There are a number of reasons why one might be interested in Univibe.
Maybe you are interested in sounding like Jimi Hendrix at his trippiest.
Maybe you want to add some texture to a fuzzed out solo.
You might even be trying to get your guitar to sound like it is being played underwater.
The fact is that no other modulation sounds quite like a univibe does. You can come close with some phasers, maybe even some choruses.
Yet, there’s something to this pedal that is entirely unique, and it is all due to its use of photocells. Essentially, it uses a small lightbulb to create its modulation.
Whether you are a longtime fan of univibe pedals or brand new to the effect, there is a plethora of great circuits out on the market and they each have their own unique twist on the effect.
This article aims to steer you in the right direction when it comes to picking out the best univibe pedal just for you.
Snapshot: Top 9 Univibe Pedals in 2021
- MXR M68 Uni-Vibe – Best Classic Circuit
- Fulltone Custom Shop DejaVibe MDV3 – Best High-End
- Koko Vibe – Best Budget
- Earthquaker Devices The Depths
- Rockett Tranquilizer
- Digitech Venture Vibe – Best Modern
- TC Electronics Viscous Vibe – Most Customizable
- NuX Monterey Vibe – Best Mini
- JHS Unicorn V2 – Best Overall
What Is Univibe?
That’s a good question. Whenever one hears a univibe, one might think that it is a chorus set to extreme settings.
Or maybe it’s a vibrato effect?
Afterall, univibe has “vibe” in the name, so they are the same thing, right?
Not at all.
In fact, univibe pedals are most closely related to phaser pedals. They are a four-stage phaser to be exact. Univibes are like phasers in that they modulate your sound by knocking your guitar signal in and out of phase. What makes univibe so special is the way in which it achieves this.
To understand how a univibe pedal works, you can think about an auto-sensor porchlight. As you walk by, the light turns on. Something similar happens with univibes. Inside analog univibes is a light with four sensors surrounding it. The LFO of a univibe is activated when this light brightens and dims, causing the sensors to pick up on that signal and thus create a unique source of modulation.
The logistics can get a bit more complicated, but that is basically what you need to know. For the most part, the most sought after univibes use a real light bulb, and if they don’t, they are technically more of a phaser than a true univibe.
Funny enough, this effect was initially created by a company called Shin-Ei to emulate a Leslie Rotary speakers. These Leslie speakers were incredibly popular for their sound, but not so much for their weight.
The Shin-Ei Univibe was the first pedal to try and emulate this sound in pedal form. The reality is that this didn’t recreated the coveted rotary speaker sound well, but it instead created its own new and unique modulation sound.
This Shin-Ei Uni-Vibe is the very pedal that Jimi Hendrix used at Woodstock to play his famous version of the Star Spangled Banner.
Since then guitarists around the world have been obsessed with recreating this famous sound, as the original Shin-Ei Uni-Vibes are hard to come by.
One more thing worth mentioning about Univibes is that most come with the option of two modes: Chorus and/or Vibrato. The confusion thickens, as univibes are neither a chorus, or a vibrato pedal. Chorus modulates time, while vibrato modulates pitch. A univibe modulates phase.
What is important to know about these settings is that chorus incorporates your dry signal with a modulated wet signal (similar to chorus) and Vibrato is just a 100% wet signal.
Not confusing at all, right?
As I always say, trust your ears. Pedal makers can labor over bulb or no bulb univibes. Chorus vs Vibrato. What should matter to you as the player is how it sounds, so play around with the pedals in person (if you can) and listen closely to the demo videos. Even the experts get some of these specs confused. It’s okay.
With the history/technical stuff out of the way, let’s look at our top 9 picks for readily available Univibes on the market today.
Sorry, Shin-Ei is not on the list, but there are many pedals that do it justice included here.
The Best Univibe Pedal In 2021
1. MXR M68 Uni-Vibe Pedal Review – Best Classic
MXR/Dunlop still owns the trademark for the name “Uni-Vibe”, therefore they are the only company that can use this as the full name of their pedal.
Does this make it the ultimate univibe pedal? Let’s see!
The M68 looks and sounds very similar to the original Shin-Ei univibe, but with a much smaller footprint, meaning that this effect will fit on just about any pedalboard. The enclosure is all metal and built like a tank, making it a gig ready effects unit.
