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The Best Reverb Pedals for Shoegaze

The Best Reverb Pedals for Shoegaze

The sonic DNA of shoegaze owes quite a debt to producer Phil Spector, who was a genius of texture, instrumental arrangement and aural impact. His famous, hitmaking Wall of Sound productions in the 1960s presaged a fair amount of what shoegaze became in the late ’80s and ’90s—the blending of sounds and the use of reverb to glue everything together. 

Spector would often have multiple instruments play the same part until they were perceived by the listener as one giant hybrid of sound. Shoegaze, on the other hand, typically mingles instruments in a collective wash, where no one element is explicitly audible. (Spector probably would have hated shoegaze’s buried-in-the-track vocal mixes, as his pop productions showcased singers.) Spector employed the echo chambers at Gold Star Studios, Hollywood, to provide the reverb that bonded the disparate sounds into a massive eruption of ambient power and dimension. Shoegaze uses electronic reverb in much the same way, albeit with far less instrumentation.

We should note that perhaps the very first example of dream pop and shoegaze was not realized by psychedelic rebels, disciples of radical British producer Joe Meek or early experimental-music nerds. Nope. Chalk up that accomplishment to The Beach Boys. Their 1970 song “All I Wanna Do”—written by Brian Wilson (who was massively influenced and inspired by Spector’s Wall of Sound) and Mike Love—presented lots of instrumental and vocal layering, delay and reverb that definitely predicted the architecture of shoegaze. Unfortunately, Wilson felt the song was “boring,” and it was never added to the band’s concert setlist until 2015. Had The Beach Boys heavily promoted the song and style, we might be adjusting the history of shoegaze to 1970s California, instead of 1980s Great Britain.

Eventide Blackhole Reverb Effects Pedal

Certainly, myriad influences imprinted themselves onto shoegaze—’70s punk, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees, to name but a few—but the production concept of bathing instruments and vocals in a gooey, dreamy layer of fuzz, delay, modulation and reverb remains the most critical blueprint of the style’s existence.

Another element is the choice of offset guitars—such as Fender Jazzmasters, Jaguars and Mustangs—used by shoegaze players to manifest the articulate, spiky and, at times, whammy bar-expressed sonics of the wash of effects. Not all shoegaze guitarists used offsets—and more than a few played a number of models by different manufacturers—but the desire to seek out new sound platforms, and perhaps even follow the mold set by The Cure’s Robert Smith with his Fender Jazzmaster in the late 1970s and early ’80s, certainly helped offsets become the visual and tonal standards of shoegaze devotees.

Get the story on two other essential shoegaze effects in the companion articles to this piece on reverb: The Best Fuzz Pedals for Shoegaze and The Best Delay Pedals for Shoegaze, or you'll only get a small part of the tone tale.

While our three shoegaze guides are focused on stompboxes, it should be mentioned that two of the genre’s most influential guitarists often recorded their band’s epic tracks without a reverb pedal.

BOSS RV-6 Reverb Pedal

My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields once revealed his “secret weapons” were a Yamaha SPX90 and an Alesis MidiVerb II—both rack processors. Slowdive’s Neil Halstead and Christian Savill relied on Yamaha FX500 Simul Effect Processors—although precisely when the rack multi-effects made the scene may be lost to history. Even Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins—a seminal and crucial influence on shoegaze and dream pop—tended to use rack gear, such as the Alesis QuadraVerb, Lexicon PCM70 or Eventide SP2016, for his panoramas of reverb and delay.  

None of this means that reverb pedals don’t have the right stuff for shoegaze. In fact, it likely has more to do with seminal shoegaze albums, such as Loveless (My Bloody Valentine, 1991) and Souvlaki (Slowdive, 1993), being produced in recording studios where rack processors were ubiquitous. When it became time to tour behind the releases, the rack gear often made the journey, as well.

Strymon BigSky Reverberator Multi-Reverb Effects Pedal

But perhaps Halstead said it best after Slowdive reunited in 2014, telling journalist Alex Maiolo, “There are so many cool pedals out there now. A great thing about this reunion was that it was an excuse to go out and buy a load of pedals and muck around a lot. Today, pedals are easier to work with, they sound better, and they are just fun.”

So, let’s get on with it…

Table of Contents

Using Reverb Pedals in Shoegaze Music
Top Reverb Pedals for Shoegaze
   Best Pedal for Galactic Ambience
   Best Trippy Reverb Effects
   Best Reverb Pedal for Instant Shoegaze
   Best Reverb Pedal for Sci-Fi Soundtracks
   Best Reverse Reverb Pedals
   Best Reverb and Distortion Combo Pedal
   Best Pedal for Reverb Essentials (and More)
   Best Touch-Sensitive Reverb Pedal
Wet, Wet, Wet

Using Reverb Pedals in Shoegaze Music

You can blur instrumental source sounds, create atmospheric sonic spectrums and expand the dimension of a musical work by using just one reverb pedal. Select a medium to large reverb, adjust the wet/dry mix to taste and have at it.

