Reverb is a classic guitar effect that can breathe some new life into your guitar sound and add some nice dimension and depth. From shimmering surf guitar to shoegaze swells, reverb is undoubtedly a rock and roll mainstay. Used and loved by producers since the ’50s and ’60s, this sound was originally created in numerous ways. Bands could record in a highly reverberant echo chamber, a room acoustically tuned to provide natural reverberation. Spring and plate reverb were also used, and they are basically what they sound like. Spring reverb utilizes the vibration of a metal spring to create the sound and plate reverb bounces the sound off of a metal plate. As time went on, digital technology found its way into rackmount units and effects pedals. This allowed guitarists to take reverb on the go conveniently and custom tailor it to their liking onstage or in the studio.
Finding the sweet spot with reverb can be difficult, and too much can definitely be overkill and muddy up your definition. When dialing it in, keep in mind what you are trying to achieve and the sound that you are going to want. If you want a subtle hint of it, the natural spring reverb from your amp might work best. For a huge, washed out sound, you may need a digital unit or a combination of different reverb types. When using any method, remember that in essence, reverb is sound reflecting against surfaces and then feeding back against itself. The size and construction of the room plays a big role in the level that will be present. A huge arena or stadium has much more reverberation than a small club, for instance. You should always consider the level of natural present when dialing in your reverb effect. Applying too much in an already reverberant room will bury the detail of your guitar tone instead of making it sound bigger.
If your guitar sound is flat and sterile in a small, acoustically damp venue, a touch of reverb can go a long way by adding some natural sustain and depth to your sound. A classic spring reverb sound, like the kind built-in to the Carvin Audio V3 amplifier, can help you achieve this subtle effect and help liven up your tone. This amplifier’s reverb effect can also be preset to turn on with any channel and is controllable via a footswitch, which opens up tons of sonic possibilities jumping in and out of using this effect. For a more modulated, cavernous sound, there are hundreds of stompboxes that can get the job done.
When used properly, reverb can breathe new life into your guitar tone in any genre. Experiment and have fun with it!