Adding one of the best reverb pedals to your collection is a smart move, and something that's growing in popularity, perhaps in part due to an abundance of YouTube videos of electric guitar players playing synths through these types of stompboxes.
What does a reverb pedal do? In a nutshell, reverb is all about creating drama and giving your guitar sound a sense of ambience. It can emulate different spaces, from halls to cathedrals, as well as spring and studio plates.
Changes in musical style (what's popular right now) has had an impact too, with post-rock and synthwave fans bringing the humble reverb back into fashion. But the best reverb pedals around right now have come a long way compared to the early trailblazers, with big advances in tech, features and versatility.
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On top of the classic plate/spring/room choice, you now see features like 'shimmer' and 'freeze' reverbs in the mainstream offering musicians new and interesting ways of realising their creative potential.
What are the best reverb pedals right now?
If you've ever played through a properly high quality reverb pedal, you'll know they are capable of coaxing out sounds, tones and other artefacts that have the potential to leave you speechless. For this reason, we have zero qualms in recommending the Strymon BigSky as simply the best reverb pedal on the planet today. Spend some time with the manual learning all the tricks it has to offer and you'll have a pedal which will last you a lifetime, and will continue to amaze you every time you plug it in.
Special mention must go to the Electro-Harmonix Ocean's 11; EHX already had an incredible 'verb in its line-up with the Cathedral, but the Ocean's 11 hits the perfect balance between top quality sounds and affordability. If your budget won't stretch to a Strymon, we'd happily recommend this little beauty.
Choosing the best reverb pedal for you
If there's one thing reverb pedal buyers aren't short of, it's choice. There are reverb pedals of many different types, to suit all different requirements. It can be hard to know where to begin. As we often do with these guides, we'd suggest giving some thought to the type of application you'll be using the item for before you part with your cash.
For example, if you're a blues guitarist looking to add a bit of room or colour to your playing, you will want to consider a pedal which majors in the classic reverb sounds – plate, hall and spring. Many amps come with these settings included, so there's no major surprises involved. Hall mimics the effects of playing in a large hall – obviously – while plate and spring give the effect of a sound being played into an object which then alters the tone.
In this setting, reverb is used to add character and depth to a sound, rather than change it drastically. Boss, TC Electronic and Electro-Harmonix each make some of the best reverb pedals that fall into this bracket.
If your musical style is more adventurous, or you want to cover more tonal bases, you can start to look at some of the more advanced pedal types. Often you'll find shimmer included here. This adds a pitch-shifted copy of the signal through the reverb to offer a lush, choral effect which works great with single notes or synths.
And, our personal favourite gizmo, freeze, takes a snapshot of your sound at a granular level and replays it infinitely as if you've frozen a particular sound in time. Both are hugely inspiring and, above all, great fun to work with. As ever, the price you pay dictates the levels of functionality and audio quality. Eventide and Strymon are the kings are the top end, but there are superb sounds to be found right across the spectrum with the best reverb pedals.
These are the best reverb pedals to buy now
The BigSky has fast become the weapon of choice for many pro players and, will undoubtedly be the best reverb pedal for you if you're in a position to stump up the considerable funds. Why? It's flexibility is astounding and considering the borderline academic nature of Strymon's research, you'd be disappointed if the BigSky sounded anything less than extraordinary.
All that homework paid off: the 12 on-board reverb machines are as natural or fantastical as you want. The atmospheric settings have made it a favourite among the post-rock crowd, but this is a pedal that is capable of endless adaptation – and convincing with it, too.
The functionality is staggering, but it's the sounds that will make your jaw drop and your playing soar – and it's that which helps Strymon justify the lofty asking price. If you're looking for 'the one', this is it.
Read our full Strymon BigSky review
The original Hall Of Fame reverb pedal adopted a kitchen-sink approach with multiple options and the addition of TonePrint (which enables you to download user-made profiles for other reverbs) for even greater functionality and flexibility.
The Hall Of Fame 2 picks up where it left off, bringing a new shimmer octave reverb mode to the table and adding a ‘MASH’ footswitch that functions somewhat like an expression pedal. What remains are the quality of reverb sounds, which are simply fantastic and cover all the bases you could wish for.
Read our full TC Electronic Hall Of Fame 2 review
The RV-500 can be thought of as Boss' take on a BigSky-like one-stop reverb toolbox. With three footswitches, 12 reverb modes and digital delay options, not to mention a massive array of editable parameters, you won't run out of tonal options any time soon.
