Korg Nuvibe

  • By Phillip Dodge @tonereport
  • June 13, 2014

Designed by the same creator, the Korg Nuvibe is intended to pick up where the original Uni-Vibe left off. Offering the same options of "chorus" and "vibrato," the Nuvibe also offers the ability to design your own waveform shape, courtesy of the sliders on the front of the unit. There are convenient markings on the front of the unit for setting the Nuvibe to the original sine wave. From there, you can create any wave shape you desire. And with extreme settings, you can even simulate some step sequencer type sounds.

The Nuvibe is powered by a standard 9-volt power supply or four AA batteries. But unlike the original Uni-Vibes photocells, the Nuvibe uses a circuit of discrete transistors to achieve the phase-y, wobbling, vibrato goodness of the original. In Chorus mode, with the waveform set for sine, you can quickly dial up your favorite “Machine Gun” and Dark Side of the Moon tones.

If there is a downside, it's that the Nuvibe is HUGE. Vintage purists will love that it is roughly the same size and shape as an original Uni-Vibe. The looks plus the expression pedal makes you instantly feel like Jimi at Woodstock, but considering the density of real estate on modern pedal boards, many players are likely to be put off by the size of the NuVibe.

However, once you plug in and start playing, you will quickly forgive the size of the Nuvibe and start plotting which pedals can be evicted from your board in order to make space for it. The Nuvibe loved every guitar I threw at it and was equally happy preceding or following dirt and delay pedals. Of course, one of my favorite tones was dialing in the swirl of “Breathe in the Air” from Dark Side of the Moon. Put the Nuvibe in Chorus mode, set the Intensity all the way up, and the Speed at noon. Now play an Em to A progression and breathe in the airy tone. If you've been chasing this tone, you can stop here.

Moving beyond the classic tones, and playing with the wave form you can move into triangle and square wave settings, or go for the modulation equivalent of a multi-tap delay by creating a pattern of peaks and valleys that pulse on and off. And like the original, the Vibrato mode provides everything from subtle pitch fluctuations to extreme, seasick, warbles. The adjustable wave form is especially fun and useful in Vibrato mode, providing the ability to dial in quick bursts of pitch shift.

So sure, you could spend hours (days?) just playing with the classic Uni-Vibe tones. Or you could just as easily dive head first into the rabbit hole of creating wholly new tones. Either way, it will be time and money well spent.

What we like: If you can spare the space, the Nuvibe can deliver the tones. From classic vibe effects of the 60’s and 70’s to really cool step sequencer sounds – the Nuvibe delivers maximum mojo. The housing is also exceptionally cool. 

Concerns: It’s huge. Seriously though, Nuvibe (not including the expression pedal) takes up the space of at least three standard sized pedals. I also had better results using an M-Audio expression pedal I had around the house than with the included expression pedal. With the included pedal, the effect seemed to be bypassed until about a third of the way through the travel, and provided less range of speed control.

Build quality: The Nuvibe shines in this department, from the crackle-esque finish to the chromed expression pedal, everything about the look and feel of the Nuvibe screams quality.  

Value: From tone, to design, to build quality, the Nuvibe delivers. $499 isn’t easy on the wallet, but it’s certainly a better value and likely more reliable than a vintage Uni-Vibe (assuming you could even find one for sale).

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