Reverb Pedal Shootout

Reverb Pedal Shootout. Kind of girlie. I mean, I know “post-rock” is the new cool thing, and reverb is great for “post-rock”; but even the fact that we’re calling it “post-rock”, means that we’re bordering on the whole ‘hanging out with the ladies in the high school herd, listening to Alanis Morissette, while the rest of the guys play basketball” thing. Enter Andy Garcia. “I got him.” Shootout now automatically cooler. I mean, he Angus-Young-Rockstar-slid, saved a baby, and still shot the bad guy. Because of course, those are the types of things that really happened during Prohibition. So unrealistic…and so cool.

(By the way…true story, here…mentioning listening to Alanis Morissette was just too much for me, and my iTunes is now open. “How ’bout getting off of these antibiotics…” Yep. Maybe the problem here isn’t the reverb. Quick! Look at Andy Garcia again!)

So now that Andy Garcia has saved the masculinity of post-rock, reverb shootout time!

The Players

–Strymon Blue Sky
–Neunaber Wet (I refuse to capitalize that)
–Dr. Scientist Reverberator
–Behringer RV600
–Morgan Shadow Verb

The Base Tone

Godin SD strat(ish)–>Matchless C30–>Celestion Blue mic’d

Other Pedals Used

–Damage Control Timeline
–MythFX Minotaur (yes, that’s what it’s called)
–Fryette Valvulator, as I am running through my board in this shootout in order to show the reaction of the verbs to other pedals

Possible Biases

–The Neunaber and the Strymon will sell the easiest, so it’d be great not to like them.

–I’ve owned the Strymon before, and did not like it so much.

–The Dr. Scientist makes me want to sing “You…doin’ that thing you dooooo” every time I look at it. (Which is a good thing.)

–The Morgan lights up.

The Chapter Listing

0:00 Quick Comparison
0:57 Intro of Pedals
1:34 Clean Tone
2:05 Ambient Reverb Sound Comparison
4:13 Blue Sky Modulation Mode
4:49 Spring Reverb Sound Settings
5:35 Spring Reverb Sound Comparison
6:39 Shimmer Settings on Behringer and Strymon
7:00 Shimmer Comparison on Behringer and Strymon
8:25 Ambient Reverb Sound Settings
8:56 Adding to Delayed Swells Comparison
11:18 Arena Rock Reverb Comparison (oh ya)

The Shootout!
With the battle cry, ‘Remember Andy Garcia!



The Last Pedal Standing

If you use a Strymon pedal, you’re cheating. Gone are the days of actually having to have knowledge of pedals and tone and gear to get a pedal to sound good. Just press the on switch. Okay, so there’s some tweaking required…I did adjust the high and low dampening controls to match my amp, but…I was blown away by this pedal. And yes, I did not like the one I had last year. More on that below. But, the Blue Sky, for ambient reverbs, was left standing over the others.

Honourable mention to the Neunaber Wet, which sounded absolutely fantastic. If it had spillover, it might have been a lot closer of a call.

For a simple classic spring reverb sound, last pedal standing was probably the Morgan. Not that the Strymon didn’t do this well, but there’s something special about what that Morgan adds.

The Detailed Results

–Morgan Shadow Fuzz

Fabulous. Incredible spring reverb; but doesn’t do much else. Although, with the verb all the way up, it’s ambient sounds were actually very surprising for a one-knob pedal built as just as spring reverb to throw in an amp’s effects loop. Hats off to this pedal.

On a technical note, I found out from Joe that this is a digital pedal. (That may matter to some folks, for good or for bad.) Also, it needs for than 100mA to run happily.

–Dr. Scientist Reverberator

Huh. Interesting sounds. I really did not like this pedal at first. I’ve owned his Tremolessence, and it’s my favorite ever tremolo. So I had high hopes on this one, and to be completely honest…this is the one I had made space on my board for. But the sounds were just…weird. Almost like a ring modulator in a cave. However, the more I played it and thought about it, if you’re into some of the odd, more off-the-beaten path sounds, this may be an awesome pedal for that. Especially if you have another pedal for more traditional reverb sounds.

