A few months ago I got a lead from a friend on some old recording gear stashed away in a musty basement. Specifically vintage Ampex and Scully tape machines. I went to check it all out but found that most of the tape machines were in pretty rough shape, and besides the last thing I really need at this point is more tape playing/recording devices. The guy also had about fifteen old televisions and over twenty groovy rotary dial and early touch tone phones. As I was about to leave, with nothing in hand, I spotted a Fisher SpaceXpander spring reverb high up on a shelf. I'd heard about these rare units as being THE spring reverb that Jamaican dub innovator King Tubby used. I'm a huge fan of his work. If you've ever heard Tubby's dub mixes then you'll know exactly the reverb sound I'm talking about. It's crude, boingy, crazy, yet incredibly beautiful sounding at the same time. I have been wanting a SpaceXpander for years and was so happy to have finally found one. The price was right too!
The Fisher SpaceXpander reverb was originally made in the 1960s and marketed for use with car stereos. It consists of a stand-alone tube preamp and a reverb tank. It's hard to imagine that there was a time when people would add their own reverb to the radio or whatever record they were playing at the time. There were actually a few of these types of spring reverbs marketed for home stereo use in the 60s/70s made by Pioneer and Sansui. The Fisher, however, is a bit of an oddball because it was meant to be installed in a car. As anyone who's had experience with spring reverbs knows, if you move them around a little too much, the springs make a loud thunderous crash sound. Could imagine what would've happened if you'd hit a bump in your 1969 Buick Skylark ... BOOM CRASH!!
See this video of me running a quick and dirty drum track through the Fisher SpaceXpander. Yep it's dirty alright but so cool.