Two indisputable facts about Leslie rotating speaker cabinets: They sound awesome, and they’re approximately the size and weight of Rhode Island. Since the ’60s manufacturers have attempted to mimic the spinning-speaker effect in a more modest package. And one of the best mimics is the second exhibit in our Museum of Lost Effects.
The Morley Rotating Sound Wah is less well known than an earlier pseudo-Leslie, the Univox Uni-Vibe,forever associated with Hendrix. Like the Uni-Vibe, it a) tried to duplicate the Leslie, b) failed, but c) wound up creating a cool tone of its own. But while the Uni-Vibe milks its modulation from a series of optical sensors, the Morley relies on a rotating disc inside a can of electrostatic fluid. The result is a cool and complex modulation sound unlike any other (and one I’ve never been terribly successful at mimicking digitally).
This technology is descended from the “oil can” delays produced in the ’60s by the Los Angeles-based Tel-Ray company.In fact, Morley was a Tel-Ray spinoff — company founders Ray and Marv Lubow chose the name Morley for their line of guitar pedals based on the boast that this relatively compact modulation effect offered “more-lie,” as opposed to “less-lie.” (Note that I said “relatively” compact, since this beast is far and away the heaviest stompbox I’ve ever owned.)
The Morley Rotating Sound Wah is ugly, clunky, and klugey. If you drop it on your foot, you’ll never walk again. But I think it sounds incredibly cool.
Have a listen and see whether you agree:
So what are some of your favorite Leslie-influenced effects? Anyone every played through a Fender Vibratone? Got a favorite Uni-Vibe clone? Are there any digital replicas that work especially well for you? Wobble on!