When looking for a new reverb pedal, there are a lot of factors to consider when choosing the best reverb pedal for your purpose.
The first thing to talk about is the great analog vs. digital debate. Fortunately for us, however, this debate doesn’t really apply when it comes to reverb. An “analog” reverb would simply be a room with a microphone and a source from which the sound is being made. An alternate form of analog reverb would be made using a system of springs and circuits, however these types of reverbs are way to big for a pedal. Simply put, every single reverb pedal is a digital one.
That doesn’t mean, however, that there is only one kind of digital reverb. While they’re all created essentially the same way, different digital reverbs can emulate all kinds of different situations.
- The Main Types of Reverb
- Top 5 Reverb Pedals
- Honorable Mentions
5 Main Types of Reverb
Hall Reverb: As the name suggests, this type of reverb emulates a concert hall, generally offering reverb that lasts between 1 and 3 seconds. Typically, hall verbs start with plenty of audible early reflections, followed by a full reverb body and then a tail that rolls off on the high end. For this reason hall verbs are often quite warm.
Chamber Reverb: Chamber reverb gives a short decay time, resulting in a little more clarity. Typically, chamber reverbs last between 0.4 and 1.2 seconds, and are also quite warm in sound.
Room Reverb: Room verb normally lasts between 0.2 to 1 seconds. Room reverbs are often quick acting, with lots of early reflections, and end with a quick decay and little frequency rolloff.
Plate Reverb: When we’re talking about digital reverbs, this is an emulation of an analog reverb in which sound vibrations were sent through a plate of metal that itself vibrated, resulting in reflections of the sound. Plate reverbs are often very full sounding and have a very “smooth” sound. They sound great on lead vocals, but also on guitar in situations where the reverb does not need to take too much attention away from the listener.
Spring Reverb: As mentioned before this is an analog reverb, emulated in digital verbs, that have a fairly sharp sound compared to other reverbs, with it seeming like there is a rolloff of bass frequencies.
Top 5 Reverb Pedals
Without further ado, here are the winners for best reverb pedals.
TC Electronic Hall of Fame Reverb Pedal
If you’re no stranger to our music gear buying guides, you know the winner is based on overall number of recommendations from guitar communities across the web, as well as our experience using the gear. Unsurprisingly, the top spot usually gets taken up by the gear that just hits that perfect sweet spot of versatility, durability, quality, and price, and the TC Electronic Hall of Fame Reverb Pedal is exactly that. The Hall of Fame came in first place by a moderate margin, and came up time and time again on every “what reverb pedal should I get” discussion. One of our Equipboard staff writers owns this pedal, so we were able to spend a good amount of time testing it out. Let’s get into it!
Before getting into the sound, let’s talk a bit about how the Hall of Fame is built, and what controls and features it offers. If you have any experience with TC Electronic, you know they make solid gear, and this reverb pedal is no exception. It’s solidly built, as the particular unit we’re testing has held up to considerable live use. It’s definitely a workhorse of a pedal. It’s also True Bypass, so you can rest assured the pedal won’t mess with your guitar’s tone when it’s switched off. The Hall of Fame offers stereo ins and outs, which is something we’d use more in a recording scenario, but it’s nice to have the option.
Operation is very simple, with four knobs and a small toggle switch. You’ve got DECAY (how long the reverb is), TONE (adjusts brightness or darkness of just the reverberated signal), FX LEVEL (how much reverb vs dry signal), and an 11-point selector knob to pick the reverb style. There is also a small toggle switch to change the PRE-DELAY from short to long (this basically means how long it takes for the reverb to start sounding after you play a note, which if set to long helps preserve the attack of the note). One of the 11 reverb types is TC Electronic’s TonePrint feature, which lets you load up a custom reverb tone into this pedal via USB, or even beam it wirelessly to the Hall of Fame using their iOS app. We’ve played with this feature before on other TonePrint enabled pedals and it’s pretty awesome. At time of writing there are over 75 TonePrints available to use on TC Electronic’s website, many crafted up by famous artists themselves. We want to stress that this is not a gimmicky add-on, and truly adds to the greatness and versatility of the Hall of Fame. Even if you can’t find a reverb you like from the built in styles, using TonePrint you can dial in your own. TC Electronic pulled off the whole TonePrint thing very elegantly, and it’s a pleasure to use.
