Review: Fender Dual Marine Layer Reverb Pedal

Subscribe to Mixdown Magazine


Review: Fender Dual Marine Layer Reverb Pedal

Words by Bridgette Baini

Fender Music Australia | | RRP: $499.00

When I found out I was being given the chance to review this pedal I was particularly excited. As a longtime favourite of mine, the original Fender Marine Layer Reverb found its way onto my pedalboard a couple of years back and never left. It’s incredibly vivid and expressive reverb palette proving the perfect addition for the kind of guitar sounds I primarily work with (dramatic, sparse and cinematic).

The Fender Marine Layer Dual Reverb, takes my beloved Marine Layer and ups the ante even more, adding an additional reverb channel and thus doubling the amount of spacial lunacy, expressive sonic placement and erudite effect stacking with it, in a way that could only be achieved by running two single marine layer units back-to-back.

Featuring Hall, Room, and Special reverb selections (all with exceptional clarity thanks to Fender’s uniquely designed circuit) the Dual Marine Layer features two customisable reverb channels, a bypass button, and a momentary switch for the sustain function so you can temporarily prolong the decay time of your reverb. It cannot be stressed enough how expressive and malleable this all is in practise, with the Dual Marine serving as the perfect All-in-One reverb solution from one of the true pioneers of small scale reverb units.

Suffice to say, the everyday guitarist will get bang for their buck with this pedal, with a reverb setting or combination for every season. The Hall is perfect for slower, spacious playing having a good amount of initial “reflections”, and the Room reverb is great for elevating your classic tone to a more dynamic sound. The ‘Special’ is a bit of a mystery but from the sounds of it, it’s a more washy Hall function with shimmer added. This is comparatively one of the wilder selections so proceed with caution.

There is a plethora of combinations between the four setting knobs. You can take the decay knob right down especially on the type 3 – which is the ‘special’ verb – and listen as the early reflections and pleasant artifacts work their magic. Wind it back up, and you get a more controlled, lasting effect, with a lushness that can rival any reverb out there. The modulation knob, allows you to adjust the level of chorus-like effect that can be applied on all reverb options, with just enough tasteful subtlety to prevent it from entering full ’80s mode. 

All selections can be adjusted through the dampening function to round off of some the high end, ensuring your playing isn’t awash with those sometimes-overpowering higher frequencies. The sustain is controlled via  a momentary switch, which is an excellent function to really fine tune the atmosphere of your performance by controlling the exact moments of lingering, glistening tone provided by that iconic Fender circuitry.

The input and output are mono, not stereo. This really isn’t a major problem for most guitarists though, you may encounter a problem if in the recording studio. One feature noticeably absent on the dual version is the dry kill feature, a standout feature on the original Marine Layer and one that was able to be manipulated to interesting effect, on the older circuit.

I understand that I might be in the minority here, but I was really hoping to see this feature return on the Dual Marine Layer – and the sonic possibilities this might bring with it. Even without it, the Dual Marine still offers lightyears more tonal versatility than its singular cousin and is more than worth the trade off.

The Fender Dual Marine Layer stands to be an excellent choice for classic, classy reverb with an impressive range of variations and control of sound, all in one pedal! For those who are needing two reverbs on their pedalboard, it’s certainly a space-saver, and at $499 for the quality and options on offer, it’s decently priced, with the ‘Special’ reverb and sustain function giving it a competitive edge in the range of subtle reverbs on the market.

Of course, there are crazier reverb pedals on the market, even within the Fender range (case in point: the bonkers ‘Reflecting Pool’), but while it might be less suited for the most extreme of extreme reverb sounds, it does tasteful and expressive extremely well and can easily venture into weirdo territory, if and when the situation calls for it. 

For a primary reverb option, the Fender Dual Marine Layer is ideal for those with a flair for the dramatic, who want big and bombastic, but still require a subtle go-to reverb, for when they come back down to earth.

Find out more over at Fender Music Australia.