Parent article: Best Guitar Pedals
There are a lot of resources online about buying guitar pedals.
However, it's usually pretty obvious that the recommendations being made are made blind, by people that don't know much about guitar, much less, actually tried the gear they're recommending.
For this roundup, we're doing things differently.
We bought and tested six of the best reverb pedals on the market from the most reputable companies. They range widely in price, but we've found them to be quite good, based the following:
- Buying and unboxing
- Playing and recording
- Testing and rating
In other words, we held these reverb pedals in our hands to provide you with a genuine account of how they performed and whether or not we think they could potentially be a good fit for your situation.
Here are the six reverb pedals we've reviewed and recommend:
Best Reverb Pedals: Top Six Picks
Walrus Audio Fathom
TC Electronic Hall of Fame (I and II)
FoxPedal The Wave Reverb & Delay
We are partnered with Sweetwater and we might earn a commission if you buy any of the reverb pedals listed from them. However, that does not impact what you pay nor has it impacted our assessment of these effects. We never avoid pedals that aren't available from Sweetwater, but instead will simply link directly to the manufacturer. If you have any additional questions, please refer to our affiliate disclosure.
We'll review all six of these reverb pedals in the following sections. Please note that we've taken our own photos and recorded our own audio for the purposes of displaying on this page. If you have questions about our review process or the pedals themselves, please reach out via the comments section at the bottom of this page and we'll be happy to assist.
1. Walrus Audio Fathom Reverb
Our pick for: Fans of lengthy sustain and thicker ambience
The Fathom doesn't have a ton of control on the interface like the BigSky or RV-500, but it somehow manages to create a really wide range of ambient sounds.
What we noticed most specifically about the Fathom was how much sustain it promoted and how long the reverb trails could last.
That can, of course, be tweaked by the decay and mix knobs, but it did a great job of providing an ethereal layer beneath both digital and tube-powered clean tones. It's our favorite out of the bunch.
MOST IDEAL FIT
PROS & CONS
The Fathom reverb is great for just about any scenario, live or in the studio. It's expensive, so we don't recommend investing unless you play a lot of clean tones, or use ambient effects often. We'd also recommend it if you have an amp without any onboard reverb.
- Reverb tones have a lot of thickness and presence
- Trails and sustain can be seemingly endless
- Great over clean tones and tube amps
- Graphics are a nice touch
- A surprisingly wide range of control for so few dials
- Thicker reverb tones can sometimes "mask" harsher melody lines
2. Strymon BigSky
Our pick for: Added control, studio electric guitarists, and fans of subtle reverb layering
While the reverb modes are more subtle in the BigSky than they are in the Fathom, it has a ton of control, perhaps more than we've seen in any other reverb pedal.
It includes 12 reverb modes on top of a banking system that lets you store whatever presets you want and dial them back with the footswitches. We'd like to hear some more thickness and intensity from the algorithms out of the box, and it takes some time to learn the interface.
At the same time, it's hard to complain about a reverb pedal that gives you enough versatility to write a book on.
MOST IDEAL FIT
PROS & CONS
The BigSky is an extremely capable studio companion, though has some appeal in a live environment as well, with the banking system. For the versatility alone, it's one of the most professionally-capable reverb pedals on the market. We don't recommend it for beginners or for those that don't rely heavily on ambience from their pedalboard. But, if you do - and you don't mind the BigSky's big price tag - Strymon has it all covered for you.
- Tons of control
- Great for subtle layering of clean tones
- Banking system is good for live performing
- Digital interface is extremely helpful
- A dream for the electric guitarist putting in long studio hours
- You don't get the same thickness compared to the Fathom
- Steep learning curve
3. TC Electronic Hall of Fame (I & II)
Our pick for: Budgets, basics, and simplicity
On the balance of complexity versus price, the Hall of Fame series moves closer to the wallet-friendly side of that spectrum, at least when compared to the BigSky.
Though we didn't feel like the Hall of Fame lost much ground in the tone department.
It sounds great, and still gives you about 10 algorithms to choose from (not counting the TonePrint feature). Many of the modes have a distinct lushness to them, with a thicker sheen over your clean tone, especially with your mix and decay knobs turned up.
