Rotating Speaker Effects… Without The Speaker
Way back in the day, when I couldn’t even begin to consider buying something as expensive and cool as Fender’s Custom Vibrolux guitar amp, I searched and searched for an alternative way to get that cool “Vibrato” sound, and was lucky enough to stumble upon the Dunlop RotoVibe.
Of course, at that time even the RotoVibe put a serious dent in my pocketbook (I was working as an usher in a low-rent theatre,) but after trying one out in the store I was hooked. It didn’t hurt any that besides that famous ’60s “rotating speaker” effect, the thing produced a truly lush, almost other-worldly Chorus effect. Once in hand, this fire-engine red beauty brought a whole new aural landscape to my guitar tone – and at just a fraction of the cost of a new amp.
While it may look like a fancy Wah Pedal, the RotoVibe’s expression-pedal actually controls the modulation speed of both the Vibe & Chorus effects, while a knob on the side of the unit sets the depth, and LED lights allow you to check modulation speed at a glance. It’s built like a tank (this thing is heavy,) and is powered by either a standard 9v battery, or via Dunlop’s AC adapter.
Truly Lush Chorus & Vibrato
Personally, I think the RotoVibe’s Chorus is its real stand-out feature… it really doesn’t sound like any Chorus you’ve heard before, it’s almost as if it’s got a bit of Phase-Shifting mixed in. But I love the Vibe effect, too, and while it really doesn’t sound that much like an actual Leslie or other rotating speaker, it is a truly psychedelic sound. Of course, the ability to switch-up the speed of both effects via the pedal makes for all sorts of fun experimenting, and a very unique tonal palette.
Well, nothing’s perfect, and the RotoVibe does have two flaws that I can think of: one is that, being like a Wah, you have to push the pedal all the way down to click off the switch, which means the effect speeds up before shutting off. Not a huge problem if you use the RotoVibe during an entire song, and you can just click it off at the end when you’re no longer playing, but if you wish to turn it off mid-song the timing can get a bit tricky.
The only other downside I can really see is that the switch that moves the RotoVibe from Vibrato to Chorus is quite small, and on a dark stage in particular it can be somewhat difficult to find with your foot.
Summing It up
All in all Dunlop’s RotoVibe is an incredibly well-built piece of machinery, and if you can work your way around its few shortcomings I think you’ll find it an excellent addition to just bout any guitar set-up…that is, of course, if you don’t have a vintage Leslie lying around. ;)