At the end of the day, the most important aspect is how a reverb pedal sounds. The TC Electronic Hall of Fame Reverb Pedal is not the best at any one reverb sound, but it is great at a lot of sounds. And look, as true gear-heads, it’s our job to be picky here. To the untrained ear the reverbs this unit generates are fantastic, and plenty good for most music genres and playing styles. The Hall of Fame can generate some big epic reverbs with the Hall, Plate, and Church settings, and some more funky stuff with Mod and Tile. The Decay and Tone knobs respond beautifully, as does the FX Level to balance it out, which lets you dial in the exact reverb character you want. With this much versatility it’s going to take you a while to explore everything the Hall of Fame is capable of.
If we get down to the nitty gritty, we think there are better reverb pedals out there if your aim is to achieve a crazy amount of ambience. One complaint we heard several times is that the Hall of Fame’s Spring reverb emulation is not as good as, say, the EHX Holy Grail. In our play testing we agree, the Spring reverb is passable, but not its strong suite (of course, we didn’t play with all of the 75+ TonePrints available, so there’s a good chance one of those improves upon the stock Spring reverb). Another minor annoyance is having to remove the bottom panel to access two switches to control optional buffering of signal, and a wet-only setting for use in effects sends. But, again, it’s better to have those options than not.
Bottom Line: The TC Hall of Fame Reverb is fantastic because it’s a Swiss Army Knife of reverb. There are certainly more specialized, more boutique (read: expensive) reverb pedals out there, so perhaps the Hall of Fame is not the best choice if you’re looking for that particular sound. As is often the case, it’s a trade-off between quality and versatility. That said, the reason the Hall of Fame is so good is because it sounds lovely! We’ll leave you with some of our favorite quotes from owners of this pedal:
I've got one and I couldn't be happier, and TC now have a free TonePrint editor where you can make you own sounds to store in the TonePrint section, which is pretty cool.
Just loaded a Jeff Buckley style reverb on mine, huge long Alesis style reverb with all the bass cut off. Took it to rehearsal... magic. No other reverb on the market at the moment lets you do that.
Spring is very springy, church is massive and smooth.
The best non-rackmount reverb I have ever had...
When it comes for recommendations for a reverb pedal, the TC Electronic Hall of Fame is the undisputed king. High marks for customizability, great sound, and a great price. Notable pros using the Hall of Fame on their pedalboard include Robben Ford, Steve Vai, Joe Perry, Jared Followill, Albert Lee, and Troy Van Leeuwen, amongst many others. This one wins our Best of the Best.
Some Tips: The TC Hall of Fame doesn’t come with a power supply, so you’ll want to power it with something like the highly rated Planet Waves 9V Power Adapter. Amazon actually offers an interesting bundle where you get the Hall of Fame Reverb, 9V power supply, and a 3-pack of 0.5 ft cables for a good price. If you’re interested, you can see that here.
The DigiTech Polara Reverb Pedal is DigiTech’s update of their RV-7 HardWire reverb, which in itself was already a great value for the money. With the Polara, it gets even better. One of the big reasons why is that Harman, the company that owns DigiTech, also owns Lexicon, who are legends in reverb. This pedal has access to both companies’ know-how, which combines to form a mashup of Reverb awesomeness. Smart move for Harman, as it brings together two of their companies’ expertise and the whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts, in this instance.
