JHS Pedals Unicorn V2 Univibe Effects Pedal
JHS Pedals Unicorn V2 Uni-Vibe Effects Pedal
What is Uni-Vibe?
When looking at iconic effects that have etched their names into the hard, eternal marble adorning the pantheon of guitar playing history, near the top of the list would have to be the Uni-Vibe. This classic, beautiful effect has warbled and washed its way into the annals of history on such iconic songs as “Breathe” by Pink Floyd, “Bridge Of Sighs” by Robin Trower, but probably most notably by Jimi Hendrix with his iconic version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Woodstock in 1969.
The Uni-Vibe is an effect created to emulate the sound of the rotary speakers that were typically being used by organ players at the time. Quickly though, these rotary speaker cabinets began to be used by guitarists to create these huge, sweeping, phasing sounds on recordings and even live.
Uni-Vibe style pedals were initially created to simulate the thick and all-consuming character of these rotary speakers but in a much more portable and inexpensive fashion. There have been many ways of trying to simulate that sound, some more accurate than others.
Ironically though, some of the more popular versions of the effect ended up being the types that missed the mark. The ones that carry the most romance and desirability are the ones which didn’t emulate the rotary effect too strictly but added some extra spice and flavour. Whether it be by happy accident or intentional styling it was pedals like the Uni-Vibe that really took off and had a sound all their own.
What Made The Uni-Vibe Special
The Uni-Vibe more than most had its own personality. It was murkier, stickier, more in-your-face. It sounded like a pedal effect and not necessarily an organic movement of air which really appealed to guitarists of the time. The secret ingredient in the Uni-Vibe recipe is its use of photocells. It works by pulsing a light that is surrounded by 4 light-sensitive cells which trigger what is essentially a 4-stage-phaser. The utilisation of these photocells is the key to properly capturing the unique and rich character of the original pedal from the 60’s.
Capturing The Unicorn
Here’s where JHS come in. Yet again, their dedication to authenticity and their quest for pure tone mean that they have gone above and beyond in order to capture this historic effect with the utmost care and attention. The Unicorn is the result of this quest.
The Unicorn is 100% analogue and photocell-based. It fully captures the spirit of those vintage forays into modulation and rotary emulation. What’s more, uniquely, the Unicorn is the only one of these vintage-correct pedals to offer tap-tempo.
The Unicorn also does the same as the units of old insomuch as it has the same switch allowing you to switch between vibe and straight vibrato sounds. All in all, the Unicorn is a streamlined exterior housing all the original, fully analogue, photocell based goodness to recreate those unbelievably lush, vintage-correct vibe tones straight from the ’60s.
Taming The Unicorn
JHS has not only made an incredibly realistic and authentic version of the Uni-Vibe but, furthermore, they have also made it incredibly easy to use. This is one of the key strengths of the pedal. Everything you can use to control and tame the stallion is operable through just four knobs.
Top left is a fairly self-explanatory, “volume” control, how loud would you like the pedal to be. To it’s left you’ll find a “speed” control. This controls how quickly you’d like the pedal to fluctuate through vibe town. Below that is the “depth” control. This dictates how powerful the effect is, how deep into the vibe vortex you wish to plunge on each voyage. Finally, to its left, you’ll find a “ratio” control. This is a cool control as it allows you to shift the movement of the vibe sweeps away from the standard beat however you’d like. You can place the movement of the pedal onto quarter-note, dotted eighth, or triplet rhythms just by the simple twist of a four-way-selector.
Riding The Unicorn
Once you’ve got the hang of the reigns, your tush firmly in the saddle, and feet in the stirrups, the Unicorn actually has a really fully-fledged number of riding styles. The most immediate is to use the pedal as it is. You can use the right-hand unlatching footswitch to tap in the tempo you wish the pedal to adhere to. You can also use the “ratio” control to set which subdivisions you want the pulses to follow.
Another way is to use the side-mounted “TAP/EXP” jack input to plug in an external footswitch. This can take the place of the existing unlatching footswitch on the pedal itself and instead move it to a separate location. This makes the tap-tempo control a little easier to operate and minimises the amount of tap-dancing prowess needed to use the pedal cleanly.
The third way to use the pedal actually, again, harkens back to the effect’s origins. You can plug in an expression pedal to the “TAP/EXP” input jack and control the rate in a variable style. This allows you to sweep through the rate in real-time in exactly the same way as you were able to with the original Uni-Vibe unit. If you’re looking for some proper 60’s, acid infused sounds, this is how to achieve them!
What’s New In Version Two?
Not a lot! JHS hit the nail so squarely on the head the first time around that they didn’t need to make any changes to the internals or the sound of the pedal. The only changes made from the mark 1 were to make the pedal half the size and to lower the price point. So, that’s a win-win. All the original, vintage-correct internals and tone but in a far more pedalboard friendly footprint,. Not to mention all the extra wonga it’ll leave in your pocket to help pay for all that Unicorn food.
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JHS Pedals Unicorn V2 Univibe Effects Pedal
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