Iâ€™ve been reviewing quite a few Uni-Vibes lately and it seems that the classic effect is more popular than ever, with several new models emerging each year. While most clones are based on the original Shin-ei, Effectrode has tackled the design with a different approach by adding a tube preamp to the circuit. Hereâ€™s my review of the Tube-Vibe.
The original late 60s Uni-Vibe was huge. It was a beast and by no means a perfect design being very noisy and not really sounding like the intended Leslie. But, thereâ€™s something about that large box that, at least to me, adds to the whole legend and experience of the Uni-Vibe. The Tube-Vibe is housed in a rugged and lovely powder coated chassis, with chrome hardware and thick bars protecting the tubes. The pedal feature high quality true bypass switching and jacks and it runs on 12V adapter (no batteries or crappy non-brand adapters allowed!).
Like the original Uni-Vibe, the Tube-Vibe feature controls for speed, intensity and volume. The fact that youâ€™re basically plugging into a real tube preamp, allows you to use the volume to boost your signal and drive your amp for a thick, creamy overdrive. You can also change the tubes for your preferred brand and/or tone, like a 12AU7 for increased headroom.
There are two mini toggle switches on the back. One for switching between vibrato and the more familiar chorus mode and one for classic or smooth operation. The classic takes you right back to those legendary recordings with fat, creamy rotary sounds dripping out of your speakers. The smooth mode, produce a slightly milder ethereal chorus. See effectrode.com for more details.
The first thing you notice is how quiet the pedal is. Most Uni-Vibes has a bit of hiss but the Tube-Vibe is dead silent. There’s no doubt that this is real tube powering. The headroom is ridiculous and even if you push the volume all the way up, all you get is just a fatter tone with a slight amp-like breakup. Iâ€™ve never experienced this from a Uni-Vibe before.
Itâ€™s always hard to describe a tone but I often feel that most Uni-Vibes sound either a bit too bright or too flat/lo-fi. They don’t blend that well with the guitar tone – at least not to my ear. The Tube-Vibe sounds like a natural part of your tone. Never too dominating nor bright. It sounds like a melting Leslie cabinet dripping all over your floor. The effect pours out into the room and covers you in silky smooth velvet. I canâ€™t really think of a better description (no matter how stupid).
To balance this overly positive review, I should mention that youâ€™ll have a hard time setting up those fast tremolo sounds for songs like Any Colour You Like. You will get high speeds but not the same depth. You may find this a drawback but the original UniVibe wasnâ€™t capable of this either (David might have modified his unit for the recording of Dark Side).
I recently did a review of Effectrodeâ€™s tube Compressor and itâ€™s been a favourite ever since. Itâ€™s easy to get all emotional about tubes but the fact is that it does matter. You want to leave these pedals on all the time. Theyâ€™re expensive and perhaps not for every budget but if you ever get the chance I strongly urge you to try one. Effectrodeâ€™s philosophy and eye for quality is unique and their pedals likewise. Like everyone before me, Iâ€™m deeply impressed. Check out effectrode.com for more details and other pedals.