Ultimate Guide to the Best Univibe Pedals: Detailed Reviews and Buying Tips

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Last updatedLast updated: January 08, 2024
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In the world of guitar effects, the Univibe pedal stands out as a unique, innovative tool that has played a crucial role in crafting iconic music over the decades.

From Jimi Hendrix’s swirling tones to Robin Trower’s thick, chewy sounds, the Univibe pedal has been pivotal in shaping the sonic landscape of rock and roll, blues, and beyond.

This article will guide you through the intricacies of selecting the best Univibe pedal for your specific needs. We have meticulously researched and compiled the best options on the market, providing in-depth reviews, a comprehensive buying guide, and answering common queries in our FAQs section. Your journey toward achieving that classic, mesmerizing tone starts here.

1.

EarthQuaker Devices The DepthsEditor's Choice

Features

Specifications:

  • Effect Type: Optical Vibe
  • Control Knobs: Intensity, Rate, Voice, Throb, Level
  • Bypass: True bypass
  • Power Supply: 9-volt DC
  • Origin: Handmade in Akron, Ohio, USA

EarthQuaker Devices The Depths is our Editor’s Choice, reigning supreme among the best Univibe pedals in the market. Crafted with precision and passion, this pedal houses an optical vibe circuit, a feature that sets it apart from the competition with a broader, more responsive tonal range.

This beautiful, sea-blue pedal is compact and sturdy. With five knobs labeled Voice, Throb, Intensity, Rate, and Level, it offers users exceptional control. It promises not only to elevate your performance but also becomes an aesthetic highlight on your pedalboard.

In terms of performance, The Depths doesn’t disappoint. The Intensity control knob allows you to fine-tune the strength of the Univibe effect, while the Throb knob lets you control the pulse of the low-end frequencies. It’s more than just a Univibe pedal, as it effectively allows you to modulate the vibe effect for a tailored sound output.

The Depths is best suited for musicians who appreciate versatility in their tone. Whether you’re a blues enthusiast seeking a warm, pulsating tone or a rock musician craving a thick, swirling soundscape, The Depths has got you covered. The Voice and Rate controls provide additional flexibility, letting you adjust the midrange focus and the speed of the effect, respectively. These unique features make The Depths an invaluable tool for guitarists from diverse genres.

What differentiates EarthQuaker Devices The Depths from its competitors is its unmatched tone shaping capability. While most Univibe pedals provide standard control over depth and speed, The Depths’ extra controls for voice and throb set it in a class of its own.

Of course, no product is without its limitations. The Depths, while being a top-tier Univibe pedal, lacks an expression pedal input. This feature would’ve provided more real-time control over the effect, a capability much appreciated by many performing artists. However, the wide tonal range and unique control features still make The Depths stand out.

What makes it special?

  • Exceptional tonal range with warm, vibrant output
  • Unique voice control allows for midrange focus adjustment
  • Throb control enhances low-end pulse modulation

What cons did we find?

  • Lack of expression pedal input limits real-time control

2.

Dunlop JD-4S RotovibeBest Dynamic Control

Features

Specifications:

  • Effect Type: Chorus/Vibrato
  • Control Mechanism: Treadle to control effect’s intensity
  • Bypass: True bypass
  • Power Supply: 9-volt battery or Dunlop’s ECB003 9-volt adapter
  • Additional Feature: Built-in footswitch

The Dunlop JD-4S Rotovibe, second on our list, is a unique Univibe pedal that blends the characteristics of a rotary speaker and a wah pedal. Its innovative design and responsive performance set it apart from most Univibe pedals in the market.

Upon first glance, the Rotovibe strikes with its distinctive design. Housed in a sturdy, wah-style chassis, it features a large treadle and a single control knob on the side. The treadle adjusts the depth and speed of the effect in real time, while the side knob allows for control over the overall intensity.

Regarding performance, the Rotovibe is in a league of its own. Its main advantage lies in its dynamic control, behaving much like a wah pedal. The Univibe effect responds to the intensity of your foot movement, giving you extraordinary control over the rate and depth of the effect.

