No matter how innovative things get or what kind of funky units are produced, there is a reason why musicians keep coming back to the classics. Those tones had unique essence that still lingers in our memories and we are ready to sacrifice everything for the possibility to play with those sounds. Fender 6G15, which was a standalone unit in the form of an amp head, was one of the most legendary reverb apparatus to date. It had a special character that was created with tubes and spring plate inside its circuitry. Since its sound was so renowned and different, Catalinbread decided to create a replica in the form of the pedal. They have managed to incorporate the sound of 6G15 in Topanga Spring Reverb and have even maintained the knob layout. I do not want to be a spoiler and ruin all the fun for you, but I have to say this right away: this baby comes close, really close to the original. But if it did not, it would still be badass device. If you want to experience the music of ‘60s and taste the feel of 6G15 without spending too much money, then this article is the perfect place for you. Shall we begin?
With the majority of effects pedals you get what you see. But Catalinbread Topanga Spring Reverb is different as it has some usable features under the hood. Before revealing all the secrets, let’s discuss the things that are on the surface. What we have here is a well-built beast that is comprised with quality material. The outside is sturdy and rugged, making sure nothing breaks on the inside. It truly protects the insides like a mysterious warrior. The chassis is colored with swampy green and reddish orange, making this fella queer and, thus, interesting. More importantly, Topanga Spring Reverb can create diverse flavors of spring reverb (duh) but that is not the only effect you can get out of it. Secretly, it can also produce modulation, however, you have to know how to access it. Well, I will lay my cards on the table and tell you: you have to unplug the power supply, turn the Tone knob fully counter-clockwise and plug in again. This way you can enter modulation mode and get experimental as much as you want. Speaking of the secrets and hidden gems, Topanga Spring Reverb can be operated in True Bypass or Buffered Bypass modes. There is an internal switch that allows you to shift between the two depending on you desires. Unfortunately, this pedal cannot be powered with batteries, which is a bit sad, but most of us still prefer an adapter and it is not that big of a deal. As you can see, Catalinbread Topanga Spring Reverb is full of pleasant surprises and might actually blow your mind once you get your hands on it and start performing. After all, you find a new feature with each playing.
As I have mentioned in the introduction, Catalinbread did its best to replicate the exact character of the Fender 6G15. That did also include the control section, that is why Topanga Spring Reverb has similar knobs to the original unit. But as an improvement, the brand also added Volume control and completed the whole package. If you are not familiar with its vintage predecessor, some of its knobs might be unfamiliar to you. For that reason, I decided to discuss the control section in depth.
The layout itself is quite typical: we have two rows with two encoders in each. The first one features Dwell and Tone knobs. The former modifies, how hard the virtual springs are being hit by the guitar sound (in other words, it changes the intensity of the effect), while the latter acts as a low-pass filter and alters the color of your sound. Mix and Volume are mounted in the bottom row: they blend dry and wet signals and adjust the level of the output, respectively. There is nothing else on the surface except for the footswitch that activates the pedal. On the inside, there is one last switch: it toggles between True Bypass (T.B.) and Buffered Bypass (Buff.). You will have to fiddle around with these in order to find the perfect sounds.
As I hinted in the beginning of this article, Catalinbread Topanga Spring Reverb sounds just as good as Fender 6G15. It has almost the same character: it can be saturated with subtle reverberations or taken to extreme, where vertiginous girth and swirls surround your whole existence. Yes, you heard me, it has some grit at higher settings and that is the very reason why we all loved 6G15. It can be further intensified by placing it in front of a dirty amplifier or after your fuzz boxes. Either way, you will end up with some textured gains that get on with reverb like a house on fire. Topanga Spring Reverb works with clean sounds as well and can add a smooth touch of spacious swirls. As you pair it with the secret modulation, you get the chance to blend the vibes of ‘60s to that of ‘80s and ‘90s. This way your performance will become fuller and richer, with different sounds jumping to the surface when needed. The versatility of Topanga Spring Reverb cannot be denied, as the spring reverb itself has quite a broad range. But once you add modulation and grit to the equation, you are left with a truly diverse beast.
Throughout this article I have reviewed Catalinbread Topanga Spring Reverb in comparison to the Fender’s legendary device. But if the original never existed and this baby was on its own, it would still be an ethereal reverb pedal to play with. Modulation enhances your capabilities quite a bit and makes this unit even more interesting and intriguing. Though I would love to see an external switch for this mode, the end results still force me to make an effort and still use it quite frequently. Try this bad boy out and let’s see if you love it as much as I do. Good luck!
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