The controls are easy to understand and straightforward, with easy to move knobs. It can be ran on a 9V adaptor, or battery, depending on what you have. Not only does the pedal have a switch for Chorus/Vibrato modes, but it also has an effective and useful Volume control so you can dial its level in with the rest of your rig.
It also features a pulsating LED to reflects the speed of the effect. The M68 is all analog and bulb driven.
Dialing in your favorite univibe sound is quick worth with the M68’s simple interface. Just three controls don this univibe. The Speed knob controls the sweep rate of the modulation. Level controls the overall master volume, ensuring that you are always at unity gain, or even allows the pedal to work as a boost.
The Depth knob controls the intensity of the effect, going anywhere from a subtle pulse to an intense, wave like modulation. At the top of the pedal is a small button that lets you choose between the Chorus and Vibrato (red light) settings that are present in most Univibes.
This is the pedal that I would show someone who has absolutely no clue what a Univibe sounds like. It has that classic, late 60’s analog univibe sound if I ever heard one. Even at its most extreme settings, the intensity is manageable and tasteful, so it’s not going to scare anyone off like some modern univibes can.
The swell of the modulation sounds even and natural no matter what the speed of intensity is as well. Its not an exact clone of the original Shin-Ei, but for those that are looking for that sound, this pedal will get you there without breaking the bank. The low end swells never get out of control and it handles distortion in the high end well.
Overall, a very middle of the road univibe, but that’s a good thing for some applications!
- Type: UniVibe
- Signal: Analog
- Power Source: 9V battery or DC adaptor
- Dimensions: 5.5 x 2.5 x 4.5”
- Features: True Bypass, Chorus/Vibrato modes
Final Thoughts on the MXR M68 Univibe
If you want a traditional and sturdy univibe effect that hits the sweet spot of modulation, then this is a good pedal to consider. It’s not what I would recommend to anyone who is looking for super crazy mod tones, but if you’re wanting to do a subtle warped vinyl sound, or the lush, warm vibe effect, then I think this does that exceptionally well. It’s hard to go wrong with an MXR pedal, and the M68 meets their standard with ease.
2. Fulltone Custom Shop DejaVibe MDV3 Review – Best High-End Option
- Input and output jacks
I can’t talk about Univibe without reviewing the DejaVibe from Fulltone. For years the Dejavibe has been held in high esteem for being the best clone of a Shin-Ei Univibe that anyone has ever put together.
While I think that throne has been overturned (or at least deserving of being shared) in recent years by other boutique builders, the MDV3 takes the DejaVibe to new heights with its expression pedal design.
While the MDV3 is certainly not the first univibe pedal to be made into an expression pedal (see Dunlop Rotovibe if you are looking for an alternative to Fulltone products), having the fabled DejaVibe made in this format is really exciting and opens up a lot of new sound possibilities.
Like the rest of the DejaVibe pedals, this version is made with the highest quality parts, including exact clones of the original Shin-Ei photocells. The pedal has both a Vintage and a Modern mode, giving you some vibe tones that the original couldn’t do. If you’re curious about how fast the effect is set, all you need to do is look at the LED light on the side of the pedal that moves at whatever rate you have the effect set to.
I actually quite like that the indicator light is on the side of the pedal, as this means I won’t get dizzy on stage from the strobing light. Unlike many pedals, this effect requires 18V of power to access its juicy univibe sound.
The biggest and most important control on the DejaVibe MDV3 is the foot pedal. This is how you control the speed of the univibe. Unlike a Wah or other expression pedal style unit, this pedal can be activated from the toe or the heel, as there is a activation switch carved out to the back of the pedal.
With this you can set the foot pedal in a stationary position with your favorite setting, and the DejaVibe acts like a traditional pedal. Those with large feet may have trouble turning on and off the pedal this way, or they may risk accidentally turning the pedal off with their heel. The rest of the controls are located on the side of the pedal. There are controls for Intensity (controls the depth of the modulation) and Volume so that you can boost your signal if needed.
There is a toggle switch for Chorus and Vibrato modes, as well as a toggle switch for Vintage and Modern modes. The vintage mode is your classic Univibe, while the Modern mode is a more intense and deeper sounding effect.
