Vibrato is one of those effects that can offer the gentlest modulation to the wackiest signal alteration and everything in between. A great vibrato pedal can help us achieve this spectrum of the wonderful pitch-varying tremolo effect.
In this article, we’ll discuss the top 8 vibrato pedals in the world. We’ll focus on 5 dedicated vibrato pedals and 3 general modulation pedals with superb tremolo functionality.
The top 5 best dedicated vibrato pedals for guitar and bass are:
- Boss VB-2W Waza Craft
- MXR M68 Uni-Vibe
- TC Electronic Shaker
- DigiTech Ventura Vibe Rotary
- Malekko Vibrato
The top 3 best vibrato pedals for guitar and bass with additional effects are:
- EarthQuaker Devices Aqueduct Vibrato
- Chase Bliss Audio Warped Vinyl Chorus/Vibrato
- ZVex Effects Lo-Fi Vibrato
There are plenty of vibrato pedals on the market and this list is, by nature, subjective. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion of what consitutes the “best”. These 8 pedals are, in my opinion, the best tremolo units for guitar and bass.
Let’s discuss each pedal on this list and the reasons why they are the best.
What Are Vibrato Pedals & How Do They Work?
Vibrato pedals are modulation pedals that produce the pitch-varying vibrato effect.
Vibrato is defined by a rapid, slight variation in pitch. It is typically achieved, with guitar, by rapidly bending the string back and forth at a specified note/fret. The pitch will vary quickly upward and downward and the player keeps his or her fretting hand moving.
Vibrato pedals achieve this same effect electronically.
Vibrato can certainly be achieved naturally by string bending but the vibrato effects of a pedal can do so much more to add interest to the sound.
The electrical circuit can be set to modulate the pitch fast or slower and the amount of variation (depth) can also be controlled.
Vibrato, like other modulation effects, generally finds its home after the gain-based effects and before the time-based effects in a pedalboard signal chain.
Related article: How To Order Guitar/Bass Pedals (Ultimate Signal Flow Guide)
With that being said, let’s talk about some vibrato pedals!
For a more in-depth article on vibrato pedals, check out my article What Are Vibrato Guitar Effects Pedals & How Do They Work?
Boss VB-2W Waza Craft
Let’s begin with the superb Boss VB-2W Waza Craft (link to check the price on Amazon).
This pedal is a remake of the original 1982 Boss VB-2 vibrato, a pedal that was way ahead of its time and cherished by those who used it and sought after by those who didn’t have one.
Like the original, the Waza Craft successor VB-2W utilizes an all-analog design to perfectly reproduce the beloved vibrato effect. In addition to keeping the classic sound, the new pedal offers an innovative new vibrato mode and real-time control function for enhanced expression.
There is a switch on the pedal that allows users to opt for the Standard mode that reproduces the sound of the original and the Custom mode that emphasizes modulation, in which the frequency response also changes.
The pedal can be set to latch, unlatch or bypass mode via a rotary knob. Latch turns the effect on or off each time you press the footpad. Unlatch turns the effect on only when the footpad is held down. Bypass mode is like Latch mode, only that the pedal sends the input signal directly to the output when bypassed.
The Boss Waza Craft VB-2W features the basic vibrato parameter controls with the other 3 knobs:
- Rate knob: adjusts the modulation speed.
- Depth knob: adjusts the modulation depth (pitch variation).
- Rise Time knob: adjusts the time it takes for the full vibrato effect to happen.
An external expression pedal can be connected to control the depth of the effect in real-time.
This vibrato pedal offers exceptional tone through carefully-selected analog components, refined circuitry, and meticulous attention to detail. It’s this detail and sonic quality that puts in on this list!
Boss is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Guitar/Bass Effects Pedal Brands To Know & Use.
MXR M68 Uni-Vibe
Next up is the well-known MXR M68 Uni-Vibe (link to check the price on Amazon).
The MXR Uni-Vibe Chorus/Vibrato delivers classic vibrato (and chorus) tones that have been used since the 60’s in a compact unit with a simple three-knob interface.
This true bypass pedal has 2 modes: chorus and vibrato. Note that, signal-wise, vibrato is simply chorus without the direct signal mixed in, so it’s easy and common for pedals to offer both effects.
3 knobs can be used to control the sound of the vibrato (or chorus):
- Level knob: controls the volume of the output.
- Speed knob: controls the sweep rate.
- Depth knob: controls the overall intensity of the effect.
Simple and highly effective, the MXR Uni-Vibe Chorus/Vibrato gets a top spot on this list and is certainly worthy of a spot on your pedalboard.
MXR is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Guitar/Bass Effects Pedal Brands To Know & Use.
TC Electronic Shaker
Third on the list is a fantastic choice from a Danish pedal manufacture. It’s the TC Electronic Shaker (link to check the price on Amazon).