But you can do so much more.

Walrus Audio Melee: Wall of Noise Reverb and Distortion Effects Pedal

Expand the signal chain. Experiment with sending a reverb pedal into another reverb pedal, combining patches on a device that lets you access more than one effect at a time and positioning pedals in odd configurations—perhaps routing a fuzz into a reverb, then a modulation, a distortion, another reverb, a compressor or treble booster and another reverb. You get the idea. The goal is to see where the magic happens when your guitar signal is sent on a Super Mario Bros.-style mad dash between pedals.

Adjust the wet/dry mix. If more than one reverb is on your pedalboard, play with textures and dimension by setting different reverb levels between the pedals. Try setting, say, a short plate reverb for pedal one with a 50/50 mix, and route it to a pedal with a hall or cathedral reverb set at 100-percent wet. You should hear a nice, punchy reverb in front of a massive, ghostly reverb that bears none of the source (dry) sound. Even if you’re using a single reverb pedal, you can present listeners with a clear yet ambient mix perspective by running the guitar into a huge reverb set to 80-percent wet and 20-percent dry.

Mix modulation with reverb. It’s well known that one of Shield’s sorcerer moves is to produce wavering, floating pitches by manipulating his Fender Jazzmaster’s whammy bar as he strums chords. You can somewhat emulate that mechanical technique by adding some degree of modulation—chorus, phase, vibrato—to the chosen reverb sound if the pedal offers it.

Don’t fear the reverb. Just because you are using reverb pedals doesn’t mean you should shut down the onboard reverb in your guitar amp (if your amplifier has it on tap). Shoegaze is all about layers and textures, so why not blend the springy drip of your Fender Deluxe Reverb with an Eventide Blackhole, slather the reverb of your Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus with a Strymon BigSky, or merge the echo of your VOX AC30 with a BOSS RV-6? “More” can be better, so try not to be reverb timid.

Catalinbread FX40 Soft Focus Plate Reverb Effects Pedal

Top Reverb Pedals for Shoegaze

The following guide recommends specific reverb pedals that can deliver shoegaze-approved production values and creative inspiration. We are not implying that a particular pedal only does one thing well—in fact, all of these reverb boxes possess excellent levels of versatility. However, to help you find the best match for your music and technique, we identified a characteristic or two in each pedal that aligns with a key reverb application for shoegaze. If you desire more information on evaluating reverb processors, read our article, How to Choose the Best Reverb Pedal.

Other resources include our Delay and Reverb Pedal Collection, The Best Multi-Effects Pedals of 2024Finding the Best Guitar Pedal Order, Universal Audio UAFX Pedals and How to Build a Guitar Pedalboard.

Best Pedal for Galactic Ambience

Eventide Blackhole

The Eventide Blackhole Reverb is promoted as "a reverb as big as the cosmos," and its strange, ethereal presets are absolutely shoegaze friendly. The five presets are practically good to go just as they are, but you can further expand the atmospheric moods by adjusting the size, feedback, pre-delay, depth, decay and EQ. In the almost unthinkable event that one of the onboard ambiences doesn't work for you, the Blackhole can access tons more reverb programs by using Eventide Device Manager software, and the pedal can load up to 127 presets via MIDI.

You can dive deeper into the ambient abyss with the Eventide Space Reverb that includes pitch shift and modulation, as well as 12 reverb-combo effects. If you want to upgrade to full-on multi-effects pedals, the multiple reverb algorithms and increased processing power in the Eventide H9 MAX Guitar Multi-Effects and Eventide H90 Harmonizer Guitar Multi-Effects offer stunning sound-sculpting options. Those who prefer to screen gaze while evoking shoegaze can pick up the Eventide Blackhole Native AAX32/AU/VST Software.

Eventide Blackhole Reverb Effects Pedal

Pictured: Eventide Blackhole

EarthQuaker Devices Afterneath V3

Another eerie, atmospheric reverb is the EarthQuaker Devices Afterneath V3 Reverb. The mystical ambience is perfect for performing ghostly volume swells, and the Afterneath can also apply clusters of modulated delays to add mystery and vibe to reverb washes.

