Pillars of Control
The Coliseum, which honors its namesake with cool Roman column graphics, is housed in a small MXR-style brushed aluminum chassis that will fit even the most real estate-challenged pedalboard. Although there are plenty of reverb pedals out there with features like stereo ins and outs, and 10 different parameter controls, the Coliseum offers simplicity. There are just two knobs—Level and Tone—plus a mini toggle switch that selects Room, Spring, or Grand Hall. ModTone’s designers seem aware that most players are conditioned to set a reverb level on their amp and leave it there, rather than tweak it on the fly. So it’s impressive to see how much range the Coliseum delivers with a streamlined and easy-to-navigate control set.
With an Ernie Ball/Music Man Axis Sport in hand, I tried out the Coliseum with a variety of Fender amps. To start, I paired the Coliseum up with a silverface Vibro Champ, a silverface Princeton Reverb, and a ’63 Vibroverb reissue. With the Coliseum set to Spring, Level around 1 o’clock, and Tone around 10 o’clock, my vintage Vibro Champ twitched with new life and sounded a lot like the tiny Fender I’ve always wanted. Comparing the Coliseum against my Princeton Reverb and Vibroverb reissue offered other insights. The Coliseum’s Spring and Hall settings got me in the same ballpark as the reverb-equipped Fenders, but there were times when the Coliseum’s reverb sounded richer than the Princeton’s onboard reverb. It may just be a matter of preference in this case, but for my money, that’s a mighty impressive feat on the Coliseum’s part—and fellow musicians in the room were inclined to agree.
The Grand Hall setting is a lot of fun, and this is where players used to the limitations of onboard amp reverb can spread their wings. With the Level around 12 o’clock, I got a subtle, almost slapback delay effect that fits well into traditional rock ’n’ roll and classic rock settings. But when maxed, I was treated to an extremely lush cloud of reverb with a long decay time that sounded great with Eric Johnson-style open-voiced triads and intricate, volume-swelled chords. Usually when I play those types of atmospheric figures, I like to add delay for ambiance, but the Coliseum was so full sounding on its own that delay was almost redundant.
With the Coliseum’s Tone rolled off, I got an ultra-warm sound, and when I turned the Tone way up, it almost sounded like a church organ. This latter sound is fantastic for chords and arpeggios in slower, quieter frameworks. In both extremes, the Coliseum was extremely musical and never sounded artificial. The Grand Hall setting was even useful with single-note lines that would typically sound messy with a reverb this cavernous.
The Coliseum is an excellent reverb pedal that could be the perfect complement to a reverb-less vintage amp or take the place of a lackluster amp reverb. Its small size and relative affordability make it doubly appealing. And given its range of reverb effects, it has to rank among the best bang-for-the-buck reverbs available today.
you want an affordable reverb pedal with a wide range of ’verb types that can fit on even the smallest pedalboard.
your amp has your reverb needs covered.
Street $129 - ModTone Effects - modtone-effects.com
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