5 Truly Trippy Tremolos

Can you imagine what the Stones’ “Gimme Shelter,” would sound like if Keith Richards hadn’t used tremolo? What about Link Wray on “Rumble,” or Johnny Marr on The Smiths’ “How Soon Is Now”? You get the idea.

The choppy sound of an undulating, volume-modulated electric guitar is found on countless records throughout history and across all musical genres. Whether subtle or extreme, it’s one of the most instantly identifiable effects and was one of the first ways available to alter an electric guitar signal.

Tremolo is an essential tool for guitarists, and that’s probably why it’s included on so many amplifiers, both vintage and modern. And while amp tremolo may do the job for some, others want to explore it further to see what kind of sonic wonders they can concoct. So whether you’re after classic sounds, or something trippier, say with tap tempo or stereo imaging, let’s take a look at some tremolo pedals that offer you a little more.

Boss PN-2

Boss PN-2

Boss PN-2

The seafoam green Tremolo/Pan pedal was one of the first tremolos to offer stereo inputs and outputs as well as panning capability. Panning allows the pedal to send the tremolo effect back and forth between two amps, creating a delightfully wobbly stereo soundscape. Its simple layout features controls for rate, depth and mode, and it’s the perfect choice if you’re jonesing for a stereo tremolo without all the extra options.

Cusack Tap-A-Whirl

Cusack Tap-A-Whirl

Cusack Tap-A-Whirl

Cusack Music builds many fine pedals, and the Tap-A-Whirl is no exception. The world’s first analog tremolo pedal with tap tempo, the Tap-A-Whirl features 24 waveforms from classics such as square and sine to wild bleeps and blips. Add to that a brake function, as well as preset and external tap tempo capabilities, and you’ve got a monster tremolo pedal that fits into any musical context. The current version also features stereo capability. If you’re after a set-it-and-forget-it stompbox, this probably isn’t the one. This pedal goes deep and is probably best suited for those with an equally deep thirst for tremolo.

Diamond Tremolo

Diamond Tremolo

Diamond Tremolo

The Canadian pedal wizards at Diamond make a jolly green pedal that will satisfy old-school tonehounds and modern adventurers alike. The Diamond Tremolo is feature-rich yet offers a simple layout, making it a perfect choice for players who seek traditional sounds but are also willing to step outside of the box. My favorite part of this pedal is the chaotic mode, which conjures up random speeds, acting as a stutter switch of sorts. It’s a perfect way to put a solo over the top or just weird out your bandmates during practice.

Empress Tremolo

Empress Tremolo

Empress Tremolo

As it turns out, there’s more than one group of Canadian pedal wizards. The Empress Tremolo is similar in size and function to the Diamond and boasts the ability to store eight presets, allowing you to tailor specific tremolos for various songs and musical passages. It also features a control port, allowing users to choose between external tap tempo, expression and MIDI capability.

Fulltone Supa-Trem

Fulltone Supa-Trem

Fulltone Supa-Trem 1 & 2

Fulltone has perfected the art of creating super high-quality variations of vintage designs. The original Supa Trem is a simple yet crafty little devil. Two switches allow for hard/soft waveforms, and the half speed switch allows you to slow down the effect, making it the perfect choice for players seeking versatility without too much effort but who don’t need tap tempo.

For those who do need tap tempo, enter the Supa-Trem 2. This version ups the ante by including a selector switch for three different modes: square, sine and warble. All three sound incredible, but the warble is a delicious, wiggly sound that adds warmth and depth to anything that runs through it.

The tap tempo function works flawlessly and what’s coolest about the Supa-Trem 2 is its ability to pan the tremolo back and forth between two amplifiers with the phase correlation switch. Set it to warble mode, hook up two amps, run a stereo delay before it, and enjoy some of the richest, most enveloping ambient soundscapes you’ve ever heard. This is what I have on my personal pedalboard; I can’t give it any more of an endorsement than that.

What kind of tremolo is right for you? Do you seek the classic sounds of yesteryear, or do are you looking for the whacked-out warbles of the future? As always, experiment with as many options as possible to find what works best for you, and don’t be afraid to use tremolo on every song if you feel like it.

Tremolo Pedals Shop Now
comments powered by Disqus