The 4 Best Leslie Pedals – Hammond Simulator Reviews 2017

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Photo by Christopher Andrews / CC BY

The Leslie Rotating Speaker has got to be one of the most unique cabinet designs ever created. The sole idea behind it is genuinely impressive and was the creation of one man—Donald Leslie. Even though it was intended to be used with the organs, it was just a matter of time before guitar players around the world saw the potential of this cab. Eventually, Leslie sold his company to CBS, which in turn sold it to Hammond, which is why some folks these days call Leslie pedals, Hammond pedals (we use the name interchangeably here).

These days you will find few brands that still produce Leslie cabs, but there is a more practical solution: Leslie simulator pedals. These pedals were created to emulate what Leslie rotating speakers did mechanically.

There are analog and digital versions of these pedals, and most of them get the core of this effect right. If you are looking for one of these units for your pedalboard, you are in the right place. We did some digging, and we have found 4 of the best Leslie pedals around. We chose these based on how accurately they emulated the Leslie experience and their overall quality. Without further ado, let’s get started.

Leslie Digital Pedal

No list of Leslie pedals would be complete without what most consider to be the most authentic stompbox you can get. After all, it is made by the same company who produced the original Leslie cabinet. The Leslie Digital Pedal is not for the faint-hearted, but quality comes at a price. For the most part, this is the pedal you get if you want the real thing.

Leslie Digital Pedal (see full specs) is by no means a small stompbox. Compared to your standard Boss unit, you could say that this one is a double wide. Aside from its large size, the build quality of this pedal is impressive. That is the least you can expect from a model that is in this price range. In terms of controls, you have the main knob that allows you to choose between four famous Leslie cabs, along with five tone shaping controls spread around. There are also three footswitches: true bypass, speed control, and brake control.

Performance wise, Leslie Digital Pedal really comes close to what the original Leslie speaker delivered. The pedal is very versatile, making it easy to use and also easy to find that sweet spot Leslie setting. This particular pedal has been used on so many legendary albums, which proves its worth more than anything we say can. The best Leslie pedal is, in the end, a Leslie pedal.

DLS Rotosim

DLS is another company that makes a solid Leslie simulator pedal. In many ways, it’s a more flexible platform than the original Hammond design, although both of these have their own personalities. RotoSim is definitely one of the more popular Leslie pedals these days, and for a good reason. The balance of price, quality and performance is just right.

Much like the other pedals in this category, DLS RotoSim is a big, wide stompbox (see full specs) that has that vintage look to it. The enclosure is made of durable metal, making it extremely reliable and capable of constant use. Same goes for all the components DLS chose to put in the RotoSim. Everything about it simply screams quality.

Even though it’s packed full of various features and controls, the core performance of this pedal is as straightforward as they come. With all the knobs lined up and labeled clearly, you won’t have many problems trying to dial in the perfect Leslie experience. When it comes to value you get compared to the price you’re expected to pay, the balance is tipped heavily in your favor. It’s among the best Leslie pedals around.

Electro-Harmonix Lester K

When a certain effect, especially one as unique as Leslie, gains some traction, you can bet that Electro-Harmonix is going to deliver their version. Lester K is a no-nonsense stompbox that achieves a pretty great Leslie effect at a reasonable price and outstanding quality. The whole thing is packed into a standard Electro-Harmonix enclosure that we are all familiar with.

In terms of controls, you get the most important ones along with the speed/brake footswitch. It’s not covered in knobs like the previous two pedals, but what you get is more than enough for you to dial in anything you want. Performance you can expect is on par with many premium boxes on the market. Even though Lester K was designed to be used with keyboards, it’s a more than suitable for guitars.

Hotone Roto

Last but not least, we have a budget-oriented Leslie simulator pedal that delivers the core of this effect at an affordable price. It’s not as complex nor riddled with features as the other pedals on our list, but it’s the closest thing you can get to a Leslie cab if you are on a very tight budget.

Hotone Roto is a standard sized stompbox that comes in a zinc alloy enclosure. The whole design is dominated by a very large speed knob that sits on the top of the pedal and is actually one of only three available controls you have. Even though it is extremely rudimentary, Hotone Roto still manages to squeeze out that Leslie effect quite accurately.

With that said, it’s definitely not a pedal for those who need a lot of control over their tone. You can tweak the main parameters of the effect, but anything more than that is pretty much not possible. No matter how limiting that sounds, you are going to have a hard time finding a better Leslie emulator for this type of money.

Conclusion

The pedals we have shown you are among the best Leslie pedals you can get these days. We went with products which sounded authentic and tried to find a representative from several price ranges all the way down to the affordable ones.

For the most part, no matter which one you go for, you will get the performance you need. Some like the Leslie pedal will undoubtedly be as close as you can get to a real rotating cab, but each of these has its own unique character. Give them a whirl!

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