REVIEW: Effectrode's Tube-Vibe

Effectrode Tube-Vibe 2Liquid Tones, Vintage Good Looks, 100% Tube Signal Path

The Tube-Vibe is Effectrode’s homage to the classic––some would say historic––Shiftee U-915 Uni-Vibe pedal, which was first introduced to the U.S. back in ’69, and went on to gain legendary status at the hands of many great guitar players, perhaps most notably Jimi Hendrix, who was obviously enamored of the Uni-Vibe’s ability to produce shimmering, liquid-like tones.

While there have been any number of Uni-Vibe remakes over the years, Effectrode’s offering is certainly one of the nicest I’ve had the pleasure to play, and while I don’t have an original Uni-Vibe to compare it to, suffice it to say that the Tube-Vibe more than excels at pumping out pure, rippling, almost other-worldy tube-driven vibrato & chorus tones––and it looks good doing it, too!

Take it out of the box and the first thing you notice are the Tube-Vibe’s stylish retro looks: the pedal sports a solid die-cast aluminum chassis finished in prismatic purple coating, accented with a trio of cream colored amplifier-style knobs (Speed, Volume & Blend,) and a heavy duty American made Carling technology footswitch.

Plug it in and the three vacuum tubes protruding from the top of the Tube-Vibe put off a soft, nostalgic orange glow. Meanwhile, up towards the top of the unit an orange jewel L.E.D. pulsates to the vibrato’s modulation speed. The whole thing just oozes “old-school cool.”

And unlike some pedals on the market these days, the Tube-Vibe actually sounds better than it looks––heck, that’s saying a lot considering how damned good this pedal looks!

It’s All About The Tone

With an all-tube signal path, and a plethora of customizable features, the Tube-Vibe really is one of the finest tube effects to come my way in a very long time. The pedal is capable of producing an incredibly wide range of tones, from soft chorus-type effects to full-on insane warbling, from fluidly pulsating waves of sound to classic “tube vibrato” with that shimmering, glassy high-end that today’s digital pedals can only dream about.Effectrode Tube-Vibe Back-1

The three control knobs––Speed, Volume & Blend––allow for endless tweaking of your tone, with the Blend knob allowing you to move from a completely dry signal (fully counter clockwise,) to chorus (12:00 position,) to the classic vibrato Uni-Vibe tone (fully clockwise.) Volume & Speed controls do just what you’d expect, with the Volume knob capable of adding an extra +6dB to your signal. In fact, with the volume cranked I even managed to push my tube amp (the Atomic Space Tone) into a soft, warm overdrive… pretty fun.

Flip the pedal over and unscrew the back (CAUTION: unplug it first––there’s  350 volts of power in there!) and you have access to a tiny pair of internal dip switches, not to mention a width trimmer, that allow for even more customization.

The dip switches essentially allow you to control the Tube-Vibe’s waveform (either Square or Triangle,) and also the pedal’s vibe-wah feature, which I was unfortunately unable to review as it requires the use of a passive volume pedal. The smoothed square voicing produces a rich, warm tone similar to the original Uni-Vibe (with accentuated peaks of sound,) while the smoothed triangle waveform produces a more subtle and uniform sweep.

Throw in the width trimmer and you have yet more control––by shortening the sweep you can reduce the “de-tuning” that occurs when using a heavy vibrato setting, or even control the “throb” of the chorus effect.

In fact, the only complaint I have about the Tube-Vibe is that these great controls are hidden inside the chassis instead of being easily accessible right on the top. But that’s an admittedly minor shortcoming in a product that sounds this good. In a word, the Tube-Vibe’s all-tube tone just plain rocks––from vintage Leslie-like vibrato all the way to droning, Cobain-esque chorus.

The Lowdown

With true bypass switching (making the unit absolutely noiseless when disengaged,) a bomb-proof chassis, highly customizable features, and the type of warm, shimmering tone that only a 100% tube signal pathway can offer, Effectrode’s Tube-Vibe vibrato pedal is a must-have for the tube aficionado or retro guitar freak.

A street price of just over $400 may scare off those who are accustomed to the bare-bones pricing of today’s mass-produced digital effects, but for your money you get a hand-built piece of machinery (made in Corvalis, Oregon, USA) with infinitely more soul, tone and attitude than any cheap-o digital stomp-box will ever be able to offer.

If “tone” is your thing, then the Tube-Vibe is your pedal. Enough said

The Sound Samples

Tube-Vibe: Funky Minor – 652 kb

Tube-Vibe: Shorty Blues – 652 kb

Tube-Vibe: Chorus Strum – 613 kb

Manufacturer: Effectrode | Model: Tube-Vibe | Contact: sales@effectrode.com |  Web Site: www.effectrode.com