Who doesn’t love reverb? Whether it’s from an old Fender Deluxe Reverb or a super-tweakable digital unit, most of us would agree that being enveloped in the lushness of a verbed-out note is a thing of beauty. But for all the shapes that reverb takes, there’s something about a spring reverb that’s still special. Maybe it’s the way those vibrating springs colored everything from surf to country to psychedelia in the first two decades of rock ’n’ roll, but the appeal is undeniable.
Though the Surf Rider isn’t a true spring reverb, the device recreates the tone and response of a spring unit with remarkable accuracy. All this in a box that fits on your pedalboard and you don’t have to handle with kid gloves.
With its black and turquoise color scheme, script lettering and wave graphics, the Surf Rider looks like a matchbook from a funky old coastal motel. The control set, however, reflects a modern sensibility toward tailoring your reverb sound. The Res (resonance) control tailors the virtual size of the reverb tank from long to short, Depth sets the intensity of the reverb, Level is a blend control that goes from dry to soaking wet, and Tone lets you dial in how dark or bright the reverb sounds.
Ride the Wild…
I played the Surf Rider with a variety of amplifiers, including a Rivera-era Fender Concert, a Mojave Dirty Boy, and even Overloud’s TH-2 amp modeling software in Pro Tools. Operating the unit is straightforward, easy, and lends itself to a lot of fun exploration. To get a haunting, almost volume swell-like wash, I set the Level to 2 o’clock and pulled the Tone down to about 10 o’clock to reduce the brightness. This yielded a gorgeous lushness that was both beautiful and eerie. There was not a hint of harshness in the tone, and notes simply rang out and then sank gracefully back into the abyss.
To get that killer Dick Dale sound (which he gets by running through a ’60s tube-driven Fender Reverb unit), I cranked up the Tone and turned the Res to the lowest setting to get the longest tank simulation. With the Level up higher and the Depth fairly high, you could hear those chaotic and wild elements that make this tone so cool—a sound at which the Surf Rider excels.
But the Surf Rider doesn’t only excel at the wild and crazy. It does a fine job of adding a little extra touch of depth and size to notes without getting in the way. And even with the Level way down, the additional texture made a beautiful and tasteful addition to any clean guitar tone I threw at it.
SolidGoldFX has done a great job of capturing the sound and spirit of a vintage spring-reverb unit without the size and maintenance issues that go with the territory. Perhaps the only thing missing from the Surf Rider is being able to kick it and get the springs to bark like on a vintage amp, and—depending on your musical values—that might not be such a bad thing. For me, the Surf Rider’s stability and solidity is a winning combination. Given how authentic this pedal sounds— and that it’s priced at a fraction of a vintage or reissue standalone Fender unit—it’s a pretty good deal too.
the only thing that stands between you and vintage spring reverb tone is the hassle of tubes and maintenance.
more contemporary and programmable digital reverb is essential to your sound.
Street $225 - SolidGoldFX - solidgoldfx.com
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