There is a reason that the DejaVibe is held in such high regard. It sounds exactly, and I mean exactly, like the Shin-Ei. Unless you are a professional collector of vintage guitar gear, save yourself some trouble and go with this clone.
Whether you are looking for fuzzed out Hendrix tones, or clean David G tones, this pedal will do it for you. The expression pedal gives you a lot of control over the effect and can let you rapidly change the speed on the fly for short passages. I find this design to be much more effective than ramp-up style univibes (which are still cool, by the way).
The modern setting is noticeably thicker and has more presence in the high end, which may be appropriate for those with warm sounding pickups or amps.
- Type: Univibe
- Signal: Analog
- Power Source: 18V
- Dimensions: 10.8 x 5.5 x 3.4”
- Features: True Bypass, Original Preamp transistors of Univibe, Expression Pedal
Final Thoughts on the Fulltone Custom Shop DejaVibe MDV3
Fulltone makes fantastic pedals and the DejaVibe might just be Fulltone’s greatest creation. Though not a cheap solution to getting a classic UVibe, it does the original circuit incredible justice and at a much more attractive price point. If this pedal is still out of reach for you in terms of price, or if you are looking for other options to Fulltone, don’t fret, for there are many other great options out there.
However, if you want the be all, end all example of a Shin-Ei, then this is it.
3. KoKo Vibe Mini Effects Pedal Review – Best Budget Option
- EFFECTS - Analog rotary speaker effect. True bypass. 4-stage phase-change simulation.
On the complete opposite side of the price spectrum is the KoKo Vibe – a fantastic sounding mini pedal at an unbeatable price. It has simple controls and a build quality that will get through most gigging musicians wear and tear (if treated well).
Need a Univibe on the cheap for that one Pink Floyd tune? This is the pedal to buy.
The KoKo vibe, housed in its eye catching magenta enclosure, is an all analog miniature univibe pedal that costs under $40. It is a proper four stage change modulation with true bypass, making it a great option for the purists on a budget.
Everything about this pedal is straight forward, as the case features zero graphics, and even the name gets straight to the point: VIBE. Though it may not be the most inspired in terms of its build, it archives a great univibe sound without taking up too much space in the process.
The pedal works on a standard 9V adaptor and comes with anti-skid rubber pads on the bottom to help the pedal stay in place on the floor (if you don’t have it velcroed to a board).
Just like the pedals aesthetics, the controls are super straightforward on this. There are just three parameters that can be controlled: Rate, Depth, and Level. These controls are pretty standard on most univibes and are a great place to start if you are new to the effect.
If this is the case, here are what these controls do. Rate controls the speed at which the modulation occurs. Depth controls how intense or noticeable the swells are, and the Level controls the overall volume of the effect. That’s it! This is a simple and easy to use pedal.
The KoKo Vibe essentially sounds how any other traditional vibe can sound, but it does so at a lower cost. There isn’t anything super special about the way it sounds, but there isn’t anything bad about it either. If I had to be super nit-picky, the pedal has a bit more high end that comes through, which may get overwhelming with some distortion.
It also only features a chorus-style univibe, without the option to choose a vibrato-style univibe, so it only does the classic tones. It can get close to a rotary speaker sound when cranked, which can be useful in a pinch if you need to pull off some organ rhythm tones on a budget.
- Type: Univibe
- Signal: Analog
- Power Source: 9V
- Dimensions: 4.09 x 2.6 x 2.28”
- Features: True Bypass
Final Thoughts on the KoKo Vibe
Sometimes you just need the core tone of a certain effect, and if that’s the case then it is good to know that this sound can be achieved on the cheap. Despite its lack of imagination, the KoKo vibe does classic Univibe and rotary speaker tones well enough to get you through the gig, or until you are able to afford an upgrade.
It helps that it’s a super small pedal too.
4. Earthquaker Devices’ The Depths Pedal Review
- Our take on the classic optical vibe circuit featuring a lush, pulsating, three-dimensional swirling sound
We’ve covered our bases on how to achieve classic Univibe tones no matter what budget you’re on, but what if you don’t want a classic Univibe?
What if you want to dive deeper into what this type of modulation can offer and what if you want more knobs than is really necessary?
As always when it comes to experimental pedal designs, Earthquaker Devices (EQD) is here to save the day. This time it is with their take on the univibe circuit: The Depths.
