Posts Tagged ‘ToneCandy Spring Fever’

Greasing Your Sound

As I do practically every Friday night, I did my solo acoustic gig last night. Normally, I use a PedalTrain Nano board on which I put my modulation effects so I don’t have to lug around a big board. But because I re-wired my main board (shown above) and had to use the 5-plug extension that I use on the Nano (didn’t have enough time this week to get a replacement), I lugged my main board to the gig. As an aside, during summertime, I play in the middle of a fairly busy area at the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, CA, and even though my area is partially roped off, it was funny yesterday to watch people’s reactions to my board, with all the different colors, but also pretty cool, as there were a few obvious gear sluts who passed by and saw all the boo-teek bling on my board and looked at me with knowing smiles. Must’ve been fellow TGP members. 🙂 But I digress…

Anyway, what I was absolutely loving last night was my ToneCandy Spring Fever. Tone-wise, I’ve never heard a pedal so closely simulate a spring reverb tank. It’s absolutely uncanny the reverb sound that the Spring Fever produces. But it’s also absolutely finicky with power supplies. But admittedly, I’ve had a bit of a love/hate relationship with that pedal ever since I got it. If you don’t match it with a power supply that it “likes,” it’ll hiss. It’s also sensitive to dirty power sources. Oy-vay!  The weird thing is that it hated my Dunlop DC Brick, but since I re-wired my board and power it with a simple 1-Spot, it somehow likes it. Go figure. The 1-Spot is not regulated like the DC Brick, but for some reason, the Spring Fever works great with it. Oh well, mine is not to question; mine is to simply appreciate and enjoy the goodness this pedal produces. 🙂 One thing I also discovered last night is that the Spring Fever takes awhile to “warm up;” like 20-30 minutes of being switched on. When it’s cold, switching it on and off will cause a bit of a pop. But once it’s warm, it’s absolutely silent. As far as last night was concerned though, I was loving it so much that I simply kept it on all night (I played for 5 hours with only two breaks), and adjusted the amount of reverb as needed.

Now I don’t want to paint a bad picture of this pedal. Although I discussed its idiosyncrasies above, and those could be construed as negatives, they’re not negative enough – especially once I found a power supply that it likes – to make me poo-poo the pedal. Now that I’ve worked through the issues, I don’t think I’m going to ever get rid of it. I actually had it up for sale on CraigsList, but have since removed the listing because last night made me a total believer in this pedal, which brings me to the crux of this article.

Reverb is an interesting effect. As Doug Doppler puts it, reverb adds a bit of “grease” or smoothness to your tone when used sparingly. But setting it is tricky. Add too much and it makes your guitar sound like it’s in a cavern with sound bouncing all over the place, turning your tone to mush; add too little, and it’s like you’re not adding anything. But dialing in just the right amount into your signal provides a certain smoothness and a subtle touch of reflectivity that seems to make your tone float in the air. Plus, that reflective quality gives the perception of your volume being louder as there’s seems to be more presence. That’s the “grease” as your tone seems to just slide right out of your amp as if on greasy skids.

And there’s a lot to be said about an analog circuit versus a digital. The Spring Fever utilizes an analog circuit. What has always struck me about it is that it just seems to have so much more sonic content than the digital versions I’ve used. For instance, I have another fantastic reverb in the Hardwire RV-7 Reverb. But having done a side-by-side comparison between the two, the Hardwire’s digital spring – Lexicon model, no less – is lifeless compared to the Spring Fever’s. That said, I don’t use the spring setting on the RV-7. I love the RV-7 for its hall and plate reverb settings, of which I have found no match. But for spring, ain’t nothin’ mo bettah than the Spring Fever, save an actual long-spring reverb tank.

Yeah, I can get Dick Dale surf with the Spring Fever, but I use it mainly for “grease.” When I want a more expansive, ambient tone, I’ll kick in the Mad Professor Deep Blue Delay. With the Spring Fever set for grease, I can use the DBD with the Spring Fever on, and not produce mush.

