GAS: Let’s face it. It can be embarrassing, and we all deal with it. It always rears its ugly head at the worst of times, and it often leaves us ashamed. Wait. No, not that gas! I’m talking about Gear Acquisition Syndrome.
Jeez, I mean yeah, the other gas can be problematic too. But today we’re talking about the GAS that most of us guitarists deal with. We love gear! I mean, who doesn’t? Some people collect coins, some people collect stamps, and some people have an extensive collection of guitar pedals.
What’s better than picking up a new pedal from your local music shop and adding your new baby to your pedalboard?! But let’s face it folks, unless your last name is Bezos you don’t exactly have a billion dollars to put towards your obsession with gear.
So today we’re going to be looking at some of the best budget friendly pedals (specifically reverb pedals) under $100! And speaking of Bezos, we’re going to be looking at the best reverb pedals under $100 we can find at ol’ Papa Bezos’ factory, Amazon. So, stop looking around your closet for stuff to hock at your local pawn shop like a fiend trying to get their next fix, alright?
Guitar Pedals Under $100
First up: Mooer ShimVerb, digital reverb micro pedal
This pedal is quite dynamic considering it is very much a budget friendly pedal. The ShimVerb has three sounds: it has a spring reverb, a room reverb and a special sound “The Shimmer”.
The spring reverb replicates the reverb we might hear from our tremolo bridge springs, though some people consider that more of unwanted extra noise from the guitar that should be masked, there are some of us who tend to gravitate towards this more natural tone.
The room reverb of course replicates that awesome reverb you might hear in a smaller acoustic space, it’s more like the normal ambience we are used to hearing in the real world. The room reverb provides more of that modern sound, it’s clearer and it’s more robust sounding. Really, this is the reverb you would use for your solos.
But how about The Shimmer? Well, if the room reverb provides more of a modern sound, then The Shimmer is something from the future! I’m talking some real Star Trek stuff here! Not a Trekkie? Hmmm… Star Wars maybe? Anyway, the Shimmer is not at all realistic, but it really is a lot of fun and really takes you to the cosmos with the interesting harmonic sounds it provides.
Next on the Scale: Mosky Spring Reverb Guitar Mini Effect Pedal
This is probably the most basic and straightforward pedal on here. Just two control knobs: Mix and Dwell. Mix controls our wet and dry ration while Dwell controls our bit reduction rate. Essentially your given one kind of reverb and that is a spring reverb with two controls to change its color and intensity.
A straightforward pedal for the most straightforward player or newbie who doesn’t want to get lost in the versatility of an effects pedal.
Introducing one of the heaviest hitters in budget friendly effects pedals: JOYO R-14 Atmosphere Reverb Pedal
Oh Boy! Where to start with this guy?! Unlike our previous selection this pedal has sooo many different sound modes: We’ve got a mix control to change the effect ratio, we’ve got the decay control to set the reverb time, the trail switch which if you have on the “on” position the effect will fade out if you turn off the pedal, and of course we have the control to change between the nine sound modes.
Oh! Did I forget to mention the pedal also comes with these sleek looking LED lights on the top and the bottom of the pedal. There’s also a nice little switch on the back to keep the lights on/off or to synchronize with the footswitch.
Really, these LED lights are purely for aesthetics and do nothing for the tone of you pedal. But still, nice little feature huh?
Next runner up: TC Electronic Skysurfer Reverb Pedal
Now we thought we would include a brand name budget pedal for you players out there who cannot help but be fixated on name brands. Hey that’s ok! No judgement here. Anyway, TC Electronic has for a long time been known as one of the best reverb makers in the business for a long-long time.
They have decided to put some of their design and tonal ingenuity into a compact pedal at a fantastic price! The Skysurfer features three distinct and classic reverb modes: hall, spring and a plate reverb.
And the most affordable on the list: Behringer VD400 Vintage Analog Delay Effects Pedal
It does offer a bit more complexity in range than just the standard spring reverb pedal. It has three controls: Repeat, echo and intensity. The repeat rate controls the delay time (repetition rate), the echo controls the effect output volume, and the intensity controls the number of repetitions.
So yes, this really is the cheapest pedal, but its capabilities are not inferior to the top model reverb pedals. Low price, great opportunities.
And to close the show: JHS Pedals 3 Series Reverb
Yes, I know it is just barely under $100 and with tax it kind of goes over our budget just a bit. But if you can afford to shell out just a few more dollars for this pedal you will not be disappointed I promise!
Another name brand pedal for those players who tend to lean towards big brand gear. This pedal is part of JHS’ new 3 Series and is quickly becoming the new favorite reverb pedal of all JHS fanatics out there.
It has a pre-delay switch that allows you to engage a short delay before the reverb begins. And of course, it has only three knobs which is a characteristic of all the 3 Series effects pedals. Our three knobs are verb, EQ and Decay.
A simple yet elegant design!
Things to Consider Before Buying Guitar Pedals
When shopping around for a reverb pedal or any other kind of pedal for that matter, it’s important to consider a few things.
One, just because one pedal is the most expensive pedal does not necessarily mean that it’s the “best pedal”. Often we get caught up in brands and think “oh that’s a Boss pedal! I know them! I’ve seen them around a lot that must mean it’s the best!” when in fact in the last few years we’ve seen amazing new revolutionary products come out of seemingly nowhere by smaller boutique companies.
Or we’ve seen Chinese companies such as Joyo flip the script on the long-standing reputation of Chinese products being far from good quality.
In 2021 the landscape of the guitar gear world looks vastly different than it did 10 years ago.
We are indeed starting to see more budget friendly gear keeping up with the standards of more costly equipment.
Another thing to keep in mind is the old adage “different strokes for different folks”.
Just because John Petrucci is your favorite guitar player of all time, and he just came out with his own reverb pedal does not necessarily mean that his choice of tone is anything like yours.
When John Petrucci designed his reverb pedal it was to necessitate his tonal needs, not yours necessarily. So, while his reverb pedal sounds good to him running through his gear, it might not sound so hot running through yours.
Also, we need to consider your tonal needs as well. If the only driving, you do is 5 miles from your house to your job every day and you are not really a racing kind of a person then purchasing a Lamborghini might be overkill for you.
If you really don’t require too much reverb time in your music (maybe 3-4 seconds) then you might find that you are better off with a simpler spring style reverb like the Mosky Spring Reverb Guitar Mini Effect Pedal we mentioned earlier.
However, if your tone already has a lot of color already and you are using a distortion pedal or maybe you are using a tube screamer and you really have it cranked to get a lot of gain out of your amp, you might find a lot of use in a pedal such as the JOYO R-14 Atmosphere Reverb Pedal.
You will find that a multimode reverb pedal such as this will give you all the room you need to really dial in your overall tone in the signal chain (i.e., pickups, pedalboard and amp).
So don’t shy away from giving these budget-friendly reverb pedals a chance. Just because they don’t cost an arm and a leg doesn’t mean they’re not going to sound great!