The Dunlop JD-4S Rotovibe is an excellent fit for guitarists who wish to add a dynamic, expressive quality to their performances. Its hands-free operation makes it an ideal choice for performers who like to adjust their effects on the fly. It allows for a versatile range of tones, from a slow, hypnotic swirl to a fast, pulsating tremolo, depending on how much pressure you apply to the treadle.

What separates the Rotovibe from its competitors is its unique, expressive control interface. Unlike most Univibe pedals, which are controlled by a set of knobs, the Rotovibe uses a treadle, just like a wah pedal. This feature enables a more interactive performance, allowing guitarists to manipulate the effect in real time with their foot.

However, while the Rotovibe offers exceptional control, it may not be the best choice for those who prefer a traditional, knob-controlled Univibe. Additionally, its larger size compared to typical compact Univibe pedals could make it a tight fit on crowded pedalboards.

What makes it special?

  • Unique treadle control interface for expressive, real-time manipulation
  • Versatile tone range
  • Robust, durable design

What cons did we find?

  • Larger size could be cumbersome on crowded pedalboards
  • May not suit those who prefer knob-controlled Univibe pedals

3.

MXR M68 Uni-Vibe Chorus/VibratoBest for Classic Tone

Features

Specifications:

  • Effect Type: Chorus/Vibrato
  • Control Knobs: Speed, Level, Depth
  • Bypass: True bypass
  • Power Supply: 9-volt DC or 9-volt battery

The MXR M68 Uni-Vibe Chorus/Vibrato, fourth on our list, offers a convenient and affordable solution for those seeking classic Univibe tones. It provides the signature Univibe chorus and vibrato effects in a compact and robust package.

The M68 sports a purple finish and features a trio of control knobs for Speed, Level, and Depth and a Vibe button to switch between chorus and vibrato modes. Despite its simplicity, the M68 can deliver a rich tonal spectrum, from subtle, watery shimmers to deep, pulsating swirls.

In terms of performance, the MXR M68 shines. It provides the luscious, psychedelic tones associated with the classic Univibe in a reliable, pedalboard-friendly format. The controls’ simplicity also means it’s easy to dial in your desired tones quickly.

The M68 is excellent for guitarists who value simplicity and classic Univibe tones. It’s also a fantastic option for those new to Univibe effects who want an uncomplicated introduction to this type of pedal.

Its simplicity and affordability differentiate the MXR M68 from other Univibe pedals. It delivers the essence of Univibe effects without the complexity and cost associated with more advanced models.

However, while the simplicity of the M68 is a significant advantage, it may not satisfy those seeking more control over their tone. The lack of additional parameters for tone shaping could limit its appeal to more experienced users. Despite this, the M68 is a solid choice for those seeking classic Univibe effects in a simple, affordable package.

Why did it make our list?

  • Simple, user-friendly controls
  • Compact, robust design
  • Provides classic Univibe tones

What is not ideal about it?

  • Limited tone-shaping controls may not satisfy experienced users

4.

TC Electronic Viscous VibeBest Digital Univibe

Features

Specifications:

  • Effect Type: Univibe (Chorus/Vibrato)
  • Control Knobs: Speed, Intensity, Volume
  • Bypass: True bypass
  • Power Supply: 9-volt DC
  • Additional Feature: TonePrint enabled

The TC Electronic Viscous Vibe ranks third on our list, bringing a fusion of tradition and modernity to the world of Univibe pedals. A digital recreation of the legendary Shin-ei Uni-Vibe combines classic Univibe tones with contemporary features, setting a new standard for Univibe pedals.

The Viscous Vibe presents a sleek, compact design with a black finish and a trio of knobs labeled Speed, Intensity, and Volume. It offers a user-friendly interface with the added benefit of digital technology, which allows for presets and TonePrints.

The Viscous Vibe excels in terms of performance. Its digital circuitry accurately replicates the hypnotic tones of the original Shin-ei Univibe, providing the legendary chorus and vibrato effects loved by countless guitarists. Furthermore, its TonePrint technology offers unlimited tonal possibilities, allowing users to upload custom-made tones or download tones created by famous artists.

