It doesn’t take much to ruffle more than a few feathers on various guitar forums when it comes to who and what makes the best Uni-Vibe clone. There seems to be a few favorites out there, most of them coming from smaller boutique companies. Another one to add to the list is McCaffrey Audio’s Run Rabbit Run—and an interesting vibe it is at that.
Based on the original from Japanese company Shin-Ei, the Uni-Vibe was originally designed to simulate a rotating Leslie speaker. But it ended up being more of a phase shifting type of effect, using a pulsating light bulb surrounded by four photocells. The original had a separate foot treadle to control the speed, and when combined with the main unit, it wasn’t exactly pedalboard friendly, plus most units were fairly noisy too.
A few features on the RRR are worth mentioning: Instead of a separate foot treadle like the original, the RRR sports a large speed knob that you can move with your foot. There are three colorful LEDs for bypass (blue), a green LED (always on) that displays the speed, and the last LED reflects whether you’re in vibrato (white) or chorus (yellow) mode. Then there are three foot switchable controls: The middle one turns the Uni-Vibe on and off, another toggles between Vibrato and Chorus, and the footswitch on the left is labeled “Crazy.” Essentially, Crazy doubles the speed of wherever you’re at within the Speed knob. Want to start it out slow but then jump quickly to a faster speed? Hit the Crazy switch. Want to start out fast, but then go crazy fast like a ring mod? Hit the Crazy switch. See a trend here? It isn’t often you hear a Uni-Vibe one moment, and a ring mod the next, but that’s what you get here.
One last feature I liked was the Thump switch. This three-position toggle switch adds a bit more low-end throb if needed, which works in conjunction with the Depth control. Most Uni-Vibes are judged on their low-end throb with Depth maxed. In my findings, the RRR does indeed have that throb most crave, but I think this is somewhat rig dependent too; to make a Uni-Vibe sound really good, one needs volume and an amp that can handle it.
So how does it sound? I came away thoroughly impressed. As a classic Uni-Vibe tone, I liked the Chorus setting, with the Depth fairly high at 3 o’clock and the Thump switch turned up for more low-end throb. I decided to run a high quality compressor after it, which gave it even more depth and presence.
Any unique tones? Two, in fact. One occurs when setting the Speed knob around noon, Depth at around 3 o’clock, and using the Vibrato mode. At this slower speed, the vibrato is present, but it gives this very natural tape machine-type warble, while the rest of the tone stays almost completely intact. The other unique tone is the ring mod using the Crazy switch: With the Speed set fairly high, press the Crazy switch to get that cool, haunting, super-fast tremolo-like tone. I enjoyed using it more than I thought I would.
WHAT WE LIKE
The RRR has that classic Uni-Vibe tone, with good low-end throb, coveted by Uni-Vibe fans everywhere with some unique features making it a bit more interesting than most traditional Univibes. It’s easy to power, quiet, pedalboard-friendly, and fairly priced—making the Run Rabbit Run a great value.