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September 17, 2009

Tremolo Pedal

Tremolo is a nice, simple and useful effect I like to use when playing guitar. I find it sounds best with a fairly clean guitar sound. I also think tremolo is underused as a cool effect in many styles of music.

What kind of effect is tremolo anyway? Well, all the tremolo effect does is turn the volume down and back up repeatedly.

Most Tremolo pedals have several characteristics which will shape the sound. The Depth controls how extreme the volume change is. If you set the depth low, you can an effect like turning a volume knob back and fortt just a little bit. A higher amount of depth would be like turning your volume all the way up and down repeatedly.

The Rate controls the speed of the volume change. This rate is controlled by a knob, and some pedal makers even have a tap tempo function, which makes it possible to sync the rate with the beat of a song.

The Waveform shape affects the type of tremolo too. The two types of common waveforms for tremolo are sine and square waveforms.

A Square waveform is abrubt like a lightswitch - it can only be either on or off. This means the volume is either on or off, and there's no transition between of and off. The effect is a very choppy sounding tremolo effect.

A Sine waveform is similar to a dimmer switch, because it has a smooth transition between all the way up and all the way down. This setting is less abrupt and extreme, and sounds more pleasing.

Some pedal makers have other options too, for example tap-tempo and the ability to mix Square and Sine waveforms, for more control of the tremolo.

Cool Cat Tremolo

Personally, I have settled for the inexpensive Cool Cat Tremolo. It has a "soft" and "hard" switch, which refers to the sine and square tremolo effect types, respectively. If you are looking for a good, affordable tremolo pedal, you've got to try the Cool Cat Tremolo. I love it! Here is a demo I made, using a Suhr Classic through my Mack Heatseeker 18 watt tube head.

For some other examples of good use of tremolo in music, have a listen to "Feels Like Rain", by John Hiatt:

Creedence Clearwater Revival also used the Tremolo effect quite a bit in their music. Here is an example.

See also a tremolo pedal article in Guitar Player Magazine from Feb 2008, where they tested 11 different tremolo pedals.

By Robert Renman - www.dolphinstreet.com

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Posted by Robert Renman on September 17, 2009

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