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JHS Pedals Unicorn V2 Tap-Tempo Vibe

Believe in Unicorns?

 

by Chris Loeffler

 

 

The Univibe is one of the most classic guitar effects that you won’t find on most players’ pedalboards today, and hails from the early years of modulation solutions. Unlike chorus, phasing, or flanging effects, which rely on resisters to create a symmetrically modulating LFO, the univibe features a series of photosensitive cells under a shroud that surround a LED and manually manipulate the LFO based on the pulsing of the light. In practice, this creates a slightly lopsided undulation that is subtle but liquid. Some of the most notable users of the effect were Hendrix, Trower, Lifeson, and more. 

 

JHS recently updated and relaunched several modulation and delay pedals from their early lineup with modern updates, tap tempo (a first for analog Univibe effects), and upgraded components, bringing their take on the Univibe curriculum, the Unicorn, back into circulation. The JHS Unicorn V2 Univibe features controlls for Volume, Speed, Depth, Tap Ratio, and a switch to select between Chorus (blended wet and dry signals) or Vibrato (100% wet). The effect is powered by a standard Boss-style 9v adaptor. 

 

What You Need to Know

 

The JHS Unicorn V2 Univibe effect is vintage voiced and deceptively simple to dial in.  The Volume control compensates for any perceived volume drop from unity when the pedal is engaged, and I found a healthy boost on the far end of the sweep that boosted the signal enough to overdrive my amp for a sweet lead boost. 

 

The Depth and Speed controls adjust the duration and strength of the modulation, with barely-perceived motion in the most subtle settings and Leslie speakers about to fly out of their cabinet madness at the most extreme settings. The Depth sets how pronounced the effect is, and the Speed control allows users to manually dial in their rate if they don’t want to tap it in with the switch. The Ratio knob allows 1/4, dotted 1/8, 1/8, triplets, or a blend in-between tap divisions. 

 

The Wet/Dry switch is a call-back to the original Univibe unit, with Chorus mode creating a 50/50 blend of dry and effected signal for more classic modulation tones and Vibrato mode going 100% wet and introducing distinct pitch bending to the overall tone. The Chorus mode feels fuller overall, but there are some fun warped tape sounds to be coaxed from the Vibrato side and the sonic focus of the mode sometimes creates a better fit in the context of sparse mixes. 

 

The JHS Unicorn Univibe holds its own against the Voodoo Labs, Shin-ei, and Aquavibe I put it against, standing out with slightly more headroom and treble fidelity. The noise floor is extremely low and there aren’t any of the awkward points in the modulation sweep I find in  some pedals where the effect gets congested. The sweep is chewy and the transition of the LFO at the start and end of each ramp creates a cool, Doppler-like effect that I find less fatiguing over extended periods than perfectly circular waveforms. 

 

Limitations

 

I would have traded the Speed control for a Tone control for the ability to be darker and more Lo-Fi at times. 

 

Conclusion

 

The JHS Unicorn V2 is a small miracle in that it adds modern tap-tempo controls to the classic vibe effect while shrinking it to probably the smallest form-factor I have come across to date. Unlike many smaller vibe effects, which are actually 2-stage phasers, the historically accurate circuit remains untouched. When traditional modulation effects are too exaggerated or the rise and fall too monotonous, the Unicorn steps up with subtle, liquidy waves that take your tone with them without ever overwhelming. -HC-

 

Resources

 

JHS Unicorn V2 Tap-Tempo Univibe Pedal Product Page

 

Buy JHS Unicorn  V2 Tap-Tempo Univibe Pedal at Sweetwater (MSRP $229,00,  MAP $199.99)

 

                                      

____________________________________________ 

 

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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