Its algorithms almost sound more "ambiguous" than the BigSky and Fathom, almost like the ambient trails are wider and more varied. For the price, it's hard to beat.
MOST IDEAL FIT
PROS & CONS
The Hall of Fame series is one of the market's go-to Reverb pedals right now because of a low price and high functionality. Since we didn't discern a significant drop in tone quality, we like the HOF pedals across the board, for whatever skill level or situation they might be picked up for. As usual, players that use a lot of clean tones and play a more ambient, ethereal style will likely benefit the most.
- A reduction of price does not result in a reduction of tone quality
- Algorithms are distinctly lush and vibrant, almost chorus-like
- We got a lot of variety out of just the mix and decay knobs
- Not a ton of tone control
4. Boss RV-6
Our pick for: Budgets, reliability, warranty, and simple rhythm playing
The RV-6 came off as a more subtle reverb, kind of like the BigSky, which could be a good thing depending on how you want to use it.
For us it seemed to handle better with chords and rhythm playing. One of our testers even uses one on his acoustic pedalboard. Boss covers all the basics of ambient reverb with this pedal, with several algorithms to chose from and a basic EQ scheme.
If you want the super-long trails like we were getting out of the more expensive pedals, you might be better off looking elsewhere.
Yet, for basic rhythm layering, the RV-6 is technically the cheapest reverb pedal on this list.
MOST IDEAL FIT
PROS & CONS
As the lowest-cost option on this list, we can recommend the RV-6 pretty safely for any scenario. We liked it a little better on the rhythm end, but it can have value in just about any playing style that relies heavily on clean tones and ambient layering.
- The lowest price on this list
- Boss's warranty is nice to have (five years last we checked)
- Control scheme is easy to learn
- Tone is great
- Layers chords beautifully
- Doesn't do much to stand out against the rest of this list.
- Limited control options
5. Boss RV-500
Our pick for: Session guitarists, tinkering, and digital versatility
Boss's advanced reverb pedal, the RV-500, has a ton of flexibility and requires a significant time investment just to explore all the different sound and tinkering options. In setup, it's similar to the BigSky, but sounds more like the RV-6 (not surprisingly) in our testing.
It's almost certain that the reverb algorithms are shared between the two pedals, while the RV-500 just provides a lot more room to manipulate them.
The price tag is off-putting, especially because we're used to Boss pedals going for $200 or cheaper. If you need the flexibility, is the RV-500 a better option than the BigSky? We'd say no, but maybe you just like Boss and you want to stay loyal to the brand.
Besides the RV-500 is usually a good deal cheaper than the BigSky, so it's a tough call if you're stuck between the two.
MOST IDEAL FIT
PROS & CONS
The RV-500 is an extremely advanced reverb pedal, so we'd recommend holding off unless you want to do some seriously involved ambient work. Session guitarists and intermediate to pro-level players could make great use of it, though we wouldn't recommend it over the BigSky, aside from the fact that it's a bit cheaper.
- Tweaking for days
- LED screen is extremely helpful
- Banking system setup like the BigSky
- Plenty of algorithms to start with
- Great for the studio
- Interface is hard to learn
- Feels like you're not really taking advantage of the features until you study up on the control scheme
- Better than the BigSky? Not quite.
6. Foxpedal The Wave Reverb & Delay Pedal
Our pick for: Delay fans and off-brand seekers
Personally, this is one of my favorite pedals on this list, but I've kept it low because a good portion of its functionality relies on reverb and delay. But it just sounds exceptionally good, almost as good as the Fathom, and it's a ton of fun to tinker with.
The tape delay elements give it another dimension that fits really well with the reverb algorithms. At no point did I feel like the two sounds had been thrown together without thought, as there's a lot of nice overlap between both effects.
For example, delay repeats seem to have their own ambient reverb, which helps to preserve the clean signal, while the ambient layer sort of ascends over top of it.
Also the "Wash" button is a super-cool feature. Check the demo video to hear it in action.
