The Shiftee-Vibe is our recreation of the legendary phase shifting effect designed by Fumio Mieda in 1968.
Probably originally inspired by the chorus/vibrato circuit built into Hammond organs since 1949 it functions
quite similarly though it's design is very different.
It is driven by a flashing incandescent lamp surrounded by four photo-resistors operating four phase shifting
stages which are tuned to different frequencies - these unique features make for a unique sound - the time it
takes for the bulb to light and fade adds a distinct "wobble", " swing" or "heartbeat" to the effect' rather than the
metronomic regularity of a "normal" phase shifter (or indeed the Hammond chorus/vibrato which is motor
driven). Also having four separate phase shifters operating on different frequencies gives a wonderfully rich
and three dimensional swirl to the sound.
The original effect was built in a large, grey painted, mains powered box with a separate foot controller for the
speed control (the pedal didn't function without the foot controller) and can be prominently seen on stage in the
Woodstock film. The original effect had no bypass! You could only turn the light bulb off by rocking the foot
controller all the way back - your guitar signal still traveled through the whole phase shift circuitry - it just didn't
Similarly to Hammond's chorus/vibrato circuit - no one uses the vibrato setting! It just turns out that a regular
raising and lowering of pitch is not a very useful effect - every instrument uses it intermittently, either by finger
vibrato or the vibrato (or misnamed "tremolo") arm of a guitar - but you don't really want the effect on every note
(though on faster speeds you can get a quasi-Magnatone vibrato effect) - however it's there for historical
accuracy or for adventurous soundscapers!
While the effect was not produced for very long, it was used quite prominently on Pink Floyd's "Dark Side Of
The Moon" and of course, since discovered by Jimi Hendrix it was a permanent part of his stage and recording
rig. The "Univibe" anthem is of course "Machine Gun" but it is heard all the way through Woodstock and "Band
As original units sell for several thousands of dollars and some of the "reissues" just don't sound like the old
ones, we decided to throw ours into the ring. Ours uses the audio signal path of an early version on the
"Univibe" (which had slightly different capacitor values in the phase shifting sections to later versions) but we
use a modernized power supply, true bypass switching and some slight tweaks to get the biggest swing of
light/dark on the lamp, a slightly wider range of speeds and a little bit more gain.
The original just barely reaches unity gain with the volume all the way up - ours gives a slight boost - also our
intensity control simulates the full depth of the original at just over half rotation - turn it more and you get almost
too much wobbly phasing goodness!