Rotating speaker cabinets has been an essential part of David Gilmour’s tone since the early 70s. There’s been many pedals over the years, trying to capture that elusive tone and some has indeed succeeded. The newest on the market is the Pulse from Dawner Prince Electronics. Here’s my review.
I’ve had the pleasure of playing through Leslie cabinets in the studio while recording and it’s quite the experience. Still, dragging a Leslie on tour is a real hassle, so enter the pedals.
I have no idea what it takes to create a pedal as far as the electronics go but what I do know is that a rotating speaker isn’t really an effect like a distortion or a delay. It’s more a physical phenomenon that occur when sound moves. Some rotary pedals sound like a chorus and are not very convincing. Others have manage to capture that physical 3 dimensional character.
The Pulse is, as the name implies, based on David Gilmour’s custom Doppola open speaker rotating cabinets that he used during the 1994 Division Bell tour. These had two 6 inch 100w speakers each and were based on the Gibson Maestro Rover that David used for recording Division Bell. Read more about the Doppolas here.
This strange looking satellite Maestro Rover sounded very different from a classic Leslie. While a Leslie has a rotating horn and a distinct tremolo-like modulation, the Doppolas and Rover had a much more airy, almost flange-like tone. David would blend in just a hint of that modulated character to his dry amps and pedals. Read more about the Maestro Rover here.
If you’re mostly used to hearing a Leslie or pedals like the Strymon Lex, you might need some time getting used to the Pulse. It sound very different but, spot on what it’s supposed to do.
The pedal is about the size of a MXR Flanger, with controls for controlling the fast and slow speeds individually, mic distance to the speakers, ramp up/down between slow and fast and a mix or effect volume. It can run in both stereo and mono and is powered on 9V adapter.
It can be hard to notice the rotary modulation on David’s guitars on Division Bell and Pulse but’s definitely there. It’s not supposed to be an overly noticeable effect but rather something that adds character to his tones. The Endless River album is perhaps a better reference, where the original guitar tracks from 1993 are much more honest sounding compared to the fairly heavily produced Divison Bell.
The Pulse manages to capture that airy, almost 3D like tone. Even in mono, the pedal adds a huge complex texture to your tones, something between a Leslie and an Electric Mistress flanger.
The mix control allow you to blend in the right amount of the effect, whether you want just a hint of that slow rotary or a deep fast speed tremolo. It can handle high gain distortions and Big Muffs very well too.
I’m super impressed over the Pulse. It’s a bold pedal to make as it is so clearly modelled after a specific and rather obscure rotating speaker model. This is obviously not just another attempt at making a Leslie sounding pedal but a super accurate replication of a sound unique to David Gilmour.
Read more about the Pulse at Dawner Prince Electronics.