Guitar Reverb Goes “Unplugged”
History is full of thinkers who were inspired by everyday objects: Newton and his apple, Archimedes and his bathtub. For Roberto Aspri, it was his mattress. Noticing the way sound echoed through the coils, Roberto theorized that springs could be used to build an acoustic guitar reverb that wouldn’t require electricity. Roberto, a Canadian attorney who’s also recorded as a pro guitarist, would run the concept by numerous fellow musicians, incorporating ideas from the likes of Liona Boyd and Alexandre LaGoya. Later, he’d take it to Québec’s leading industrial design lab, CRIQ, as well as other industrial designers who helped engineer the finished product. The Aspri Reverb debuted as the only guitar reverb system to operate with no electrical input, capturing the sound and feel of a concert hall in a compact unit that goes anywhere a guitar can go.
How does the Aspri Reverb work? The unit is clipped to the guitar through a simple setup process, sliding in between the bridge and the bout with no modifications to the instrument. Reverberations from the strings are transferred through the device’s coils from the pickup bar to the bridge of the guitar, causing the soundboard to vibrate with rich, expansive tonal quality. True to its promise of totally unplugged performance, the Aspri Reverb requires no batteries, amplification, computer connection—or any power input whatsoever. As its design team describes it, the reverb effect emanates from the soundhole of the guitar itself, setting it apart in the world of reverb units.
Aspri Reverb’s original model, the Clásico, was designed for classical and flamenco guitars and made to install on instruments with a standard bridge and nylon strings. Since its debut two years ago, the Clásico has won accolades from top talent in the classical guitar world including fingerstyle player John Hasbrouck, who called its effect “absolutely magical” and Mario Sebastian (Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez), who said, “It inspires and truly captivates you.” More recently, Aspri added the Acero model—Spanish for “steel”—which was designed for use on flat-topped, dreadnought-style guitars with steel strings. Considered one of the company’s most crucial developments to date, the Acero has helped Aspri Reverbs take hold in markets where steel-string acoustics dominate; notably North America and Asia. All told, many thousands of Aspri Reverb units have been sold in the U.S. and Canada, as well as markets including Germany, Spain, Italy, Malaysia, Japan, Australia, and the Netherlands.
Based in Montreal, Aspri Reverb is headed up by Roberto Aspri, CEO, and his son Alan Aspri, president, who comes from a background in cinematography and marketing. The company has earned a Canada Award for Business Excellence in the Industrial Design category, as well as the Prix Graphisme Québec for the originality of its packaging. The device has also been featured in Québec City’s Musée de la Civilisation as an example of Canadian inventiveness.
Still considered a startup, Aspri Reverb has been selling direct since its inception. Over the coming months, however, the company plans to make the transition into music retail channels. Meanwhile, its design team is exploring reverb units for other acoustic instruments, along with additional accessories for the guitar. “There is a big comeback to the roots of acoustic guitar playing, and that ‘unplugged’ sound,” says Alan Aspri. “So there’s a place for innovation.”
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