The box may not be truly tiny—but the Uni-Vibe-style sounds are totally huge.
Deep, luxurious, detailed, and very authentic modulations. Nice attention to detail.
No expression pedal option. Rate wheel not as expressive as treadle.
Sabbadius Tiny-Vibe 69
Argentina's Sabbadius is not messing around when it comes to Uni-Vibe-style pedals. Their authentically styled and photocell-driven Funky-Vibe pedals come in five incarnations—including models designed to replicate Jimi's Uni-Vibe sounds from Woodstock and the Fillmore East shows that birthed the Band of Gypsys LP. They also build Funky-Vibes intended to replicate variations built in 1968 and '69.
To this already overflowing stable, they now add the Tiny-Vibes—two compact (4"x 5 1/8") descendants of the Funky-Vibe that use circuits that are nearly identical to their larger siblings, stuff them in a more compact enclosure, and switch out treadle-operated speed control for a side-mounted rate-control wheel. I had the pleasure of testing the Tiny-Vibe 69. While I'll confess to longing for some of that expression control, particularly because the pedal sounds so much like an original, it was still a real pleasure to get lost in its deep, immersive washes of modulation.
Spirit of ’69
The original Uni-Vibe is a well-studied circuit, and its associations with Jimi Hendrix and David Gilmour alone assured that each of the minor differences between the pedal's early iterations would be dissected down to the last solder. Generally speaking, Sabbadius' 68 Funky-Vibe and Tiny-Vibe pedals replicate the circuitry and sound of the original Honey-built version of the pedal, which some aficionados find more intense at certain settings. The 69 pedals (and the later Shin-Ei-built Uni-Vibes that inspired them) are regarded as smoother and a bit more elastic, or "chewy" in the parlance of phase heads. In even simpler terms, you can think of Sabbadius' 68 as "Machine Gun," while a 69 is The Dark Side of the Moon.
If you can find a dealer where you can try all these pedals alongside each other, it would be pretty cool to dig deep into the micro-differences between them. With just the 69 on hand, I didn't have that opportunity. But whether you're chasing Hendrixian highs or slow-burning Floyd-style undulations, the 69 sounds super convincing and, at times, thrilling.
More so than many pedals, the Tiny-Vibe can feel like a collaborator in spontaneous composition, and there's a real, visceral thrill when it happens.
Sabbadius doesn't take shortcuts to making the Tiny-Vibe sound like the real thing. It's a true photocell-driven optical circuit (where modulations are activated by a pulsing lamp and light-dependent resistors). The pedal also runs exclusively at 18 volts, so you'll have to get a dedicated power source or allocate the 18-volt slot in your power supply.
If you've had the pleasure of playing a vintage Uni-Vibe or one of the more authentic replicas (like the Funky-Vibe), you'll recognize the controls used here. An output volume control adds gain that can range to a fat overdriven tone that dovetails well with the Tiny-Vibe's modulations. The intensity control, which has a lot of subtle variation, is also a carryover from the vintage Uni-Vibe, as is the chorus/vibrato switch. The two controls you won't find on a vintage Uni-Vibe are the true bypass switch, which bypasses the modulation and gain entirely, and the cancel switch, which takes the modulation out of the equation and leaves the preamp in the line—a very nice tone sweetener depending on your tastes.
The Tiny-Vibe is thoughtfully assembled and sturdy. The side-panel placement of the speed knob, and its substitution for expression pedal control of modulation rate, is a design factor you'll need to consider depending on the density and layout of your pedalboard. It's not easy to operate the speed knob when it's situated in the middle of a gaggle of other stomps, so situating it at the right side of a board is key. But even when situated ideally, there is no substituting the functionality, feel, and expressive outcomes of using an expression pedal. If this capability is key to the way you interact with a vibe-style pedal, you may want to consider the full-size Funky-Vibe.