The DigiTech Polara looks quite striking, with its unique art nouveau style graphics. Unfortunately, we’ve been able to confirm several owners complaints about not being able to read the knobs, since the graphics make the already small text even harder to see. Speaking of knobs, there are no big surprises with the Polara. Level adjusts the wet/dry mix, Liveliness controls the brightness of the verb, Decay is how long the reverb tail continues for, and the fourth knob lets you select between seven styles of Reverb. All the usual reverb suspects are available including Room, Plate, Hall, and Spring, and some fancier, more extreme verbs like the very unique Halo setting. The TAILS toggle switch is very cool, as it lets you control what happens to the reverb tail when you switch the pedal off. You can have the reverb continue, or have it stop completely.
And speaking of switching the pedal off, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s True Bypass, and the footswitch is a wonderful “soft-click” style which doesn’t make an annoying clicking noise when you press it. After experiencing this, we wish all footswitch style pedals had this and we bet you'd agree. In terms of build quality, while we don’t have a gig-tested model handy, it feel well-built, and the knobs turn smoothly. The Polara reverb pedal features stereo in and out, which is awesome since many players have reverb as the last effect in the signal chain, and you can have a stereo out to your amps with no issues.
At its core, the DigiTech Polara has Lexicon reverb algorithms, and this is massively important, because they sound awesome. For us, the quality of the reverb tones goes toe-to-toe with its boutique mom & pop shop equivalents. The Hall setting sounds fantastic and is our personal favorite, it’s tasteful, simple, and warm. For something a little more out there and extreme, the Halo setting is very enjoyable, it’s a modulated reverb that we can best describe as a choir backing you up - very cool stuff. The Spring reverb sounds pretty good, definitely a notch better than the TC Electronic Hall of Fame spring. Each reverb type responds a bit differently to the Liveliness and Decay knobs, so it’s definitely worth experimenting. The reverb knowledge of Lexicon really shines through, and makes for reverbs that sound incredibly lush. One small downside - the Modulated reverb is not infinite, so if you’re really after experimental atmospheric ambient sounds, perhaps looks at other reverb pedals.
Bottom Line: The game changer here is the inclusion of Lexicon’s legendary reverb algorithms. There are truly very few downsides we could think of when playing with the DigiTech Polara. It sounds fantastic. Sure, some boutique, more specialized “one trick pony” pedals that cost twice (or more) as much might sound better in the end, but it’s difficult to complain here. This versatile pedal will have something you love no matter which style of reverb you are into. If you don’t care for the Hall of Fame’s TonePrint customization, we would recommend this one for a superior reverb sound.
The Boss RV-6 Reverb Pedal came in a dead heat with the DigiTech Polara in our final tally, and when we spent some quality time with the RV-6, it totally makes sense. All the things to love about the Polara - the build quality, the gorgeous reverb sounds, the versatility, and the attractive price tag - the Boss RV-6 has them too. Nearly every single “what’s the best reverb pedal” forum thread we encountered had someone saying:
It's all about the RV6 and the Polara. Both have stellar sounds…
It was a pleasure putting this pedal through its paces, so onwards to our review!
One immediate and obvious advantage of the RV-6 is that it’s a Boss stompbox, and that equates to quality craftsmanship and reliability. Built like a tank, as people like to say. You can throw Boss pedals out of 20 story windows and they’ll remain intact and gig-ready (though, we strongly recommend you don’t do that). This is also a very attractive pedal, more so than the average Boss pedal. We actually prefer the way this looks to the Polara, and the knobs and setting are infinitely easier to see on the RV-6, which could be a life-saver during a live show.
If you’ve been reading our reviews thus far, the controls on the Boss RV-6 won’t surprise you at all. Nothing here is out of the ordinary - you’ve got E.LEVEL which stands for effects level, and is just the volume of the reverb sound. TONE is the sound coloration of the reverb, TIME adjusts the length of time of the reverb sound, and finally the mode knob selects the reverb effect mode you want from eight different types: Modulate, Spring, Plate, Hall, Room, +Delay, Shimmer, and Dynamic. The RV-6 is the successor to the Boss RV-5, and those latter three are new reverb modes introduced in the RV-6. There are no extra toggle switches, and like the Hall of Fame and Polara this is a stereo in/out reverb pedal.
