So this article was obviously triggered by the recent EarthQuaker Devices Aqueduct Vibrato pedal launch. At the time only two other dedicated Vibrato pedals sprung to mind - the old classic Boss VB-2 and TC Electronic’s Shaker pedal. I had quite forgotten about the DigiTech Stereo Ventura Vibe - which I had actually acquired as a backup - for its stereo rotary mode.
The vast majority of ’Vibrato’ pedals out there tend to be the more classic pairing of Chorus/Vibrato. Which I have featured on a number of posts on this site. Dedicated Vibrato pedals are rather fewer and farther between - and I have ended up with this somewhat obvious quartet despite trawling all the usual pedal resources to try to find further alternatives.
I find each of these offers something unique and different, but the new Aqueduct certainly raises the game quite a bit for those who want textural versatility.
I’m not convinced I need a dedicated Vibrato in my pedal-chain - I have a number of multi-modulation pedals besides the Chase Bliss Audio Warped Vinyl Chorus/Vibrato. I certainly think the Aqueduct looks interesting, but I’m not sure I totally need it in my life - even though it sounds as fantastic as Pedal Zone Stefan Fast’s demo below.
Pedals are listed in alphabetic order by brand:
This is still probably the best known dedicated Vibrato on the market - relatively recently re-launched as a Waza Craft version - with the addition of Standard | Custom slider voicing switch. This is the one really that is the benchmark - with its Rate, Depth and Rise Time dials and Latched or Momentary function rotary Mode switch. It's a very decent classic vibrato pedal here with that benchmark sound - but it's also the least versatile one on offer here.
This one had somewhat slightly slipped my mind - I had acquired it as a backup / alternative to my Tech 21 NYC Roto Choir pedal - as the 3rd mode here is a Stereo Rotary one. It is roughly half the size of the Tech 21 and I thought it might come in handy if/when pedalboard space got tight. Otherwise you have Vintage and Modern modes and actually five parameters to adjust here - Speed, Depth, Mic, Tone and Drive. I would have liked it a little fatter and a bit more lush as it can feel a touch thin at times - it does have a pretty decent range of functions though.
This one really is a game-changer here - although as Stefan Fast states, I do think it's a little bit of an oversight to not include a tone dial. Beyond that - this is easily the most fun pedal here to use - with really quick and easy switching in of 8 properly useful modes. Sure the TC Electronic could probably do all those modes - but only one at a time via its TonePrint function. If I was seriously looking to get any of these, then this is the the most likely contender for straight-up vibrato. For a proper rotary effect though you really do need stereo out at least.
This one's been around quite a while also with its Vibrato, Latch and TonePrint modes. Its advantages are all in the TonePrint area - where you can setup your Vibrato in the most specific way - or choose an artist-created on that best suits your needs and playing style. I do think the TonePrint functionality is killer, but instead of a 3-way toggle with only one TonePrint selections, there should be a rotary dial with several. TC Electronic could easily make a pedal to match the Aqueduct - with a rotary Mode selector featuring several TonePrints - but they haven't thought to do that yet.
For me personally I have the Chase Bliss Audio Warped Vinyl II, Tech 21 Roto Choir, Boss MD-500 and Eventide H9 Max - which can all give me different flavours of Vibrato. I don't feel I really need another wholly dedicated pedal just for this modulation.
As I've said variously above - I do find that the Aqueduct is the best 'Vibrato' choice of the above - it is suitably thick and lush sounding. Way too many vibrato's sound too thin and weak. It's a criticism I could level at the Ventura Vibe, although that has the 'Drive' element to help beef up the sound - but I think the core algorithm could do with an slight update too. I think generally players are looking for more versatility out of their pedals - and the Aqueduct is the one that best fits this modern need.
Each of these pedals has their strengths and weaknesses - and the Ventura Vibe's is obviously its full stereo soundstage and proper Rotary mode. The Boss also has legions of fans - in fact I've seen a smattering of all these on various pedalboards. The next two pedals to impact my pedal-chain will be the Jackson Audio Bloom (Compressor + EQ + Blooming Boost) and the still forthcoming Empress Effects Zoia - which is a Multi-Modulation / Component Sequencer pedal - which will likely have options for Vibrato too.
So I really don't think I will be adding a dedicated Vibrato any time soon - but if I were - my current choice would undoubtedly be the Aqueduct.