The Viscous Vibe is best for guitarists who cherish the iconic Univibe tones but also desire the flexibility of digital technology. Whether you’re a vintage tone purist or an adventurous sound explorer, the Viscous Vibe caters to various musical preferences.

What sets the Viscous Vibe apart from its competitors is its TonePrint technology. This feature lets you customize your tone to the finest detail or mimic the tones of your favorite artists, a functionality rarely found in traditional Univibe pedals.

However, while its digital nature presents several advantages, it might not satisfy those who yearn for the organic warmth of analog Univibe pedals. Despite this, the Viscous Vibe remains a top contender in the Univibe market, offering an impressive blend of classic tones and modern features.

What makes it stand out?

  • Accurate digital recreation of the legendary Shin-ei Univibe
  • TonePrint technology for unlimited tonal possibilities
  • User-friendly interface

Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?

  • May not satisfy those who prefer the warmth of analog Univibe pedals

5.

JHS Unicorn V2Best Tap Tempo Feature

Features

Specifications:

  • Effect Type: Univibe with tap tempo
  • Control Knobs: Volume, Speed, Depth, Ratio
  • Bypass: True bypass
  • Power Supply: 9-volt DC
  • Additional Feature: All-analog signal path

Fifth on our list is the JHS Unicorn V2, a pedal replicating the legendary Univibe in all its analog glory. The Unicorn V2 offers the luscious, pulsating tones of the original Univibe while adding tap tempo and subdivision controls for enhanced flexibility.

The Unicorn V2 boasts a simple and appealing design, with four knobs (Volume, Speed, Depth, and Ratio) and a tap tempo footswitch. Despite its compact size, the pedal offers a wide tonal palette, with the ability to achieve slow, undulating waves or fast, intense pulses.

The Unicorn V2 performs superbly, delivering warm, organic Univibe tones. Its tap tempo and subdivision controls add a layer of flexibility, making it easier to sync the Univibe effect with your music.

The Unicorn V2 is ideal for musicians who want a true analog Univibe with added modern features. Whether you’re playing in a band and need to sync your effects to the music or a solo artist seeking lush, psychedelic textures, the Unicorn V2 has got you covered.

The standout feature of the Unicorn V2 is its tap tempo control, a rarity in analog Univibe pedals. This feature offers a level of control and flexibility that can significantly enhance live performances.

However, while the Unicorn V2 is a fantastic Univibe pedal, it falls slightly short in terms of tonal versatility. The lack of a mode switch to toggle between chorus and vibrato effects might be a downside for some users.

What makes it special?

  • True analog Univibe tones
  • Tap tempo control
  • Compact and robust design

What cons did we find?

  • Lacks a mode switch for chorus and vibrato effects

6.

Electro-Harmonix Good VibesBest Value for Money

Features

Specifications:

  • Effect Type: Chorus/Vibrato
  • Control Knobs: Intensity, Speed, Volume
  • Bypass: True bypass
  • Power Supply: 9-volt DC or 9-volt battery
  • Additional Feature: Expression pedal input for real-time control

The Electro-Harmonix Good Vibes concludes our list, offering a fresh and vibrant take on the classic Univibe effect. A perfect blend of old-school tones and modern features, the Good Vibes delivers the best of both worlds.

The Good Vibes sports a colorful design that reflects its lively character. It offers intuitive controls, including knobs for Volume, Intensity, and Speed, and a switch to select between Chorus and Vibrato modes.

In terms of performance, the Good Vibes lives up to its name. It delivers rich, warm Univibe tones, from subtle chorus effects to deep, pulsating vibrato. Its high-quality analog circuitry ensures an authentic Univibe experience, while the expression pedal input offers real-time control over the Speed parameter.

The Good Vibes is an excellent choice for players seeking a vibrant, expressive Univibe pedal with real-time control capabilities. Whether performing on stage or jamming at home, the Good Vibes offers a tonal experience that will inspire.

What sets the Good Vibes apart is its expression pedal input. This feature allows you to manipulate the Speed parameter in real time, adding an extra layer of expressiveness to your performance.

However, while the Good Vibes offers a lot, it’s not without its flaws. Its larger size than other pedals on this list might be a disadvantage for those with limited pedalboard space.

