Electro-Harmonix Good Vibes

  • By David A. Evans @tonereport
  • April 23, 2015

It is perhaps the most revered effect yet invented. Tone hounds quest for the “real deal,” a true replica of the original by Shin-Ei in the same way that some people search for the Holy Grail. The effect is, of course, the Uni-Vibe, and there’s probably a 99.9 percent chance that no one in history has ever said, “that doesn’t sound cool.” Now, the venerable Electro-Harmonix has created its own Vibe, with an intoxicating tone that’s quirky but true in spirit to the original.

The Good Vibes’s Vibrato circuit—accessible via a quick flick of a two-way toggle—provides the user with an idiosyncratic set of effects. Depending on their settings, the pedal’s Intensity and Tone knobs will create a pitter-pattering flutter, or a more traditional, surf-like vibrato effect. With the Intensity at 9 o’clock and the Speed around 12 o’clock, the Good Vibes will subtly detune the input signal. Some arpeggiated chords on a guitar were reminiscent of the Boards of Canada’s Kodachrome dream-inspiring nostalgia tunes, very much like those warm effects heard on Music Has the Right to Children. Dial up the Intensity knob to 10 o’clock for the classic wiggly tone from the Sonics’s “The Witch,” then increase the Intensity to twelve and the Speed to three for a journey into Leslie-speaker land. Pushing the Intensity beyond noon will tend to result in a “hiccup”-like sound. It’s as if a square waveform were slightly deformed.

Now for what everyone has been waiting for: the Vibe or “Chorus” effect itself, as it is labeled on the pedal. How does the Good Vibes measure up to its predecessors? Well, in the spirit of the effect, quite well, but in its own way. The Good Vibes will pump out the smooth vibe effect that so many people know without any problems. Dial in the Intensity somewhere below noon, and keep the Speed around there or lower, too, and it’s the wonderful sound that one hopes for. Pushing the Speed much over noon, however, will tend to rob the outputted signal of the character of the effect. At 3 o’clock, for example, the effect’s fluttering overwhelms the throbbing chorus for which the effect is known. Likewise, if the Intensity is pushed much past noon, the “hiccup” returns. It’s not a bad sound, but it might not be the sound that everyone is looking for.

As with the original Uni-Vibe, the Good Vibes will accept an Expression pedal that will control either the Speed or Intensity of the effect. The pedal is a must for Vibe enthusiasts who wish to re-create classic sounds. Fortunately, most any brand will suffice.

Given the qualities of the pedal, it’s well worth considering and testing. It’s idiosyncratic, but that seems to be in keeping with the spirit of the Uni-Vibe effect. Certainly, the original sounds great, but there’s no reason that other versions of the effect can’t also sound good in their own ways. Electro-Harmonix has achieved fantastic and authentic tone for the most part. The Good Vibes ought to make a welcome addition not only to the Uni-Vibe effect family, but also to any guitarist’s pedalboard.

What we like: That sound! The sweeping, warbling, modulating, and phasing! And an expression pedal input to boot. Plus, some pretty cool record-skipping, detuning, and Leslie-like effects.

Concerns: It’s not a bad thing, but the Good Vibes definitely has its quirks. The waveform seems to “hiccup” in certain, higher Intensity settings, which tends to create a choppier vibe effect than might be desired.

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