Price paid: £ 105
Purchased from: Amazon
Sound — 8
For this review, I'm using a Fender Blues Junior III loaded with a Celestion Cannabis Rex speaker and playing an all stock 2012 Gibson Les Paul Studio faded. The Soul Vibe is the only pedal in my chain and Im using Planet Waves classic series cables. First off, this pedal really is true bypass. Its totally transparent in your chain when it's off - no tone sucking or any change that I can hear. Enable it, and theres an audible click from the stomper and a slight hiss. The click is worse than my Boss Pedals, but the hiss is much quieter. Both were a lot worse when I was using a cheap universal adapter, but with a specialist low-noise adapter there's a big improvement. I play a lot with a mid-range clean tone. When I'm using the pedal, there's a definite jump in volume, gain and treble, but this is adjustable. I have the trim control set to a brighter sound, but it could be changed to push a bassier vibe if you wanted. Still, the jump in volume and gain acts like a tone boost giving chords and notes more presence and definition. Sometimes I even set both dials to zero and run it in the background. The effect itself is a lush, authentic vibe. Check out the sample settings in the manual that include Breathe by Pink Floyd, a Leslie Simulator and Machine Gun by Jimi Hendrix. The Soul Vibe is a real Lyre Bird in this respect. It does a good impression of a range of vibe styles. With the intensity maxed, it offers flanger-style swirls on clean tones but easily transitions to Leslie-esk thumping Wah by pulling back the intensity and cranking the speed dial. Add some grit to the mix with a fuzz box and you have a roaring, balls-out blues tone that combines gain and psychedelics.
Overall Impression — 7
If you're in the market for a uni-vibe, then the Soul Vibe is worth a look. It's priced in the middle area of these pedals and borrows attributes from those at both ends: the price doesn't make your eyes water and it has a quality feel and sound. The downside to this is the pedal could be seen as sitting on the fence. The price isn't so fantastically cheap that you wouldn't blink before buying it, like the Danelectro Cool Cat, and the sound isn't so jaw-dropping that you simply have to save up for it - think Dunlop Hendrix Vibe. But if you want a reliable pedal that's going to get you close to those vibe tones, then the Soul Vibe delivers. Video from YouTube:
Reliability & Durability — 8
The metal case is tough, the plastic underbelly feels sturdy, the stomper could handle the best-fed guitarist and the dials are even made of metal. It's had plenty of bumps and scrapes since I've had it, and though the pretty paint job is dented and scratched, I've got no worries about durability. Reliability is let down by the slightly strange problem of screws on the back panel. It's already annoying that you have to unscrew the base to access the trim control, but it's made worse by the use of poor quality screws. The heads mash up despite using the correct screw-driver, which meant replacements were necessary. No other reliability issues to mention though, and generally it's well made.
Ease of Use — 7
The BBE Soul Vibe is a pedal modelled on the Shin-Ei Uni-Vibe, which was made famous by artists like Jimi Hendrix and David Gilmour. It's a unique effect that combines tremolo, chorus and Wah sounds together to add a rich, psychedelic sound to your rock or blues tone. The soul vibe is a great pedal that gets close to those classic tones, whilst the intuitive controls also allow a player room to find their own voice. Two dials control the speed and intensity of the effect, and an internal trim control manages how bassy or trebley the sound is. The dials offer such a range, you might never need to unscrew the back to use the trim control, which is fiddly, but I certainly recommend it. Throw in an analog circuit and true bypass, and what we have is a classy pedal for just 105 inc. postage. The lack of adapter outside North America is a let-down - 9V batteries or, preferably, a 9V AC adapter will work. Try the low noise Boss PSA-230ES.