Lastly, this pedal was very noisy on a 100mA outlet from the PP2+. It was a bit quieter on the 250mA outlet, and quieter still on a separate adapter. But overall, still the noisiest of the five. Also, changing the settings knob while the pedal is engaged results in not just a splash, but a huge splash. Frightens me. Now, it is possible that I got a bad one; and Dr. Scientist has great customer service. But from reading his site, I do believe this is just how the pedal is. So, definitely not for me, but might be the cool off-the-wall pedal some guitarists are looking for.

–Neunaber Wet

Wow. Some of the best ambient sounds ever. Can actually double as a slow gear, a delay for swells, and that ambient sound you just couldn’t get anywhere else. I’m actually holding out for what exists in my mind as the upcoming Wet 2, with stereo outs, spillover, and a shimmer option.

The website for this pedal says that its decay is different than any other reverb pedal. Which is usually just sales talk. But it really is; and I think that comes through in the video. Kind of in a class of its own as far as sound goes.

–Behringer RV600

Okay, seriously. For 50 bucks new? This thing really, really held its own. Granted, I’ve owned it for a while and only used the modes I knew to be good in this shootout, but still. The shimmer does fritz out a bit on the bassier frequencies, but it’s actually a cool effect for some layers. Not nearly as lush sounding as the Wet or the Strymon, but I’d actually own this over the Dr. Scientist and a lot of other verb pedals I’ve tried.

It is a little bit noisy, and does convert your dry signal using AD/DA converters. The Dr. Scientist, Strymon, and Wet do not. From what Joe said, I think the Morgan does, but yikes…it does it really well! So with the Behringer, you probably want to run it in a parallel looper for the best dynamic results. But again, very impressed with this Behringer…except for the noise. That’s what inspired this shootout in the first place, as on extreme settings which I’ve been using lately in recordings, the noise floor is pretty high. Also, a weird thing I just noticed when using it outside a loop: with the spillover switch engaged, the mix knob works even when the pedal is off. So if you have spillover on, and you’re using this full mix, you have no guitar sound when you turn the pedal off. Very odd. But, for the price, you do get a great sounding reverb; just a couple things you have to work around.

–Strymon Blue Sky

So. It’s not really a secret that I owned one of these pedals last year when they first came out, and sold it within the hour. Or rather, it was a secret for about a year, as Strymon are great people, were very gracious to me in the months after my original Timeline demo’s first went up on youtube, and I did not want to post a bad review. But eventually, it got out. However, here’s what made me try it again: Strymon is the only company actually listening to what the players want. It’s the only reverb out there that has this much tweakability, stereo outs, shimmer, an auxiliary preset, spillover, an analog dry path, and a great noise/signal ratio. So as my musical needs began to change towards needing more reverb in current projects, I figured that even if it still sounded like I remembered it to, it might just be worth it.

And it did not sound like I remembered it to. It sounded like love.

I’ve outlined possible scenario’s for why the first Blue Sky I owned did not sound good:

A) I got a bad one. Unlikely, but always possible.

B) I’m an idiot. Likely, and not only always possible, but also quite plausible.

C) My cables were plugged in opposite of the direction their positively charged ions naturally want to flow. ;) (That’s definitely not it.)

D) Ear fatigue. (I don’t know…I hear every tonal mistake ever, blamed on this; so figured I’d give it a shot.)

Actually, as much as all of those I guess could have happened, the real reason is more than likely that I had originally wanted the Strymon’s shimmer mode to replace my POG/RV3 tandem for shimmer in order to free up some board space. As such, I had an idea in my head of what the Blue Sky would sound like. And it did not sound like that. But because of that preconceived sound, I probably couldn’t get past it enough to hear what it actually sounded like. Now, a year later, I know that if I want that dirty/weird/cool POG/RV3 shimmer sound, I need to go back to my POG/RV3. But my reverb needs have changed enough to where now I can actually use what the Strymon sounds like to my advantage, even though it doesn’t replace the sound of the POG and RV3. I know; much more boring explanation. The truth is usually way less exciting than anything else. So let’s go with directional cables. ;)

But the Blue Sky…possibly the perfect reverb. And you’re cheating if you use one. In actuality, that cheating may be a great thing, as we can then once again focus on actually making music, rather than tone. Not that focusing on tone is bad, but you know that feeling when you finally dial in everything to sound just as you wish, and you can then just happily use your tone to help you create great music? That’s what the Blue Sky is like.

So, whichever one of these pedals sounds best to you, go get one; and then use it to tell stories with beautiful music.

Splendid.
Karl.

