Thursday, November 29, 2012

The History of Reverse Reverb

Reverse reverb is a setting that can be used when recording audio to create an effect. This is also called reverse echo and reverse regeneration. It is when the original audio is flipped and then played backwards with the original recording, and causes an echo, making the vocalist sound stronger. Reverse reverb has been used in television production and film making for decades. Reverse reverb is heavily used in horror movies.

Jimmy Page claims that he invented reverse reverb. He says he created the effect when he was recording with The Yardbirds in 1967. Led Zeppelin tracks “You Shook Me” and “Whole Lotta Love” also have this reverb effect in the songs.

Jimmy explains that he came up with the idea because the track he was working on with The Yard Birds was so horrible he needed something to make it sound better, so he played the tape backwards and decided that the echo would sound great at the end of “Ten little Indians”. Since Jimmy was the producer the engineer Glyn Johns had to do what he said and they tried it. The track ended up turning out a lot better sounding after they had an argument about playing the two recordings at the same time.

After the first time Jimmy Page used reverse reverb in the audio tracks, he started to use it a lot more often to make an echo sound more powerful. It was used heavily on some of Led Zeppelin’s albums. Of course, it was then picked up by more artists looking to get an exciting new sound.

If you are looking for ways to make your audio sound more powerful, reverse reverb might be a technique you can utilize. There are many websites where you can get explanation on how to use the reverse reverb technique. Some of the things you can use reverse reverb on include snare drums, staccato guitar, and kick drums.

People say that reverse reverb made the Led Zepplin songs that use it sound a lot better than they would without the effect. Even if you use reverse reverb in your audio tracks, you need to make sure you are using it the right way to make a hit. If you just whack on reverb everywhere in the audio track, the audio will sound horrible. It is the same for every effect you use, especially powerful ones like these. They need to be used in moderation.


  1. Hey Audrey. Nice article! I especially liked your advice on using the technique sparingly. However, your anecdote about how Jimmy developed the technique is slightly off. You've taken two different sessions and combined them as one. It was Micki Most who produced the "Ten Little Indians" tracks (1967) where Page came up with the idea for turning the tape upside down to employ the backwards echo. It wasn't until later (Oct. 1968) on Led Zeppelin I sessions when Page and engineer Glyn Johns argued about the use of it on "You Shook Me".
    The following is from an interview with Guitar World (1993):

    GW: How did you develop the backwards echo at the end of "You Shook Me" ?

    Page: Didn't I tell you about that before? No? Well, I should because it's
    important -- it proves that I pioneered that effect. When I was still in
    The Yardbirds, our producer Mickie Most would always try to get us to
    record all these horrible songs. He would say, "Oh, c'mon, just try it.
    If the song is bad we won't release it". And, of course it would always
    get released [laughs]. During one session, we were recording "Ten Little
    Indians", which was an extremely silly song that featured a truly awful
    brass arrangement. In fact, the whole track sounded terrible. In a
    desperate attempt to salvage it, I hit upon an idea. I said, "Look, turn
    the tape over and employ the echo for the brass on a spare track. Then
    turn it back over and we'll get the echo preceding the signal." The
    result was very interesting -- it made the track sound like it was going

    Later, when we recorded "You Shook Me", I told the engineer, Glyn Johns,
    that I wanted to use backwards echo on the end. He said, "Jimmy, it can't
    be done". I said "Yes, it can. I've already done it." Then he began
    arguing, so I said, "Look, Im the producer. Im going to tell you what to
    do, and just do it." So he grudgingly did everything I told him to, and
    when we were finished he started refusing to push the fader up so I could
    hear the result. Finally, I had to scream, "Push the bloody fader up!"
    And low and behold, the effect worked perfectly. When Glyn heard the
    result, he looked bloody ill! He just couldn't accept that someone knew
    something that he didn't know -- especially a musician! The pompous git!

    The funny thing is, Glyn did the next Stones album and what was on it?
    Backwards echo! And I'm sure he took full credit for the effect"

    Lead Guitar - Led Blimpie

    P.S. we use the technique on "Bron-Yr-Aur" and "When the Levee Breaks" on our album: A Tribute to Led Zeppelin from Hell's Kitchen

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  3. Here we go again. Pagey claiming to have invented something he didn't. Jimmy Page didn't invent reverse echo. A track by Lee Mallory called "That's The Way It's Gonna Be" uses reverse echo/reverb and predates the Yardbirds track by a year.