Vintage Uni-Vibe history
and other information

 

The earliest form of uni-vibes 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 foot pedal and had a plug-in CANCEL footswitch, but it used the same circuit board, transformer, and other internal parts as the early Uni-Vibes were built with. Same product, same factory, and likey same people building them.



This Vibra Chorus has had a re-cap job done

 

Honey Catalog 1968

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, they too were re-branded and sold under other names:


RandS re-branded Phase Tone PT-18


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

 

Jimi Hendrix song Machine Gun was a fine example of Uni-Vibe use, Robin Trower also made good use of the Uni-Vibe in songs like Bridge Of Sighs, Daydream*, and the second half of Too Rolling Stoned, while David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) used a Uni-Vibe in many songs such as Us And Them. All these are very fine examples of the unique Uni-Vibe tone we know and love.
*(producer Matthew Fisher added Uni-Vibe by re-amping Robin's track)

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
The 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).

 

So anyway, 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, gave up, not even trying to make an authentic uni-vibe anymore which is 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 with our Vibe-Baby CV-2TM circuit board below:

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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