Reverb pedals are very popular. They are used in many different styles like surf music, blues and ambient rock. And they have many different applications. In this article we’ll go through the basics of the reverb pedal.
What does a reverb pedal do?
A reverb pedal emulates the echo of a room. The echo sound is also called the wet signal. The guitar tone is also referred to as the dry signal. Reverb is used to give the guitar tone a little bit more air. It is also used a lot in recording and production environments.
Reverb pedal controls
Almost every reverb pedal has the same two or three basic controls. We’ll go through each three and describe what they do and how you can use them.
- Decay: This is the length of the reverb, or the time the reverb takes to fade out. We already discussed, that reverb simulates the echo’s of a room. Decay is basically where you set the size of that room. If you turn it down, it will sound like you’re standing in a smaller room or hall. The longer the decay, the bigger the simulated room is.
- Effect level: This is where you control the volume of the echo signal. If you want your guitar signal to come through the reverb, turn this down. Turn it up if you want a big wall of sound. But be careful. You can easily get lost in a live band situation. If the reverb is too loud, it will be difficult to cut trough with your guitar sound.
- Tone: Some reverb pedals feature a tone knob. This is another key element which can decide how dominant the reverb is. A darker tone will sit more ‘below’ your guitar signal, while a brighter reverb will be way more noticable.
Reverb pedal types
There are many different types of reverb. Some pedals are good at just one type of reverb, while others feature many types of reverb in one pedal. We’ll go through the most common types of reverb.
- Room reverb: A room reverb has a shorter decay, which gives the feeling of a smaller room. It is a great reverb type if you want your guitar tone to breathe a little bit, without overdoing it. Room reverb is usually more subtle.
- Hall reverb: A hall reverb has a longer decay, which gives the feeling like you’re standing in a massive halls. Hall reverbs sound very dramatic. They are great for lead parts on the guitar.
- Church reverb: A church reverb has the same decay as the hall reverb. The difference between a hall and a church is the surface of the ceiling and the walls. A church has more hard surfaces and therefore less damping. This will result in a brighter reverb.
- Spring reverb: Spring reverbs are used in guitar amplifiers like the Fender Deluxe Reverb. It literally uses a spring to generate that classic reverb sound. There are many reverb pedals that do an excellent simulation of the spring reverb, like the Electro Harmonix Holy Grail.
- Plate reverb: A plate reverb is another old way of generating reverb through a thin metal plate. It has its own distinct organic feel to it.
- Modulated reverb: Modulated reverb is a reverb type that has a chorus effect on the reverb sound. This makes it ideal for ambient rock music. The modulated reverb on the Boss RV-5 is a very popular reverb pedal.
- Shimmer reverb: Shimmer reverb has an octave up signal in the reverb. Some examples of reverb pedals that feature shimmer reverb are the Line6 Verbzilla and the Strymon Bluesky.