Akron, Ohio is home to one of the most innovative companies who make bass and electric guitar pedals. In point of fact, EarthQuaker Devices might be the most noteworthy company of any kind to come out of the midwestern city. Nevertheless, the masters of sonic mayhem at EarthQuaker have once again built a truly unique pedal— the Afterneath.
As a guitarist for over 15 years and the owner of a Fender Twin for over 10, I know a thing or two about great sounding reverb. In fact, I pretty much refuse to go without it. Rather than a creative tool, or an “effect,” I’ve come to take reverb for granted as an essential component of my regular guitar tone. But while the Afterneath is marketed as a reverb guitar pedal, it’s certainly far more.
It would be much more appropriate to call it a reverberation contraption that generates atmospheres rather than tone. That being said, if you’re looking for a regular reverb pedal you’ll really want to look elsewhere. You can’t turn it on and forget about it. You need to actively use it as a creative tool. The Afterneath combines both reverb and delay in a very novel way to create something new altogether. To put it most simply, it’s really trippy. But we’ll get into that a bit more later. For overdrive, we’ve done a Tube Screamer Mini review, so if you’re not interested in reverb or delay that’s where you want to be.
A magical design.
If you’ve ever seen any EarthQuaker pedals before, you probably first noticed that they all have very striking designs. Thus, it’s hardly a surprise that this one’s got a cool paint job of a shadowy wizard standing in a watery cave. But given the Afterneath’s sound, the wizard is actually a totally appropriate symbol for the pedal—if not a warning. Until now, you’d practically have to be a wizard to produce these enchanting sounds.
To control this weird effect, you’ve got 6 black potentiometer knobs and a sturdy metal switch to activate it. Like many pedals, you’ve got a handy LED light to indicate when it’s on. Granted, you’d probably have to be deaf or on acid to not realize when the Afterneath is active.
In terms of inputs, the Afterneath guitar pedal comes with a mono ¼ input and output as well as a 2.1mm negative centered barrel that takes standard 9-volt DC power supplies. If you’ve got a dedicated power supply for multiple pedals, be aware that the Afterneath draws 65 milliamps. If your power supply doesn’t have enough at least 65 milliamps to spare, the pedal won’t function properly. But most importantly, be sure to not attempt to run the pedal on higher voltages. This will destroy the pedal.
Which knob does what?
To better understand what I’ve been raving about in terms of this thing’s sound, it will help to take a look at its controls. Length
When turning the length knob you can control the decay length of the reverb. According to EarthQuaker this will allow you to reproduce concert hall-like reverbs as well as many different kinds of plate reverb sounds.
The diffuse knob will adjust the spread of the reverb. To get a sharper attack, you’ll need to turn it counter clockwise. For a more ambient and washy sound, you’ll need to turn it clockwise. Moving on to the dampen knob, you can achieve brighter and more treble filled tones by turning it clockwise. To get darker, warmer, and more mid and bass heavy tones turn the dampen knob counter clockwise.
The drag knob is what really makes the Afterneath guitar pedal so special. In short, it allows you to mess with the timing of the reverb as well as the added delays. In essence, you can speed up or slow down the reverb with it while adding a bunch of digital short delays. By turning it counter clockwise; you’ll get a more delay-based sound that can have a stuttering or pingy kind of effect. By turning it clockwise, you’ll get an increasingly more reverb-based sound. If you want to emulate the sound of a space ship reaching warped speed, you can slowly turn the drag knob as you let notes ring out.
With the reflect knob you can control how the reverb is being regenerated or echoing. To get an increasingly wavy and washy sound you can turn the reflect knob clockwise. If you turn it up really high it will begin to self-oscillate creating a tidal wave of crazy feedback repeats.
The mix knob will allow you to choose how much of your original signal you’d like to have blended into the effect. However, since it’s still a reverb pedal, turning it all the way up won’t get truly be a fully wet signal as reverb can’t really work without some of the original sound used to produce it.
Like many of EarthQuaker’s pedals, you can also use the Afterneath with any bass. Though it sounds fantastic on guitar, it’s also equally awesome to use on bass. In some ways, it’s actually even more unique of a sound on bass since so few bassists experiment with such ethereal and psychedelic sounding effects. Moreover, it doesn’t really muddy up your tone like you might expect. Instead the notes still stay very articulate, and you’re left with a massive otherworldly sound. Here you can see the monstrously talented Juan Alderete—formerly of The Mars Volta—test out the Afterneath on a Fender Fretless Jazz Bass.
A truly unique guitar pedal
As I’ve said before, there’s really nothing else on the market quite like it. Granted, with a regular reverb pedal and a very hefty delay—or maybe even two—you might be able to create something similar. But I really couldn’t guarantee it. If you’re looking for something truly unique to experiment with or something to set you apart from all the standard effects tones, the Afterneath is for you.
While it’s a tad pricey, it’s totally justified by how special it is. Although it can produce perfectly good reverb drenched tones, it would be a bit overkill for trying to play something like surf rock. In reality, it would turn out like surf rock played in a subterranean cave inhabited by elves.
This is to say the Afterneath is probably better suited for fans of Pink Floyd and Radiohead rather than more traditional rock, jazz, or metal players. In the odd event that you’ve made it this far and still want a more traditional reverb pedal, I’d highly recommend the Catalinbread Talisman Plate Reverb. That thing is totally gnarly and in some instances, I’d recommend over the legendary spring-tank reverbs of Fender amps. If you’d like to see a hands on review of the Talisman or any other pedal, be sure to leave a comment!
“Unique, nothing like it. I tried them all. This one is my fave.”
“I love this pedal! so, dreamy.”
“Other than being unique it was a blast to play with. It provides a lot of intriguing soundscapes.”
“Nice alternative to delay/echo and spring reverb”
Measures: 4 5/8″ x 2 1/2″ x 2.25″ with knobs
Power: 9 volt DC power with a 2.1mm negative center barrel.