Even though they may not realize it, everyone has heard vibrato. The effect is used by almost all vocalists naturally while they sing. Guitarists can also use it with the invention vibrato pedal.
Vibrato refers to a subtle pitch warbling by a certain number of semitones. It is used around the main note in order to create a richer, more interesting experience. It is a strange alteration to the main pitch that the ear perceives as more distracting than detracting.
The vibrato effect is only natural because the guitar plays in the same frequency range that vocals.
The vibrato pedals of today have many features that were missing in older models. This allows you to control how your pedal performs based on your preferences or what the song requires. You can decide what you want.
Let’s get to it. We’ll discuss the effect and which features you need to ensure are present when you begin to evaluate a purchase. Then we’ll describe what each knob does.
Once you have all the information you need, we will show you our top picks for the current market.
What is the Vibrato effect?
Vibrato is a continuous pulsation in the pitch of a sound. The sound changes by a specific amount, moving through the pitch over and over. Vibrato is an Italian word that means ‘to vibrate’.
Although you may not be able to recognize the effect from a description of it, we have all heard it. Vibrato is a popular technique used by vocalists to end phrases and during long phrases. The misnamed “tremolo” bar, which is actually a vibrato arms, is creating confusion in the guitar industry.
Tremolo effects produce a rhythmic variation in volume and pitch. Vibrato is a constant modulation of pitch. However, an effects pedal offers more options than what you would hear from a violinist or vocalist.
While you might want to keep to the standard ranges of pitch modulation you can also define your own ranges using effects pedals. These pedals include additional knobs like speed, depth and rise time. You have the option to keep it simple and humanistic, or go for something more outlandish.
What are the Top Vibrato Pedals?
Other than one major consideration, there is not much else to be concerned about. You will need to be concerned about the durability of the switches and chassis, and the sound quality of your effect. But there are a few other things you should consider.
The most important thing is to decide if vintage sounds are what you want. You will get the vintage sound if you select a vintage pedal.
Although the tech and electronics in these pedals have advanced, they are not as cheaply made as other types of pedals. Don’t buy too many or you might end up with faulty electronics.
You only need a rate knob to adjust the speed, and a depth knob for controlling the pitch wave depth. An output knob or level knob will allow you to adjust the volume of vibrato guitar effects.
Some pedals include features such as a chorus effect, a way of changing the effect’s waveform, or a tone knob that can EQ the output. These features are not necessary, but they might be something you want. Examples of simple and complex vibrato pedals. Both get the job done.
How to use a vibrato pedal
The vibrato effect is a simple warbling of pitch. It becomes obvious where it should be placed in your signal path. But you must first understand how it works.
WHERE DO YOU PLACE IT IN THE SIGNAL CHAIN
We can create a sequence order of your guitar pedals by using logic to reproduce sound effects from nature. This is the best way to keep your pedals in order.
- Dynamics, Filters, and Pitch Shifters
- Boost & Distortion
Our official article on this topic goes into more detail, but let me say for now that vibrato, a type modulation, will be in the second to last batch. Before adding vibrato, you will need to have established your waveform shape.
There could be a strong argument to insert this pedal in the “filters” section after dynamics depending on whether you use distortion.
You can place it in the modulation section if you don’t want to, as you are changing the pitch of your note. This should happen before any delays or reverbs, as it will cause them to change their pitch instead of giving them an oscillating signal.
UNDERSTANDING KNOB SETTINGS
There are some pedals that only have two knobs. However, there will be many fine pedals with four knobs. We’ll discuss them all. A Speed knob controls the speed at which pitch warbling takes place.
Tap tempo is not available for guitar vibrato, but you won’t need it to control your vocals automatically. A Depth knob will always be visible, which controls how many semitones of warble your receive.
You may want to only oscillate one note in one song, but you can choose to oscillate two or three notes for another song.
Other common knobs include Rise Time and Tone. RiseTime allows you to control an “attack”, where the effect doesn’t delay but is slowly engaged until it reaches full expression. Tone allows you to control the brightness. This is a high-frequency EQ, which you can adjust as you turn it up.
