Mr Black launches the Heaven’s Gate reverb pedal – is this a cult classic stompbox in the making?

Mr Black Heavens Gate
(Image credit: Mr Black)

Mr Black has launched a reverb pedal sharing the name of a UFO death cult and one of the biggest follies in Hollywood history and yet the omens nonetheless look good for the Heaven’s Gate to offer a refreshingly dynamic and other-worldly treatment of one of electric guitar’s oldest effects.

Heaven’s Gate is a gated reverb that lets you dial in some quite hectic sounding ambience that adds depth and space to your tone, but it’s a reverb that’ll respond to your playing and can be set to disappear as soon as you mute a note. For busy, staccato passages, that means the reverb tails are immediately cleaned up. As Mr Black suggests, it’s “as though you never applied any reverb at all!”

The control setup is a simple three-dial affair. There is a Wet/Dry mix for controlling the blend of effected and uneffected signal. Set it fully counterclockwise and the sound is 100 dry; all the way clockwise and it is reverb all the way. Threshold is where things get interesting. This controls the sensitivity of the gate. The more you turn this clockwise, the more extreme the cutoff.

Mr Black advises to start with the Wet/Dry at noon, the Threshold dial set low. Pluck your strings, then mute them, and just listen as the reverb blooms and disappears without trace. Once you have found the right sensitivity to complement your playing, move onto the Decay knob and season to taste – i.e. to control how long you want your reverb tail.

In a sense, the Heaven’s Gate is a reverb that has it both ways; it is capable of super-massive ambience, but by applying a gate to this that responds to picking dynamics, it is also one that gets out of the way, too, opening up new avenues for tonal exploration, and maybe even new ways of playing, too, though perhaps requiring a little more effort than those Sunday afternoons during which we’ve engaged some super-long decaying reverb with all sorts of modulation on it, played some open chords and contemplated infinity. 

Well, there’s is a time and place – and space on the pedalboard – for that sort of thing, too. Either way, the Heaven’s Gate is definitely not a common or garden reverb, and Mr Black is surely aware of this all along, hence naming it after a cult – nominative determinism in action. The alien graphics on the enclosure are pretty cool too.

The pedal is true bypass and takes a standard 9V DC pedalboard power supply, drawing under 60mA, or a 9V battery, and is handmade in Portland, Oregon. It is priced $199 and is available now. See Mr Black for more details. 

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.