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Earthquaker Devices Aqueduct Vibrato

Can this vibrato pedal quench your thirst?


by Chris Loeffler


Vibrato is, by this reviewers count, one of the most underserved effects categories available for guitar. Whether driven by a lazy, 100%-wet LFO modulation for a passable, if uninspiring, coloring of tone or yet another VB-1 clone, one of the potentially most expressive of effects has yet to reach its potential… until now. 


The Earthquaker Devices Aqueduct is a dedicated vibrato effect pedal that creates true pitch bending through time-delayed signal processing and features three knobs, Speed, Depth, and Mode. The Aqueduct runs on a standard 9v power supply and features true-bypass switching.


What You Need to Know


With only three controls, the Earthquaker Devices Aqueduct is both immediately accessible and undeniably deep. The Depth and Speed controls provide an intuitive control panel for standard vibrato modes like sine, triangle, ramp down, square, and random waveforms. Three dynamic envelope modes allow for the input signal of the guitar to activate the speed, depth, or pitch of the effect in real time.


The Speed and Depth knobs see most of their work happening between 10 and 2, with anything below that being so subtle it will likely be lost in the mix and anything above that veering into the seasick territory of near non-musicality.


The Sine wave will be instantly familiar to anyone who has played with modulation effects in the past, and the Triangle and Square waves introduce more dramatic, effected tones that will likely find their way onto future albums but that lack the organic naturalness of their more subtle brethren. The Ramp mode creates a cycling pitch up and dramatic drop and the Random mode seems to pick various snapshots of the sonic cycle of the vibrato effect for a sample-and-hold feel.


Aside from the five more traditional modes, the Aqueduct’s really makes its statement with its three dynamic modes. An envelop controlling depth, speed, or pitch responds dynamically to how hard you pick. The rate control sets the sensitivity and the depth sets the wet/dry mix. The result is truly an effect that feels like it lives, breathes, and responds to your playing. Within minutes of dialing in my preferred sensitivity I found myself in complete control of a virtual whammy bar (something I’ve never been great at). With the Depth mode, the vibrato pulses into being based on the input signal, creating an expressive equivilent to using the vibrato arm. The Speed mode takes the vibrato from static to almost tremolo-like statacto before settling down.


The Pitch mode, however, is what it going to get most people excited. It's effectily Kevin Shields in a box, perfectly recreating the sound of leaning in on the whammy bar to bend a note into (and out of) tune. The moment I was able to effortlessly lean in to notes and have them bend back into key I found it hard to turn the pedal off.




Without a visual indicator, the envelope controls can be challenging for a first-time user. I found one of my guitars to have too hot an output signal to effectively be used with the envelope modes, and had I not been aware of how an envelope works I could have found myself assuming the pedal wasn’t working.



Earthquaker devices blew the doors off the barn with the Aqueduct… it does traditional vibrato to a “T” with just enough vibe to be musical without sounding effected, but the various envelope and step modes are what make it a true pioneering effect. It honors the spirit of vibrato as a tool of expression as opposed to tonal coloration - HC-





Earthquaker Devices Aqueduct Product Page


Buy the Earthquaker Devices Aqueduct at Sweetwater (MSRP $249.00, Street $199.00)






Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer. 



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