15 Best Reverb Pedals: The Ultimate List

Until a few years ago, it was uncommon to see players use reverb pedals, preferring instead to let their amps handle that job. The explosion of high-quality, handmade effects has resulted in a very wide variety of outstanding pedals on the whole, but reverb in particular, giving players both more creative outlets and ultimate control over their tone. For this list, we’ve focused on well-rounded, compact reverb pedals with a few weird ones thrown in for variety. Unlike our delay pedals post, we decided to skip the mega-verbs, though we do discuss them at the end. For those looking to add a sense of atmosphere to your guitar tone, learn more about the best reverb pedal offerings on the market.

Price: $ – $
15 Listed Items

What Is Reverb?

Reverberation, or reverb, is, perhaps, the oldest so-called effect. The acoustic effects of a room or hall on singing in particular has been used for centuries, beginning with the earliest religious music, like early Jewish ritual songs that were sung in places of worship.

Later, in the medieval period, composers would use their knowledge of a given structure's natural echoes as part of their work. Over the years, the knowledge was crystallized and used in the design of performance spaces. Back then, if you wanted control over the reflections of a space, you needed to have a whole building, or at the very least a room, built.

Naturally, we've come a long way from those days. Spring reverb — basically a metal tank with (you guessed it) springs in it — was patented in the late 1930s. These are still fairly popular in amp construction; if your amplifier has reverb, look inside and see if you can spot the metal tank. Or shake it (gently!) while it's on and you'll hear the springs bounce. Plate reverb, a sheet metal and pickup situation, became popular in the late 1950s. This was the choice for studios, especially given that these units weighed several hundred pounds.

The times when no reverb at all is called for are so rare, it would be pointless to detail those situations. Even the lightest touch of room reverb to warm up cold guitar tone makes a world of difference. It's certainly non-negotiable in the studio, but having control over your own hand-picked reverb tone is ideal.

Some players just need a touch of it, so pedals that emulate amp or spring reverbs will suit them best. Ambient players who will feed long delay times to a huge hall reverb might want more options. There are also effected reverbs that add textures when needed.

What type of reverb should I buy?

There are several different standard types of reverb, most of them based on actual acoustic or physical treatments. Some are described as a type of room, while others are much more speculative. Here are some general notes to guide your search.

    • Hall: Emulation of a large, typically wooden, concert hall. A big sound, but an organic one that tends not to crowd your initial attack. Cathedral and church are variations of this that emulated harder wall surfaces in a large space.
    • Room: Emulation of a smaller recording chamber, again typically wooden. Excellent for acoustic instruments, but can be useful in many applications.
    • Plate: Meant to recreate the sounds of the 50s studio devices discussed above. Similar in overall length to hall verbs, but without the feeling of space.
    • Spring: Shorter reverbs based on the spring-loaded tanks built into amplifiers. Typically trying to capture a Fender sound, but other variants exist, as well. These can be somewhat dark yet lively.
    • Shimmer: A type of effected reverb, this adds an upper octave to a long decay time which is optionally modulated. Popular with worship players, becoming increasingly annoying to most everyone else.
    • Modulated: Sometimes called Mod, this is an effected reverb where an LFO cycles some parameter during the decay. It could be pitch or another effect that changes, such as flanger or chorus. Good for adding movement.
    • Gated: Places a gate after the reverb so that you get the initial reverb sound with any decay cut off.
    • Pad: Meant to emulate the sound of a held synth, some reverb pedals allow you to freeze or modulate notes using long decay times.
    • Lo-fi: Just as it says, this emulates low-bandwidth recordings and can add some interesting grit or texture along the lines of AM radio or VHS tape.

Strymon vs. Individual Pedals

Unlike our delay pedals post, we decided to skip the mega-verbs. They are, of course, incredibly powerful and will give you everything you'd ever need, but they tend to be extremely expensive and not nearly as intuitive to use. They're very, very popular, though, so it's worth considering them, anyway.

If you want reverb pedals that can do everything under the sun, you're looking for any of the following:

Each of those are unbelievably flexible and offer the highest-quality reverbs going. In fact, each of those could easily take up a spot on this list, which is in part why we decided to skip them. If you need every single reverb possibility known to man, go grab your credit card and buy one of these fantastic behemoth devices.

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