MOST IDEAL FIT
PROS & CONS
Since The Wave isn't a strict reverb pedal, we'd reserve recommendation for those who want the combination of the tape delay sounds and reverb effect. If that's the case, it's a great companion for live performing and recording. Our only complaint? No tap tempo for the delay.
- Tape delay is a great combo with the reverb algorithms
- Boutique brand has a great vibe and aesthetic
- Echoes and reverb trails mesh well together
- Does a good job of layering a lot of ambience while preserving the dry mix
- Circuit is an analog/digital hybrid
- On the expensive side
- No tap tempo for the delay is a big bummer
A Beginner's Guide to Reverb Pedals
This section is for reverb pedal buyers that aren't totally sure about what they're getting into. We'll cover the basics of reverb pedals, what they are, how they work, and how you can go about buying your own.
If you're looking for other types of effects, checkout Guitar Chalk's best guitar pedals roundup.
What is a reverb pedal? How do they work?
Reverb pedals are a type of electric guitar effect.
Reverb can be used on virtually any musical instrument, though is most commonly implemented on electric guitars and keyboards. Reverb is often included as an onboard effect in amplifiers and keyboards, but in pedal form it's a bit different.
Instead of being built into your electric guitar amp, a reverb pedal is like any other guitar pedal.
It sits on your floor as part of the signal chain between your guitar and your amplifier. You step on the pedal to turn it on and step again to turn it off. When the pedal is on it processes your signal, meaning it runs it through a small program or analog circuit, that creates the reverberated sound.
That sound creates a trail, which sounds kind of like you're talking in a large room, like a church sanctuary.
This type of effect is categorized as an ambient effect.
Understanding Ambience in Guitar Effects
But what are ambient effects, and why do they matter when it comes to electric guitar?
As far as electric guitar is concerned, the ambient effect category includes three types of effects:
All three of these effects are considered ambient because they create an ethereal sound where the original note played is repeated in some capacity. In other words, ambient effects - like reverb - repeat segments of an original signal to create their final product. There are different kinds of algorithms (methods of processing your signal) that create different ambient sounds and reverb modes, which you may have noticed in some of the pedals we've looked at.
Knowing the gritty details of how reverb works isn't necessarily vital to using a reverb pedal. The important part is to know that you like the sound, can make use of it. and know how to turn the pedal on and off.
In that regard, it's a fairly simple process.
Do I need a reverb pedal?
Now, is a reverb pedal vital to your guitar rig?
Well, that depends.
If you're not sure how much you would use a reverb pedal, here are a few things to think about:
- Do you often play with a clean signal (no distortion)?
- Do you sometimes feel like your clean tone could use an "extra layer"?
- Do you use the reverb on your amp often?
- Do you just like the way it sounds?
- Do you often use a delay, chorus, tremolo, or echo pedal?
If you've answer yes to any of these questions, it increases that odds that you would get a lot of use out of a reverb pedal.
What if my amp already has reverb built in?
As I mentioned, guitar amps will often have reverb built in, since it's a fairly easy effect to implement.
This doesn't necessarily mean you couldn't also benefit from the pedal version.
First, amp-based reverb effects - even the good ones that Fender puts in their amps - are usually not particularly versatile. They're either on or off and there isn't much in-between or room for tweaking.
If your amp has reverb, adding the pedal will give you a lot more flexibility to really tweak and get into the sound so you can make it your own.
Although, the amp-based reverb is a good place to start.
Different Types of Reverb Effects and Pedals
You've probably noticed that even among the six reverb pedals we've listed here, there's some variety in terms of size and setup. While the reverb effect can take other forms entirely (rack-mounted processors, software, etc.), we're talking about just the different reverb pedals you could potentially run into.
Primarily there are three different types of reverb pedals:
1. Single Reverb Pedals (Hall of Fame, RV-6)
The Hall of Fame and RV-6 are single stomp reverb pedals or "stompboxes." They usually just have one button for on and off, also called a bypass switch.
2. Bankable or Multi-Tap Reverb Pedals (BigSky, RV-500)
These pedals are often larger with more controls and the ability to store multiple sounds. The Strymon BigSky and Boss RV-500 are your two best larger-scale reverb pedal examples.