EarthQuaker Devices Afterneath V3 Reverb Effects Pedal

Pictured: EarthQuaker Devices Afterneath V3

Best Trippy Reverb Effects

Death By Audio Rooms

The Death By Audio Rooms Stereo Reverb looks like it could be a wall-mounted environmental control for a '60s bomb shelter, and its reverbs can definitely veer towards the sounds of a post-apocalyptic music scene. While you can start off with relatively standard modes, such as Room and Gate, Rooms also provides Wave, Digit and Gong options that can inspire ambient outlandishness for Venusian love ballads, unhinged horror flicks and, yes, dazzling and daring shoegaze textures. But if you ever feel the reverb weirdness is too upfront, Rooms provides independent Dry and FX controls that let you dial in the precise blend of the reverb effect and the source sound.

Death By Audio ROOMS Stereo Reverb Effects Pedal

Pictured: Death By Audio Rooms

Electro-Harmonix Oceans 11

The Electro-Harmonix Oceans 11 Multifunction Digital Reverb serves up 11 different reverb styles with enough signal-chain combinations to spur the creation of shoegaze songs, rhythmic parts and surging textures. You get three conventional reverbs—Hall, Spring and Plate—as well as the shoegaze essential reverse reverb. That leaves seven more programs designed for inspired ambient mayhem. Go for a recirculating plate reverb, a hall reverb with tremolo, modulated 'verbs (chorus, flanger or both at once), gated reverb, infinite reverb, octave-shifted reverb or pitch-shifted reverb. Prefer stereo effects, a bit more parameter control and an additional resonator/filter reverb? Check out the Electro-Harmonix Oceans 12.

Electro-Harmonix Oceans 11 Multifunction Digital Reverb Effects Pedal

Pictured: Electro-Harmonix Oceans 11

Empress Effects Reverb

With four conventional presets (Hall, Plate, Spring, Room) and eight inspired and eccentric algorithms (Ghost, Beer Ringing Destroyer, Reverse Reverb, Ambient Swell and more), the Empress Effects Reverb is ready to blow minds almost as soon as you plug it in. But tone tweakers and sonic voyagers can also get their kicks from the Reverb's intuitive parameter controls. Algorithm updates from Empress can be loaded into the pedal via SD card.

Empress Effects Reverb Effects Pedal

Pictured: Empress Effects Reverb

Best Reverb Pedal for Instant Shoegaze

Catalinbread Soft Focus

The Catalinbread Soft Focus Shoegaze Plate Reverb effects pedal emulates a seminal shoegaze ambient effect—factory preset 40 (Soft Focus) from the '90s Yamaha FX500 Simul Effect Processor—but with more parameter control available than on the original. The FX500 informed the sound of Slowdive's Souvlaki—which is now considered a classic of the shoegaze canon—and Catalinbread's re-imagining of the Soft Focus patch's modulated plate reverb and octave-up signal is spot on.

Catalinbread Soft Focus Shoegaze Plate Reverb Effects Pedal

Pictured: Catalinbread Soft Focus

Best Reverb Pedal for Sci-Fi Soundtracks

Meris Mercury7

Was film composer Vangelis (1943-2022) an influence on shoegaze? Unlikely. But his use of long-decay reverbs and modulated reflections for the 1982 Blade Runner soundtrack did inspire Angelo Mazzocco to design the lush, shimmering and cavernous ambient programs of the Meris Mercury7 Reverb. The almost infinite, wraithlike sustain, coupled with the Mercury7's Pitch Vector, Modulate, Space Decay and Mix controls are perfect for taking your shoegaze tracks to cinematic levels.

Meris Mercury7 Reverb Effects Pedal

Pictured: Meris Mercury7

Old Blood Noise Endeavors Procession

With three modulation settings—Flange, Filter and Tremolo—and a haunting reverb, the Old Blood Noise Endeavors Procession is an amazing tool for film composers looking for inspiration on the sounds of zombie apocalypses, alien takedowns and anything not of this world. The Procession can conjure undulating atmospheres, robot warbles, filtered echoes and more. It can even produce ghostly drones that keep swelling until they’re quite unnerving—thanks to a Hold function that keeps the sustain going as long as your foot is on the switch. There is so much “good” weird in this pedal, that if a shoegaze sci-fi opus ever reaches the big screen, we’d take bets the Procession had a hand in creating some of the sounds the audience will hear.

