Electro-Harmonix Lester G Deluxe is a fantastic rotary Leslie speaker emulator packed with features for allowing the guitarist the experience of playing through a real Leslie rotary speaker. That is what the “G” stands for. The Lester G includes a specially designed compression circuit to supercharge the rotating speaker effect on guitar PLUS a fully adjustable tube-style overdrive, Fast and Slow modes and an Acceleration control to dial in the rate at which the effect transitions between speeds. Their is also a connection for an expression pedal. This is a fully features effect that is on the large size to fit on some pedalboards.

Electro-Harmonix does also sell the Lester K that is primarily for keyboard players. It is smaller and less expensive. It lacks the compressor, the Acceleration control and the expression pedal control. The Lester K has stereo in and out. This could be used by guitar players looking for a smaller footprint and who already have a compressor.

Leslie speakers where originally designed for the use on keyboards in an attempt to mimic a large pipe organ. They became quite popular and a staple in studios for the Hammond organ. Nothing sound quite as great as a Hammond B3 or C3 running through a Leslie speaker. It was not too long before innovative guitar players found out just how great it sounded to send their guitar signal through one of the these large rotary speakers. Hundreds of great classics where recorded using the Leslie speaker from Beatles, Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Steve Miller, Pink Floyd, Beach Boys, Peter Frampton, Frank Zappa, Todd Rundgren, Led Zeppelin, Pat Travers and many more.

There are still some rock stars that have the resources to carry one of these expensive 150 pound Leslie’s around. Lucky for us their are many great Leslie emulators around that sit inside a stomp box. After trying and owning a few Leslie emulators I picked up the Electro-Harmonix Lester G Deluxe. Nothing like hearing the real thing, but the pedal is way cheaper, convenient, smaller and lighter. Plus real Leslie speakers are mechanical devices that need maintenance.

Hammond B3 and Leslie Speaker

Donald Leslie, a radio service engineer, began working in the late 1930s to get a speaker for a Hammond organ that had a closer emulation of a pipe or theatre organ, and discovered that rotating sound gave the best effect. Hammond was not interested in marketing or selling the speakers, so Leslie sold them himself as an add-on, targeting other organs as well as Hammond. Leslie made the first speaker in 1941. The sound of the organ being played through his speakers received national radio exposure across the US, and it became a commercial and critical success. It soon became an essential tool for most jazz organists. In 1965, Leslie sold his business to CBS who, in 1980, sold it to Hammond. Suzuki Musical Instrument Corporation subsequently acquired the Hammond and Leslie brands.

An animation showing the behavior of a Leslie speaker when running.
1 = Horn enclosure
2 = Compression driver
3 = Treble motor
4 = Crossover
5 = Bass motor
6 = Woofer
7 = Drum enclosure
8 = Drum
9 = Cabinet
Amplifier not pictured

The audio signal enters the amplifier from the instrument. Once amplified, the signal travels to an audio crossover, which splits it into separate frequency bands that can be individually routed to each loudspeaker. Different models have different combinations of speakers, but the most common model, the 122, consists of a single woofer that faces downward for bass and a single compression driver and acoustic horn for treble. The audio emitted by the speakers is isolated inside an enclosure, aside from a number of outlets that lead towards either a rotating horn or drum. An electric motor rotates both horn and drum at a constant speed. This creates a doppler effect. Most Leslie speakers are dual speed with a fast and slow mode.

  • Ultimate rotary speaker emulator
  • Fully featured compressor built-in
  • Mono In/Mono or Stereo Out
  • Tube emulated overdrive
  • Adjustable Fast and Slow modes
  • Acceleration control
  • High quality buffered bypass
  • Includes EHX 9.6DC-200 PSU
  • Dimensions in inches: 4.75 (w) x 5.75 (l) x 2.5 (h)
  • Dimensions in mm: 146 (w) x 121 (l) x 64 (h)

Controls
VOL Knob – Controls the output volume of the LESTER G. As the VOL knob is turned clockwise, the output volume increases.
SLOW Knob – Varies the speed of the rotating speaker effect when the LESTER G is in SLOW mode. Turn the SLOW knob up to increase the rotation speed in SLOW mode. When in the center position, the rotation speed in SLOW mode is an accurate reproduction of a real rotary speaker cabinet’s slow speed.

FAST Knob – Varies the speed of the rotating speaker effect when the LESTER G is in FAST mode. Turn the FAST knob up to increase the rotation speed in FAST mode. When in the center position, the rotation speed in FAST mode is an accurate reproduction of a real rotary speaker cabinet’s fast speed.

ACCELERATION KNOB – Controls the rate at which the LESTER G transitions between FAST mode and SLOW mode. As ACCELERATION is turned clockwise, the rate of change increases. When ACCELERATION is at maximum, the rotating speaker effect changes from FAST to SLOW mode almost instantaneously. At the minimum position, the speed change is very gradual. When in the center position, the LESTER G changes speeds at the same rate a real rotary speaker cabinet does.

BALANCE Knob – Controls the mix between the simulator’s low-frequency rotor and high-frequency horn. Turn the BALANCE knob clockwise to increase the volume of the horn and decrease the volume of the rotor, yielding a brighter sound. Turn the BALANCE knob counter-clockwise for a darker sound. Set the BALANCE knob to the center position to reproduce the natural acoustic balance of a rotary speaker cabinet.

DRIVE Knob – Controls the amount of overdrive, simulating the tone of an overdriven rotary speaker cabinet’s tube amplifier. When the DRIVE knob is set fully counterclockwise, the overdrive effect is bypassed. As the DRIVE knob is turned clockwise, the amount of overdrive increases.

SUSTAIN Knob – Controls the compression effect. When the SUSTAIN knob is set fully counterclockwise, the compression effect is bypassed. As the

SUSTAIN knob is turned up, the amount of compression increases.

ATTACK Knob – Controls the amount of attack when using the compressor. As ATTACK is turned up, the attack time of the compressor increases, resulting in a more prominent initial transient when a note is plucked.

SQUASH Switch and LED – Selects between two modes of compression: NORMAL and SQUASH. The SQUASH mode is a compression mode with a higher compression ratio, resulting in a more dramatic effect. The LED above the switch will light when you are in SQUASH mode.

BYPASS Footswitch and LED – This footswitch selects whether the LESTER G is in buffered bypass mode or effect mode. When the LESTER G is in effect mode, this central LED is lit and pulses between green and orange at the speed of the low frequency rotor oscillation.

SPEED/BRAKE footswitch – This silent footswitch selects the speed mode of the LESTER G. Tap the SPEED/BRAKE footswitch to switch between FAST and SLOW modes. Press and hold the SPEED/BRAKE footswitch for at least half a second to enter BRAKE mode.