You know that you’re dealing with a special Univibe when the builders describe their pedal as a “Analog Optical Vibe Machine” on their website. It’s as if some mad scientist has just revealed his secret new invention to the world knowing that it’s going to blow people’s minds.
Joking aside, this is an expertly handcrafted, all analog, bulb driven vibe that has some great new sounds in it. For starters, the pedal has been optimized for any instrument that can be played using a ¼ inch jack.
If you go to the EQD site, you can hear a bunch of great applications on Rhodes and Synths, in addition to electric guitars. Like many of EQD’s new pedals, the Depths comes with their patented FlexiSwitch technology for easy momentary or latching switch capability. The inputs are located on the top of this standard sized pedal, making it at least considerate of other pedals’ space even though it’s not exactly the smallest pedal around.
Finally, the Depths is a True Bypass pedal, leaving your original tone as it were when the pedal is shut off.
This is where the fun begins. Whereas most Univibes have 2-3 controls over the effect’s parameters, the Depths has 5. These include controls for Intensity, Voice, Rate, Level, and Throb. Intensity controls the depth of the modulation.
Voice controls the EQ, with settings to the left resulting in a focused midrange, and settings to the right resulting in fuller low end. The Rate knob controls the speed of modulation, ranging from almost unnoticeable slow speeds, to dizzying rotary speeds.
The knob for Level controls the volume of the effect, with settings around 1’oclock reaching unity gain and anything past that working as a boost. Finally, the Throb control dials in the amount of low end pulse that is so unique to univibes.
This parameter is most accentuated on the neck pickup and with the voice control set to warmer tones.
The Depths is more than capable of achieving the classic, lush univibe tones that you have come to know and love, but that’s not what it was built to achieve. This is an extremely flexible and versatile modulation effect due to the extra controls Voice and Throb.
Set to extreme settings, the Depths can take on an almost tremolo effect. That being said, the Depths doesn’t try to sound like eight different effects in one box. It is very much its own, original univibe. All of this is achieved without having Chorus/Vibrato settings, yet the pedal can pull off Vibrato style univibe tones with ease.
Even though I am a guitarist, my favorite sounds to come from this pedal are done on bass and Rhodes pianos. Check out the EQD site to hear what I’m talking about.
- Type: Optical Vibe Machine
- Signal: Analog
- Power Source: 9V
- Dimensions: 6 x 3 x 3”
- Features: True Bypass, FlexiSwitch, Voice, Throb
Final Thoughts on the Earthquaker Devices’ The Depths
The Depths is a refreshing vibe machine that does the classics and the otherworldly equally well. Unlike many Univibes that aim to clone the Shin-Ei, EQD went out and made their own unique circuit and it truly shines through. Though not for everyone, the crowd of guitarists that are always in search of new sounds will be happy to know that Univibe has evolved in recent years to an exciting new low.
5. Rockett Tranquilizer Review
- A recreation of classic phase 45 pedals, but with new features
As I mentioned before, Univibes are closer to Phasers than they are Choruses or Vibratos, even though many univibes use this terminology in their designs. The Rockett Tranquilizer is open about Univibes roots and takes advantage of them by offering a pedal that blurs the lines between Phase, Univibe, and Rotary Speaker modulation in a way that is sure to knock you out.
While most Univibes are based around the Shin-Ei Univibe, the Rockett Tranquilizer is loosely based off the MXR Phase 45. The little brother to the Phase 90 is a more subtle effect that doesn’t overwhelm your signal and offers a warm and lush modulation that is similar to (you guessed it) univibe.
This means that the Tranquilizer is a two stage modulation, as opposed to the typical four stages found in most univibes. What makes the Tranquilizer so unique is its ability to blend between Vibe and Phaser, giving you the best of both worlds and everything in between.
On a side note, I’m a big fan of the pastel green knobs against the unpainted enclosure. Very futuristic!
The first control you will notice on the Tranquilizer is the blendable pot for Vibe and Phaser. Setting the Blend knob all the way to the left gives you an unmistakable Phaser, while turning the dial to the right gives you univibe tones.
