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Jim Dunlop Rotovibe

The Dunlop rotovibe, often cited as one of the more unusual pedals available to add to any line up because of its highly retro sound. But is it really something to be feared?  Surely experimentation is part of the guitarists ethos, ever in the search to get ‘that sound’.

I took one of these bizarre beasts for a lengthy test drive in order to try and demystify it somewhat and see what exactly all the hype is about.

Out the Box:

As with most pedals these days the first thing you notice is that this thing is a tank, you pick it up and get the instant feeling you could use it to invade a small middle eastern nation, that’s how solid it’s built.  So that’s a nice start.  All your dials and switches are big chunks of metal jarring out of that solid fire engine red body giving it much more feeling of presence and further reinforcing that indestructible image.  The pedal over all is simple and only takes a few seconds to work out what does what.

You have a tiny little button on the side to switch it between chorus and vibrato modes.  A nice big dial to control the depth of the effect selected and the foot pedal itself to control the modulation.  A nice touch here is that the foot pedal is linked to a pair of LEDs that flash showing you not only the modulation speed but also the mode, chorus in green, vibrato in red.  This is a brilliant idea and just makes figuring out what setting you’ve got it on easily recognisable even in the most dimly lit venues.

The Chorus:

The chorus on this thing is frankly amazing, by varying the depth of it you can set it either as a big sound effect in its own right, or just use it subtly to thicken up your sound and add a bit more body to your lead work.  This is where that foot pedal action really comes into its own, allowing you to choose and vary the speed of the effect is an amazingly powerful tool to have because it eliminates that standard problem that you find with most chorus pedals in which you have to set it up perfectly to start with and then just turn on and off, but not this.

That added foot action gives you a nice flexibility enabling you to better match the sound of your chorus to the song you’re playing at the time.  Brilliant if you’re playing something which mixes faster and then slower moments because with a quick rock of your foot you can stop the chorus becoming too overbearing and then slam it back down full blast for added epic.

The Vibrato:

The vibrato on this pedal, while good, still leaves something to be desired, but I’m not sure what.  There’s no doubt it’s a good solid consistent vibrato and it does what it says on the tin, it vibratos.  Adding in that same flexibility of being able to vary its speed enables you to perfectly match your vibrato to what you’re playing so you can even time it perfectly to the beat of your song on demand is no doubt a wonderfully potent tool.

Maybe this is just personal taste in that I’m not a huge fan of vibrato, but it seems to me that this mode is almost wasted on the pedal since in all the time I was using it I really didn’t feel a need to play with the vibrato at all, not with that amazing chorus a switch flip away.  But if vibrato is your thing, then this pedal is still for you just because of the fluid control offered by that expression pedal.

Over All:

This pedal is definitely a stand out feature on any pedal board, adding an amazing range of sounds to your line up and flexing itself to suit any situation.  A very worthwhile investment indeed.  However with price tags varying from anywhere between $150 and $400 it’s best to shop around and make sure you find somewhere providing a fair price and not just putting on an extortionate price tag because of that delightful vintage tone we all secretly crave.

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4 Responses to “Jim Dunlop Rotovibe”

  1. Neal September 8, 2010 at 12:15 PM #

    Enjoyed the Rotovibe review. I’m always trying to find new sounds without having to spend the cash when its something that won’t do me any good!

  2. guidav October 4, 2010 at 8:54 PM #

    I love any kind of pedal that i can rock back and forth with my foot. In my opinion such pedals are the most expressive and you can be very creative with them. I have used this particular pedal and it is no exception.


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