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SurfGuitar101 Forums » Gear »

Permalink Zoom Reverbs - do I need to buy a higher quality verb pedal?

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Hello my fellow surftarists. I have always had a love for surf guitar. Lately (the last 5 years) I have been playing John Lee Hooker style blues. I recently attended a Dick Dale concert here in Nashville (awesome)and he has me back on the surf drip. I have to admit that my MS100-BT Zoom pedal has been handling most of my affects for the last few years. I do have some nice hand wired drives, a good delay, fuzz etc. but I have never owned a quality reverb pedal.

I almost always run a drive pedal to a delay to a verb. Pretty simple setup. I have a Quilter 101 coming this week and have been doing lots of reverb searches. The MXR reverb unit sounds good to me, the Catlinbread oil delay also seems weird and cool. The Surfy Bear is interesting but large and I'm not sure of the price. I had an HOF delay that promptly stopped worked the first week so I'm not going there again.

I have the MS100BT and a G1ON on the way. Are the reverbs in these units close to a high end reverb pedal or should I find a pedal that just does reverb? Pedal suggestions? Run what I have on my Zoom boxes?

I have also been looking at 3 in 1 pedals. The Rumble Seat is interesting but it only has a single reverb knob. A singe pedal that did drive/delay/reverb would be a great single solution.

I have been doing a lot of searching and thought it might be best to get the opinion of true reverb players like yourselves. Thanks in advance!

Here is the vid I shot at the DD show:

Awesome vid!

Addressing just a couple of your topics,
I would say that for best sound quality and overall feel and expressiveness,
the Surfy-Bear is no 1. If Dick Dale is the sound you're aspiring to, again, nothing else comes close, other than a a full tube unit.

The cost of the kit it as advertised on the website, add to that a suitable pan (can be had for $15-$25) and the rest is up to you, or whom you pay to build it for you.

Close enough though, and cheap enough, and plenty available is the Boss FRV-1.

I wouldn't personally recommend any Zoom unit, specifically for reverb, but in the right hands anything can work, of course (Band situation needs to be tested as such). The question is how easy, and what usable range of sounds you're left with.

However, if you have sound devices coming your way that are capable of reverb, I'd recommend to evaluate their capabilities to the max before you make any other purchase. Use it to the fullest, you will probably find settings that you like, that complement your playing style and give you a better understanding of their limits.

Last edited: Jul 18, 2016 11:45:29

+1 on the Surfy Bear. The cost depends on how basic you want to go and how much you can scavenge, with an enclosure and a power supply being some obvious items. It also depends on what tools you have or can borrow, but the effort is well worth the end result.

Great DD video! Thumbs Up

My Classic Instrumental Surf Music Timeline
SSS Agent #777

Disclaimer: My involvement with guitars, associated gear and surf is all less that 3 years old - although I have immersed myself quite heavily in it all over that time!

During those years I have splashed out (sorry!) over £300 Great British Pounds on a variety of pedals - incl. Boss FRV1, Danelectro Spring King and MojoHand Dewdrop. All OK (well actually I was a bit disappointed with the Spring King). If anything I have preferred the Dewdrop in conjunction with a Behringer EM600 echo pedal.

However, for about what I have spent on pedals I was recently lucky enough to acquire a Fender 63 RI reverb unit. No contest.

Obviously I'm not saying it's the only option (although I thought I read somewhere that Dick Dale uses 2 in his stage shows..) - and the Surfy Bear has a lot of fans on the site - but personally I've come to the conclusion that the source of the "spring" is in tube driven spring reverb units - and it might be worth sticking with what you have and holding out until a good deal comes along...

As I say - just one opinion amongst many! Good luck with your search - the chase is half the fun!

Wherever you go, there you are

Catalinbread Topanga will get you there too.

Either you surf, or you fight.

I say go Surfy Bear. It's spot on and cheaper. Use a readymade enclosure (e.g., 18" toolbox) and it can be done for $100. In my first wave outfit, we've determined there is no difference in reverb quality between the Surfy Bear and an expensive Gomez tank built like a vintage Fender unit. Only difference is visual & intellectual, but if you would consider a Zoom or Boss pedal, there is no issue there.
If you can solder a lead and drill a hole in sheet metal, your assembly skills are par for Surfy Bear.

Squink Out!

Though the SurfyBear build might seem a bit daunting at first, it really is pretty easy to do (I've built two with no problems). However, if you are patient you might be able to buy a complete unit.

Quoting Lorenzo from the SurfyTrem thread:
"we will redesign the SurfyBear also to make it a proper product, in a sellable enclosure like the SurfyTrem."

It will be interesting to see what he and Bjorn come up with!

