Going Round with Hughes & Kettner’s Tube Rotosphere MKII

August 9th, 2012

By Damian Fanelli

While the sound of a vintage Strat through a Leslie (a massive wooden cabinet outfitted with a revolving speaker) was ubiquitous in the early ‘70s, it might stir up some very distinct “Echos” of Pink Floyd, Peter Frampton, King Crimson and Necktar, not to mention chart-topping singles by Three Dog Night, Boston and Ringo Starr.

If you’re after that wavy, wet, rotating sound in 2012, it don’t come easy (Ringo reference!). You could A. spend big bucks on eBay or B. wait for one to turn up on a New York City street corner (This actually happened to a friend of mine — someone was throwing away a vintage Leslie cabinet!). The good news, however, is that you could C., grab a Hughes & Kettner Tube Rotosphere MKII. It is, simply put, the best Leslie simulator on the market.

The pedal, which is pretty big in its own right and runs on an AC power adapter, has two rotation speeds plus deceleration and acceleration effects. It can be used in mono or stereo mode, which — no lie — makes it pretty much indistinguishable from an actual Leslie (Personal experience here — I have a Rotosphere, and my lucky friend has that NYC Leslie).

Side note: For two tracks that offer pretty unadulterated examples of the real Leslie sound, check out a pair of ‘80s tracks by the Vaughan brothers: “One’s Too Many” by The Fabulous Thunderbirds featuring Jimmie Vaughan (1981) and “Cold Shot” by Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble (1984).

Here’s a decent demo video I found on YouTube. It seems to cover the bases pretty well:

MSRP: $739 | Check out this pedal at hughes-and-kettner.com.

  • I had one of these for years and while it was convincing it was really, really noisy. Some time ago I sold it and bought a Strymon “Lex” which sounds every bit as good, offers greater flexibility and is really, really quiet.