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Uni-Vibe History
and
Information

 

The earliest form of uni-vibes Shine-Ei produced were sold under the Honey brand as a "Vibra Chorus". The Vibra Chorus was built with an internal speed control called "Repeat Time" and so it did not have the external speed pedal.


original Vibra Chorus

Fumio Mieda is historically credited for the design which was developed back in the mid 1960's. The Uni-Vibe was originally intended as a rotating-speaker (ie; Leslie) simulator which was supposed to emulate the doppler effect of a moving sound transducer.

When marketed by Unicord/Univox it was re-branded as the Shiftee Uni-Vibe model U-915 and was slightly remodeled from the original Vibra Chorus format. The new unit had a 5-pin DIN socked added to the front panel to allow attachment of a "Foot Control" (speed pedal) and the "Repeat Time" (speed) knob was replaced by a Fuse holder. This is the configuration most of us know and a Uni-Vibe.


Early production unit (light gray box)


Later production unit (dark gray box)


Later Univox advertisement

 

How would you like to find this box at your local garage sale?
(car-boot sale)

brand new, in original box and cellophane wrapper, F'n WOW!

 



Lafayette catalog page

 

Here is a link to a reproduction of page-3 of a Unicord Owners Manual showing the original schematic for reference, notice it's a simple 13 transistor effect using a light bulb and some photocells.
(no OpAmps, IC's/Chips, JFET's)

 

The Uni-Vibe also had a few cousins like the JAX Vibra-Chorus and Nomad Verberola similar internally to the Uni-Vibe but built with different phase caps and in the newer enclosure which also housed the Phase-Tone and Resley Tone...


JAX branded Vibra Chorus


Nomad Verberola

 

The Phase-Tone and Resley Tone were similar designs but with different LFO and phase-stage capacitors which gave them a different tone than the Uni-Vibe and Vibra Chorus...


Original (Shin-Ei) Phase Tone PT-18


Resley Tone RT-18 and Phase Tone PT-18 inside, it can be seen it's
very similar to a Uni-Vibe but not exactly the same circuitry

 

As was the thing back in those days, the Phase-Tone and Resley Tone were also re-branded and sold under other names such as RandS and Garnet.


RandS re-branded Phase Tone PT-18


Garnet Phaser Tone, a re-branded Resley Tone RT-18

 

Songs like Jimi Hendrix's Machine Gun, Robin Trower's Bridge Of Sighs, and Pink Floyd's Us And Them are all very fine examples of the unique Uni-Vibe tone we love.

In this picture you can just barely see Jimi's Uni-Vibe on the floor behind him (lower right side of picture) in a recording studio:


 

Fast-Forward >> 35 years ...   Dunlop UV-1

Jim Dunlop Manufacturing now holds the Uni-Vibe trademark which they aquired from KORG who had aquired it years earlier in a Univox/Unicord deal.

Just so we don't get off on the wrong foot here I'd like to say right up front the following information is not a bash-Dunlop-fest as they IMHO are a fine company maintaining production of things that would have been lost in time had they not aquired rights to them, pedals like the venerable Cry Baby wah-wah and the MXR line are all still here and available because of Jim Dunlop, and I personally own and use a few Dunlop products myself as a guitar player, and BTW I really like the Dunlop/Herco 75's and their glass slides, but also use a Cry Baby (which I've mod'ed to my own spec's).

This is the older Dunlop UV-1 unit that goes by the trade name Uni-Vibe (new UV-2 seen further down the page), in this version of a Uni-Vibe Dunlop kept the two-piece layout making a box with an optional speed pedal although their design can run without the pedal like a hybrid of a Uni-Vibe/Vibra Chorus.


Dunlop UV-1 Uni-Vibe and optional UV-1FC foot controller.

 

All is not, as it appears...

The thing is, if you want a true original Uni-Vibe sound and you go buy a UV-1 (or the 2014 UV-2) Dunlop "Uni-Vibe" you are definately not going to get the original audio circuit, oh sure it has the right name and sounds very similar, but has a lot of additional parts not in the original circuit.