TC Electronic’s Shaker vibrato pedal sounds awesome right out of the box. Add versatility to the mix and this compact vibrato stompbox definitely gets a mention in this article.
There are 4 knobs to control the vibrato circuit of the Shaker:
- Speed: controls the amount of time between peaks of the vibrato.
- Rise Time: controls the amount of time it takes for the vibrato to reach the maximum intensity as defined by the Depth knob.
- Depth: controls the intensity of the vibrato effect.
- Tone: affects the EQ of the effect.
Like all TC pedals, the Shaker is true bypass for optimal clarity when the pedal is turned off. However, if you do require a buffer to prevent high-end loss, the pedal has an optional buffered bypass switch.
The pedal can be set to latch or momentary.
This pedal has TC’s proprietary TonePrint technology built into its design. Design customizable flanger effects from scratch with free TonePrint Editor or download from the community. Upload these tones wirelessly via a smartphone or hardwired via the built-in USB connector.
All in all, the Shaker from TC Electronic is a great vibrato. It’s built to last; it sounds great, and it’s nice and compact plus it has awesome additional features!
TC Electronic is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Guitar/Bass Effects Pedal Brands To Know & Use.
DigiTech Ventura Vibe Rotary
The DigiTech Ventura Vibe Rotary (link to check the price on Amazon) sounds wild and it has wicked artwork.
The Ventura Vibe Rotary delivers both vintage and modern sounds with three rotary/vibrato effect types. In fact, the pedal offers 3 unique modes, selectable via the toggle switch:
- Vintage: inspired by vintage phaser-based Uni-Vibe effects.
- Modern: original pure pitch-based vibrato effect.
- Rotary: based on a Leslie speaker rotary effect.
Each mode can be further refined with Speed, Depth and Mix controls, offering everything from mild modulation to full out modulation mayhem. The pedal also offers a foot-switchable speed function the allows us to choose between slow and fast ramping speeds on the fly.
In addition to the typical vibrato parameters, the Ventura Vibe also features aa EQ and distortion circuit, adjustable via the concentric Tone and Drive knobs, respectively.
This true bypass pedal offers flexible routing with stereo inputs and outputs. Its impressive tone is produced in a compact stompbox format and the pedal fits nicely on pedalboards. If you’re looking for a versatile pedal with great vibrato, I strongly recommend considering the DigiTech Venture Vibe!
DigiTech is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Guitar/Bass Effects Pedal Brands To Know & Use.
The Malekko Vibrato (link to check the price on Amazon) is a great compact and simple vibrato pedal.
The Malekko Vibrato is an all-analog vibrato in a very compact housing. It utilizes true MN3007 BBD integrated circuits to achieve its classic warm vibrato sound.
The pedal sure is simple but sounds great. Find a spot for the pedal on your board; fine-tune the vibrato with the Speed and Depth controls, and have yourself a superb vibrato effect!
High-quality tone and affordable pricing make this Malekko pedal one of the best vibratos on the market.
EarthQuaker Devices Aqueduct Vibrato
The EarthQuaker Devices Aqueduct Vibrato (link to check the price on Amazon) is a standout vibrato pedal with interesting functionality.
The EQD Aqueduct is a vibrato pedal with a twist. Its got 8 modes that act to modulate the signal’s pitch. This pedal is technically a vibrato but is capable of so much more.
Let’s have a look at the 8 modulation modes to get a better idea of this pedal’s capabilities. Each mode affects the pitch-shifting of the circuit differently:
- Sine: smooth waveform most commonly associated with classic amp-like vibrato.
- Triangle: sharper rise and fall than sine waves with a more pronounced pitch bend at the peak of each LFO cycle.
- Ramp: a sharp sonar pulse followed by a rapid downward slope with a synthesizer-like sustain and release. Similar to a triangle wave.
- Square: produces an instant on-or-off transition between notes. Use this mode for trills when you get tired of doing hammer-ons and pull-offs.
- Random: random pitch-shifting modulation.
- Env D: This is Envelope-Controlled Depth mode. The waveshape is set to a sine wave, the speed of which may be adjusted using the Rate control. The Depth control sets the sensitivity of the envelope – the point at which the effect kicks in as you play. In this mode, your pick attack sets the intensity of the modulation. The harder you dig in, the more pronounced the effect. Try it during your next motorik jam.
- Env R: This is Envelope-Controlled Rate mode where the rate of the LFO is controlled by the input signal level.
- Env P: This is Envelope-Controlled Pitch mode where pitch/depth is controlled by input dynamics.
This EarthQuaker Devices pedal features the company’s relay-based, true bypass Flexi-Switch technology. That means we can simultaneously use momentary and latching style switching. Tapping the footswitch allows for standard latching while holding the switch will automatically trigger momentary operation.
