Taken from my post on TGP with some updates:
I picked up my Villanova from the post-office on Tuesday and this is my reaction thus far. Before I say anything, please bear in mind that I've never played or owned a vibe before and have never tried a Mojo Hand pedal either. This 'negative' opinion is really just that—an opinion. It does not mean you shouldn't go out and buy one for yourself. It just means it might take me a long time to grow to like it. So here goes:
I'm a bit disappointed. I've said this before but I really dislike the knob choices. Combining different knobs is risky business and should only be done, in my opinion, when they improve the aesthetics of the pedal. Because if it doesn't make it look cooler it's probably going to make it look worse. I know this is just a visual gripe, but it gives off the impression that Mojo Hand added the Mix control well after designing the layout and couldn't find a more... ergonomic way of integrating it. I'm tempted to buy replacement knobs that match. I don't normally care that much about aesthetics, but supporting smaller boutique companies is something I enjoy doing because they go the extra mile to improve their products and better the industry as a whole. I'm probably looking too deeply into this. Maybe I'll grow to love it in time.
As far as other points, the mix knob on mine is a bit frustrating. Between the 10 o'clock and 3 o'clock range the rotation is stiff. It makes fine-tuning a pain in the ass. Also, I had to untighten the little flat-head screws that hold the knobs securely on the shafts because they weren't aligned very well. I understand that this happens, but I did expect more for something that cost me around €210 when you factor in taxes and shipping from America. I've had this problem with other builders like Skreddy before. If guys who charge a lot less can screen print and drill holes accurately every time, why can't the guys who charge, sometimes, double the amount?
Now, as far as sounds, this is my first vibe pedal I've ever tried so my opinion isn't going to be one of experience. I've jammed on it for a few days now and these are my reactions: I don't think I like the sharp and abrupt modulation waveform. It makes slow, sweeping vibe tones almost impossible, and quick exaggerated vibrato downright unpleasant. Maybe I'm missing the point with this, but in my head a vibe should act like a traditional phaser or flanger that is tuned for a basic sine wave and would gradually ramp between modulation ranges in a gradual and fluid manner. This is not like that. The sweep is short and quick, something I wasn't expecting. It makes rhythmical playing a little bit uncoordinated and clumsy. I was expecting more ease of integration into various musical applications. Vibe, in my virgin mind, should work in almost any setting and context due to its huge, expansive, sweeping chewiness. Again, this isn't like that. It cuts in and out rather awkwardly. I have learned to keep the depth and mix control around 12 o'clock, but I shouldn't have to do that. I'm not a flipper so I'll be keeping this for as long as I can, but I'll probably eventually try and trade it for a Dry Bell Vibe Machine.
However, on the bright side, I love how this pedal thickens up my clean signal. The signal is really high in quality. Noise is low (though I haven't tried to run it from a daisy chain) and the tone and volume knobs have extensive range, containing no 'dead spots'. As I said, the depth knob starts sounding ugly past the 2 o'clock range, but the mix knob, despite being restricted in motion, is a solid feature. Vibrato settings aren't my favourite because of the abrupt waveform, but it's nice to have the extra tonality and sound aesthetic, even if it is a subtle effect unless at the top or bottom of the curve. I appreciate what the tone knob does to the sound. Its original purpose—to tame high-end when paired with a fuzz—is met and more. The scope of the speed control is appreciably wide, but I would have loved to get into ring modulator territory. I'm just so used to that by now.
Overall, I'm a bit let down. Again, please take my opinion with a huge pinch of salt. I've never played a vibe before, having stuck to phasers and flangers pretty much all my life. I do have the Blackout Effectors Crystal Dagger, which has a phaser/vibe side that can function as a tunable ring modulator, but it's very different than this—I love it! I'm going to go outside and play more with the Villanova Vibe, but for now, 3/5.