49 thoughts on “Reverb Pedal Shootout

  1. Sam–haha Yep!! And I bet you sound great doing it! :)

    KennyG–I know. If the Neunaber had spillover, or if it didn’t cost $200 without spillover, it might have stayed on the board. Maybe a second version will come out someday!!

    And I’ve been doing the chapter listing on youtube, and finally figured it was time to do it here, as I don’t think anyone sits and watches my entire rambling videos. hehe

    Nater2d–$270? Is what I think I paid for this one. One went on Gear Page yesterday for $250 in a package deal. But I’ve also seen them go fro upwards of $300 or more. Just depends on whether Strymon has them in stock at the time or not, I think. :)

  2. I hope that the stereo version of the Wet, which has been coming out for almost a year now will have spillover. It has a buffer so it should be possible.

  3. Hope so too! This version has a buffer option as well…via a switch on the inside. I tried it buffered in hopes that maybe, just maybe it’d have spillover…but no dice. Great sounding pedal, though!

  4. As always, thanks for the great reviews. Especially considering I haven’t tried any of these pedals myself. Perhaps I need to replace the EH Holy Grail I’ve had on my board that is not turned on as often as I thought it would be. But it’s so hard to beat a pedal I got for $5!
    Again, thanks for the great review!

  5. First time post here for me! I couldn’t help myself after you finally gave the bluesky some love… Sometimes while I am playing with the bluesky I just have to stop for a second and marvel at how good that thing sounds. It is truly cheating. The shimmer setting is as good as it gets w/o a Pog/RV3 combo imho. I run a micro pog and a chorus with it sometimes too and you can create some sweet pads. Our worhip does not have keys either and I have found that (when the song calls for it), I have the shimmer sitting way back in the mix of my low-gain drives. (Thanks to the great noise/signal ratio) Really creates a fuller sound with the whole band. Also, the favorite preset is priceless. can go from a light reverb to a shimmer set for swells with one stomp. Wow… strymon should be giving me a sponsorship after this post. Sorry everyone… just got a little excited.

  6. I initially used a Boss RV5. Liked it on the Electric but found the effects to much on the Acoustic. Replaced it with a Hardwire RV7 with Lexicon circuitry. Love it with the Acoustic. I find the reverb subtle, clean without changing the guitar tone.

  7. I haven’t even read the whole post or watched the video but any pedal that makes you think of that thing you do wins automatically.

    I am spartacus…

  8. I think I subconsciously added a little Reverb (amp, sorry) to a track I recorded last night after reading this post.

    Ever thought about a career in advertising?

  9. Blue Sky sounded great on the ambient/shimmer settings! I just don’t think I have that much use for a reverb personally but if I do, I’d definitely pick Blue Sky for the flexibility … that Morgan really sounds cool, too!

    Btw, that Minotaur sounds great … seems a versatile little pedal that can sound almost like a fuzz or OD depending on the setting. We need a demo of that! ;)

  10. Gtr1ab–no worries! Thanks, bro. And for $5? haha I’d be rockin’ a Holy Grail too!

    Jody–great comments on the shimmer stuff, and the Strymon. You woulda sold me on it! haha So, Micro POG and chorus before or after the Blue Sky?

    James J–I like the Hardwire…haven’t spent a great deal of time with it, but from what I’ve heard, it seems really decent. But, liking it better than an RV5 bodes well for it.

    Josh–haha Yes!! I absolutely love that movie, and can’t understand when people say they don’t. “As in…I wonder what happened to the Oneders?”

    Dave–you know, I’ve wondered if that’s why they named it that, seeing as their modulation algorithms on their stuff sounds very Unforgettable Fire/Joshua Tree U2. But that specific song doesn’t seem to have a ton of reverb on it, right? That’s it, I’m listening to it again. ;)

    Caleb–haha Thanks, bro. And usually amp reverb is the best kind. I wish I still had one of my Holland’s to use in this shootout. They have some of the best reverbe ver, and I’ve never heard a pedal come close.

    Rhoy–I think that’s where I was when I first owned this pedal…didn’t really need any verb besides shimmer every now and again. But if your needs change, it’s quite lovely. :)

    And that little Minotaur is so cool! Definitely planning a demo really soon here. I got it in a trade because it looked interesting, and wow! Pleasantly surprised. For what it’s worth, I had it on the silicon clipping setting for the sounds in this video.