So you might be wondering at this point – since I’ve mentioned it a few times – how the hell do I get a “grease” setting? The bottom line is that it boils down to personal preference. However, for me, it’s the point just short of where the reverb feeds back, producing that familiar reverb “bounce.” But just before that point, at least how I perceive it, my tone is more expansive but it doesn’t reverberate a lot or “bounce.” Kind of hard to explain. It’s a setting that while you’re playing, you don’t really notice it. But if you turn it off, you know something is missing. The effect is similar to using an aural enhancer like the BBE Sonic Stomp, or even using mild compression. You don’t really hear what it does while you’re playing, but you know when it’s off. That’s the nature of adding reverb “grease.”

I have to admit that it took me a long time to find that point – like a few gigs till I got it dialed in. And that’s with any reverb that I used. It was a bit easier to dial in the Spring Fever as you only have Reverb (Dwell) and Mix. It took me longer to dial in the RV-7 to the grease point because it has Level, Decay and Liveliness, plus different reverb voicings. But once I got the settings to the grease point, I just keep the reverb on all the time.

When I need more reverb, I just turn up the mix. But usually, what I really want is more ambiance, so I kick in my Mad Professore Deep Blue Delay. I think that’s the reason for me keeping the reverb sound subtle. When I want a more ambient tone, I lean towards a more haunting color. To me, a delay does that much better than just adding more reverb. And set for “grease,” the reverb’s touch of reflectivity really enhances the delay, which is also why I run it after the delay. It’s all about the grease…

Read Full Post »

No, not the sexual kind – though we do like that – but the spring reverb kind. 🙂 Specifically, I’m talking about the Tone Candy Spring Fever. I reviewed the Spring Fever back in May, and gave it a 4.5 Tone Bones. But now that I’ve got it and after spending a few hours with it last night, I’m now giving it 5.0 Tone Bones! Here’s why:

  1. As I said in my original review, the Spring Fever is just about the best spring reverb pedal I’ve ever played. It sounds incredibly realistic, and unlike many of the digital varieties I’ve played, while it’s jangly with some top-end, it also doesn’t lose bottom end, so your tone stays nice and rich. That’s a little disconcerting to some folks because they’re used to a brighter tone, but for me, the retention of the bottom end is really what sold me on its tone, plus with the Spring Fever, you can go from subtle spring ‘verb, to rich, spacious, swirling surf tones, so there’s lots of variety on tap.
  2. What I didn’t get to test out in my original audition of the Spring Fever was its Volume knob which also acts as a clean boost if you turn the Reverb and Mix knobs all the way down. I’m not sure how much boost the pedal adds, but there’s enough boost on tap to slam the front end of your amp with loads of gain.

I particularly like the Volume knob because it solves a real problem for me when I play my acoustic gigs at venues where I have to plug directly into a PA board. My acoustics’ pickups don’t have much gain, and I usually have to crank up the volume faders on the board, which can be problematic as it makes it difficult to balance out the guitars’ volume with my vocals. I’ve solved this in the past by lugging my Presonus TUBEPre preamp with me, but that’s a bit of a pain to lug (read: extra gear, not because it’s heavy), and requires a separate 12V power supply. The Volume knob on the Spring Fever eliminates the need for me to bring a preamp with me. Nice.

If I have one complaint of the pedal, it has to be its finicky nature with power supplies, and will add some noise to the signal. Mike Marino explains this on the Spring Fever product page, and recommends some power supplies to use, such as the 1-Spot. I used the 1-Spot in my clips, and when the Spring Fever was activated, there was a slight, but noticeable hiss. This has to do with the power supply, and not the pedal. This also happens when I use my MXR Carbon Copy with the 1-Spot. When I hook it up to a regulated power supply like a Dunlop DC Brick, the pedal is as quiet as can be. So despite Mike’s recommendation about the 1-Spot, don’t use it. Get a regulated power supply like the DC Brick. Luckily, I have an extra DC Brick, so that will be powering my mini board.

