Black LTD. Phaser Vibe

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  • Regular price $199.95
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For years, we’ve received requests to tackle the fickle and unique sound of the old-time Univibe, but good things take time and sometimes: a highly unconventional approach...

Believe it or not that unit was, at its core, a four-stage phase-shifter, originally intended to simulate the sound of a rotary speaker cabinet, but while it didn’t quite sound like a “Leslie” cabinet, it sure did sound cool, and as they say: the rest is history.

The original Univibe had two control knobs and used a foot-treadle to control the “rotational speed” of the effect. A rocker switch allowed the operator to select between “Chorus” or “Vibrato” sounds, and while both terms are commonplace in today’s effect space, they’ve changed a bit from what was created via that switch. While we adore the original Univibe, there were some things that we insisted on tackling if we were going to pursue this elusive sound…

The original “Intensity” control remains, but its got a few slick tricks up its sleeve, which you’ll read about momentarily. You’ll also immediately note that we’ve removed the “Volume” control in favor of simply balancing output levels. We’ve replaced the “Chorus/Vibrato” switch with a full 300° of rotation offering countless shades of phase-shifting, Univibe-style chorusing and all the way up to true pitch-vibrato, which is executed in the exact same way the OG did. We also included a mechanical true-bypass footswitch allowing you to completely bypass the circuit when you’d like it out of the chain (the original simply killed the oscillator). Oh, and we’ve drastically increased the range of speeds available.

The sum of these simple changes, and the highly unconventional approach to phase-shifting has delivered something unique and downright captivating: the Black LTD. Phaser Vibe.

Dialing in the Black LTD. Phaser Vibe is pretty simple and straightforward, but in order to wring out every last drop of tone, you’ll want to understand just what is happening under the hood.

First and foremost, and please make no mistake about it: the Black LTD. Phaser Vibe is a phase-shifter (with four stages no less!), but a few clever tricks and unusual shift-points inspired and realized by the study and analysis of the Univibe circuit immediately break away from your typical “phaser” sounds, and when pushed begin to mimic the classic fluid, watery warble and throb which could only be produced by that odd-ball late 60’s grey and black lump.

A major piece of the magic that makes the sound so enticing lies deep within its four-stage phase-shift network. The most common approach when designing phase-shifters for guitars, basses, and keys maintains all phase-shift corners equal, and this is the first place that the original Univibe was unique: each stage had its own, unique corner frequencies. As it would happen, some of these stages would “overlap” at varying points in the cycle, which is what I believe to be responsible for the characteristic “throb” that only a Univibe delivers. It’s not really tremolo, its doesn’t exactly sound like a classic phaser, but it sure does sound good!

Well… we took a different approach and found that by varying the relative phase of the LFOs driving each of the phase-shift networks, we could produce a very similar throb, while also maintaining good fidelity and top-end content. That overlap begins to occur at about 3 o’clock on the Intensity control, and increases all the way up to maximum.

Keeping both the Intensity and Chorus|Vibrato controls around noon, you’ll find more familiar “vintage phaser” tones, and as you dial the Chorus|Vibrato control up higher, you’ll begin to hear pitch-vibrato dominate the sound. Higher Speed settings are recommended when dialing in your pitch-vibrato tones.

The Speed control is pretty straightforward and spreads from sweeping and slow at the counter-clockwise end to wiggly and fast at the clockwise limit.

Jack Deville original design. Limited run of 83 pieces.