    Nic Lake–haha I have a sad feeling I’m gonna be supporting whomever is selling this pedal secondhand for $1500 once Strymon runs out the first day. ;) ;)

    Brandon–that’s the best thing about your circuit board. It can be whatever you want it to be, whenever you want it to be. :)

  11. Wow, so now I have listened to the shoot out and I definitely agree with your picks. I keep trying to like the Wet more because it’s cheaper and I’m more likely to buy something in that price range but wow did the Blue Sky sound good. It might be my first Strymon purchase. I guess that makes me a good guitar player now?

    “Let’s just call ourselves the band you’re about to hear!”
    “Chad, who’s Chad?”
    Leony is definitely my favorite character in that movie. I also love that the bass player doesn’t have a name. They list him as T.B. player in the credits!


  12. Josh:

    I also love that the bass player doesn’t have a name. They list him as T.B. player in the credits!

    This might be my favorite thing about the movie (and that’s a tough call to make as there is so much about this movie I love).

    Fun fact about me…my dad actually grew up right outside of Stubenville which is mentioned as one of the awesome places to get a gig…


  13. KennyG:


    Josh:

    I also love that the bass player doesn’t have a name. They list him as T.B. player in the credits!

    This might be my favorite thing about the movie (and that’s a tough call to make as there is so much about this movie I love).
    Fun fact about me…my dad actually grew up right outside of Stubenville which is mentioned as one of the awesome places to get a gig…

    I actually live in Pittsburgh.

  14. hahaha “Hello, Pittsburgh!”

    And on the Strymon, yes…if you buy one, you’re now considered a good guitar player. Which is one of the reasons I really didn’t want to like their pedals. haha But, to no avail.

  15. Dear Karl, I took some kids to Acquire the Fire this weekend in Lancing. I’m sitting through Sanctus Real right now. Now, I’m not a U2 fan by any means. We know this. However, when they threw in the chorus to Beautiful Day along with a few other of their old songs in a medly, I was pretty offended. It was like a highschool band who just learned power chords. I felt your pain.

    The end.

  16. Brandon–haha I’ll see if I can grab me one!

    Jody–very cool…that’s probably how I would do it, too. But there may be some cool sounds in the experimentation! :)

    Naal–lol Oh the Sanctus Real version! It’s so incredibly bad. There’s actually a whole post on that song and a couple others. Don’t know why Christian music has to be so painful so much of the time.

    http://www.guitarforworship.com/?p=913

    I’m sure there are some who really like their version, and to each his own. But I would encourage them to listen to U2′s original. Amazing what a little delay, dynamics, and finesse can do. :)

  17. Wow. I had never heard that Sanctus Real version before (and I hope to never hear it again). I couldn’t even make it to the chorus. I feel like I should go shower now…

  18. I had never heard the Sanctus Real version either and have never really been a fan of them. There most recent popular song is very good lyrically but the music bores me… Anyway, this version is pretty sad. I LOVE this song and (was going to say hate but didn’t) very much dislike what they did to it.

    I love the post you linked to. I have never read it before and really made me think of the way we arrange songs for worship.

    Side note: have you heard Delirious doing Pride (in the name of love)? That, my friends, is pretty good but look at their influences… I would have been very disappointed if they didn’t do a somewhat decent job with it.

  19. My favorite part is that there were a lot of churches down here that won’t play U2 songs for pre-service and post-service music; but they will play the ‘Christian market’ bands doing U2′s songs without any lyric changes.

    And I remember that cd coming out with Delirious’ version of Pride, and I do think it was one of the better ones. It did seem a little too compressed though, and lacking the exuberance of whenever U2 performs it and in their original recording. But Delirious is sort of a more subdued U2 vibey band, so I respect it for what it is. :) I did like the female version of ‘Grace’ on that cd. Forget who did it.

    Take all that for what it’s worth. It may just be me going, ‘Not U2?! Then I hate it!’ ;) haha

  20. Grace was covered by Nicole Nordeman on that CD… I liked that version too :)

    Have you thought about trying a TC Electronics Hall of Fame reverb? I know its kinda the reverb pedal du jour at TGP but i’ve been playing around with one and think it’s actually a pretty solid pedal (I esp like some of the downloadable TonePrints).