Every dot in between is a blend of these two powerhouse modulation styles, resulting in cool tones including those resembling a Leslie rotary speaker. The Focus control works in conjunction with the Blend knob to let you really dial in the voice of your modulation, with settings between 10 and 2 o’clock resulting in the most drastic changes.
Everything outside of those is more subtle. The speed control is pretty self-explanatory, as it changes the rate of the effect. Not seen often on Vibe or Phaser pedals is a Fat knob, which lets you dial in the amount of low end whomp that is most closely associated with Univibes.
Because the Tranquilizer is modeled after an MXR Phase 45, the effect is slightly more mild than most in its class. This is great if you are looking for an always on effect to thicken up or mildly warble your sound. The Focus and Fat controls are quite useful, especially when you are dialing in the effect with overdrives, as these can accentuate the highs and lows of your sound drastically.
I like that the pedal can be set up as a Vibrato knockoff when the Fat control is completely rolled off and the Mix is set all the way to Vibe. Though it is labeled with two different effects, I wouldn’t go as far as to call this a multi-effects unit, so much as a fully fleshed out Phaser that can do Univibe stuff very convincingly.
As I always say, trust your ears, even if the circuitry is deceptive.
- Type: Phase/Univibe
- Signal: Analog
- Power Source: 9V
- Dimensions: 4 x 2.30”
- Features: True Bypass, Fat Control, Focus Control
Final Thoughts on the Rockett Tranquilizer
The Rockett Tranquilizer is appropriately named, as it is such a mellow effect that it may just bring you peace of mind knowing that your original tone still shines through.
Whether you are looking for a high quality Phase 45 (which were hard to find until MXR re-released them), or a more mellow sounding Univibe than what is typically designed, the Tranquilizer delivers a warm and satisfying modulation that gives your signal character as opposed to taking over control.
How very zen.
6. Digitech Ventura Vibe Review – Best Modern Univibe
- Three Unique Rotary/Vibrato Types: Vintage - Inspired by vintage phaser-based Uni-Vibe effects Modern - Original pure pitch-based vibrato effect Rotary- Based on a Leslie speaker rotary effect Slow to...
Subtlety has its time and place, but you’re wanting a Univibe that is in your face! There has to be a Univibe that is made for the modern player, right?
The Digitech Ventura Vibe not only does the vintage univibe thing, but it also had a modern voice and even Rotary built in to give you a full range of vibe styles. Who needs bulbs when you have digital power like this?
I’ll get my one critique of this pedal out of the way first, because there is way more good than bad about this pedal. I’m not a fan of the artwork; clowns freak me out. However, there is a certain association between organs (and thus rotary speakers… thus univibe) that is often associated with the circus, so I can see what they were going for here.
If you can get over the wacky paint job, read on!
This digital vibe pedal features true bypass, as well as stereo In/Out, making it capable of a whole new world of dimension that some univibes just aren’t able to achieve. The pedal also has a softclick activation switch, meaning that you won’t have to worry about clicks popping up if you’re recording near your amp.
The Ventura has three modes including Vintage (Chorus), Modern (Vibrato), and Rotary. Also, did I mention that this pedal can be found for under $100?
At first glance, the Ventura looks to work similar to many of the other vibes on this list. It has a control for Speed, Depth and Mix, all of which function as you would expect them to. An interesting control, however, is the dual pot Tone and Drive controls.
While some univibes have controls for the low end or voice, hardly any have a traditional Tone control. Even further, while some vibes have control for Volume, they never add much in terms of boosted gain. The drive control for this pedal does in fact add some grit to your signal.
I would equate it to that of a solid boost or a light overdrive like a TS9. With the Drive control set low, you get your normal clean tone, but cranked the drive up and the modulation gets more severe. There is also a toggle switch at the top for choosing between the three modes.
One hidden feature on this pedal is that you can hold down the footswitch for an awesome ramp up effect that speeds up your modulation on the fly.
The first thing I noticed about this pedal is that the modulation is much more drastic than a traditional univibe is. The LFO must be steeper, as the swells come in and out much more intensely, even in the Vintage mode. Once you go over to the Modern setting, there are more overtones and your dry signal is completely lost, making for an really apparent modulation.
Increasing the speed and depth in this mode can make for some pretty intense modulation that will make you feel like you’re hallucinating at a carnival. The Tone control is extremely useful and lets you dial in the high end with ease.
