Aspri Reverb System
THE JOURNEY TO STARDOM usually begins the same way for guitarists - sat upstairs in the bedroom, thrashing out Bert Weedon's finest offerings on a completely chronic acoustic. Hardly surprising that most starstruck youngsters want to graduate to an electric as soon as possible. And as soon as they do, they get to spoil themselves with all those clever little effects that make Johnny Famous such a pro.
How can a lowly acoustic compete? After all, acoustic guitars do tend to lack a bit of life, especially if you're playing solo pieces as opposed to a Dylanesque three-chord monotony. The sound is "dry", to put it mildly, and a touch of reverb would give that pro touch and improve the palatability of your ramblings endlessly. But with the natural ambience of your average bedroom? No chance.
What can you do to give you that feeling of playing in a concert hall or recording studio? That's right! Play in a concert hall or recording studio! Without the heavy-duty moolah needed for such pursuits, there's just one alternative. Bin it and buy an electric. Until now, that is...
From a Canadian company, Aspri Creative Acoustics, comes the Aspri Reverberation System - the only mechanical reverb available for acoustic guitars (it says here). Aspri believe their reverb is "a breakthrough in sound enhancement", and on first impressions, they are justifiably proud of their new product.
The Aspri Reverb is very simple in design, being a basic development of an ordinary spring reverb. The unit is housed in a matt black plastic box, which simply clips onto your much-loathed acoustic between the bridge and the foot of the guitar. Depending on your playing technique (or lack of it), you might find the unit getting in the way of your right arm slightly. Inside the box are three reverb strings of about 6" in length. Attached to the soundhole end of these springs is a metal bridge, with three "pickups". These are not electric pickups as you might think, but are merely three thin metal plates which fit under the strings of the guitar at the bridge. The bottom of these plates rests on the bridge nut, while the strings pass over the top of them. Hence the vibrations are passed along the springs and you have instant reverb, amplified in the usual manner by the soundboard. The idea really is very simple, and it seems a bit odd no-one thought of it before. Simple ideas are often the most effective, too - aren't they?
Yes, they are. The Aspri does deliver a full and rich reverberation, with a very natural sound. It also gives the effect of longer sustain. It's always hard to describe the amount of reverb provided by any one method, but it is, err... I suppose, about "average". Imagine playing in a large brick room - your favourite Victorian public lavatory, perhaps.
Regrettably, the Aspri is not adjustable in terms of delay time, and although the effect it produces is very attractive, it could wear a bit thin if used all the time. It certainly has a limited use when playing chords, and really only comes into its own for solo work.
There are other, smaller gripes. When playing harmonics there seems to be a slight clicking sound in evidence as each note is struck, no doubt brought about by the additional presence of the pickup bridge. Adjusting the unit can remedy this somewhat, but not totally. And although the Aspri is easy to fit, it does need to be set up quite precisely to avoid extraneous buzzes and hums.
Apart from this, though, the Aspri "does the business". And it's so simple - no holes to drill, no screws to tighten, no batteries to go flat, no E-numbers, and 100 per cent ozone friendly. It can be fitted to nylon-string, steel-string, six-string or 12-string guitars. Its cost is hardly crippling, and it could give your acoustic, good or bad, a new lease of life.
ASPRI ACOUSTIC REVERBERATION SYSTEM: £32 inc VAT
INFO: Klondyke Trading Company, (Contact Details)
Review by Michael Leonard
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