There are several types of reverb that are commonly used in music production and audio engineering, and all of them made their way into the pedal format, in one device or another.
Although guitarists have traditionally adopted spring reverb first and digital reverb after over other types like plate and room, the development of DSP technology in recent years has allowed pedal builders to make any reverb type available through circuitry fitting in increasingly smaller cases.
In this video, we shot six modern stompboxes that, combined, offer almost all the classic reverb types, plus a few extra options that blend reverb with other effects, for a total of 12 reverb types.
CLASSIC REVERB TYPES
This list features popular reverb types based on older technology but still found today in many modern devices including pedals, studio racks and audio plugins:
- Spring reverb | Shop here.
This is the first type of reverb that was embedded in guitar amps of the ’60s. Because of this, it became the most commonly used type of reverb on electric guitar, until digital reverbs came along in the ’90s. It uses a spring or a combination of springs to create reflections. It creates a bouncy (or “drippy”), vintage reverb sound.
- Plate Reverb
Based on technology even older and bulkier than spring reverb, plate reverbs use a metallic plate to create reflections, generating a bright, smooth reverb sound.
- Room Reverb
This type of reverb simulates the effect produced by a sound reflecting off the walls, floor, and ceiling of a room. Found naturally in any enclosed and unfurnished space, it started appearing as an audio effect in the digital rack reverbs of the ’90s. Hall, Chamber, Church and Cathedral reverbs are based on the same concept, but with a longer decay to simulate rooms of different sizes. Not very popular among guitarists, it’s used by producers for adding a realistic sense of space to a recording.
- Digital Reverb
The first digital reverbs were attempting to simulate room ambiance, but the processing limitations gave them their own character and artifacts, which got them detractors (producers) and fans (shoegaze bands). Because of the thousands of reflections they need to simulate, a realistic-sounding reverb requires a lot of processing power, which early chips couldn’t provide. Although the first digital reverb dates back to 1976, the technology became commonly available in studio racks only in the ’80s – and with a high price tag. By the end of that same decade, digital chips were small and affordable enough to be embedded in pedal cases, and kept becoming smaller and more powerful since. Today’s digital reverbs are mostly DSP-based and they can emulate any other type of reverb (often in the same box, like in the popular multi-mode reverb pedal format), providing a potentially infinite depth of sound editing.
- Gated Reverb
This is essentially a room or plate reverb with its tale end cut through a noise gate. The resulting sound is a short reverb with an unnaturally abrupt decay. Artists in the circle of early Genesis (Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel) started using it on drums in the early ’80s, and the sound became nothing short of a signature of that decade’s pop music – together with sax solos.
MODERN/COMPOSITE REVERB TYPES
In this category, we highlight more modern effects that blend reverb with other effects.
- Lo-Fi Reverb | Shop for lo-fi pedals (not just reverbs) here.
The Lo-fi movement in rock music was a little bit like the punk movement of the slacking college kids of the ’90s, based on the two movements’ shared assumption that good music doesn’t need professional musicians or professional recordings. Pedal companies picked up on that by releasing an assortment of lo-fi pedals, including reverbs paired with saturation and EQ circuits that don’t sound pristine or lush, but convey a lot of character and excel at creating interesting textures and weird noises.
More recently, a new type of digital lo-fi pedals was introduced. Often inspired by the 8-bit sounds of old videogames, they degrade the sound using effects like bit/sample reducers and ring modulators that sound like digital artifacts.
- Modulated Reverb | Shop here.
To enhance the dreaminess of their sound, shoegaze and dream-pop bands of the ’90s started applying modulation (normally chorus or vibrato) after a reverb, and the trend had a resurgence at the beginning of the new millennium with the release of many boutique pedals expanding on that concept.
- Shimmer Effect
Aka reverb + pitch-shifting, the shimmer effect is an effect invented by Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois in the mid ’80s and later popularized by U2. It produces what many refer to as a celestial choir of angels by transposing some of the reverb’s reflections one octave up, although using the fifth interval also works on single notes. While there aren’t many stompboxes that just do that, almost all multi-reverb pedal workstations feature a shimmer mode.
- Reverb with Filters
Placing reverb after a resonant filter or filter matrix is one of the latest trends in pedals. The reverb tames and dilutes the aggressive tones produced by these filters, with sonically intriguing results.
- Reverb with Delay | Shop reverb/delay pedal combos here.
A favorite of psych guitarists, delay with reverb, or vice-versa, is an incredibly popular effect combination – so much so that there are dozens of devices offering both effects in one box.
- Ambient/Experimental Reverbs | Shop here.
There’s a lot of interest for circuits that blend reverb with several other effects creating some original, often mind-bending circuits. For lack of a better term, they are often referred to as “ambient” or “experimental” reverb pedals. These are incredibly creative and deep circuits where the various effects interact with each other in anb organic way, rather than being connected in series like pedals on a board.
- Multi-Reverbs | Shop here
A little pricier than any other category listed here, these are pedals featuring DSP-based circuits that can emulate any type of reverb listed in this article, minus perhaps the last one (ambient/experimental).
Other Videos about Reverb Types
7 Types of Reverb, Explained – by Joey Sturgis Tones
Choosing the Right Reverb Pedal – by Reverb.com