The fun started when we got the chance to plug in our electric guitar and hear this thing in action. Just like with the Polara, we were blown away by how good the RV-6 sounds. All eight reverb modes are very good, and have their place. Our favorites are definitely Modulate and Shimmer, which are a perfect fit for more ambient/atmospheric/spacey applications. The +Delay mode is fun too, since it combines reverb and delay (although truth be told we prefer a dedicated delay pedal). Here’s a great tip we found from an owner of this pedal:
I discovered you can use the 'wet channel' (plug in the Input B and Output A) to record whatever you like with no presence of the dry sound.
We did not experience any “tone suck” or degradation at all from the RV-6. Lots of guitarists judge a reverb by the quality of its Spring reverb setting, and we can report that the RV-6 is good. If the Polara does an 8/10 Spring emulation, the RV-6 would be a 6.5 or 7. Everything else we have to say about the RV-6 has been articulated very well by other users of the pedal, so we found some of our favorite quotes:
...there's little point in getting the blueSky when the RV6 is on the market. It only has a couple features that the RV6 doesn't and the RV6 has a few that the blueSky doesn't.
I doubt any of the reverb settings would disappoint. Give this a bonus star for being the coolest pedal on my board right now.
...it's the combination of the discontinued Boss RV-3 and the RV-5 but I could say it's way better than those. Also looks kind of awesome.
The Modulated reverb is the best. Absolutely fantastic, this mode could be sold as a standalone boutique reverb pedal for more money than the RV-6 costs to begin with, and people would buy the shit out of it.
Mine's got me covered for all the stuff I want a reverb for (classic rock, blues, psych rock, post-rock, surf) and it sounds great doing it. For subtler general rock verbs I prefer the plate setting to the spring. The spring sound on the RV-6 gets pretty surfy quick so it's not the best for subtle.
Bottom Line: What the Boss RV-6 has in common with the TC Electronic Hall of Fame and the DigiTech Polara is that, while not being the best at everything it does, it’s great at a lot of things and is consistently good. We tried very hard to determine if the Polara or the RV-6 has the superior reverb sound quality, but it really comes down to splitting hairs. All else equal, it might just come down to if you like and trust Boss or DigiTech more as a brand. At time of writing, the Boss RV-6 was around $10 more than the Polara, but keep an eye out for price fluctuations so you can snag a good deal.
Biyang RV-10 Tri-Reverb
One reverb pedal that surprised us with its price-to-quality ratio, and came consistently recommended in all the “budget reverb pedal” and “what is the best reverb pedal under $100” discussions is the Biyang RV-10 Tri-Reverb Pedal. Coming in at less than half the price than the next-cheapest pedal in our top 5, the price is certainly right… but does it perform as well as its more expensive counterparts? You might have guessed the answer is yes considering it’s in our top 5 of our best reverb pedals! Let’s find out why.
Right from the unboxing you can see Biyang keeps things simple with the Tri-Reverb. This Chinese-manufactured pedal is rather small, which is good for fitting on smaller (or already crowded) pedalboards. The pedal looks rather underwhelming. We know this is highly subjective, but the aesthetics have a cheap coming book look to them. We’ve found it’s not too uncommon for the more budget pedals to skimp on look and feel, so we’re not surprised. Thankfully, the build quality - which is arguably much more important than looks - feels great. The pedal feels well-built and looks to have quality components (we watched a video which confirmed the external and internal components are indeed good quality).