Bill S._______

HELLDIVER on Facebook

I build amps, guitars, fly drones, etc so soldering and building are my thing but that Surfy Bear appears to huge. I'll hit the page and do a total for everything in cost to get an idea on that aspect as well.

Last edited: Jul 18, 2016 16:05:15

This is where you find everything you need to know.

It is ment to be huge. It should be hauled in a van with the rest of your gear. I can assure you you'll never touch a stompbox reverb again, and you couldn't care less if is was twice as big. It's big brother, the fender tube reverb has the same effect. Some of us carry more than one of these monsters to every gig or rehearsal and they can all testify it's worth the trouble. By the way, I built my SurfyBear for less than 50 bucks.

PM me if you'd be interested in checking out a Surfy Bear and/or a Topanga first hand, I live near Nashville.

IMO both are great units but the SB seems more inspiring when it's in my chain.


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Last edited: Jul 20, 2016 00:00:40

The Surfy Bear is not huge at all - It's a complete Printed Circuit Board that fits well into a small stomp box. But the reverb pan is what makes a complete unit bigger - and which makes it sound like a real spring unit as opposed to digital simulations. The difference is noticeable, but main stream audience will probably not notice (then again, surf audience probably is not mainstream, but pretty guitar savvy). I think there are many surf bands who live with a digital spring reverb, but once you've been true spring, I doubt you'll ever go back digital.

What I'm saying: if you don't need a cable and gear enclosure for your gigs anyway (I love the tool box approach), build a stomp box with an external reverb pan just connected via cinch cable. I'm thinking of building a second unit where the reverb pan would be screwed to a board, and right at the end of it the stomp box, making a handy device only about 2“ longer than the pan alone... Or make that 4“ longer and add your SurfyTrem stomp box, for a basic floor effects board - Guess which shape such a “Surf(y) Board“ unit (to stick with bjoern's wording) just had to have... Don't know if bjoern and Lorenzo already have a design for the fully assembled series unit, but if you guys want to use this idea, consider this design as my contribution to Bjoern fantastic project that made spring reverb available for everyone Smile ).

Last edited: Jul 20, 2016 01:20:50

I have the Zoom MS-70CDR and have been very pleased with the unit. Incredible bang for the buck imo. The "63 Spring" gets really close and the other reverb settings sound great as well.

I also have a Boss FRV-1 and prefer the Zoom over it.

If ALL you're going for is the trad-Surf sound ala Dick Dale then buy a tank I say. I use a Texotica tank sometimes and it definitely delivers. That said, I typically play songs by other artists like Link Wray, LSJ, etc, and prefer to have the Zoom on hand for different reverbs and delays.

METEOR IV on reverbnation

Last edited: Jul 20, 2016 06:07:39

My 2 cents is the Surfy bear. it is Fun to build and great to play through. I like it so much that I am considering getting a second one as a backup, just in case. ( also to try a different pan for sonic experimentation....)


I am not obsolete, I am RETRO.... Cool

We've used and still use the Zoom MS-50, Boss FRV-1 a 90's reissue Fender Tank, a '63 Fender Tank and now the Surfy Bear as well.
The Surfy Bear is undoubtably and logically the closest to the tank, pretty dead on actually but we've played many shows with the Zoom pedals and FRV-1 and nobody noticed.
One thing I really like about the Zoom reverb is that the guitar retains it's punch and clarity. You can have a pretty deep reverb setting on it and the original guitar tone doesn't get buried.
I'm probably one of the few who doesn't get caught up in purity and also will sacrifice some interaction or old school sound for portability and or flexibility.


Thanks for all the great info and input! The search for "my" perfect reverb pedal seems to be a bottomless pit of fun and research! I don't doubt the Surfy Bear is right there at the top but I don't play out and I'm sure it would only live in my guitar room. But I have not ruled it out. Good stuff y'all!

Here are some of my tracks using my Zoom gear:
Misirlou de Hell -

Surf Core -

Apache -

Last edited: Jul 20, 2016 11:14:26

Just buy a used Fender RI tank and swap out the tubes for NOS. Simple and not too expesive. If a used Gomez G-Spring pops up, even better.

DrBillyHell wrote:

I have to admit that my MS100-BT Zoom pedal has been handling most of my affects for the last few years.

Hi. You didn't mention if you had the "63 Spring" emulation installed on your MS100BT, That would be the cheapest option to get you up and running.

I do. I use that and HD.

I couldn't google reverb pedals anymore and went to my local guitar store and bout a Wampler Faux Reverb. Very springy without sounding digital. It may not splat but it sure sweetens up everything and makes my 12 inch sound huge. It can surf and when double up with a second reverb it's more surfy. Not a tank, not a Bear but pretty damn sweet. I appreciate all the comments. This is running through a Quilter 101 - WOW!!

Last edited: Jul 23, 2016 14:47:19

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