If the univibe sounds are not your bag, don’t give up on the pedal just yet, for the Rotary sound is one of the best I’ve heard. Pair that with some drive from the pedal and you have some legendary Leslie or Rhodes style sounds heading your way.
- Type: Univibe/Multi-Effect
- Signal: Digital
- Power Source: 9V
- Dimensions: 4.4 x 2.6 x 2
- Features: Ramp Up, Built in Drive, True Bypass
Final Thoughts on the Digitech Ventura Vibe
Of all the pedals on this list, the Ventura is probably the most imaginative and is really worth exploring for the modern guitarist. It’s the only univibe I’ve seen that included an overdrive circuit into it. Though a fuzz pedal would have been appreciated by more people (to my speculation), the overdrive is just another way that Digitech subverts your expectations for what a Univibe pedal can do.
Don’t overlook this pedal if the artwork throws you off like it did to me. It sounds phenomenal, and that’s what really matters.
7. TC Electronic Viscous Vibe Pedal Review – Most Customizable
So far, I have presented you with six stellar univibe pedals, but I sense that there are some of you that still aren’t satisfied with the choices out there. Is it possible to modify a univibe pedal on your own? With TC Electronic’s Tone Print technology, you can take charge of your effects and modify them however you want.
Introducing: the Viscous Vibe.
The Viscous Vibe is a digital Univibe that you can customize. The pedal is an exact recreation of the Shin-Ei Univibe as its backbone, so even if customization isn’t your thing, you’re getting a fantastic univibe out of the box.
It features stereo In/Out, Micro USB for connecting to your computer, as well as a soft click switch for silent activation. One thing you might notice from looking at the pedal is that it has a huge speed knob, making it an easy control to twist on the fly when you’re rocking out on stage.
The Viscous Vibe also gives you the choice between Buffered or True Bypass.
For the sake of brevity, I’m only going to focus on the controls for the pedal itself in this article. To learn more about the TonePrint app, check out this video.
The Viscous Vibe has two small knobs for Volume and Intensity, but most notable is the large dial for speed. With this control you can get anywhere from slow, wavelike modulation, to incredibly quick, almost tremolo modulation. It has a three way knob for selecting between Chorus modes, Vibrato mode, or TonePrint mode.
The default TonePrint is like a supercharged Vibrato setting if you’re looking for a more intense effect. The footswitch can also be held down for a ramp-up effect.
Out of the box, the Viscous Vibe sounds like a really convincing Shin-Ei Univibe, giving you yet another great option for this classic circuit. What makes this pedal really special is that you can customize it to sound just about however you want.
There’s even TonePrints that seem to add a flanger to the Univibe, making your guitar sound like an Adam West era Batman underwater jet plane. You can truly make this pedal sound however you want in terms of EQ or stacking effects.
- Type: Univibe
- Signal: Digital
- Power Source: 9V
- Dimensions: 5 x 3 x 3.31
- Features: True or Buffered Bypass, TonePrint, Ramp Up
Final Thoughts on the TC Electronic Viscous Vibe
It’s difficult to get much better than this. Some gear snobs may turn their nose up against digital effects, but to my ear this pedal sounds fantastic. If you want to make some changes to it, you can! Or you can sound like the dozens of professional guitar players who have created their own tone prints.
If you’re the kind of player that likes to obsess over tone, then this pedal will make you really happy.
8. NuX Monterey Vibe Pedal Review – Best Mini
- It features all of the classic Uni-vibe style selections: Chorus, Rotary-Speaker, and Phaser pedal.
I’ve already reviewed one mini univibe on this list already, but I think the NuX Monterey Vibe is even better if you’re willing the spend just a little bit more money. It is still a cheap pedal compared to most and the folks at NuX have delivered a versatile little univibe that is sure to impress.
Named after the famous concert that Hendrix made Univibe famous at, the Monterey Vibe is a great mini vibe that takes up minimal space.
It’s tiny! Don’t be fooled by its size though, for this mini univibe has a lot of power to it. Its a simple pedal with just three controls, but there is still plenty of room tonal tweaking due to its 32 Bit DSP. The pedal features a micro USB port so that you can update the firmware on the pedal to sound better as it ages.
It also features tap tempo so you can dial in the speed of the modulation on the fly.
