Updated on 06.10.2021
This article features only spring reverb pedals. For a wider angle article on reverbs, read our Best Reverb Pedals organized by type.
Reverb is arguably the most useful effect in music, allowing musicians and producers to create a sense of space for individual instruments and entire mixes. Guitarists have been using it since at least the 1950s when the first standalone spring reverb units began to appear in guitar tube amps. Even if you don’t like your guitar swimming in ambiance, you most likely appreciate the added depth that even a touch of reverb can add to your guitar tone.
The Spring Reverb Variety—How It Works
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Since the late 1930s, reverb has been duplicated in a number of more space-efficient ways, including with metal springs and metal plates. This article will focus on the spring reverb effect, which is based on a design featuring springs in a little tank like the one pictured below. The guitar signal is sent to the springs, which then vibrate. A pickup mounted inside the tank picks up those vibrations and sends them back to your amp, where they’re blended with your signal to generate a sound similar to the natural reverb we experience in an actual room.
The spring reverb is an effect associated with the electric guitar sound of the ’60s, brought to fame, in particular, by surf music, and facilitated by reverb circuits built inside many Fender amps from that decade. The first Fender Reverb Unit was introduced in 1961 and reissued in 2016.
Reverbs with Real Springs (Analog)
Let’s face it: It’s nice to have a range of different reverbs to work with, but for many music styles, a simple spring reverb pedal will suffice. For many years, guitarists could choose from a number of digital spring reverb emulations, but these days several companies are packing real spring units into devices like the Spaceman Orion, the ScreaminFX Uverbia Real Spring and the Demeter Reverbulator RRP1 among others. Granted, they’re large, but if it’s true spring reverb you seek, nothing less will do. Click on the thumbnails to see a video of each pedal.
- Surfy Industries SURFYBEAR Compact
A real spring pedal with two analog presets from a builder specializing in this niche. It features useful controls like a boost (to make up for lost volume when the effect is on) and souble mixer (to switch between two reverb settings). The Dwell knob controls the amount of reverb and Decay its length. It also has a Tone knob. Check out the bigger SurfyBear Metal
- Danelectro Spring King
A sleeper real spring reverb from the ’90s that’s now sought after. It features the unique “Kick Pad,” which, when kicked, produces that classic cracking noise.
- Gamechanger Audio Light Pedal
The first “analog optical spring reverb,” called Light, where an optical sensor is employed to “harvest the timbral and harmonic range of a spring reverb tank.”This technology are a wider range of tones compared to a regular spring reverb, including some entirely new effects like Optical Reverb Tremolo, Optical Reverb Modulation and Optical Harmonic Shimmer.
Compact Spring Reverb Pedals (Digital)
Humanity seems to have a problem with carrying bulky and heavy stuff. That’s why shortly after the spring reverb became popular, many pedal builders started looking for ways to recreate that sound in a more portable format. They soon found ways to emulate it through digital circuits, which, in recent years, have become more and more realistic and lush sounding thanks to the advancement in processing power.
Here’s an interactive gallery of some of the best digital spring-less pedals emulating spring reverb. This list only includes reverb-only pedals.
- J. Rockett Boing
A simple one-knob recreation of the classic Deluxe Reverb.
- Catalinbread Topanga
An accurate, digital emulation of the legendary outboard Fender 6G15 spring reverb. Dwell knob controls how hard the springs are hit by the guitar signal. The Volume knob operates a discreet preamp for extra clean boost.
- EarthQuaker Devices Ghost Echo V3
An original take on the vintage spring reverb circuit with a peculiar attack knob that adds a space between 15-30ms between the input signal and the first reverberation. The Dwell control sets the length and thickness of the decay, the Depth sets the intensity of the reverb.
Mini Spring Reverb Pedals (Digital)
For those with space (or budget) issues and simple needs, one of these mini pedals might be also worth a look. Oh, and no, there’s no trace of real springs in these, in case you are wondering…
- Wampler Mini Faux Spring Reverb
A reduced version of the company’s Faux Spring Reverb, emulating the spring reverb used in many records from the ’60s.
- Tone City Tiny Spring
One knob, no frills but great sounding analog spring delay pedal.
- Mosky MP-51 Spring Reverb Mini
A super affordable, but rather popular, Chinese emulation of the Malekko Omicron Spring.
The combination of tremolo and spring reverb is a classic match found in historic tube amps of the ’60s—and countless classic records. Some of the best spring reverb pedals on the market recreate this marriage, so we couldn’t ignore them in this article, even though they are a little more than just “spring reverbs.”
We have a separate article about this, with the Best Tremolo and Reverb Pedal Combos in Mono and Stereo.
Finally, we couldn’t help but award a bonus entry here to the feature-packed Knas Ekdhal Moisturizer spring reverb, which is not exactly a pedal (no footswitch!!!) but can be placed on a board. It’s big, it’s beautiful, and it’s expensive. But it may be just right for you.
- Subdecay Spring Theory vs. J. Rockett Boing vs. Catalinbread Topanga vs. BOSS ’63
- 13 Spring Reverb Shootout by Ryan Lutton
- Real Spring Reverb Shootout: Danelectro vs Spaceman vs ScreaminFX
Article by Christopher Scapelliti and Paolo De Gregorio
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