||Download Example 1
|Recorded with a 1978 Gibson Les Paul Custom into a Fender Twin Reverb Reissue
If there’s one underlying trait gearheads share, it’s a fascination with how things work. Whether it’s the magical combination of maple and mahogany, or the differences between brands and eras of 12AX7 preamp tubes, we’re utterly obsessed with the electrical components within the signal chains that produce our guitar tones.
That obsession is the basis for most small startups that design and produce our favorite boutique equipment. Interestingly, it has also spawned a branch of the industry that allows players to build gear for themselves. Mod Kits DIY is one of those companies, offering pedal and amp kits to players who have a taste for tinkering. With practically non-existent labor costs, Mod Kits DIY can afford to price their products well within the budgets of everyday players. Two of their kits—the Verb and the Persuader (also reviewed)
—offer more than just time-honored reverb effects and tube overdrive. These kits also provide us the satisfaction of building our own tone generators.
As far as DIY circuits go, digital reverb isn’t for the faint of heart. In the world of compact guitar effects, they’re among the most complicated circuits around. Luckily, the Verb avoids the painful aspects of constructing a digital reverb circuit by basing itself around the Belton Digi-Log module—essentially, a reverberation processor encased in a credit card-sized piece of plastic. The component serves as the heart of the pedal, taking care of all the complicated algorithmic processing that several digital chips would normally do themselves. In the end, this made it a snap to put the whole shebang together with minimal fuss. Though the Verb will run on a 9V battery, Mod Kits recommends powering it with a 9V adaptor.
Building a Memory
The Verb’s instructions were very concise. The first few pages serve as a parts checklist, complete with pertinent information regarding the color-coding of resistors and the component values of the capacitors. The wording was large and easy to read—a real benefit. Anyone who has finished an electronics project with dry, sore eyes will totally understand this.
I began by assembling the tag boards in the casing (that’s right, other than the Digi-Log module, the Verb’s circuit is point-to-point) and screwing in the single potentiometer, which controls the amount of the effect. If you build this project, here’s a tip: Make sure the tag boards are a little loose at this point in the process. You need to move them around a bit while you work inside the enclosure. There are a lot of parts packed into the casing, and bolting the tag boards down too tight can make it difficult to fit your fingers in such a tiny area.
Soldering the various components was quite easy, and the instructions were good about noting when not to solder the components because there would be additional leads and components sharing the same space a few steps later.
There were a few times I felt it would have been much easier to solder the components to the tag boards before installing them into the casing. In fact, in several instances, I removed a tag board to make sure I was making a proper solder joint or when I couldn’t safely apply the solder without touching other components.
The real challenge came when routing the wire, which is high-quality stuff, but rather thick. At times, the manual’s recommendations for cutting length were a little too long, and I had to shorten some pieces to allow enough room to close up the back of the pedal without crushing the components inside.
The end result was a killer reverberation tone that was warm and enveloping. With a 2011 Paul Reed Smith Studio into a Fender Twin Reverb reissue, the Verb’s reverb hung with the Fender’s quite well, and offered a tad more thickness. Of course, the Twin has spring reverb, which the Verb isn’t attempting to emulate. Compared to the bouncy, reactive tone of traditional spring reverb, the Verb generates washes of sound. It’s a great pedal for newer forms of post-rock, à la Russian Circles and Explosions in the Sky. The Verb’s ease of use is frosting on a delicious tonal cake.
Click here to read our review of the Persuader...
you value simplicity in controls and features, and you’re satisfied with a single reverb effect.
your thing is spring reverb.