Tiny-Vibe's deep, underwater chorus tones aren't easily replicated with most inexpensive vibrato units or phasers. The optical circuitry and high headroom enabled by the 18-volt power make the chorus tones extra liquid and creamy. Driven by heat from a silicon Fuzz Face-style circuit, the Tiny-Vibe is deeply Band of Gypsys-like. Filthy fuzz textures mesh seamlessly with the phase undulations, and the modulation rarely seems to completely obscure melodic or picking details. It's exhilarating to hear the fuzz shift in texture and harmonic makeup as notes, bends, slurs, chords, and double-stops collide with various spots in the phase wave. Everything from screaming, peaky highs to deep, wavy low-end wash leap to the fore depending on your phrasing and timing. And it's easy to see why Jimi embraced the Uni-Vibe at one of his most improvisational phases—there is an organic give and take that occurs when you use the Tiny-Vibe which creates happy accidents and nudges you in unexpected directions. More so than many pedals, the Tiny-Vibe can feel like a collaborator in spontaneous composition, and there's a real, visceral thrill when it happens.
Without fuzz, the 69 just as easily takes on the slow, stony, luxurious waves of Gilmour's parts on "Breathe," and sounds distinctly more elastic than most phasers. The intensity control also enables very pretty variations that can be subtle or dizzyingly deep.
If you're not wildly dependent on the phrasing possibilities derived from expression pedal operation, it's hard to imagine a more satisfying way to get vintage Uni-Vibe sounds. The compact size is a big plus, and the speed wheel is effective, just in a different way than a treadle. There's a very good chance that once you dive into Tiny-Vibe's deep, luxurious waves, you'll be hooked.
A beginner's guide to nailing the basics of heavy metal.
- Understand the basics of heavy rhythm guitar.
- Learn to effectively palm mute.
- Create riffs in the style of Tony Iommi, AC/DC, and more.
When musical comedy duo Tenacious D proclaimed, "You can't kill the metal/the metal will live on," they were actually preaching some serious gospel truth. Since its genesis in the late '60s and early '70s, the genre known as heavy metal (along with its myriad offshoots and subgenres) has been one of the most consistently popular, enduring, and evolving. Because many beginner students start out by strumming cowboy chords on an acoustic steel-string, making the leap to playing metal seems as daunting as trading in a pedal tricycle for a Triumph Rocket 3. But by mastering a few basic picking-hand moves, anyone can tap into the visceral thrill and unmatched power at the heart of "The Metal"!
Progressions of Power
As amp manufacturers began incorporating more gain (aka overdrive or distortion) into their preamp stages, players altered their techniques to exploit this added sustain. Dialing up the gain meant adding overtones to your sound and this made full-voiced open chords indistinct and muddy.
A simple solution to this sonic dilemma was to pare down chords to just the root and 5. These "5" chords (also known as power chords) are harmonically ambiguous (lacking a 3 that would designate them as either major or minor) but sound thick and full when cranked through an overdriven amp.
Ex. 1 shows some power chord re-voicings of commonly played open shapes. I use a first-finger partial bar on the E5 and A5, and rest my first finger on the 5th string to mute it while grabbing the G5. The key here is to play less strings than you normally would, thus eliminating thirds completely.
One common—but surprisingly unnamed—picking-hand technique employed when articulating power chords involves attacking the lower strings with a short, aggressive "slap" or "push" motion that originates from the wrist as opposed to a traditional strum which originates from the forearm.
Ex. 2 takes our chord shapes from the previous example but adds the element of syncopation by striking them on the off beat, or the "and" of beat 4. This rhythmic displacement of power chords was a distinct technique exploited by AC/DC's Malcom Young, one of the architects of heavy rock rhythm and it sounds undeniably cool against a solid backbeat.
Hells Bells - Malcolm Young Isolated - Live at Donington
Another power chord pioneer, Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi, developed a style that relied heavily on the moveable two-finger power chord grips used in Ex. 3. This was largely done as compensation for an industrial accident that sliced off the tips of several fingers on Iommi's fretting hand, but ultimately gave Black Sabbath a distinct riff-based sound that would become the blueprint of most heavy metal styles. Among other things, this economic grip enabled legato movement between chords as evidenced by the slide on beat two of both measures.