You might see additional options, or labels that are different depending on the manufacturer. However, these are the four most common knob options.
The Best Vibrato Pedals
Note: Every image and text link takes you to Amazon.com, where you can read additional reviews, view technical details, see additional product sizes and options, and make your order.
Let’s now look at the top vibrato pedals on the market. They are not listed in any particular order, except where we highlight our favourite pick. Take your time to look at them all.
They are considered to have met our standards and should be included on the list. There are two other options that are “best in class”, which you can see in the comparison table at top of page.
Let’s begin with the Boss Vibrato Waza Craft. It was a 1982 vintage VB-2 that made a comeback. However, it was difficult to find. Boss will be releasing their Waza Craft series, which includes their previous pinnacle achievements and is refined and pushed further.
This all-analog option features the classic pitch-shifted vibrato but also offers a new mode that allows you to control the effect’s depth using an expression pedal. There’s the standard mode everyone loved, as well as Custom mode which brings a completely new sound thanks to its unique filter waveform.
These can be selected using the S/C switch located below the knobs. You can also control the rate, intensity, and attack independently.
There are three additional modes. Unlatch mode is a temporary activation that activates the pedal while you hold down the pedal. Bypass mode allows you to bypass the signal from its BBD bucket brigade path, allowing it to be used when it is not in use. Latch mode is the standard “press down to turn it ON, then turn it off when you’re done”, mode.
There are many great features, including standard vibrato controls. But what’s most amazing is accessing the original VB-2 sound and the Custom mode. It’s Boss, so it’s almost indestructible. You also get a 5-year warranty. Boss pedals are virtually indestructible with normal usage.
Learn why this one was pulled from the vintage cabinet. This is your best value for money, it’s very affordable but doesn’t sacrifice any features.
- Favorite LedgerNote
CHASE BLISS WARPED VINYL HIGHFI
The Chase Bliss Warped Vinyl hiFi is our “Best of the Best” choice due to its superior quality and multitude of features. This HiFi was developed using the MKII and MKII models.
This vibrato was initially created to mimic the sound of a bent vinyl album waving up and down. It has since grown into the most comprehensive vibrato available. It even has a chorus effect.
Each knob has been digitalized, meaning that it processes your selections and applies them to your analog signal. This gives you an analog processing experience with digital accuracy. This is a significant step forward in the evolution of stompboxes. You can even find dip switches at the back of each knob.
When the dip switch is turned off, the Tone knob acts like a tone EQ controller. It can be turned on to control all or a portion of the knobs depending on the configuration of your dip switch. This opens up endless possibilities that we don’t know where to begin.
The Lag knob, which allows you to adjust the delay between wet and dry signals, is another new feature. This can be controlled with the Mix knob. This latency can be used to create a rich sound or removed completely if you are using the full wet mix level.
The RPM knob can be used to control the rate of the vibrato wave, while the Depth knob controls intensity. You can adjust the symmetry of your vibrato wave to control its speed and release.
The discussion could continue on for hours, but I take it seriously. Let me sum up. Tap tempo control, tap division timings and momentary/full bypass/activation switching are all available. You can also control the waveform’s first and second halves independently. To set the tempo, you can use an expression pedal and even a CV pulse.
This is not only the most transparent and clearest option, but also includes a complete audio manipulation suite. Look no further if this is what you are looking for!
The pinnacle of Quality & Features…
TC ELECTRONIC SAKER
The TC Electronic Shaker is not our “Best Budget Pick”, but that doesn’t mean it lacks anything. This pedal is being offered at an unbelievable price. This pedal is considered the best vibrato pedal. It has a top-notch effect quality and still offers more features than other pedals for twice the price. Let’s get to it.
There are two modes. You have two main modes. The first is the “always on” vibrato. The other is the Latch mode, which gives you instantaneous control. This allows you to only activate the effect while you hold down the switch. These four switches control your normal speed, depth and tone as well as the rise and fall knobs.
When the beast is off, you also get a bypass. A Kill-Dry function removes the dry signal from parallel effects loops. It is built like a tank.
