Last month I was searching on the web looking to buy a new tremolo pedal.
While searching, I noticed that a lot of the products out there are just downright crap.
Now I want to say that I am not much of what you will call a regular musician, but when it comes to equipments and how they work, I am one hell of a guy
I know what I want and I am constantly testing and experimenting with new products to see what works.
Which is why I was really shocked when some of the so called best tremolo pedals in the market are just plain silly and have nothing to offer.
But not to worry… cos in this article I will be reviewing the top 5 tremolo pedals out there, their various pros and cons, how to get them and ensure that they actually fit your need and finally things you need to do to ensure you get the best out of your newest purchase.
What is the tremolo effect and its history?
Before we begin looking at tremolo pedals and their reviews, we need to understand what actually is a tremolo effect.
This will make it so much easier for us when picking out a high quality pedal.
Simply put, a tremolo effect is a series of oscillating volume swells.
What this means is that most pedals use a waveform that is more choppy and rhythmic where volume drops in and out at a much quicker pace.
More on waveforms later
Most tremolo pedals fall into two categories…
They can either create a quick pulsating sound (which is the modern tremolo) or they can take the form of a watery, modulated tone (classic tremolo)
Tremolo pedals were first noticed as commercial sand alone pedals in 1940 released by DeAramond.
Leo Fender then began to include the effect in most of songs, back then referring to it as a “vibrato”
His was a simple technique whereby he used a technique that turned his amplifier tubes on and off, creating this tremolo effect everytime.
They were later included as built in features in most amps before they became built as stand alone.
While most built in tremolos are still common today, you want to ensure that you go for something that is stand alone as this offers the best features and effects for your money.
How To Choose Your Next Tremolo Pedal
Before you make a purchase for your next pedal, there are some things you need to consider.
1. What are the basic modulation customization options?
These include options such as the rate, depth and volume.
Basically you want to ensure that the pedal has all the basic effects controls and knobs
This is quite as basic as most pedals should have at least the basic controls and buttons.
2. What is the tap tempo?
This simply has to do with the way the pedal oscillates with the amplitude of your guitar’s signal.
A tap tempo feature lets you tap a couple of beats easily with your feet or hand and set the bpm quickly.
3. What is the selectable waveforms available?
A waveform is simply a signal processing term that shows the shape created by your pedal’s oscillating volume.
There are three types - square, peak and sine
Basically you want a pedal with settings that are specific to all three waveforms.
This will ensure that you have choices available to you and you can play with and tweak different settings easily.
4. Does it have makeup gain control?
Most pedals have an issue with volume drop. This is a situation whereby the volume drops when the pedal is switched on
So you want to make sure that whatever you get has a way to deal with this issue or if it is something you can comfortably live it.
Our Top 5 Best Tremolo Pedals
1. Diamond Pedals Tremolo
This is probably one of the most popular and highly recommended tremolo pedals in the market today.
It is ideal for use with guitar and for metal.
It has a speed, depth and volume knob that makes it ideal for basic tremolo effects and sound.
It has a tap tempo feature and an on/off button for easy control of your pedal.
It comes built and housed in a rugged casing making it very durable and long lasting.
It is very versatile and has 4 waveform settings which gives you a lot of settings and options to choose from.
If you are looking for the absolute best, then this is your ideal choice.
Just be ready to pay a little more than the others mentioned in this articles
2. Fulltone Supa-Trem ST-1 Tremolo
This is an awesome pedal that uses a photo cell, just like old American Tube Amps, giving it a unique and pleasing tremolo sound.
It has a foot switchable half/full speed control button that is great for keeping your beats in tempo.
It has a nice volume control that lets you switch and use it as a clean boost giving you more options to play with.
It has big knobs with a volume knob that has 15db of gain to makeup for whatever volume drop you might experience.
It comes with LED status and speed indicators
This is a truly awesome pedal that is ideal for bass and keyboard and delivers rich cream sound everytime
3. ZVEX Sonar Vexter Series Tremolo Guitar Pedal
The Zvex tremolo pedal stands head and shoulder above most pedals out there
It has a gorgeous transparent sound that is different from the traditional pedals out there.
It has a big control knobs for volume, speed, duty and delta that allows you to easily tweak your sound as you go.
It has a true bypass with a tap tempo feature that gives it an awesome sound.
It comes with a unique ZVEX machine circuit that is built right into it which helps you activate the sonar distortion for more unique sounds
4. BOSS AUDIO TR2 Tremolo Pedal
This is a high quality vintage guitar tremolo pedal that has dedicated wave, rate and depth knobs for precise effect tailoring.
It’s rate control knob allows for higher speed control adjustment and is much different than most pedals.
It is the least versatile and is very customizable making it ideal for use in a lot of situations.
It is very sturdy and durable making it an ideal choice for long lasting equipments
5. Electro-Harmonix Stereo Pulsar Tremolo Pedal
This is a unique tremolo pedal that generates undulating sounds that can fill any stage with awesome sounds.
It has a knob that allows you select either a triangle or square wave
It comes in a small die cast aluminium case that ensures it does not break or damage easily
This is a unique tremolo pedal that deliver awesome sounds each time
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How to use a tremolo pedal?
Using a tremolo pedal is very easy and straightforward.
First there are some settings which you need to make and then how to use it
Here is a Youtube video showing how to use it
2. How does a tremolo pedal work?
This simply works by having a circuit which changes the volume of your signal at certain frequencies.
So once the effect is turned on, the pedal’s circuitry will create a wave carrier signal that rapidly changes the amplitude of your guitar’s raw signal
3. Why should I use a tremolo pedal?
There are many advantages of using a tremolo pedal. Here are some of them
- It helps you create rhythmic effects easily
- It gives your sounds a unique effect
- It helps in making you stand out as a guitar player
4. Where does your tremolo pedal go in your chain?
With the different settings and configurations out there, picking the perfect rig setup might be a little tricky
Basically you want to put your tremolo pedal just after your chorus pedal and before your delay pedal.
This way you get to use it fully and it delivers awesome sound without affecting your other rig equipments