Hundreds of classic guitar tracks featuring a genuine Leslie rotating speaker cabinet were recorded during the Sixties and Seventies.
Some of my personal favorites include recordings by the James Gang (“The Bomber”), Pink Floyd (Dark Side of the Moon), Peter Frampton (almost all of Frampton Comes Alive), Pat Travers (most of Go for What You Know), and various tracks by the Beatles and Led Zeppelin.
Over the years, engineers have developed hundreds of rotary effect pedals that their manufacturers claim can accurately reproduce the sound of a genuine Leslie, but, as good as most of them sound on their own merits, few are up to rather immense challenge. The new Electro-Harmonix Lester G is the latest contender, and it appears that a compact pedal replacement for an unwieldy Leslie cabinet has finally arrived.
The Lester G is the “deluxe” version of Electro-Harmonix’s new rotary speaker effect (the company also offers the less-expensive Lester K, which lacks the Acceleration control and compressor section). The Lester G’s additional features also make it better suited towards electric guitar, as one might infer from the “G” designation. Traditional rotary effect controls include Volume, Slow and Fast rotation speed (with center detents the reproduce the unadjustable slow and fast settings of a real Leslie), Acceleration (which adjusts the transition rate to go from fast to slow settings and vice versa), Balance (low- and high-frequency rotor mix).
A Drive control also allows users to dial in tube-style overdrive, and the compressor section includes Attack and Sustain controls as well as a Squash switch that toggles between different compression ratio settings. There are also Bypass and Speed/Brake footswitches, a mono 1/4-inch input, stereo 1/4-inch outputs, and an expression pedal jack for using an optional expression pedal to manually adjust rotation speed.
The instant that I engaged the Lester G, my guitar rig instantly nailed the thick, chewy, chorus-like guitar tone of Pat Travers circa 1979. The sound is simply more gorgeously lush and musical than any other rotary pedal I’ve tried, and it’s almost indistinguishable from that of a genuine Leslie, particularly when used in a stereo setup. The Drive control and the compressor enable the pedal to deliver rich, expressive guitar tones, while the greater range of speeds and the variable acceleration rates allow users to create effects that a vintage Leslie cabinet can’t produce. The Lester G is the definitive rotary effect that Leslie purists have been waiting for.
LIST PRICE $298.70
MANUFACTURER Electro-Harmonix, ehx.com
• A built-in compressor circuit produces thick, lush tones that are perfect for electric guitar.
• The Acceleration adjusts the rate of transition between the Slow and Fast rotation settings.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Guitarists who love the unique sounds of a genuine Leslie but don’t want to deal with a fragile, excessively heavy piece of vintage gear will rejoice at the Lester G’s incredibly accurate tones, compact pedal format, and expanded versatility.