The TonePrint function is perhaps the most innovative feature on this pedal. It is already a top-rated pedal. Download custom-built settings from tons of professionals for free and upload them to your pedal via a computer cable. You can also “beam” them directly from your smartphone.
This is how it works: presets can be beam through Bluetooth from your phone to your pedal through your guitar pickup, so you can perform it live on stage. It’s quite wild.
Tru bypass, buffered bypass and a high-quality vibrato are just some of the crazy features. And that’s before you add TonePrint bluetooth beaming… This is the most affordable, if not the best option.
BBE MIND BENDER
Another option is the BBE Mind Bender. To pass on the savings, they removed a lot more features that were not necessary. However, they still managed to include the chorus effect.
This is a well-crafted waveform that you can adjust only to increase or decrease the effect’s depth. These kinds of effects are great for tempo tweaking, but they don’t really need it.
What’s not to love about this simple pedal? The vibrato has a rich chorus option and is full of vintage warmth. This pedal is not a pedal where you can make mistakes or get distracted from the sound. The pedal has a full bottom end which is great for bass guitar. You also get the small things like non-slip bottom pads and true bypass circuitry.
That’s it. You’ll enjoy the rich, clear sound without any variance. It’s inexpensive and it sounds great. This guitar is a good choice for guitarists who don’t want to spend a lot of money on extra features. All I need is a great vibrato that I can control with a few controls.
Easy to Use with a Thick Vibrato
DUNLOP MXR UNI-VIBE
Dunlop is back with their MXR lineup, this time with their MXR M68 Uni-Vibe. The simplicity of their interfaces is always appreciated. There are only three buttons. These are Speed, Depth, and Output Level. This is why it’s considered the best. It was inspired by the classic 60’s chorus full analog pedal with uni-vibe vibrato and chorus. This pedal reproduces that sound faithfully.
It’s the breadth of controls that is really impressive here. You can change from a gentle vibrato that adds some shimmering character to full-blown extreme modulation. You can keep the bass frequencies intact, and get that warm Jimi Hendrix sound. However, you can modify its sound with an EQ pedal in your pedal path.
It’s warm, but I don’t think it’s boosting or cutting any mids. It is quite transparent, but not as modern players would expect.
This standard form factor, no-noise, transparent, tone changing, or loss, pedal brings back the classic sound of the old days. The ‘univibe’ pedal can be used to produce both a vibrato or chorus effect. This is the one for you if you are familiar with the vintage univibe. Dunlop never disappoints.
PIGTRONIX QANTUM TIME MODULATOR
The vibrato pedal’s superior quality is matched by its attractive design. The Pigtronix Quantum Time Modulator has some very advanced electronics in its enclosure. It is constructed with two parallel delay lines from a bucket brigade, each having their own time clocks.
This allows you to have multiple envelopes or LFO’s that work consistently and reliably. This is a complete modulation suite that doesn’t just perform vibrato and chorus but also does both.
It can be run in stereo, mono, or a mix of dry and wet with any effect that you can think up. It is annoying that the knobs are named differently. The Speed knob is the basic rate control for low frequency oscillators. The Source knob controls the mix between vibrato or chorus. The envelope’s speed is controlled by the Sensitivity.
You can choose one effect to be used in isolation. Speed and sensitivity work as depth and rate knobs. It doesn’t matter what the knobs are called once you hear them. As long as you can twist them, it won’t matter what they call it. This analog pedal can reproduce tons of classic sounds created by rack unit effects processors. It also allows you to experiment and create your own sound.
Don’t let the three knobs fool you. There is a switch to enable vibrato or chorus. However, you can also turn both on at once to increase the richness. This pedal is unique and worth your time. This pedal sounds like Alex Lifeson and Frank Zappa.
Superior Sound & Seriously Advanced Electronics…
These are the best vibrato pedals available
There are tons of vibrato options available. Some follow the uni-vibe method of adding a chorus. This niche of pedals has many great options in every price range. You’re not limited by the quality of the effect, even if you start with that.
Many of these products have tons of additional features that you might love to use. There can’t be compromises when it comes to this list. Each feature must be perfect, and this is what you will find in our top picks of the best vibrato pedals.