Reverb Tails of Yesteryear
In the year 2015, there are so many crazy expensive reverberators out there for guitarists. There are shimmering, modulated, and reversed verbs that bend and twist the mind into believing one is in outer space. Most of these units have deep editing capabilities—pre-delay, diffusion, hi-cut, lo-cut and software editing. This is great for the studio musician and really fun to mess around with. But, 9 times out of 10, when you try out the haunting beautiful verb you tweaked to perfection in a band situation it either disappears or overcooks when you try to dial it in to the room. The band looks annoyed while you are tweaking instead of rocking. The other guitarist with a good old spring tank-loaded Fender turns one knob and the dripping, mechanical real ambience emits from the cab like a deluge of dry ear quenching deliciousness. The thing always was, not everyone wants to rock a Fender amp.
I remember when Electro-Harmonix released the Holy Grail and people freaked out about a digital spring emulator that could grace any amp with wet splash lacking in their rig. While it did sound awesome for the time, it was big, ringy and finicky with other effects in the chain. Then came the Malekko Spring Chicken, which was built like a Belton-Brick shithouse and sounded immense, intense and awesome, although it could drown out the dry signal at higher settings. Well here we are in 2015 and J. Rockett Audio Designs heeds the call for an updated one-knob spring reverb emulator that sounds as bright, warm and drippy as a Fender Deluxe, without any of the quibbles of yesteryear. Let’s go trippin’.
The first thing that struck me about this Boing box is the subtlety of the wet signal sweep. The big knob on the face of the unit unleashes the floodgates in perfect incremental steps. It is also big enough to adjust with the side of my shoe, eliminating the need for expression pedal control. Even when venturing past midnight on the dial, the dry signal is strong and clear and the pre-delay increases ever so slightly to maintain picking dynamics. Though this is a one-knob wonder, it has been carefully tuned for live use and is completely usable throughout all settings. Signal integrity is a non-issue here. It can add just a dash of splash at lower settings or blast off into full-on Man or Astro-man? at high settings.
The tone of the Boing is based around a Fender Deluxe, which is known for its delicious, more subtle verb than say, a standalone tube-driven Fender spring reverb tank. The drip reacts to the pick attack just like the real deal and one would be hard-pressed to tell the difference either live, or on a recording. It has plenty of headroom for effects loops and strangely doesn’t get too nasty in front of a crunching British amp. Sticking a fuzz or dirt box in front of the Boing predictably accentuates the wetness and sounds awesome for primal Neil Young-style ragged chording.
What we like: Top mounted jacks for penthouse placement, low noise top shelf components, crystal clear analog dry signal and a tangible, palpable ambience, make for a real winner in the spring tank emulation race. The big knob and subtle wet signal sweep are very useful for on-the-fly adjustments and the ability to turn a modern amp’s clean channel into a vintage Fender Deluxe can be real money saver.