Boss Vibrato VB-2W

  • By Fletcher Stewart @tonereport
  • May 27, 2016

Smurf and Turf – Slippery Sonics

The Smurf-blue box of wiggles goes Waza, folks. Boss finally did it and I knew it would. Though Boss is almost always reluctant to reissue, the demand for DM-2 and VB-2 simply couldn’t have been ignored. This demand seems strange in some ways considering how many modern do-it-all-devices and boutique offerings can do what these ‘80s classics can and more. But, after a few hours with the Waza line, even a desensitized flirtatious pedal maniac like me falls right back in love with these classic circuits. The VB-2W offers everything sonically that the cult classic does—even aesthetically with period-correct knobs—and gives us more wiggle room with a Custom setting. The Custom mode is subtly different and seems to offer a bit more prominence of the pitch deviation and a slight frequency shift in the modulation. We also have the famous bypass options: Latch, which routes the signal through the BBD even when bypassed but allows smooth wiggle rise when engaged, Bypass, which takes the signal into traditional Boss buffered bypass and finally, Unlatch. Unlatch is perhaps what made the original VB-2 famous.

There is just something musically magical about ramping up into chilly tremors of melancholy and taking the toe off for back-to-stable conditions. One can even take foot control further by adding an expression pedal to control the Depth. True pitch vibrato is so simple, yet so organic and satisfying to employ. It is like indulging that animal-childlike compulsion to bite a strangely tasty looking rubber ball. Yeah, everyone knows what I am talking about, right? Moving on, let’s get slippy and trippy shall we?

Sunburnt Slurs - Cool Audio BBD Deviations

If there is one thing for which I love to use the VB-2W, it’s that classic melting vinyl effect going into a delay or reverb—hear the attached audio clip. It sounds ice-cool and haunting, shifting even sickly sweet passages into bent mirror bad trips seamlessly. I like to achieve this by setting the Rate no higher than 9 o’ clock and the Depth and Rise Time around noon. It sounds great on its own slurring slowly and adding subtle uneasy menace to even the dinkiest of tunes—listen to “Mustard” from my favorite Latin Playboys album Dose to hear what I mean. But, for me the true VB-2W magic is unleashed when it is paired up with other pedals—it is a team player. For example, running the VB-2W after a gated octave fuzz box can turn any guitar into a dirty analog meaty organ grinder. No digital organ box can compare with a Malekko B:Assmaster paired with VB-2W.

Another hidden gem of orchestral hugeness I found was running the VB-2W into my new Free the Tone Tri Avatar Chorus. With the Tri Avatar’s Dry Mix I was able to add the rubberized HF roll-off of BBD slur to the three separate existing phases of chorus. I added delay and it was the closest I have ever come to achieving The Cure’s Disintegration tones from one single guitar. It was like playing in a church after drinking spiked holy water—a tripped-out religious experience. I opted for less modulation effects for the cheap and cheerful audio demo to let the VB-2W stand out. My chain for it was VB-2W into Shifter Delay from Source Audio’s amazing new Nemesis and into my favorite little bloom box from beyond—GFI System’s Specular Reverb 2.

What We Like

All the mojo is intact right down to the knobs and paint job. There seems to be less noise than older BBD boxes with coveted chips under the hood. One would have to be mental to shell out for an original as this is a better version with Custom mode, expression pedal depth control and I imagine a more modern improved bypass buffer to boot. I also happen to love the slight high frequency roll-off when in Latch or Unlatch mode. It is like listening to my live guitar mastered for vinyl—very useful for taming an overly bright guitar or amp. Like a great video game from the same ‘80s, this deceptively-simple blue box is laden with sonic secrets.


Snoop would say, “Pitch, please.” No need for correction.

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  1. Johnny Mercer