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Review - The Ventilator, page 3
by Jim Alfredson

(continued from page 2)


To my organist brethren it might seem like sacrilege to use a Leslie on guitar but it's an effect I've always really liked. Must be from all those Pink Floyd records I listened to as a kid!

I knew I couldn't adequately review the Ventilator without touching on the ability to use it with a guitar. As mentioned earlier, there is a push button on the back that switches the input for keyboards or guitar. The difference, according to the manual, is that the guitar setting removes the cabinet emulation from the signal. This makes sense. A guitarist would not want to lose the tone of his/her own amp and cabinet when using the pedal.

I brought the Ventilator to an evening show with my trio organissimo and offered it to the guitarist, Joe Gloss. He was playing through a Peavey Delta Blues tube amp with a single 15” speaker and plugged his guitar into the Ventilator, switched the input to guitar, and ran the mono output to his amp.

I should mention another great feature of the Ventilator: A true analog relay bypass. This means the pedal itself is completely and silently removed from the chain when you press the bypass switch.

Joe is a very thoughtful and tasty player and did not over-use the Ventilator effect during our 90 minute set. In fact, he only used it a couple times but when he did it sounded wonderful. On a ballad, he used the Ventilator on the chorale speed (slow) to add a beautiful chorus-like shimmer to his comping that meshed nicely with my XK3 (going through the Leslie 3300 of course!). And on a few uptempo funk numbers he engaged the tremolo (fast) speed to get that Scofield-esque solo tone.

After the gig, he mentioned how impressed he was with the pedal. I was impressed as well. It simply sounded fantastic on guitar.


The Ventilator is an amazing little pedal. Does it replace a real Leslie? I would have to say no. I still prefer the sound of my Leslie 3300 or my vintage 122 screaming behind my head. But that's because of the visceral experience of air being physically moved in the room and bouncing off different surfaces. There's just no physical way a stationary speaker cabinet can replicate that effect. Even considering how great the Ventilator sounds, on a gig it is still projecting from a single, fixed point in space.

Out in the FOH (front of house) position, it wouldn't matter. But to me, the player, it just sounds strange to have my organ sound coming from one place instead of whirring around my head. It's as if the Leslie is somewhere backstage in another room and I'm hearing it through the monitor. There's nothing wrong with that; but I prefer to experience the Leslie firsthand. I always avoid putting it through a monitor on stage if I can get away with it.

Also, there's something in the very upper frequencies of the organ through the Ventilator that doesn't quite sound realistic to me when it is at full speed, but that's only when listening under headphones and it can be easily lessened with just a bit of tweaking. Lessened but not removed. It isn't a deal breaker by any means. The Ventilator is still by far the best Leslie simulator I've heard.

All that said, I would not hesitate to use the Ventilator on stage, especially when I run across a less than stellar rental Leslie, which happens often on the road. Badly maintained Leslies can make a gig downright painful. You can be sure I'll be packing the Ventilator for every gig from now on, just in case.

Likewise, I can see myself using the Ventilator in the studio when mic'ing a Leslie isn't practical or just for the fun of experimenting. Running different instruments and tracks through it is a breeze. I briefly experimented with running my Wurlitzer 206a electric piano through the Ventilator; talk about funky! I can't wait to try other sound sources like vocals, piano, strings, and even drums. Why not?

Overall, the Ventilator is well worth its $450 price tag. It's extremely well engineered, with just the right balance of features and ease of use. And did I mention it sounds incredible? Kudos to Neo Instruments for their attention to detail and for managing to capture the essence of Leslie's genius with a necessary dose of insanity. Go get one!

Neo Instruments Ventilator - $450 + S/H

(c) 2010 by Jim Alfredson

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