The available controls differ a bit from the likes of the Hall of Fame, Polara, and RV-6. The Biyang has two primary knobs - BLEND which is responsible for the wet/dry mix, and TIME which controls the length and size of the reverb. The top 3-way toggle switch lets you pick between three types of reverb - Hall, Spring, and Room. The bottom 2-way toggle is for an A and a B mode, which are two distinct reverb modes we’ll talk about shortly. To be completely frank, we don’t love this layout compared to other reverb pedals we tested. A/B mode is unintuitive unless you read about it or try it, and we prefer knobs we can rotate to choose the verb mode, as opposed to tiny toggle switches. All in all, these are minor complaints, and honestly it’s not like the pedal is that complicated to use. On the plus side, the Biyang RV-10 Tri-Reverb is true bypass when switched off, and operates in stereo; both very nice inclusions for a pedal in this price range. The blue LED light is also nice and bright (great for live use in dark and smoky venues).
So, how does the Biyang Tri-Reverb sound? In two words, very good. Very, very good if you factor in its price point. While it doesn’t have all the crazy, atmospheric, and modulated reverb types that other pedals might offer you, it covers the basics. The Hall, Spring, and Room are all fairly lush and expansive. Spring is a bit of a weak point to our ears, and we definitely favor the Spring from the Boss RV-6 or DigiTech Polara. Still, the Biyang is nothing to scoff at. While it seems like you only get three reverb modes, you actually get six. The A/B toggle can be applied to the three, and changes the sound. A mode is a bit darker, “grittier”, and more bass heavy, while B is more of the classic reverb sound. We’re not exactly sure why it was designed this way, but it works. On a side note, use it with a power adapter, since the Biyang Tri-Reverb is very quick to suck battery life.
All in all the reverb here is solid, lush, and very usable. In our research we found a lot of comparisons between the Tri-Reverb’s tone and the EHX Holy Grail, which is high praise. Some user review quotes we like:
...definitely the best verb in its price range...
It can go from adding a subtle thickness to a note to a full blown ridiculous cacophony of bouncing reverb.
If you like the EHX Holy Grail but with slightly smoother tones and a way lower price tag, you will love this pedal
Bottom Line: In this price range, we’re convinced it’s hard to find a better reverb. Sure, the controls are a tad unintuitive with the A/B toggle, you don’t get fancy modulated reverb tones, and it’s a bit less refined than much pricier boutique reverb pedals. If you can reconcile these things, then this is a fantastic reverb pedal to add to your board. That, or maybe you’re not a reverb “junkie”, or simply don’t want to spend a good portion of your paycheck on a reverb pedal. The Biyang RV-10 Tri-Reverb wins our Best Bang for your Buck.
Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail Nano
Note: While the actual top pedal in our final tally was the original version of the Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail, we’re actually recommending the Holy Grail Nano, which is simply a more compact version and sounds exactly the same, with the exact same features (some people claim minor tonal differences between the two, but nothing convincing enough to change our recommendation). Plus, it costs less and takes up less space in your pedal setup. That, and the non-Nano Holy Grail is harder to come by and seems to be unavailable for purchase.
Rounding out the top 5 of our best reverb pedals is the USA-made Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail Nano Reverb Pedal. If you’ve ever researched guitar pedals for longer than a few minutes, you probably know the Electro-Harmonix name (often shortened to EHX). The Holy Grail Nano is a bit different than the other pedals in our “best of” guide, and what users love about it the most is that it generally does less and has fewer features, yet what it does do is top of class, particularly the Spring reverb. More on that in a bit.
Like other effects pedals from EHX, the Holy Grail Nano has a very industrial looking enclosure, which is a look we’re fans of. And also like other EHX pedals it has a very boutique look and feel to it, and its build quality and strong metal casing is second to none. The operation of the Holy Grail Nano is simple. A 3-way selector switch lets you choose between three reverb modes: Spring, Hall, and the more whimsical Flerb. A solitary knob labeled REVERB is responsible for how much reverb is applied to the signal (aka wet/dry mix)... and that’s pretty much it! Aside from that it comes with a power supply which is great and much appreciated, and the pedal is True Bypass so it won’t color your guitar’s tone when you press the switch to turn it off.