  21. Danahn17–ah, thank you!

    And on the new TC verb, my specific needs right now really require spillover…which is why I wrote it off. But after some quick research about 30 seconds ago (haha), I guess it does have spillover, it’s just not well-advertised. So I may have to give it a try! :)

    Naal–last November, I started to get interested in relay bypass strips, as opposed to ‘true bypass’ strips. So I asked Dan to build me a prototype, as his price was the cheapest one I could find. I guess it’s taken a while, so I’m assuming there was a snag somewhere. To be honest, I’ve kind of gone off the idea a bit, and almost forgot I was on his list. haha


  22. Karl:

    last November, I started to get interested in relay bypass strips, as opposed to ‘true bypass’ strips. [...] To be honest, I’ve kind of gone off the idea a bit…

    Isn’t a relay bypass pretty much the same thing as far as the audio signal goes? Just instead of a mechanical switch, it’s a relay that holds the circuit open or closed? This pretty much just gives you quiet switching, ya?

    • this is interesting ’cause most relays have an audible click when switched and most times relays are used with AC switching … most appliances have relay on them and you can actually hear the click. a much better solution for this, imho, is a transistor switch … but i think these kind of switches are overkill for a bypass strip. but that’s just me ;)

        • karl should definitely make a shoot-out for which switching technology is better :lol:

          btw, you still need another switch to turn the relay on or off. unless you are getting the soft switches to trigger the relay, then there is really no point, me thinks.

          one thing Karl didn’t mention though is why he needed the relay as supposed to just straight solder on the lugs.

      • I think KennyG is right. I think with something like a guitar signal running through a relay it is very quiet. Compared to a true bypass switch it is pretty much silent. Listen for noise the next time you turn on a BOSS pedal. (not the noise the pedal is producing but the nonexistent noise of it switching on)

        Dan (from T1M) has a great example of it on his YouTube page. He calls it the silent treatment when he adds it to a pedal. His video is of a Wah that has no click when you turn it on. Pretty cool stuff.

  23. Yep! That’s it! For recording, the true bypass switches have both the loud acoustic “ka-chunk”, as well as the slight click that comes through your amp. Not a huge deal, but I got to thinking about the Timeline’s switches…very acoustically quiet, no sound through your amp, and the first non-true-bypass switches I’ve ever heard where you can’t tell a difference in tone with the pedal on or off. So I figured I’d look into this “relay bypass” thing, and it turns out it’s technically “true bypass”, boasting full mechanical separation when in the off position. But it’s done electronically, making it super quiet.

    The problem is price. Dan builds them, but in the last few months, as you can see on his waitlist, his order list has gotten out of control. He probably has more orders than some small ‘official’ companies. The next cheapest I found was a guy on Gear Page who offered to mod my Loop-Master’s to relay bypass, but for both of them, we were talking about upwards of a thousand dollars.

    So, still not sure where I’m at on that. Now that you guys reminded me though, I did email Dan about the pedal, and props to him. He’s just been super busy, busier than he ever expected I guess, and promised to get my pedal out today. So, just wanted to make sure he’s given the credit he deserves. :) Super nice dude.

  24. I am…. bewildered that you did not have the TC Hall of Fame in this shootout. It is by far my favorite pedal i purchased this year. And yes, it does have spillover and can be either buffered or true bypass and it is analog-dry-thru. I figured with specs like that, it would be a given that Karl Verkade would like it!! The Church setting has 20 seconds of decay and there are some free downloadable toneprints that are just awesome sounding. I suggest trying one and getting the “Room With a View” toneprint, which TC Tore made to emulate and effectively one-up the mod setting on the Boss RV-5. I think it does so succesfully. Anyhoo… Yes. You must try it. :)

  25. I probably should have. The reason why is that, with a quick glance at the Hall of Fame page on their site, spillover is not listed anywhere. And usually that’s a very marketable feature. So I wrote it off before it even came out.

    But having looked into it more now, I might give it a shot. :) Stoked too, that they’re listening to players and giving analog dry through a try with their latest line.

  26. Hi Karl, another excellent post. I’m in the market for a decent reverb, but I’m holding back until ProGuitarShop release their exclusive run of the Digitech Hardwire Supernatural… there’s only a teaser on YouTube at the time of writing this comment.

    Good stuff dude, keep up the posts. Excellent website!

  27. Good post. I learn somedthing new and challenging on blogs I
    stumbleupon everyday. It wil always bee interesting to read content from other writers and use something from other web sites.

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