BLACK SABBATH - "War Pigs" (Live Video)
While playing power chords through a high-gain amp or stomp box provides epic sustain, to churn out driving percussive eighth-note rhythms it's essential to master the palm mute technique. The name palm mute is something of a misnomer since it's actually performed by resting the outside edge of the picking hand on the bridge just enough to make constant contact with the lowest strings and dampen them. Make sure that the bridge and not the strings are bearing the weight of your hand or the sound will be too choked off. Also remember to strike those low strings with a short aggressive wrist motion, as opposed to a traditional strum motion. I tell my students that strumming is a bit like using a paint roller to cover the walls while palm muting is akin to using a cut brush to paint the corners. It may take some trial and error to find the right equilibrium between contact and pressure with your fretting hand, but once you're in the sweet spot, try playing the palm muted power chord progression in Ex. 4.
Stylistic nuance can be achieved with the palm mute by accenting certain beats. Very often the accented chord stabs can be enhanced by only playing single root notes on the unaccented articulations. In Ex. 5, the previous chord progression is now enlivened by adding an accent on the first beat of each measure [ONE and two and three and four and] and playing a single palm-muted root rote for the rest of the measure.
Getting In Sync
Once you've mastered accented palm mutes, they can be strategically deployed to add rhythmic complexity and sophistication to progressions by syncopating certain beats. A common pattern shown in Ex. 6 takes a measure of eighth-notes and divides them in a 3+3+2 grouping with the accent coming on the first eighth-note of each sub-group [ONE-and-two-AND-three-and-FOUR-and].
A two-bar variation shown in Ex. 7 divides the 16 eighth-notes in a 3+3+3+3+2+2 accent pattern [ONE-and-two-AND-three-and-FOUR-and one-AND-two-and-THREE-and-FOUR-and]. These two motifs are based on the Afro-Cuban clave beat and show up as the rhythmic underpinning in literally thousands of songs of all genres.
We've been relying heavily on downstrokes so far, but basic fluency with alternate picking techniques is a must-have skill for playing rhythmic and melodic patterns with speed and accuracy. One of the challenges beginners seem to have with alternate picking is approaching strings on an upstroke. In Ex. 8 the fourth note of the pattern moves to an E on the 4th string and should be picked with an upstroke motion. Practice this minor scale move slowly, making sure to place all the alternate strokes correctly. Once you have it up to a reasonable speed, try playing it twice in one position then sliding it up one fret to the next position. Continue moving the drill all the way up the neck.
This and all previous examples can be played with a metronome, but keep in mind that a metronome can't teach you rhythm. It can only refine your accuracy and help increase speed gradually. I strongly recommend learning to grasp each exercise slowly and correctly before dialing in Mach 5 metronome tempos. Accuracy leads to speed, but speed won't lead to accuracy and developing a strong accurate picking hand is essential to mastering heavy metal guitar.
Mystery Stocking is almost here! Be sure to sign up for PG Perks so you don't miss it!
Mystery Stocking is coming November 29 at 11 AM CST!
About Mystery Stocking
Each year, Premier Guitar likes to put out these mystery boxes as a part of bringing some fun to the holiday season. Remember, this is supposed to be a fun holiday treat! If the contents of this box will ruin your holiday, deplete the last of your bank account, or end your ability to see the good in humanity, it may not be for you.
- This year's Mystery Stocking will cost $39.95. The cost includes shipping.
- Each box will be guaranteed to contain $40 or more in value.
- US only. (Sorry World.)
- Make sure your shipping address is correct on the initial form.
- Have your credit card ready to go before you refresh the page. Paypal is not available. Autofill may not fill in your information.
- There will be NO REFUNDS given.
- There has been a huge demand for these in the past. We really did sell out in less than 4 minutes last year. When they are gone, they are gone.
- One per household, one per person.
Q: What's in the Mystery Stocking?
A: It wouldn't be much of a surprise if we told you, now would it?
Q: Will I definitely get my money worth?
Q: Can I return it if I don't like it?
A: Nope. All sales final.
Q: What if I live outside the US?
A: Sorry, US only.
Q. How much is it?
Q. When will it ship?
A. On or before December 1, 2021.
Q. What form of payment do you accept?
A. Credit cards only. Sorry, no Paypal for this.
Q. Can I ship to a different location than my billing address?
Q. I tried last year and didn't get one. Will I get one this year?
A. There is an overwhelming demand for Mystery Stocking. Be sure you have a fast internet connection and be ready when they go on sale. Last year we sold out in 3 min 33 seconds.
Q. I want to buy 5. How can I buy 5?
A. You can't. This year, we're limiting to one per household, so more people can get in on the fun!