Old Blood Noise Endeavors Procession Reverb Effects Pedal

Pictured: Old Blood Noise Endeavors Procession

Best Reverse Reverb Pedals

Walrus Audio Lore

Thanks to Kevin Shields' artistic fixation on the reverse-reverb program of a Yamaha SPX90 rack module, you almost can't create shoegaze music without a reverse reverb or delay. The Walrus Audio Lore Reverse Soundscape Generator Delay/Reverb/Pitch/Modulation ups the inverted ante far beyond what an SPX90 can deliver by utilizing two DSP chips (running in series) and two analog feedback paths to generate truly strange and mysterious programs, such as reverse delay into reverse reverb, reverse delay into octave-up reverb, reverse delay into octave-down reverb, reverse delay into forward reverb and pitch delay into pitch delay. Lore lets you fracture time and create ambient dreamscapes that may not be of this world.

Walrus Audio Lore Reverse Soundscape Generator Delay/Reverb/Pitch/Modulation Effects Pedal

Pictured: Walrus Audio Lore

Strymon BigSky

The Strymon BigSky Reverberator offers some very lush basic reverbs—such as Room, Hall, Plate and Spring—as well as at least two options that should delight Kevin Shields fans. For those looking to emulate his reverse-reverb sounds, BigSky includes a Non-Linear preset with three different "backwards" selections—Reverse, Swoosh and Ramp. But there's more. Shimmer gives you two tunable voices to simulate Shields' renowned whammy bar techniques, or you can crank the pitch shifting to muster eerie Martian vistas of weird. Other shoegaze-approved presets on the BigSky include the massive ambience of Cloud, the spooky Bloom, the gradual wash of Swell and the beautifully eerie vocal sounds that hover under the reverb expanses of Chorale.

Strymon BigSky Reverberator Multi-Reverb Effects Pedal

Pictured: Strymon BigSky

Best Reverb and Distortion Combo Pedal

Walrus Audio Melee: Wall of Noise

The layered combo plate of distortion and reverb is one of the cornerstones of the shoegaze sound. The Walrus Audio Melee: Wall of Noise gives you both effects in one box, as well as the power to craft the mix anyway you choose using a joystick. Up and down controls the amount of distortion, and side to side adjusts the reverb level. How fun is that? Three different reverbs are onboard—Ambient, Octave and Reverse—and you can choose whether the reverb is routed into the distortion, or the distortion is sent to the reverb. In addition, you have the option to launch your ambient-saturation mix with no modulation, slight modulation or heavy modulation.

Walrus Audio Melee: Wall of Noise Reverb and Distortion Effects Pedal

Pictured: Walrus Audio Melee: Wall of Noise

Best Pedal for Reverb Essentials (and More)


To be honest, all of the reverb pedals in this guide can do multiple duties for a number of different musical styles. But if you want a super simple and intuitive reverb that can output mono or stereo signals, the BOSS RV-6 Reverb is a great option if you play in a number of bands, and can only assign one spot on your pedalboard to a reverb. The multitasking begins with the usual suspects of Room, Plate, Hall and Spring that can drench anything from rock to jazz to metal and beyond. Shoegazing comes into the picture via the Shimmer, Dynamic, Modulate and Delay+Reverb modes that offer expansive panoramas of ambient vibe. If you have more space on your board and want deeper parameter controls and more reverb modes, go for the BOSS RV-500.

BOSS RV-6 Digital Delay/Reverb Guitar Effects Pedal

Pictured: BOSS RV-6

Best Touch-Sensitive Reverb Pedal

Old Blood Noise Endeavors Sunlight

The Old Blood Noise Endeavors Sunlight is not for the faint of heart. Its Tape, Comb and Pass modes are capable of unleashing synth-like pads, warbly gurgles, ominous drones and more, and none of the sounds like sitting in the background. There is a Mix control if you want a tiny scrap of the source sound to poke through the reverb, but the really brilliant aspect of the Sunlight is the Input setting, which makes the pedal touch sensitive by giving your hands dynamic control over the effects. Play softly and the sound will be relatively clean and dry. Dig in fiercely and the reverb will almost engulf the world. There’s also a hold feature that freezes the reverb decay as soon as you stop playing. The Sunlight is a fabulous partner for shoegaze guitarists who love the off-kilter sonics of experimental music, and who can also handle the occasional shocking surprise.

Old Blood Noise Endeavors Sunlight Dynamic Reverb Effects Pedal

Pictured: Old Blood Noise Endeavors Sunlight

Wet, Wet, Wet

While the divine trinity of shoegaze may be fuzz, delay and reverb, it’s more a trio of equals than three separate aural deities. You need them all working in tandem to craft the expansive wallop of shoegaze, so it’s always a good idea to ensure your mixes showcase a vibey balance of ferocity and ambience. That said, you also can’t go too wrong if the reverb takes over just a bit and increases the ethereal factor of your song. When in doubt, embrace the otherworldly.

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