What are our favorite features?

  • High-quality analog circuitry
  • Expression pedal input for real-time control
  • Vibrant and expressive tones

What could be better?

  • Larger size might be inconvenient for some users

Things to Consider

Choosing the best Univibe pedal for your music setup can be challenging, particularly due to the wide variety of options available. But you can make an informed decision with a clear understanding of what makes a Univibe pedal special and how various factors might impact your choice. This buying guide is designed to help you navigate the realm of Univibe pedals, shedding light on the key considerations and helping you identify the most important features for your unique needs.

A Deep Dive into the Univibe Effect

The first step in your quest for the best Univibe pedal is to truly grasp what the Univibe effect is and why it’s sought after by musicians worldwide. The Univibe was initially designed in the 1960s to emulate the doppler effect produced by a rotating Leslie speaker. The end product, however, was a unique sound that blended elements of vibrato and phase shifting, resulting in a lush, pulsating, and utterly distinctive effect.

The Univibe effect has graced countless recordings over the years, from Pink Floyd’s “Breathe” to Robin Trower’s “Bridge of Sighs“. The swirling, hypnotic sound takes listeners on a sonic journey and makes the guitar sound like it’s gently undulating on a liquid surface. To better understand the Univibe effect, consider the Dunlop JD-4S Rotovibe, our Editor’s Choice. It offers a stunning rendition of the classic Univibe effect, with controls that allow you to seamlessly switch between chorus and vibrato modes, just like the original units.

Analog vs. Digital Univibe Pedals: A Critical Choice

You’ll encounter analog and digital models when browsing through Univibe pedals. This distinction can profoundly impact the sound and functionality of the pedal, so it’s crucial to understand the differences.

Analog Univibe pedals, such as the JHS Unicorn V2, replicate the Univibe effect using physical, electronic components. Many guitarists and audiophiles believe this approach delivers a warmer, more organic sound closer to the original Univibe units of the 60s. However, analog Univibe pedals are often more expensive and usually lack the advanced features found on digital models.

Digital Univibe pedals, like the TC Electronic Viscous Vibe, use digital signal processing (DSP) to emulate the Univibe effect. Although some might argue that digital models don’t quite capture the warmth and depth of their analog counterparts, they typically offer greater versatility. For instance, digital Univibe pedals often allow presets, allowing you to save and recall specific settings. Some even offer connectivity options like USB ports for firmware updates and custom tone downloads.

Decoding Univibe Controls and Features

A Univibe pedal’s controls and features can significantly influence its tonal capabilities and ease of use. Let’s look at some of the most common controls you’ll encounter:

  1. Speed: This control adjusts the rate at which the Univibe effect oscillates. You’ll get a gentle, undulating effect at slower settings, while faster settings result in a rapid, pulsating sound.
  2. Intensity (or Depth): This knob alters the strength of the Univibe effect. Lower settings produce a more subtle, nuanced effect, while higher settings produce a more pronounced, intense modulation.
  3. Level (or Volume): This control determines the pedal’s overall output, allowing you to balance the volume of your dry signal with the Univibe effect.

Some Univibe pedals, like the EarthQuaker Devices The Depths, provide additional controls for voice and throb, giving you even more tonal shaping possibilities.

Beyond these basic controls, some Univibe pedals offer advanced features that can greatly enhance their functionality. For instance, the JHS Unicorn V2 includes a tap tempo footswitch, which lets you sync the Univibe effect with your music’s tempo with a simple foot tap. This feature can be invaluable in a live setting, allowing you to adjust your effect’s rate on the fly without bending down to tweak a knob.

Considering Size and Durability

Another critical factor to consider is the physical size of the Univibe pedal. If your pedalboard space is limited, a compact Univibe pedal like the MXR M68 Uni-Vibe Chorus/Vibrato could be a more practical choice. It offers the signature Univibe tones in a space-saving design, ensuring you can fit it onto your board without sacrificing other essential pedals.

