The Top Tremolo Pedals for Guitar
From adding subtle dynamics to your slow musical lines to going all out surf with your fast riffs, these top tremolo pedals are up for the job.
The shimmering, wavering tremolo effect is simply created by circuitry that causes the volume to go up and down. You probably don’t even realize how many songs use tremolo effects but quite a number of guitarists use it sparingly just to mildly color their tone, making it almost unnoticeable. Countless blues, country, rock and even pop style music have utilized this strategy to great effect. On the other hand, Rockabilly and Surf music takes this effect to extremes, making a standard guitar sound almost like a choppy synthesizer. guitarists of almost every genre, from Vic Flick, to Robert Plant, to Brian Setzer and even Greed Day, use it to add wavering tones and color to their guitar sound.
We have taken a good look at available Tremolo Pedals and have come up with a list of impressive standouts.
Fulltone Supa-Trem ST-1
The unassuming Supa Trem pedal gets the top spot in this list, thanks to its impressive classic-sounding Tremolo effect. Fulltone was able to replicate the warm tremolo sound found in old American tube amps by utilizing photo-cells, and they did so without the unwanted noise problems of older gear. We simply have to agree with Joe Bonamassa and other players that this is the best classic sounding tremolo pedal out there.
For something so compact, the Supa Trem 1 comes with a set of nifty controls that allow for a wide range of speed and mix settings. Although not much tone shaping is provided, it will let you choose between classic voice "Soft", or modern style "Hard" stuttering, essentially giving you two flavors in one pedal.
Other controls include a footswitchable Half/Full speed switch that stays in tempo, the speed knob for adjusting the speed of the effect and a mix knob which lets you apply as little or as much effect as you want to your signal. It also has a volume control with added 15dB of gain that lets you boost the signal should you need to. Finally, all these nice features are packed in a small form factor that does not take up too much pedalboard space. The Supra Trem ST-1 is highly recommended! Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com. See where Fulltone came in our list of the best Wah Pedals.
Boss TR2 Tremolo Pedal
There's no denying that Boss is widely known for making affordable and reliable effects. This affordable pedal, the cheapest one on this list, is another example of why the brand continues to be one of the biggest pedal manufacturers to this day. When it comes to recommending tremolo pedals, the Boss TR-2 is a consistent favorite, thanks to its balance of quality, durability and value.
At the onset, the pedal looks straightforward with its mere three knobs. But one of the knobs allow for variable wave settings, allowing you to alter the LFO waveform of the tremolo effect from triangle to square. Turning this knob changes the voicing of the effect and gives this seemingly simple pedal expanded sonic possibilities - even more so than other more expensive pedals.
The other two knobs, rate and depth, are self explanatory and reflects Boss' simple yet effective design philosophy. This is a pedal that is easy to setup and implement while still having enough sonic flexibility to work with various musical styles. And as expected from a Boss pedal, this will easily outlive your other gear and will probably end up being passed down to the next generation of guitarists - and still be in good working condition. Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com
Voodoo Lab Tremolo Pedal
The Voodoo Lab Tremolo is another tube amp tremolo recreation, accomplished by using the same lamp and photocell assembly found in many popular vintage amps. And interestingly, they are able to reproduce it without jacking up the price too much.
Going beyond being just a classic copy, Voodoo Lab equipped this pedal with essential controls speed and volume, and added two nifty tone shapers - sensitivity and slope. The speed and intensity knobs gives you precise control over the rate and depth of the volume changes, while the volume knob allows for cutting or boosting the output level. The distinct slope control lets you adjust the feel of tone from classic soft to machine-gun style stutter.
For its price the Voodoo Lab Tremolo pedal will give you a wide range of tremolo effects from extreme levels of choppiness all the way down to barely noticeable levels. And since it is modeled after vintage amplifier tremolos, the pedal maintains sonic integrity regardless of speed and intensity settings. This pedal is highly recommended to guitarists who want more control over their tremolo sound.Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com
Moog Minifoogers MF Trem
The Moog Minifoogers line is the company's latest foray into the midpriced standard size pedal market. And while they don't have the size of Moog's other pedals, they bring with them the same distinct exterior design and sophisticated tone shaping features. The MF Trem is part of this line, designed to replicate classic optical and hard tremolo effects.
This analog tremolo pedal is different from the other pedals in this list because the volume fluctuations are produced via phase cancellation and addition. The resulting sound is more reactive to harmonic content resulting in a fuller tone. Having been developed by Moog, the MF Trem comes with deep tone shaping controls courtesy of four knobs that control shape, speed, tone and depth.
The shape knob lets you sweep between modulation wave shapes with the center position having a smooth rise and fall. Turning the knob clockwise makes the lift harder while smoothens the decline, while tweaking it to the opposite direction gives a smooth lift and abrupt drop off. Instead of having the variable shape knob work independently, they designed it to interact directly with Mix and Tone. This allows for a wide variety of tremolo effects including percussive ones. The speed and depth knobs are straightforward and allows for traditional control over the effect. This pedal is not for the faint of heart, but those with enough diligence and creativity will put this pedal to great use, and find it to be an indispensable tool. Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.
Carl Martin TremOvibe
The terms tremolo and vibrato have become somewhat interchangeable for guitarists, and this can be alluded to Fender labeling the vibrato bridge as tremolo and vise versa. At least with the TremO'vibe, you won't have to worry about knowing which is which, because this pedal carries the two effects in one package, letting you switch and mix tremolo and vibrato effects in one stompbox unit.
While the TremOvibe is not the most affordable of pedals, the two effects you're getting makes it worth the price tag, especially considering the quality of each effect. To show that sonic quality is not compromised, the company did not compress the circuit into a regular sized pedal, resulting in a hefty stompbox, but it does let you blend the two effects as if they were two separate analog pedals with independent knobs for depth and speed.
As expected from the brand, this particular tremolo is very transparent sounding, which is great if you don't want to color your existing sound when you turn on the Tremolo. Although not as popular as other brands, Carl Martin is trusted by some of today's established guitar virtuosos including Greg Howe, Pete Thorn and Andy Timmons. This is a serious reliable tremolo pedal that has extra functionalities that will complement any type of gear. If you're looking for a quality tremolo with useful extras, check this out. Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.
MXR M159 Stereo Tremolo Pedal
The pricey yet powerful MXR M159 has double the voltage of the best tremolo options reviewed here. That means you get a larger, fatter sound from the three flexible parameters. With stereo outputs, you can create all kinds of trippy, psychedelic sounds.
This pedal has one of the warmest amp-like tremolo sounds in the market, and this is to be expected, thanks to its 18-volt high power circuit design. It also has high headroom which makes it work great even in large arena situations. Because of its tone, the pedal has some popular artist users including 311, Duane Eddy and more.
The strength of this tremolo pedal is its stereo connectivity, allowing for ping-pong style tremolo effect that utilizes two amps or two different rigs. This makes it ideal for guitarists that utilize complicated stereo setups. The only drawback for this pedal is its price tag, which is quite big for Dunlop, a company known for affordable gear. Still, since Dunlop has listed this pedal as discontinued, it makes the price a bit more justifiable, because this gem will soon be rare and maybe even be collectible. Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.
If you are looking for a great tremolo pedal, any of the above options will fit the bill. Stomp boxes are useful alternatives to amp tremolo effects. Since you can toggle them easily while continuing to play, you will not be locked into using the effect for an entire song or trying to adjust the amp in the middle of a performance. Pick up one of these awesome pedals today and create some waves.
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