube of people demoing these pedals. Watch them to see whether the pedal is a good choice for you!

Which Reverb Effect Do You Prefer?

Which Reverb Effect Do You Prefer?

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