Although not as frequently used as the Big Muff or delays the UniVibe has since Dark Side of the Moon been associated with David Gilmour – along with legends like Jimi Hendrix and Robin Trower. Electronic Orange offer a wide range of clones of vintage classic pedals and their Moon Vibe UniVibe clone has gained a lot of praise lately. Here’s my review.
The UniVibe was introduced in the late 60’s. The idea was to emulate a Leslie rotating speaker but the effect turned out to be quite unique in it self. David Gilmour incorporated the original UniVox UniVibe in his rig in early 1972 when Pink Floyd premiered their new piece Eclipse (later released as Dark Side of the Moon in 1973). The pedal was used on almost all of the songs in the set mostly with a slow speed setting but an expression foot pedal allowed faster rotary sounds on Brain Damage. On Dark Side of the Moon the UniVibe was mainly used on Breathe and the pedal was featured on David’s 1973-75 touring pedal board. In 1994 Phil Taylor customized David’s UniVibe into a rack unit with an additional switch for slow/fast speed and dedicated control knobs. The UniVibe rack unit is still in David’s rig.
The Moon Vibe is a clone of the original late 1960’s UniVox UniVibe with a couple of new features and upgrades. It feature the same design based on a pulsating light bulb to control the phase stages. The pedal feature a true bypass on/off switch, a mode switch for classic chorus and vibrato tones, volume and intensity chicken head controls and a large speed control allowing to use your foot to control the speed rate. The pedal also feature internal trim pots for controlling intensity and character of the phasing effect. There’s also an optional buffer stage inside the pedal allowing to choose between vintage and modern character. Check out Electronic Orange’s site for more details.
I’ve tried tons of different UniVibes throughout the years. A very few seems to capture that classic tone while most either tries to alter the effect with new features or doesn’t quite manage to capture the essence of the tone. Still, as with any effect the UniVibe is also a subject of taste and preference. Some prefer a dark throbbing tone while others prefer something closer to a phaser like the excellent RotoVibe by Dunlop. I must say though that the Moon Vibe was a huge surprise and by far one of the best clones I’ve tried.
Compared to most clones the Moon Vibe is able to both sound dark and have those crispy bright tops that add a nice attack to your picking. It blends nicely with your tone and the versatile intensity control allows everything from a slight phasing effect to wild Leslie tones. A common problem with both the original UniVibe and most clones are that they have an annoying volume drop when engaged. Part of that is the nature of the effect and the higher you set the intensity the deeper the throbbing gets and the pedal sounds more dominating. This can be a challenge with the low speed setting needed for songs like Breathe but the Moon Vibe’s volume control allows a slight volume boost that nicely solves the problem. On higher intensity and speed settings the volume boost adds an even more saturated tone. An extra bonus is that the Moon Vibe isn’t much bigger than a TRex or RAT making it perfect for a tight pedal board.
I guess one can debate whether a UniVibe is a must for your Gilmour rig or not. You can easily use a vintage 4-stage phaser like the fantastic MXR Phase 90 ’74 reissue but nothing sounds quite like a UniVibe and the Moon Vibe is an excellent clone capable of producing classic Dark Side of the Moon tones and crazy whammy mayhem Hendrix stuff. The price tag should also fit most budgets. Check out ElectronicOrange.cz for more info and sound clips.