How It Sounds

As I said, the Spring Fever is about the best spring reverb pedal I’ve ever played! Capable of producing a wide range of reverb, this pedal will be a permanent fixture on my board! I’ve still got to play around with it some more, but I recorded a few clips to give you an idea of what it can do. The clips below were all recorded using my 1958 Fender Champ output to a Jensen Jet Falcon 1 X 12. I start out each clip with a dry signal, then play it again with some “grease.” What that pedal adds with respect to spaciousness is amazing! All the clean clips were recorded at unity volume, while the dirty clips were played with the amp turned up to about 2pm, and the boost at 1pm with Mix and Reverb completely off. I wanted to demonstrate the clean boost and its effect on an overdriven amp.

Les Paul, Middle Pickup, Fingerstyle. Reverb: 11am, Mix:10 am

Left Channel: Les Paul Middle Pickup, Reverb and Mix same settings as above
Right Channel: Les Paul Neck Pickup, Reverb: Dimed, Mix: 8pm

I love the right channel track on this clip. Turned up all the way, you get this cavernous room sound, but with the Mix set real low, it becomes a much more subtle effect, providing almost a delay-like ambience without the echos.

Squier CV Tele Middle Pickup. Reverb: 10am, Mix 10am
MXR Carbon Copy with long delay time, Mix at about 10am

Les Paul Middle Pickup (biased toward bridge), Volume: 2pm, Mix/Reverb Off

Squier CV Tele Bridge Pickup (biased toward bridge), Volume: 2pm, Mix/Reverb Off

Overall Impression

Yeah, it’s pricey at $275, though you can find it at a lower price if you look. But I haven’t heard as a good a spring reverb pedal like this – ever. And the fact that it has a booster in it just rocks! For me, and especially for my acoustic gigs, this is a game changer!

Read Full Post »

ToneCandy Spring Fever Reverb

Summary: Just about the sweetest spring reverb pedal I’ve ever heard, plus the pedal sports a nice, transparent clean booster that you can even use on its own!

Pros: I’ve heard simulated spring reverbs before, and they’ve been nice, but not THIS nice! Supposedly modeled after the original BOSS spring reverb sound, but takes it way ahead!

Cons: Very very pricey for a just a reverb with boost. Also, doesn’t run on batteries


  • Volume knob acts as a transparent clean boost
  • Reverb knob acts as a “dwell.”
  • Mix knob controls the amount of wet/dry signal (this is a very nice feature)
  • True bypass
  • All analog except for the simulation chip
  • Can do the full range of spring reverb from adding a tinge of grease to heavy surf.

Price: $275 Street

Tone Bone Score: 4.5 ~ I was completely blown away by the sound of this pedal, but the price completely scared me away. If cost isn’t an in issue for you, you’ll find none better than this!

Being friends with guys at a music shop can be incredibly useful, since they’ll show off their new stock; plus, knowing that I may buy it if they show it to me, they don’t hesitate to show it off. 🙂 Luckily, I usually have enough self-control to not buy most of the stuff they demonstrate.

I have to admit, though, that I was VERY tempted to get this pedal because I haven’t heard one like it – ever! It can slather on the ‘verb quite nicely and note clarity is retained at any setting along the reverb knob sweep. Obviously ToneCandy figured out some great values for pre-delay and trail. I just couldn’t get over how great it sounded with chord progressions and single note picking!

In fact, A/B’ing it with a Fender Deluxe Reverb Reissue just blew me away! It sounded even better than an actual spring reverb! Fender spring reverb, at least to me, is the gold standard in spring reverb, and for a pedal to sound even better than that, well, needless to say, that made a compelling case to get this reverb pedal. Add to that a completely transparent boost, and you’ve got a great pedal that you can put at the end of your signal chain and get all sorts of usage out of it! I could feel the GAS really starting to build up.

Then I asked the price, and my eyes bulged! At $275 for the pedal, that made my GAS go away pretty quickly. If price wasn’t an issue for me, I’d totally go for this pedal, but unfortunately, at that price, I started thinking, “I could get a couple of decent pedals, or even a nice Squier for close to that price.”

Needless to say, I didn’t get the pedal, though I do have to applaud ToneCandy for coming up with a fantastic spring reverb tone. Maybe if I can find one used in the future for a lower price I’ll get it. But for now, I’ll just gaze at it in the glass case when I go to the shop…

Here’s a sound sample:

Read Full Post »