188 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2009 www.premierguitar.com
12V AC wall wart, but the ASR- 1 also has two
internal 9V DC batteries that can be used for
power. Both chassis are covered with either a
Tweed fabric or brown, cream or black Tolex,
in addition to a host of custom colors.
Other identical features are two footswitches
on the top of the chassis: one for switching
the reverb on and off (doesn’t affect the dry
signal) and one labeled “Aux”, which allows
a cable to run from the footswitch jack of a
built-in effect or an amp channel switch to the
aux input jack, which allows centralized control of both parameters.
The ASR- 1 is not useable with amps with a
single input jack, and efforts to Y-cord the
outputs together creates a dangerous feedback loop. It is, however, useable with one
channel amps that have two inputs by using
the output control to bring the reverb signal
up to desired level in the mix. The Sole-Mate
was created for those amps with a single input
jack. Another difference between the two units
is that the Sole-Mate has a reverb status light
and a power light, while the ASR- 1 does not.
I tried out the Sole-Mate first and found it to be
very sweet sounding. The delay was of medium
duration and the tail had that full, sustained
sound that seems to be the hallmark of the great
spring units. I thought the tails sounded especially good in the higher ranges, a place where
some reverbs sound a bit harsh. I also found
the overall sound a bit on the dark side, which
wasn’t bad, but I found myself wishing for a bit
more tone control—not a biggie, though.
The dwell control took us from a shadow of
reverb to full-out cavernous thunder. Fender
has the surf sound locked down, partially
because of the behavior of the longer springs
mechanically, and partly because of the longer delay, so it was difficult to get what I considered an authentic surf tone. Nonetheless,
the Sole-Mate is definitely a first-rate spring
tone for everything else, and VanAmps
informs us that there is a long decay spring
tank available on special order that will bring
the performance solidly into the surf realm.
The ASR- 1 solved the tone problem by its
split output. Using a two-channel amp, I
could adjust reverb tone to taste using the
EQ of the dedicated reverb channel. The unit
itself seemed to have higher output than the
Sole-Mate, and it had a bit of a tendency to
feedback and overdrive the amp at ridiculously high settings. It was, however, nice to be
able to place a distortion device on the clean
output and not have to deal with the questionable sonic qualities of a distorted reverb.
What was really cool was using a separate
amp for the reverb signal and putting some
space between the two amps, which yielded
reverbzilla in stereo.
The obvious comparison question is VanAmps
vs. Fender. For my money, I’m taking the Van.
It fits in my gig bag and has all the sweet
Reverbamate ASR- 1
reverb I need. If you’re a surfer dude, get the
Fender and plug her into your dual Showman
with JBL’s. The Reverbmates’ shortcomings
were few, but included the lack of a tone
control on the Sole-Mate, and no lights on
the ASR- 1. Both Van units “boinged” when
hit or dropped, but nowhere near as bad as
the Fender units. Don’t plan on doing a lot of
stomping, and, in fact, place the unit where it
will be safe from trauma and vibration. More
soul and less sole.
you want to add great-sounding reverb
to your non-reverb amp.
you don’t use, or already have, good
reverb sounds; or if you play surf music.
Rating... 4. 5
Click here to hear sound clips
of the units in action at