Univibe pedals are similar to phase shifters, chorus, or vibrato effects, but give your tone a unique color that can’t be accomplished with any other pedals. Introduced in the 1960s to emulate Leslie speaker’s “Doppler sound,” the effect uses a staggered series of filters (instead of the aligned filters in other phasing pedals) to give a chorus-like feel and was a favorite effects of guitarists like Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour.
It seems like every guitar company makes a version of this popular effect, and choosing which one is right for you can be tricky. The four pedals listed below are some of the best Univibe pedals on the market.
Electro-Harmonix Good Vibes Modulator Pedal
This is Elecro-Harmonix’s first photocell-driven Univibe modulation pedal to come in at such an affordable price point. The layout is simple and elegant, with an expression pedal jack and an easy to access switch for setting it to speed or intensity. You can get a smooth chorusing effect using lower intensity and speed settings, but the higher you take it, the more dramatic the effect. The Good Vibes captures the essence of the iconic Univibe effect but expands what it can do, with intuitive controls that invite you to play with your sound.
Fulltone MDV-1 Mini Deja Vibe
The Deja Vibe strives to recreate the infamous Univibe tone in a modern pedal that’s small enough to fit comfortably on your pedal rack. It has two modes, modern and vintage, which can be changed with a toggle switch. The vintage mode gives you the warmth of the original 1960s pedals while the modern setting has both a higher output and more modulation and depth with the phase shifting. The overall effect is a versatile pedal that can either recreate the vintage Univibe sound or take it to the next level. Without a doubt, it’s one of the best Univibe clones.
TC Electronic Viscous Vibe
The Viscous Vibe from TC Electronics is at its heart an inexpensive way to add Univibe sound to your pedal rack, but like most of the company’s pedals, it does far more than that. It incorporates the Tone Print Technology that lets you download other tonal colors from their database, adding variations to the traditional modulation unit. You can access the Tone Print colors on the same switch that toggles between chorus and vibrato, keeping the pedal layout largely uncluttered—a large dial for speed and smaller knobs for volume and intensity make this TC Electronics pedal easy to adjust and activate on the fly.
Dunlop M68 Uni-Vibe Chorus/Vibrato
This simple little pedal from Dunlop reproduces the iconic Univibe sound in a sleek modern casing that takes up less space on your pedal rack. It gives you two operating modes: Vibrato Mode, for hearing only the shifted signal, or Chorus Mode, which mixes the dry signal back in with the effect.
You also get a lot of options for customizing the effect. Use the depth knob to change it from mellow to intense, or the speed knob to adjust the sweep rate. Since it also has a level control and a true bypass, you can use as much or as little of the effect as you want. If you want the closest thing you can find to a vintage Univibe pedal, the Dunlop M68 is right up your alley—it should be on anyone’s list of the best Univibe pedals.
So . . . Which Is the Best Univibe Pedal?
The question of which pedal is the best emulation of the traditional Univibe sound is hotly debated in the guitar community. As sound technology advances, more companies are better able to accurately reproduce the phase and modulation effects of the Univibe pedal.
In terms of finding the best Univibe clone, the Fulltone Deja Vibe (see full specs) is practically indistinguishable from an old-school model, even to the best-trained ear. The other three pedals come exceptionally close to the classic sound, enough so that most players and listeners will be unable to tell the difference. When it comes to choosing which Univibe pedal is the right one for your rack, it’s likely going to come down to other details.
Whether or not you want to use an external expression pedal to help create the effect is going to be one consideration. An expression pedal is optional but usable on the Electro Harmonix Good Vibes (see full specs), so if you like being able to easily control the effect in real-time, it’s the best choice for you. If you’d rather not mess with any other equipment, the other three pedals can give you a similar sound production with a simpler equipment layout.
This could also be a factor if you’re a guitarist who already plays with a lot of pedals on your rack and you don’t want (or don’t have space) to add a whole lot of gear. If that’s the case for you, the size of the pedal might be an important consideration. The Dunlop M68 is the smallest unit on here, but the TC Electronics Viscous Vibe is still incredibly compact, especially compared to one of the original Univibe models.
If you’re looking for a pedal that can give you Univibe modulation and a little bit more, the other features on the pedals might be where you want to focus your attention. Each of the pedals on this list do something beyond just recreate the Univibe sound, whether it’s the modern toggle on the Deja Vibe or the Tone Print technology of the Viscous Vibe. This does make the selection process a bit trickier.
Comparing just the Univibe tones is the proverbial comparison of apples to apples, but each company puts its own spin on the effects beyond the Univibe re-creation and each is capable of giving you its own unique range of sounds. If the modern twist on the chorus and phase effect is what you’re really after, the best way to make your decision is to listen to the full range of effects each pedal has to offer until you find the one that fits your playing style.
The digitalization of effects pedals has often been bemoaned for failing to capture the true depth and complexity of the analog effects, but regardless of how you feel about their tonal recreation capabilities, there’s no denying it gives you an exceptional array of options. All four of the pedals on this list can qualify as the best Univibe pedal and each can take you beyond Jimi Hendrix—and all of them for a price that can make you feel good about experimenting with your sound.