These next few pictures show a side-by-side comparison of an original compared to a Dunlop Uni-Vibe UV-1:
(foot controllers are not shown here)
The UV-1 is smaller than a vintage unit (which is good) and controls are similar enough and who could complain about that right?, it's when we open up the box for a look inside we clearly see there's a big difference from old-to-new.


Original  Uni-Vibe                                         Dunlop UV-1 Uni-Vibe


Original  Uni-Vibe                         Dunlop UV-1 Uni-Vibe


Original  Uni-Vibe                         Dunlop UV-1 Uni-Vibe


Original  Uni-Vibe                         Dunlop UV-1 Uni-Vibe

 

The original Uni-Vibe was a simple 13 transistor circuit, it's simplicity is a major part of it's unique character, the Dunlop Uni-Vibe has load of IC (chips), JFETs, Buffers, Transistor arrays, etc, none of which were part of the original Uni-Vibe circuit. Most players in-the-know are aware that any extra components in the signal chain will effect the sound/tone and is the same reason why true-bypass is so popular these days, if it doesn't belong, get it out'ta there.

Note: for more about how IC chips can sound different than transistors click here.

 


2014 Dunlop UV-2

This is the new Dunlop UV-2 unit, it's got a new name UNIVIBE (as opposed to "Uni-Vibe") but hold-on, don't get too excited, this new vibe by Dunlop appears to be quite unlike an original uni-vibe:

 
 

On their new vibe Dunlop decided to go all FET (no lamp & photocells) it's built like their Phase90, well, what more can be said. Dunlop's latest version kind'a looks like they threw-in-the-towel and gave up, not even trying to make an authentic lamp & photocell uni-vibe anymore. Quite ironic as they are holding onto the tradename but not producing an original circuit.

 

Compare the pictures above with our Classic Vibe CV-2TM and Vibe-BabyTM (pictured below) both of which conform to the original vintage Uni-Vibe schematic all transistor and using photocells and lamp.


Classic-Vibe CV-2


Vibe Baby CV-2

 

 

 


 

The Rotovibe

 

Some people think the Dunlop Roto Vibe is a uni-vibe built into a wah shell (like our Vibe-BabyTM pedal) but that is not true.

 

The original Roto-Vibe was indeed a Uni-Vibe, but sold under another name (by Lafayette Radio Electronics). Back in the day a lot of Japan manufacturing was sold re-branded under other names.
(the same way as with products from China these days)

 

I believe both trademarks (Uni-Vibe and Roto-Vibe) were obtained by Jim Dunlop in a deal with Korg.

 

Lets take a look under the hood of the Dunlop RotoVibe... wha'sup?, look what we find when we pop the back cover off:

Absolutely nothing like the original uni-vibe, the Dunlop Roto Vibe has only the name in common with the original Roto-Vibe circuitry:

The Dunlop RotoVibe is built with plenty of IC's chips not part of the original Uni-Vibe/Roto-Vibe sound, and most notably it uses LED Opto-isolators instead of the Bulb/LDR setup.
(the bulb and photocells are a big part of what makes the Uni-Vibe sound unique).

The Dunlop RotoVibe is actually built much more like the 4-stage MXR Phase-100 than a real vintage Uni-Vibe.

Note: for more info on how IC chips can sound different than transistors click here.

 

Compare the Dunlop Roto Vibe circuit board (below left) with our Vibe-Baby CV-2TM circuit board (below right):

We do it all analog, all transistor, and
faithful to the original audio path!

 

 

If you want the best original Uni-Vibe sound in a pedal
you'll really want a

Classic Vibe CV-2TM   -or-   Vibe-Baby CV-2TM

 

 

 


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All trademarks and copyrights referenced on this webpage are the property of their owners. Uni-Vibe® and Rotovibe® trademarks are currently held by Dunlop Manufacturing Univox® and Unicord® are retired trade marks of their owners Deja-Vibe® and Mini-Deja-Vibe® are trademarks of Fulltone Classic Amplification is not affilliated with them, or their trademarks in any way.