The vintage reverb tones from the new Van Amps Sole-Mate Jr. can breathe new life into old or stale-sounding amps, or can add a second spring-reverb option to a chain instead of a digital replication.

My three go-to amps are a ’70s Simms-Watts, a Matchless HC-30, and an Orange Tiny Terror, depending on my needs (and the quality of available hearing protection on hand, particularly where the Simms-Watts is concerned). These amps have very little in common sonically, but they do share a common fault: None of them have reverb. This was a common problem in the past, and the solution was either getting one of those giant, amp-head-sized tank units, or investing in an entirely different amp. Typically compact and rugged, digital reverb was a good fix when it came around. But until companies like Electro-Harmonix and Malekko dedicated themselves to making good spring replicators and DSP modeling evolved to its present, refined state, digital reverb tended to sound pretty cold.

In 2006, Van Amps released the Sole-Mate spring reverb pedal, which offered a true solution by packing a real reverb tank and solid-state circuitry into a relatively compact stompbox. The new Sole-Mate Jr., however, reduces the footprint even further by removing the tank from the switching unit. Where did the tank go? It’s now connected to the switching unit via an RCA cable, so it can go anywhere you’d like (within a reasonable distance). It can be mounted under your pedalboard, or just sit on the floor next to it. And the design opens up a lot of possibilities for fans of spring reverb that have—because of practicality and space constraints—had to settle for lackluster substitutes.

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