The Aqueduct from EarthQuaker Devices offers superb options for beautiful vibrato and plenty of experimental options. Adjust each mode with Rate and Depth knobs to find the best vibrato sounds for you!
EarthQuaker Devices is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Guitar/Bass Effects Pedal Brands To Know & Use.
Chase Bliss Audio Warped Vinyl Chorus/Vibrato
The Chase Bliss Audio Warped Vinyl Chorus/Vibrato (link to check the price on Amazon) is the company’s first-ever pedal. Its vibrato is superb.
This pedal is the most intimidating on the list. Chase Bliss Audio always delivers highly functional pedals that sound incredible. Their Warped Vinyl Analog Vibrato/Chorus is a perfect example.
This pedal was originally inspired by the effect of a warped vinyl record, hence the name. However, the design is capable of much more, from vibrato to chorus to unique and novel effects with the classic analog sound.
The pedal features an all-analog audio path with a digital circuit. This opens the pedal’s functionality up to effects and features previously unavailable in analog stompboxes.
There’s a lot to know about this pedal and I would suggest having a look at the manual to understand its full functionality. In this article, we’ll cover the basics, starting with the controls:
- Ramp knob: controls the ramp time for the volume, mix, rpm, depth and/or warp parameters (if they are selected via the dip switches to be controlled by the ramp).
- Alt: acts as a tone knob when no dip switched are assigned to ramp.
- Volume knob: sets the level of the effect at the output.
- Mix knob: adjusts the wet/dry mix. This allows for varying amounts of a chorus effect or a full-out vibrato effect (at 100% wet).
- RPM knob: controls the rate of the vibrato.
- Depth knob: controls the amount of pitch variation in the vibrato.
- Warp knob: controls the centre point of the modulation.
- 1/2/4 (3/6/8) toggle switch: controls the tap division for tap tempo.
- Left Wave Shape toggle switch: controls the shape of the first half of the LFO wave modulation. Choose between sine, triangle or square waves.
- Right Wave Shape toggle switch: controls the shape of the second half of the LFO wave modulation. Choose between sine, triangle or square waves.
The dip switches at the top of the pedal offer incredible parameter control. Flip switches to engage ramping or expression control and the direction of the ramp (rising, falling or bouncing). Dip switches can also engage other controls such as momentary bypass, tap tempo divisions, sweep starting positions, and Lo-Fi mode.
The I/O of the Warped Vinyl has a mono input and output along with a Tap jack for external tap tempo and MIDI controls, and an Exp/CV jack for external expression pedal control.
Use MIDI to control whatever you want on the pedal and to sync it with a master clock. An expression pedal can be set to control Volume, Mix, RPM, Depth, and/or Warp by selecting the parameters on the dip switch.
On top of all this functionality, the Warped Vinyl has 10 presets, selectable via a lower toggle switch.
This pedal sounds incredible and its versatility is mind-blowing. That gives it a definite spot on this list!
Chase Bliss also has a MkII version and a Hi-Fi version of this incredible chorus/vibrato pedal.
Chase Bliss Audio is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Boutique Guitar/Bass Pedal Brands To Know & Use.
ZVex Effects Lo-Fi Vibrato
The ZVex Effects Lo-Fi Junky Vibrato (link to check the price on Amazon) is a really cool sounding pedal with great vibrato.
The ZVex Effects Lo-Fi Junky is a two-in-one pedal that offers both compression and vibrato to the signal with the ability to cause a chorus effect by blending the two effects together.
The vibrato is achieved via the Lo-Fi analog BBD circuit. We can adjust the speed and depth of the vibrato circuit along with the modulator waveform (sine, triangle or square). Adjust the tone of this circuit to make it more or less “Lo-Fi” to your liking.
In addition to the Lo-Fi vibrato, this ZVex pedal offers bright and clear compression.
Combine the two with the Comp/Lo-Fi knob to achieve awesome chorus-like effects or dime the knob to the right to only output the vibrato.
- Volume: adjusts the overall output volume.
- Tone: adjusts the brightness of the Lo-Fi signal (the vibrato sound). Does not affect the compressed signal.
- Comp/Lo-Fi: adjusts the blend between full compression and full vibrato mix. Blending creates a chorusing sound.
- Speed: adjusts the speed of the vibrato (only affects the Lo-Fi sound).
- Depth: sets the depth of the vibrato (only affects the Lo-Fi sound).
- Waveform: sets the waveform of the Vibrato’s modulation. Choose between sine, triangle and square waves.
If low fidelity vinyl-like vibrato/warble is what you’re after, then be sure to try out the fantastic ZVex Effects Lo-Fi Junky!
ZVex Effects is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Boutique Guitar/Bass Pedal Brands To Know & Use.