We get the classy reverbs of all varieties that Boss/Roland is capable of but they have also thrown in a Space Echo multi-head tape delay emulation for extra flexibility and an alternative to the delays with the reverbs.
There’s plenty to be explored in this immensely practical pedal that brings reverb and delay together. With all that memory and the various footswitching options it’s the perfect tool if you need different ambiences for different songs.
Read our full Boss RV-500 review
Given the price, you might not expect much of the Oceans 11, but don’t underestimate it. There’s a plethora of settings, from mod and shimmer, to the wild polyphonic octave, but also a rogue’s gallery of standard options like echo, plate, spring, hall and reverse.
While reverse has been out-of-vogue on compact pedals, the demand from shoegazers has remained, and the 11 is likely to be a hit based on this mode alone. It’s a brilliant effect, whether you’re playing psychedelic music or just looking to throw in a wacky solo. The core hall and plate sounds are excellent, too, so it’s not just a one-trick pony.
Read our full Electro-Harmonix Oceans 11 Reverb review
The compact Walrus Audio Slö features three different reverb algorithms, each designed to create an individual texture with the option of integrating modulation into the wash of reverb.
The main controls are nicely laid out and easily operated, but you have to hold a footswitch down to access some secondary functions such as choosing the modulation shape.
This pedal sits in between a compact stompbox offering simple spring emulation and a jack-of-all trades pedal offering multiple. It’s a top choice for players who crave the ability to inject some deep ambience in their signal chain without taking up loads of room on their 'board.
What you get with Space is 12 effects from the Eventide H8000FW and Eclipse V4 rackmount processors. Some of them are pure reverb, but others are combinations where it's paired with delays, pitch-shifting, tremolo, modulation and spatial effects.
If you want a stompbox for reverb and other ambient effects, Space is the most comprehensive around and if you have a home studio, you'll get tons more out of this in stereo.
The price may be high, but rather than compare the Space to other stompboxes, think instead of how much a rackmount reverb processor or the best quality plug-ins cost, and suddenly it doesn't seem that bad a deal, especially when Space sounds so good.
Read our full Eventide Space review
In the Ventris, finally we have a pedal with a relatively modest footprint that contains two totally independent reverbs that can be used singly or combined in parallel, in series or Left/Right - with various modes of mono and stereo operation being available.
There are 12 distinct reverb engines available from the front panel but, like previous Source Audio pedals, there are more available via the Neuro software. The outstanding impression of hearing the Ventris in action for the first time is the quality of its reverbs, but we also really like its pedalboard-friendly footprint and easy hands-on functionality.
You can get as complex as you like with the Neuro editing app, but if you want simplicity it’s there straight out of the box.
Read our full Source Audio Ventris review
Digitech has great pedigree at the lower to middle end of the pedal market, so it's good to see the brand offering something over and above a 'standard' reverb. The Digitech Polara has all the usual reverb types you'd expect, but adds in some nice modulation effects and their Halo setting hits the spot for shimmer fans.
We particularly liked the 'tails' switch, which either cuts off the reverberating audio when you hit the switch, or leaves it to run its course. A nice option to have from a decent all-round pedal.
Read our full DigiTech Polara review
The Mercury7 is a contribution to the high-end digital reverb market from Meris, whose team includes a founder of Strymon. The pedal offers a choice of two algorithmic reverbs, Ultraplate and Cathedral, with a host of sound adjustment features including pitch and modulation parameters.
Capable of mono and stereo operation, the pedal has two sets of parameters for each of its six knobs, the second set accessed by pressing Alt. As such, it's a knob-twiddler's dream and you can dial up awesome reverb with many dimensions.
If altered ambiences are your thing, this pedal does a wide range of them incredibly well.
Read our full Meris Mercury7 review
Earthquaker Devices is responsible for some truly weird and wonderful pedals, which is why the relative simplicity of the Dispatch Master came as a surprise. Combining a fairly basic - albeit high quality - reverb and delay into one pedal, the Dispatch Master won't have you fiddling for ages to find the right sound.
We liked the Flexi-Switch function. Essentially, by holding the switch down you can access the pedal's tones for short bursts, making it perfect for those minor creative flourishes. Build quality is rock solid, and despite the overall minimal approach to tweaking, the Dispatch Master is a success in our eyes.