Z.VEX Releases $6000 Vibrato Pedal Powered by Candle Light

Update: According to Zvex the price of this machine has been updated to $7500.

This is one for the books: a pedal powered entirely by the heat of a tea candle, from the mind of Zachary Vex at Z.VEX.

Although it’s entirely impractical for gigging musicians, the Candela Vibrophase was meant to be a “wildly more adjustable take on the Univibe” and reportedly has an impressively wide range of flexibility. It was announced by Vex himself just this year, at Winter NAMM 2016. But let’s address the question on everybody’s minds: how exactly does this work?

LP Afuche Cabasa

Zvex Candela Vibrophase

The central piece of this wacky pedal is a Stirling engine, which was invented 200 years ago by Robert Stirling, an eighteenth-century Scottish clergyman, a heat engine that operates by cyclic compression and expansion of gases controlled by differing temperatures.

According to ZVEX Effects, the candle provides three crucial sources of energy:

  • Power for the electronic effect via two high-efficiency solar cells.
  • Power for the spinning modulation disc via a miniature Stirling heat engine.
  • Signal light to activate the photocells in the audio circuit when it shines through the spinning modulation disc.

"The disc can be designed by the user, or the included starter discs may be used," the manufacturer said. "These are easily snapped into place on their mount and are adjusted to come to rest against the flywheel on the Stirling engine. The candle is inserted and lit and adjusted to the proper height, the flywheel is spun, and the speed is adjusted using a large spherical magnet. The electronics package is adjusted to receive the proper amount of light, and the unit is ready for use."

If this all seems too complicated, that’s because it is. But the Vibrophase wasn’t meant to be compact or even practical. Vex chatted with YouTuber The Tone King at NAMM, telling him the pedal was meant more as an “inspiration piece” to be kept at home or in a personal studio.

But because the pedal took about 77 hours to build, your bank account might take a hit if you’re thinking about buying. The Candela Vibrophase, as it is right now, will cost you $6,000.

So does anybody have a spare $6k lying around?

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