Reverb is one of the most popular effects in music, and is used on a variety of instruments, including vocals, drums, keyboards and of course, guitars. It features somewhere in nearly every player’s rig, and adding one of the best reverbs pedals to your pedalboard can help add texture and depth to your sound.
So, what does a reverb pedal do? It’s similar to an echo or delay in that it creates a sound after you’ve played a note or chord. It recreates the reflection and decay of sound waves. If you clap in a large hall or church, for example, you’ll hear it dissipate gradually after you’ve made the original sound. Reverb can be used subtly, which can help to stop your guitar sounding ‘dry’, or it can be used dramatically to create huge, moody atmospheres and serious ambience.
In the early days, reverb was created by sending a sound source to a chamber and recording what came back. Then sounds were sent to metal plates and springs for their reflections to be captured. As such, there are many different types of reverb which replicate how different materials and types of rooms reflect sound, all with their own tonal characteristics. Some of the best reverb pedals emulate one, or many of these so you can get this classic effect in a practical format for your guitar.
There are lots of different options available, so what are the best reverb pedals out there? Whatever you need in terms of sounds and features, there will be one that is right for you.
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Best reverb pedals: Our top picks
The Strymon Big Sky has become somewhat of a legend in recent years, making it a strong contender for the best reverb pedal. The sheer quality and range of reverb tones you can get from it is breathtaking, plus, once you learn your way around it, is incredibly functional.
The Electro-Harmonix Ocean’s 11 is definitely worth a mention too as it provides you with 11 different reverb types in a compact pedal, for a very reasonable price.
Best reverb pedals: Product guide
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
This is one of the most comprehensive spring reverb pedals out there. It recreates the glorious sound of a spring vibrating inside of a reverb tank that helped define the sound of rock and roll in the early days. It can be used as a subtle, always-on pedal that will work for any style of music or player, or as a wild, in-your-face reverb effect. What’s great about the Spring Tank is that you can have both of these settings dialled in, and switch between them via the additional footswitch.
The pedal allows you to choose the length of the reverb tail, and also the size of the ‘room’, plus you have the ability to cut some of the high frequencies, and boost your signal above, or below the reverb trail.
There’s even an effects loop built into the pedal so you can add modulation to your reverb tails for some really unique sounds. However you use it, this is one of the best spring reverb-style pedals around.
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
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
This compact pedal manages to pack in a lot of different sounds, whilst keeping the user interface simple and easy to use. There’s no menu-scrolling here - just three knobs, one of which is used as a push button to cycle through the reverb types.
There are six reverb types within the small confines of the M300, all of which sound phenomenal and are incredibly usable in a number of scenarios. The spring, room and plate settings are great for dialling in your classic, texture-adding ‘everyday’ reverbs, and the pad setting conjures up dreamy and ambient, almost synth-like sounds.
One of the best reverb pedals for those who want multiple high-quality reverb options, laid out in a simple way.
Read the full MXR Reverb M300 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.
Read the full Earthquaker Devices Dispatch Master review
Best reverb pedals: Buying advice
When buying a reverb pedal, it’s important to consider what you want to get out of it. Many guitarists will use a reverb pedal just to add a bit of depth and richness - it stops it sounding dry and it’s something that they will usually leave switched on. If this is what you’re after, you don’t need something with lots of different options. Look out for something with spring, hall or plate reverb, and you’ll easily be able to dial in a classic reverb tone, without it sounding too dramatic.
Other players will want to use it more as an effect, than an additional texture. You can even use it on top of a reverb that’s built into your amp for some really interesting results. Some of the best reverb pedals offer a wide range of different reverb types which allows you to dial in exactly what you need for a particular song.
In recent years, shimmer reverb has become popular. This adds a pitched up (usually an octave or two) and sometimes modulated version of your signal to your dry signal for a dreamy kind of sound. This can help your guitar fill out a lot more space sonically, and can even end up sounding almost synth-like. Shimmer is great for using on things like instrumentals, or atmospheric intros and outros - it’s popular with a lot of Instagram guitarists too.
If you need to change the sound of your reverb mid-set, then you can get reverb pedals with more than one footswitch, like the Strymon and Boss RV-500. These pedals allow you to dial in and save your favourite sounds, then switch between and recall them quickly and easily. These digital multi-footswitch pedals often have a wide range of reverbs on board, and, with their powerful DSP capabilities, can replicate different room sizes and material types incredibly accurately. They can also synthesise reverb sounds that wouldn’t be physically possible in the natural world. Of course, not everybody needs these, so finding the best reverb pedal will be a case of weighing up different features and functions to find what’s right for you.