Just three controls: Speed, Volume, and Intensity. They all work just like the other pedals on this list, but every little dial makes a big difference. The Monterey has some hidden controls in the footswitch. A long hold changes the mode from Chorus to Vibrato, giving you plenty of flexibility in the mix. A shorter hold lets you access the tap tempo.
Even though the pedal is digital, I find that it works well whether paired with clean or dirty tones. When the pedal is totally maxed out it begins to sound more like a Leslie, but it can also be toned back for a subtle vibrato style sound. Overall, I would call this a classic Univibe pedal, just housed in a smaller enclosure and that works well with any kind of amount of gain.
- Type: Univibe
- Signal: Digital – 32 Bit Floating DSP
- Power Source: 9V
- Dimensions: 2.0 x 3.7 x 2.1”
- Features: Micro USB
Final Thoughts on the NuX Monterey Vibe
If you’re looking for a great sounding, classic Univibe but don’t want the effect to take up your entire board, this is the perfect option. I think it sounds better than any other mini univibe on the market. Even though it is classic through and through when it comes to the tones, it does the classic univibe perfectly.
9. JHS Unicorn V2 Univibe Pedal Review- Best Overall
- A fully analog, photocell-based vibe with tap tempo, ratio, external tap control, and external rate control via expression pedal
Rounding out our list of the best Univibe pedals is… the best Univibe. 100% analog with amazing tone and unique features, JHS takes the top spot on a “Best Of” list once again with the second version of their famous Unicorn pedal.
If you’re familiar with the Unicorn V1, the first thing you’ll notice about the V2 is that it is half the size of its predecessor. It is also coming in at half the price point! It features the same groundbreaking tap tempo as before (the first analog univibe to have such feature) and it has subdivisions for the modulation that I haven’t seen anywhere else.
As with all JHS pedals the build quality is sturdy and player friendly (hence the top mounted jacks). New to the V2 is an external jack for an expression pedal that lets you control the rate.
The Unicorn has controls for the univibe Speed, Depth, and Speed. What sets it apart from other univibes is its Ratio knob, which as settings for quarter, eighth, dotted eighth, and triplet subdivisions. The Wet/Dry rids you of the Chorus/Vibrato confusion by telling you what’s really happening. The Wet setting is like a Vibrato mode, where there is 100% wet effect signal.
The Dry mode includes your dry signal, as any Chorus mode would. The switch on the left activates the pedal, while the switch on the right lets you set the Speed via tap tempo. This technology has never before been seen on a bulb driven photocell modulator before.
The Unicorn V2 can stand up to any pedal on this list, even those that are held in the highest regard by the guitar community, and it will stand its ground. The modulation is round, full, and smooth. The subdivisions make it sound totally original, especially when combined at the perfect tempo set by your feet, or in real time with an expression pedal.
It has everything you could possibly want out of 1960’s era univibe, as it plays well with both clean and dirty tones.
- Type: Univibe
- Signal: Analog
- Power Source: 9V
- Dimensions: 2.2 x 4.8 x 1.6”
- Features: Tempo LED, True Bypass, Expression Input, Tap Tempo
Final Thoughts on the JHS Unicorn V2
It doesn’t get any better than this: Analog, small footprint, forward thinking design, impeccable build quality, and all at an affordable price. There are a lot of great Univibes worth having out there, but I could just buy this pedal and be perfectly happy never looking for another univibe again.
Get The Vibe With a Univibe Pedal
As I listened to all of these pedals, I realized that Univibe is a truly special kind of modulation. It can certainly be a wild effect, but it can also be one of the most easily embraced modulations. It is for this reason that I would make it my first recommendation to anyone who doesn’t normally use modulation. It works in place of phazer, rotary, even chorus.
It has a certain comforting effect due to how the modulation is achieved. The lightbulb inside an analog univibe creates such a smooth modulation that I think it’s the most pleasing to the ear. All it takes to ramp it up is some fuzz or an expression pedal to quicken its pace.
Whether you’re trying to emulate a guitar hero or find your own unique modulation sound, I hope this list helps you choose the right univibe pedal for you. Who knew that light and sound could work together so well?
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Davis Wilton Bader is a professional guitarist/writer based out of St. Louis, MO. He plays in the bands Lumet and The Outskirts.