3. Reverb with Delay or Reverb with Tremolo Combo Pedals (The Wave)
In some cases - since reverb is so widely used - it will be paired with another effect, like delay or tremolo. Delay is a common companion since both are ambient effects and tend to sound quite good together. The Wave is the only such example in our list.
How do I choose a reverb pedal?
The process by which you choose a reverb pedal is essentially the same as any other product. You look at features and then compare them side by side.
Comparing Reverb Pedal Features
In the following section, we've highlighted six specific features you should keep an eye on when choosing a reverb pedal, followed by a chart of the six we've mentioned that makes the comparison fairly easy.
1. Overall Tone Quality
All guitar pedals are prized, primarily, for their tone quality. In other words, how good do they sound when they're turned on? The same goes for reverb pedals.
2. Control Scheme/Number of Controls (knobs)
A simple way to tell how flexible your reverb pedal might be is to just look at the amount of control it provides. How much can you tweak the reverb effect?
3. Intensity levels (thick or subtle?)
Reverb pedals can often be categorized by their intensity levels, which can only be determined by listening to clips or testing the pedal yourself. Does it tend to provide a thicker, more intense reverb effect, or is it more subtle and nuanced?
4. Number of algorithms (or reverb modes)
Many reverb pedals will have multiple algorithms or "modes" which give you different reverb sounds like spring, plate, or hall. These are usually highlighted in product descriptions or easy to spot on the pedal itself.
5. Additional effects (reverb, modulation, etc.)
As mentioned earlier, reverb pedals will sometimes be combined with other effects like tremolo and delay. If this is a priority for you, it's a good (and simple) way to compare multiple reverb pedals.
The most universal product comparison tool is the price tag. Most reverb pedals cost somewhere in the range of $100 to $300, though they can go much higher or much lower.
Reverb Pedal Comparison Chart
Foxpedal The Wave
Mod & Delay
Mod & Delay Switch
TC Hall of Fame
Walrus Audio Fathom
How does the buying process work?
Even big box retailers like Amazon and Walmart will carry reverb pedals, though a more specialized option would be companies like Sweetwater and Musician's Friend. While many people buy guitar pedals online, local pawn shops, music stores, and Guitar Center locations are also good ways to buy reverb pedals in person so you can actually test and handle them yourself.
What's the cheapest reverb pedal?
The cheapest reverb pedal that seems to have stayed on the market for a decent amount of time is the Behringer DR600 digital reverb, which usually retails in the $40-$50 range.
What's the absolute nicest/best reverb pedal without regard to cost?
Do I need more than one reverb pedal?
In most cases, you'll only need one reverb pedal, especially if your amp already has a basic reverb control built in.
Do I need a reverb pedal if my amp already has reverb?
As mentioned earlier, a reverb pedal will be far more versatile and customizable than the reverb in an amplifier, so having it in pedal form can still be beneficial.
Notable Reverb Pedal Brands and Manufacturers
A lot of people prefer to shop for guitar pedals by brand, and not by specific stompboxes. The reverb pedal brands we recommend would stem from our specific recommendations in this article and include the following:
Strymon makes a few reverb pedals, including a smaller (and cheaper) version of the BigSky. They're one of the best high-end pedal brands on the market right now.
Boss likewise has several reverb pedals in a variety of different forms and stompbox sizes, and - as a company - have long been known for a really solid five-year warranty. Their quality won't necessarily "blow the doors off" other options, but they're a very consistent and reliable pedal brand.
As a brand, TC Electronic's presence in the reverb pedal market relies almost entirely on the Hall of Fame series. Still, we've seen multiple iterations of that pedal, including a "Mini" version that's popular for those looking to spend less than $100. As a brand, it's a good one to keep an eye on when shopping for reverb pedals.
Conclusion and Questions
Keep in mind:
These recommendations are based on a first-hand account. All the reverb pedals here have been tested and used by me and couple people that help me write content for Guitar Chalk.
If you have questions about our review process, or about the best reverb pedals in this list, feel free to reach out via the comments section below and I'll be happy to help as best I can.