The Danelectro Chicken Salad is marketed as a Vibrato pedal, but in actuality it is a budget Univibe clone. Stock it sounds pretty good, but with these simple mods it approaches the tone of a real Univibe. Not exactly, but c'mon, it's a twenty nine dollar vibe pedal!!!
Before going any further I want to comment on the "Tone Sucking" aspect some people talk about. I don't hear it. I've tried the CS at the beginning of my pedalboard chain, at the end, and in between. I use other pedals that have built in buffers with the CS, and the CS has a buffer in it as well. Plus if you are using a vibe pedal in the first place you are probably trying to emulate Robin Trower or Hendrix or David Gilmour, and with all the accompanying overdrive and distortion you're gonna tell me you can hear Tone Sucking? Be aware that the original Univibe (Which the aforementioned players all used...) did not have true bypass, it only shut the lamp down when in supposed bypass mode. It also had a pretty shitty front end with a very low input impedance that loaded down the input signal big time. Robin and Jimi and DG used the original Univibe. Go listen to Bridge of Sighs, Machine Gun, or Any Color You Like and tell me their tone... sucked.
Yes, the switch is rickety and it has a plastic case, crappy pots, crappy jacks, and oh... did I mention... it's a twenty nine dollar vibe pedal!!!
BE VERY CAREFUL DISASSEMBLING THE PEDAL AND PUTTING IT BACK TOGETHER.
You can easily break loose the jacks from the board or push a component against another one and short something out. I know because I've done this!
Here are the mods: Dismantle the pedal and remove both boards. On the board that contains the pots there is a little box with the LDR's and a light bulb, just like the original Univibe. What we are doing is adding a reflective surface inside the box to provide more light to the LDR's, and drilling a hole in the case to allow external adjustment of the trimpot which controls the intensity of the bulb.
There is a lid glued on top of the box.
Score the glue line with a razor knife and carefully pry it off.
When I first read about this, the suggestion was to glue aluminum foil to the underside of the lid but I used aluminum duct tape, it already has sticky and makes it easier.
Attach the foil to the lid, trim it close, then punch through the four mounting holes so you can remount it. Use the flat of a large screwdriver to press the foil flat against the lid.
Re-attach the lid, it should stick pretty good but may need a piece of tape on it. I scraped off the old glue that held the lid on but that may not be necessary.
Next, drill a hole in the case right above the trimpot on the board so it can be adjusted to taste. The trimpot controls the intensity of the light bulb. I just eyeballed where to drill and used a small bit in my Dremel tool, then used a diamond abrasive bit to enlarge it until I could get a small screwdriver in to adjust the trimpot.
And that's it. Two easy mods that essentially cost nothing, for a big improvement. The foil provides reflection for the light bulb and adjusting the trimpot can give more throb, or anything in between. Not sure whether it's the foil or trimmer pot adjustment or the combination of the two that made the difference, but I get a lot more throb like the original Univibe now.
One more thing: The CS goes through batteries like I go through beers on a Saturday night: Fast. The only practical way to power this pedal is with a 9 volt adapter. While you have the pedal apart, cut the battery clip wires and remove the battery clip. A better thing to do in fact is take a soldering iron, heat the connections and pull them out. Trust me, it's for the better. A battery lasts maybe an hour in this thing due to the heavy current drain of the light bulb, which flashes whether the pedal is engaged or not. The battery clip is still there in the pictures below but I've since removed it.
Here are some pictures of the project
Here is the board, you can see the box that contains the photocells and light bulb.
On the left is the trimmer pot next to the yellow cap.
Here the lid is removed and you can see the foil tape attached to the underside.
Note the Photocells and light bulb inside the box, and a better view of the trimpot.
Here is the underside of the case, you can see where the hole has been drilled.
Here is the topside of the case showing the hole.
And here is the reassembled pedal. You can see the trimpot inside the hole.