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Best tremolo pedal for imitating Leslie

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  • Best tremolo pedal for imitating Leslie

    Between things like Dunlop's Univibe/rotovibe and others, does anyone have any recommendations for an effects pedal that does a decent Leslie impression, to use on my M3 with line out mod? I'd especially like to be able to control the speed with an expression pedal to imitate the Leslie spinning up. I'm aware that nothing is really going to perfectly imitate the mix of tremolo (from the speakers spinning around and facing towards and away from the listener) and vibrato (from the Doppler effect of the speakers moving closer to and farther from the listener) but I've heard some tremolo effects that at least sound similar.

    I'm not necessarily looking to add anything physically to my organ like the trek ii units at this time. It's a very early and sort of pristine M3 and the line out is done non-permanently with alligator clips.

    Last edited by RLangham; 05-09-2022, 11:57 AM. Reason: Added details

  • #2
    Hey, I dont know what you expect from it, but I dont think really any Tremolo pedal is really going to give you THAT sound, I would really reccomend investing into a Ventilator, believe me that it will be worth your money. Sure, it might be comparatively pretty expensive, but combined with an M3 you will definitely get a gnarly sound.


    • #3
      Scuid is right, there are lots of tremolo pedals out there, some of them more like a leslie than others, and you could give some of them a try, but the best effects unit for this type of sound is the Neo ventilator and successors. They are expensive, but they are probably the closest you are going to get outside a real Leslie.

      Current: Allen 225 RTC, W. Bell reed organ, Lowrey TGS, Singer upright grand
      Former: Yamaha E3R


      • #4
        Does the Neo Ventilator (sounds like something from anime) have a standalone unit? I was under the impression that it always replaced a cheek block, and I do not current want to modify the furniture on this organ.

        If it has a standalone unit then my choice comes down essentially to Ventilator or this pedal I tried at the music store yesterday a little after posting this... Lester K (or Lester G) from electro harmonix.

        It's 200 and change for the smaller K unit but it's better than I even expected: it has stereo output to simulate a double mic'd Leslie (or you can turn the balance all the way over to where it outputs to one of the two jacks), it has adjustable speeds for fast and slow and a foot switch that selects between them, with realistic acceleration and deceleration, and to make it that much more tempting to me specifically, built-in overdrive that sounds quite a bit like Rick Wakeman's tone on Roundabout.

        The G (which I can probably get used for the same price as a new Lester K) also lets you change the acceleration or control speed with an external CV expression pedal, which I'm buying for my synthesizer soon anyways.

        I'd wonder how you'd think that would stack up against the neo Ventilator... I admit I don't know enough about it to say.


        • #5
          I have a Hughes & Kettner Rotosphere. They're hard to find, but they make that sound happen well enough. Mine is noisy, though.
          I currently use it on my guitar rig.
          I've been looking at the Lester pedals, as the Lester G totally got my attention a couple of weeks ago. Seems like it'd be a bit more quiet than my Rotosphere.
          How did the Lester G sound to you?


          • #6
            Originally posted by loveofjazz View Post
            How did the Lester G sound to you?
            I only demoed the K model (they had a G there but I didn't have hours to fool around) and only with an "8888888" B3 sound from a Yamaha stage keyboard they had there. But the K sounded quite good even running only into one set of monitor speakers in the music store's keyboard room.

            K has fewer parameters and I don't think it can take a CV pedal, but it should have the same engine from what I saw. I think either will be decently powerful running into two keyboard amps. I don't think I'd ever mistake it even in that setup for a real 122, but then again that's true even of some single-rotor Leslies. It sounded as good as the onboard simulated Leslies on recent Nord stage pianos, I'll say that.

            The G is on my list, but I'm buying a Keystep midi controller for my synths next so it'll have to wait until I've paid that off.


            • #7
              Neo Ventilator II pedal...an excellent option to a real Leslie! I've been using it for five years now in the two Classic Rock bands I perform with using a Trekii Line Out Box on my B3. Hauled Leslies for years. We're using IEMs on stage. So, trying to keep the stage volume down along with eliminating open mics. The Ventilator replicates a mic'd Leslie extremely well. Plus, it has features to increase Drive, rotation of the horn and lower rotor etc etc. Of course, output can be routed to an amplifier. I use a Mackie SRM 450 if a live sound is needed. Otherwise, direct to the Front of House Board.


              • #8
                The first Neo Ventilator in 2009 was a great investment.Has held it's value because it is THE gold standard by which all others are judged,direct comparison with these tube Leslies confirm what my ears also tell me. Almost nine years between purchases of these, the recent one in 2019 was off CL for 200CA,
                Made the forty minute drive the moment it appeared and got there first.Would buy another one if offered! 200CA was a great deal for that pedal.
                A guitarist who never owned or operated the 'real deal' said the phone had been ringing all morning, but honored my 'call first'!

