Reverb PedalsBuying Guide

How to Choose Which Type of Reverb is Best for You

Reverb occurs when a sound hits any hard surface and reflects back to the listener at varying times and amplitudes to create a complex echo, which carries information about that physical space. Reverb pedals or effects simulate or exaggerate natural reverberations.

As with other flavors of effect pedal, like distortions and delays, there are many different types of reverb pedals that all use different methods for generating their unique reverberations. In the video above, Andy Martin is digging into those categories and highlighting some of the best choices for your board in each one.

In the video above, Andy starts with the Spaceman Effects Orion Reverb—a true, all-analog spring reverb pedal—and uses it as a benchmark to compare all of the other digital reverbs to. He then moves onto spring reverb emulations, reverb/tremolo combos, ethereal and ambient reverbs with an extended range, and do-it-all multi-mode reverbs. Be sure to check it out in full above, and scroll below to find the perfect reverb pedal for your pedalboard in the guide below.

True Spring Reverb

Spring reverb is the name for the type of reverb effect that generates its reverberations using an actual spring. An audio signal is sent by way of a transducer along the length of a coiled metal spring to a pickup at the other end, which causes the spring to vibrate and create the reverberations as the signal diffuses down the spring. This is one of the earliest methods of generating a reverb effect and spring reverb tanks were added to a lot of amplifiers of the day as an extra feature.

Over the years, pedal builders and engineers have cooked up lots of other ways to create reverb effects of all flavors, including spring reverb emulations that bring you the tone of the original in a more compact package (more on that in a minute). But still, nothing can quite match the sound of an authentic, analog spring reverb, and plenty of builders have carried the original tech into the modern age.

More True Spring Reverbs

Compact Spring Emulator Reverb

As aforementioned, pedal builders have learned how to recreate the sound of true spring reverb without the hassle of having to house the real parts. These spring reverb emulation pedals simulate the sound of a true spring reverb using digital circuitry.

Though you're not getting the exact characteristics of an effect with a true spring reverb tank, many of these emulations are good enough to get you extremely close. Furthermore, in addition to being more compact, they also often offer features that you wouldn't be able to get with an analog alternative—adjusting the size of your reverb tank, for example, which is feature of the Source Audio True Spring.

More Spring Reverb Emulators

Multi-Mode Reverb

When you go beyond all-analog true spring reverbs and their digital emulator counterparts, reverb stompboxes get even more exciting and varied in functionality. Multi-mode reverb pedals feature a slew of selectable and shapeable reverb types—plate, room, shimmer, hall, and more—all packed into a single circuit for the ultimate in sonic versatility.

These pedals are great for players looking to get the most variety from their reverb, perhaps because they're involved in different kinds of projects that require different kinds of tones.

More Multi-Mode Reverbs

Ethereal, Extended Range Reverb

There's a big section of the reverb market dedicated to more experimental and ethereal reverb pedals as well. These ambient reverb circuits feature extended decay times with the ability to layer in other modulation effects, like delay and pitch-shifting.

This effect category is great if you play a lot of experimental music or in more ethereal, modulation-heavy genres like doom metal or shoegaze.

More Ambient & Ethereal Reverbs

Do-It-All Reverb

The do-it-all reverb pedal is essentially the multi-mode reverb on steroids. If multi-mode reverbs feature a lot of reverb options, the do-it-all reverbs feature all of them. Packed with all manner of reverb types and features, and with tons of knobs for precisely dialing in all of your desired parameters, these pedals are the most programmable and tweakable of the reverb pedal lot, featuring the most powerful processors.

If you're a player who wants absolute tone-shaping control over most every sonic aspect of your reverb with near-limitless tools at your disposal, this is the category for you.

More Do-It-All Reverb Pedals

Used Reverb Pedals