Do It Yourself seems to be a pretty popular theme these days. People are trying to get the most out of the almighty dollar and with a little elbow grease you can score a really nice sounding reverb pedal. I’m talking about The Verb Deluxe reverb pedal kit by Modkits DIY. It is helpful to develop at least a basic knowledge of electronics and soldering before taking on a project such as this. However, I will say that if you are adventurous and a good self learner then the kit is not impossible to complete as a first project, because the directions are so thorough and really guide you to success.
This circuit is based on the Belton Digi-Log Mini which is a reverb chip designed by the same company that designed all of the best Spring Reverb tanks of yesterday, Accutronics. This particular chip is the Long version which is slated to deliver up to 2.85 seconds of Reverb Time when the decay is cranked at maximum. Hardware-wise, the unit has Mix, Dwell and a bypass stomp switch as well as Mono 1/4″ In, and Stereo TRS 1/4″ Out. The unit can be powered by battery but the manual reccomends a standard 9V power supply as it can be a power hungry unit.
The process of building this pedal was tedious at times. There are no PCBs (Printed Circuit Boards) in this build. That means that all the components are soldered to terminals that connect the elements together. The manual often warns you to leave enough room for components that may share a terminal later in the build. I strongly recommend taking this advice as things can get quite crowded. I was a bit intimidated when I saw pictures of what a finished pedal looked like inside. Never fear, the manual is very detailed and has you do everything in the perfect order. I had a fair bit of experience with audio electronics, and despite this being my first pedal, I completed the build and had a working unit at the end. Solder some cables or wire up some utility items like passive DIs or a Cable Snake to gain some experience soldering and you should be fine.
The sound of this pedal varies quite a bit when playing with the balance using the Mix and Dwell knobs. When settings for Mix and Dwell are generously turned clockwise, the unit has a cavernous cathedral-esque vibe that sounds a bit washed out in the higher frequency range. I found it to be quite pleasing and perfect for times when you want a smooth ambient texture. I actually have it hardwired to my 8-Track 1/4″ Reel to Reel’s effects send. I find it to be great as a general reverb buss sound. When tested on guitar I played around with the Mix and Dwell knobs a bit more. At modest Dwell settings the reverb sounds like a Small Hall or Small Room preset on any Lexicon or similar Reverb Unit. What it doesn’t really do is get the kind of spank you’d expect out of a classic Spring Reverb you’d associate with Surf Rock. The washed out highs really smooth it out and make it pleasing in a different way. I found it cool that by using a TRS 1/4″ to Stereo 1/4″ Y-cable you can split the output to Stereo. This is a great addition and makes it even more useful for studio applications.
For less than $100 this pedal is a steal. It requires assembly, but it’s not that bad. I say give it a shot. I really like the ambient vibe of this effect and how deep and cavernous it cant get. The pedal’s circuit sounds really good and clean. The build was a little rough at times, but the instructions were very easy and saved the build from being as tedious as it could have been. All in all I’d say Mod Kits DIY have a nice product here. More folks need to have the courage to build their own gear. –Gus Green