                They will take a lot of input signal.Direct off a single leg G/ground of an AO28 preamp found in B3/C3/A100/RT3/D100 and barely lights up the overload LED on 'all eights'.
                Even though the A100 here has a TrekII lineout box,I prefer the tone right off the Ventilator from the preamp.All the TrekII does now is split the bass to a sub cabinet.
                These Ventilators would sell today if offered.So would this Nord C2D.The Hammonds and Leslies don't 'fall off the shelf' nearly as fast ,even if they still sound the best.
                Sometimes a product NAILS it,and becomes a legend.Same thing with this Boss CE1 pedal,and this Ibanez 'green' distortion pedal TS9.People keep them for ever!

                A100/251 A100/147 A102/222 B2/142 BV/147 BCV/145 M3/145 M102/145 M111/770 L101/760 T222/HL722 M111/770 no B3/C3!


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Sweet Pete View Post
                  and this Ibanez 'green' distortion pedal TS9.People keep them for ever!
                  Dude...as a kid, I was -such- a Stevie Ray Vaughan fan. I thought I needed the TS9 to sound like him.
                  Years later, when I was working regularly on guitar, I still found that pedal being a go-to as a boost pedal, a dirt pedal, or both.
                  Every time I purge gear, I look at it and ask myself if I really need it or not. It's such a useful tool, I can't turn loose of it, and I don't want to depend on it...but I have depended on it a number of times. I've had my current TS9 reissue for 21 years, I think.


                  • Sweet Pete
                    Sweet Pete commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I remember finding out on the tour bus that SRV had perished in a helicopter crash.Sad day for sure back in '91.Last date of the tour was back home in Vancouver.Waiting in the green room to 'sit in' for a set was John Baldry's old friend Jimmy Page.
                    Sounded just like himself with no FX pedals.borrowed the opening acts Fender Super Reverb.Some players need nothing....guitar master Gaye Delorme would use the Boss CE1 to great effect,when asked if he recalled the recording details Mark Knopfler couldn't 'recall' it.Too funny as it was actually Gaye Delorme.....Mark was surprised to find out it wasn't himself playing,uncanny likeness of himself.To me? Mark is the guy who sounds like Gaye Delorme.....who sounded like that before anyone ever heard Sultans of Swing!

                  • RLangham
                    RLangham commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Aye sure, but you have to consider old Mark as a whole performer. His lyrics are really just that good.

                    "Now the sun's gone to hell, and the moon's riding high..."

                • #10
                  Although I've not tried any of these pedals that have been mentioned, I would need to hear them to be convinced that it would be in any way possible for them to sound anything like a Leslie! IMHO the Leslie effect is partly due to the acoustics of the room.
                  If you want to play with the speed, I'd look through the small ads and pick up (for free) any old organ with a built-in Leslie. Just keep the Leslie and add a voltage-controller. Any old speed you want!


                  • #11
                    Originally posted by JamesOrgan View Post
                    If you want to play with the speed, I'd look through the small ads and pick up (for free) any old organ with a built-in Leslie. Just keep the Leslie and add a voltage-controller. Any old speed you want!
                    I have a Conn Theatrette with internal drum Leslie that I don't want to dismember. If I had the room to work on it I'd pick up this nearly-ruined Kimball Syntha Swinger at the local antique store for fifty bucks and pull the Leslie that it apparently has. Now that may be an idea... Learn some things in the process... I guess my garage would fit it.

                    But also the compactness of a pedal is advantageous to me. I have moved a small Leslie (700), unfortunately not mine, and found it almost as cumbersome as an M3 to move and more difficult to pick up from the ground.

                    I think you'd be surprised, overall. The Ventilator, from what I've seen, is the better of the two, maybe only slightly, but both have tremendously life-like sounds. The acoustics of a room can be modeled now, and with the multiple outputs that these pedals have, the acoustics of the actual room can still be used in a way that mimics a rotating speaker--including stereo mixing on recordings that imitates in-studio dual or triple micing of a Leslie! It's just not always advantageous to have a big and delicate Leslie or similar speaker, old or new, though I agree that the full power of a two-rotor Leslie cannot be fully replicated.


                    • #12
                      Pedals can be excellent at imitating a recorded Leslie sound. But a live Leslie...nope. Unfortunately (or is that fortunately...for those who can only have a pedal?) there are less and less people who have experienced a live Leslie, and they will compare the sound of their pedal with what they hear on recordings, and find it pretty good.


                      • RLangham
                        RLangham commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Well, to be sure, I've never heard a real two-rotor Leslie in person, only drum Leslies like they have built into the Theatrette, and the 700 my cousin has.

                    • #13
                      Here's another vote for a Neo Ventilator II. I've got one of those with an effects loop AND a line out on my son's M3. The effects loop allows the upper manual to play the Neo Vent through the internal speaker. The line out allows it to go to any other amp. Very configurable as to ramp up/down, mic placement, etc. Sounds fantastic to my ears and worth every penny. I have it hooked up to a CU-1 half moon switch.