Durability is another crucial factor, especially if you plan to use your Univibe pedal for gigging. The rigors of transport and regular stage use can take a toll on any pedal, so selecting a model with a robust, rugged build is important. The Electro-Harmonix Good Vibes, for instance, is known for its durable construction, capable of withstanding the demands of even the most rigorous touring schedules.

Balancing Quality and Budget

Finally, you’ll need to consider your budget. The cost of Univibe pedals can vary widely, with more expensive models typically offering better sound quality, more features, and superior build quality. However, there are plenty of budget-friendly options that still deliver impressive performance. The MXR M68 Uni-Vibe Chorus/Vibrato, for instance, is a highly affordable pedal that still manages to provide the essential Univibe tones.

Keep in mind that while price can often be an indicator of quality, it’s not always the case. Sometimes, you might be paying for a brand name or features you might not necessarily need. Therefore, consider your needs, and choose a pedal that offers the best balance of price and the most important features.

In conclusion, finding the best Univibe pedal involves understanding the Univibe effect, considering the pros and cons of analog and digital models, understanding the controls and features that will serve you best, considering the physical dimensions and durability of the pedal, and of course, considering your budget. By considering all these factors, you can find a Univibe pedal that perfectly suits your playing style and musical needs.

FAQ

 
 

While Uni-Vibe and chorus pedals might seem similar as they modulate the guitar signal to create a warbling effect, they are different. The Uni-Vibe was originally designed to mimic the sound of a Leslie rotating speaker often used in organ music, giving it a distinct, swirling, phase-like effect. On the other hand, a chorus pedal splits the guitar signal into two, alters one, and mixes it back with the original, creating a ‘chorus’ effect. While both can achieve lush, modulated tones, they do so in different ways and have their unique tonal characteristics.

Jimi Hendrix, renowned for his innovative and experimental guitar sounds, used the original Shin-ei Uni-Vibe. The pedal was designed to emulate the doppler effect of a rotating speaker, but it created a unique phaser-like sound that Hendrix famously utilized to create his signature psychedelic rock sound. The Dunlop JD-4S Rotovibe is a modern pedal that closely emulates the original Uni-Vibe used by Hendrix.

The placement of the Uni-Vibe pedal in your signal chain can significantly affect your overall tone, and whether it should go before or after the overdrive is ultimately a matter of personal preference. However, there are some commonly followed guidelines in the guitar community.

If you place the Uni-Vibe before the overdrive, you will get a more subtle, smoother modulation effect as the overdrive tends to compress the signal. This setup can be more akin to how Jimi Hendrix, who famously used a Uni-Vibe, had his setup since he often played a distorted amp with the Uni-Vibe going into it.

On the other hand, if you place the Uni-Vibe after the overdrive, the modulation effect will be much more pronounced and apparent because it is acting on an already driven signal. This setup can lead to a more dramatic, psychedelic sound.

Again, it’s important to experiment with both placements to see which sound you prefer. There’s no right or wrong here – it’s all about achieving the tone you find most pleasing and suits your playing style.

Final Thoughts

After extensive research and comparison, we have presented the finest selections of Uni-Vibe pedals that currently hold sway in the music world. All our top three picks – EarthQuaker Devices The Depths, Dunlop JD-4S Rotovibe, and MXR M68 Uni-Vibe Chorus/Vibrato – are capable of delivering a broad spectrum of lush, swirling tones that can enrich your musical repertoire.

The EarthQuaker Devices The Depths, our Editor’s Choice, leads the pack with its incredible tonal flexibility and unique voice knob, offering a rare blend of vintage and modern vibes. Not far behind, the Dunlop JD-4S Rotovibe boasts robust construction and a dynamic, expressive sweep control, making it a go-to for many professionals. The MXR M68 Uni-Vibe Chorus/Vibrato, meanwhile, stands out with its compact size and straightforward controls, offering a perfect balance of convenience and quality tones.

Selecting the best Uni-Vibe pedal is a personal journey, depending on your musical preferences and playing style. Whether you’re seeking to recreate the iconic psychedelic rock sounds of the ’60s or charting a new sonic territory, these pedals offer a great starting point. Remember, the best Univibe pedals can transform your sound and bring your music to life. The choice is yours, and the sonic landscape awaits your exploration.

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