When putting it to the test, we love the way the Holy Grail Nano sounds. It can be tough to put the nuances into words, but it just sounds so musical, shimmery, and deep. The Reverb control is essential for all three modes, and you’ll want to play with it until it sits just right in your rig. It can be extremely subtle all the way to extremely cavernous. When you get it past 12 o’clock, you can start hearing more reverb than the original guitar signal, and when you crank it all the way up, you have no original signal left - only reverb (or “full wet” as it’s known). This is great if you wanted to run just the wet signal in an effects loop. Furthermore, of all the pedals we review in this guide, the holy grail has by far the best Spring reverb emulation. It sounds just as good - if not better - than spring reverb found in some amps. The Flerb mode is a bit of an acquired taste, garnering very mixed reviews. It’s a mix of flange and reverb, but some users describe it as gimmicky and unusable. We think it could be a cool effect given the right application, but it’s not our favorite.
Bottom Line: One of the best things about the Holy Grail is the simplicity of it. This reverb pedal is widely regarded as being great for the money, though we can’t help but feel that it’s still a tad bit pricey considering how much more limited it is than the others we talk about. So, while a sub-$100 price point would have been nice, we can’t complain too much. If you’re going for simplicity, a small footprint, want one of the best Spring reverb emulations out there, and want the same pedal that’s on hundreds of pro guitarist’s pedalboards, the Holy Grail Nano is for you.
The following reverb pedals fell just short of our Top 5 list. However, due to them receiving several mentions in community discussions around what the best reverb pedals are, we felt compelled to give them honorable mentions. While we strongly recommend one of the 5 models we covered above, don’t make a decision until you’ve at least clicked through these models to see if they might offer something very specific that you’re looking for!
The Neunaber Wet is currently up to version 4. If you're interested in the latest V4 version, find it here. This V3 of this boutique pedal is somewhat lesser known and sounds beautiful. Offering only two knobs, a “mix” and a “depth” knob, the Wet isn’t as versatile as other pedals on the list, but what it can do, it does very well. Many have described the pedal as “haunting,” suggesting that the pedal is often used to create new sounds rather than as a simple reverb. It is also a pedal that allows users to put their signal up to 100% wet, a feature that many others do not do, lending itself well to new, haunting sounds.
The Earthquaker Devices Dispatch Master is an interesting pedal, offering four knobs for users to play with, including mix, reverb, repeats and time. the most interesting choice here is “repeats,” which allows users to use this pedal as a delay pedal as well. In fact, many people use the Dispatch Master as only a delay pedal, with the reverb controls being very simple. As a description for the “reverb” knob, Earthquaker Devices simply says “Clockwise for more reverb, counterclockwise for less” on its website.
For the price, the Verbzilla is a great effects pedal. Verbzilla offers users all of the five main reverb types outlined above (including a number of custom and hybrid reverb types), as well as mix, decay, time and tone controls. Not only that, but the pedal also offers a "trails" switch, which allows users to cut the decay of the reverb tail. Another option on the pedal is the ’63 Spring, which offers users a vintage, classic sounding verb.
While some of the pedals on this list might be great because they are simplistic, the Eventide Space is great for the opposite reason. Eventide is known around the world for its reverb units, with many major studios including Eventide rack mounted units as one of their go-to reverbs. It offers stereo inputs and outputs, a decay knob, size knob, delay knob, EQ controls, a tap tempo option and a mix control. Of course, this pedal is also a delay unit, offering users more flexibility for their verb. It’s important to note that this reverb would be best suited for either someone who knows what they are doing, or who wants to learn quick. It also features 12 of the company’s signature reverb effects and a massive 100 presets.
We also recommend looking up great demo videos from reviewers on YouTube before making the final call on what reverb is best for you.
Happy hunting, and leave a comment below with your personal favorite!