As guitar players, we sure do love our toys don’t we? I don’t know about you but I have oodles of gear, and I’m constantly adding to my sizeable collection of equipment.
But there’s always been a certain effect that I’ve largely ignored. I was always more of a garage rock kind of guy, and though my tastes in equipment have been pretty varied I’ve never gotten around to trying a decent Uni-Vibe-type phaser.
And among phaser pedals, there’s arguably no example more sought after than the Uni-vibe. And considering that Uni-Vibes are a bit out of my budget, I decided that I’d start looking at modern recreations.
The first pedal to really catch my eye, the TC Electronic Viscous Vibe, has garnered a reputation as being one of the best recreations of the classic design on the market today. But the question is, how good is it?
So generally, pedals that are trying to recreate a more famous example aren’t really more than gimmicks. Sometimes they sound good, and sometimes they don’t, but at the end of the day they don’t bring anything new to the table.
However, the Viscous Vibe is a bit different in that regard. It comes stock as a Uni-Vibe inspired pedal, but it also comes in TC’s Tone Print pedal enclosure. This allows players to go online and download different setting to drastically change the voicing of the pedal, which is definitely an idea I can get behind. It adds a lot of utility to the pedal that wouldn’t be there otherwise, which definitely increases its value for discerning musicians.
Aside from that, the Viscous Vibe comes with the standard Uni-Vibe controls. Players can switch between the commonly used chorus effect, as well as a vibrato function. And of course there are the speed, depth, and volume knobs.
As of right now, the TC Electronic Viscous Vibe retails for under $120 which isn’t really all that steep all things considered. The pedal is flexible, is built well, and has more than enough features to satisfy the average guitarist.
Describing the tone of the Viscous Vibe is a bit tricky considering how flexible it is, as well as the fact the voicing of the pedal itself can be changed through the tone print technology. However, there are definitely a few useful bits of information about the sound of the Viscous Vibe I’ll be able to pass on to you.
For instance, in chorus mode the Viscous Vibe has a prolific low end response. Seriously guys and gals, in the right context this thing sounds huge. And if you pair the pedal with a rig that emphasizes treble and high-end response, the pedal can handle everything from raucous fuzz a la Jimi Hendrix to more contemplative phaser work along the lines of David Gilmour.
But on the other hand, the default setting of the Viscous Vibe can get a bit flabby when used in conjunction with a darker voiced rig. For example, you may find that the dynamics and tone of your guitar would get lost when you’re using the pedal for jazzier clean lines, or if you’re trying to use it to beef fill up your rhythm guitar tone.
But everything considered, that’s kind of a non-issue when you consider the Tone-Print technology. All it really means is that if the chorus voicing of the pedal is a bit too dark for your rig you’ll just have to do a bit more tweaking to get it set to your preference.
And as far as the vibrato goes, I didn’t have any complaints. I didn’t really find that it had any frequency range it emphasized to excess, and I was more than pleased with the response I got. When compared against its peers, I don’t think that the vibrato function of the pedal is lagging behind in any way.
What I Think
At the end of the day, the TC Electronic Viscous Vibe is a solid phaser/vibrato that’s well worth its cost. You would be hard pressed to find anyone who can criticize the pedal objectively.
Sure, there are going to be cases where people don’t like the sound of Viscous Vibe but that holds true with any piece of gear. I mean, there are people who can’t stand the sound of vintage Gibson acoustics too. There is no perfect piece of gear that’s going to be able to please every guitar player.
But in my time with the pedal, I found the Viscous Vibe to be a rugged and flexible piece of gear. I liked the sound I got, and I would have no concerns about using this pedal live or in the studio. And in all honesty, nothing beyond that should ever matter.
Choosing the right pedal can be hard, but hopefully with this article we’ve made your decision a little bit easier. If you have any experiences regarding the TC Electronic Viscous Vibe, tell us about it in the comments section below. Happy shopping!