The key to reverb is subtlety. Less is definitely more in this case. If you apply too much, your sound gets lost in the reflections, and the wash of notes has tendency to drown out the rest of the mix.
One of the most important factors to keep in mind when you’re dialing in your reverb is the room- your bedroom, garage, rehearsal space, bar gig, club gig, theater show and stadium event will all require different settings. The only thing you can do when you go from one to the next is show up with enough time to dial in a good sound for the room.
If you’re putting your 1st band together and transitioning from bedroom to garage- remember that your garage has concrete floors, which will reflect (reverb) your sound, so you’ll want to set up before the rest of the guys show up and dial in a sound that is right for the room. A professional respects his bandmates time and does this on his own… he does not make them sit there while he experiments with a few dozen possibilities. So, find something that gets close to what you like and adjust to taste when the boys arrive.
When you take the act into the studio more often than not you’ll record dry- that is to say with no reverb. Reverb is something you usually add during the mixing process. This allows more sonic freedom – you can add it, remove it, EQ it… even adjust the slapback tempos to match the full track. Now, this rule goes out the window if you’re working on a vintage amp known for stellar reverb and it’s crucial to your voice.
And when the next shift happens and you’re in front of an audience (this may happen before the studio… maybe after the studio you’re like Rage Against the Machine) you’ll need to keep in mind that the human body absorbs sounds- so again, tune your reverb to the empty room and give it a little more than usual. Then at showtime you can tweak (small adjustments) to taste. Take full advantage of the soundcheck time- with the entire band. Keep notes on every stage and venue you perform in, that way next month when you’re there again, you know how the room reacts to your rig.