There is no shortage of Uni-Vibe pedals on the market today. Whether digital or analog, multi-pedal or solely dedicated to capturing the undulating magic of the original, there are many stompboxes that claim to be the best vibe out there. "Best," of course, is always a subjective matter. That being said, there are some versions out there that feature the same circuit as the original in order to capture the exact sound that has become legendary thanks to players like Jimi Hendrix and Robin Trower. The Black Cat Stereo Vibe is one such pedal. Let’s take a look and see what kind of vibe it’s putting out.
This vibe uses the exact same circuit as the original, and does so using a 12-volt power supply that runs off a minimum of 400 milliamps, assuring it has enough juice to give you the proper goods. I love the simple and clean layout with Volume, Intensity, and Speed controls, as well as the Chorus/Vibrato toggle switch, which allows you to shift from classic Uni-Vibe sounds to more standard vibrato effects. There is a jack for an expression pedal to control the speed of the effect, and the real bonus here is the added stereo output jack, which allows you to split your signal to two amplifiers for haunting, panoramic sounds. For the real Uni-Vibe aficianados, I’ll give you the technical information straight from the horse’s mouth. According to the Black Cat website, the Stereo Vibe “uses a flashing incandescent lamp and four photocells to create its distinctive sound.” Thus, everything is as it should be, with the addition of stereo capability. This pedal is impeccably built, and there is no reason it shouldn’t last a lifetime.
The sounds found within the Vibe are sweet indeed, and it is capable of everything from subtle vibrato to deep, wild throbs. The latter is especially true when combined with fuzz on higher speed settings, as heavy undulations sound have a vocal quality that sound akin to a tormented howl. Clean settings in Chorus mode sound absolutely beautiful with some reverb, especially in stereo. In fact, if you don’t have a stereo rig, you just might after trying this out with two amps—it will be hard to go back to using just one. The Vibrato setting, while less dramatic than Chorus mode, is still a useable sound that is capable of worn out vinyl warble on slower settings and wild wiggles on faster ones. I used a fuzz before and after the Vibe, and thought both sounded great, although I preferred it before. This is a matter of personal taste, and you may find that you prefer it after; just experiement to find out what works best for you.
Using an expression pedal with the Vibe is a must, as it allows you to unlock its full potential. Changing speeds during a solo adds captivating high-drama to your sound; speed it up when you want to be really dramatic, then slow it down again.
If you’re looking for an authentic Uni-Vibe sound with the added benefit of stereo capability, congratulations, you’ve found it. The Stereo Vibe from Black Cat is authentic like the Uni-Vibes of yesteryear, is impeccably built, sounds fantastic, and looks cool—it checks all the boxes for me, and I’m guessing it will for you too. Get yourself a Stereo Vibe, a Strat, a fuzz, and a Marshall, and you’ve got yourself a nice little Jimi rig (skill not included).
What We Like: Authentic Uni-Vibe tones in a sturdy package. Expression pedal capability.
Concerns: If you use an expression pedal, you’ll need some extra room on your board or the stage. The 12-volt power supply may be a hassle for some.