One of the first effects to come to electric guitar amplifiers in the 1960s were tremolos. In simple words, a tremolo sound effect is the equivalent of someone turning the volume on your amp, up and down in quick succession to result in a funky and distinct sound, caused by the change in volume, over time.
This sound frenzy adds a lot of character to the clean guitar tones of a blues, country and punk rock guitarist. In order to introduce them into amplifiers, that did not have this effect on board, tremolo pedals were created.
Learning to master the effects of the tremolo will give your clean tone a lot of depth while also helping you learn how to mix and match its effect with other pedals, which goes a long way in helping you find your sound. This makes the tremolo pedal an essential in every guitarist’s kit and you should have one in yours too.
Typically, a tremolo pedal has two basic tonal controls, the ‘Rate’ which controls the pace or the speed of the tremolo and the ‘Depth’ which controls the intensity of its effect. Nowadays basic pedals also have the ‘Wave’ knob on them that allows you to determine how soft or sharp you want this effect to be.
Professional grade tremolo pedals have a whole array of custom tone controls for more determined guitarists. If you are new to this, you should look to buy a basic tremolo pedal so you can completely master what it has to offer, before moving on to a much more advanced tonal setup.
Look to buy a pedal that offers great value for money, has a robust build and as many tonal controls as possible, to get started off with this sound effect. Here is a look at some great tremolo pedals.
Wampler Latitude Tremolo
The Wampler Deluxe is an absolute Rockstar loaded with features that let you experiment with sound, like never before. This pedal truly redefines what a tremolo can bring to your sound. Besides the basic tone knobs, the Wampler introduces you to some custom settings like, ‘space’ and ‘attack’ that lets you control the timing of the tremolo. Not to forget the three wave format setting, as opposed to two, on most pedals. The Wampler also gives you control over the tempo of the effect during output, which is perfect to create some cool rhythms on your guitar. This is the ultimate in tremolo pedals, but it also comes with the price!
Pros: Offers surgical precision overtone output, great for professional blues guitar players, opens up possibilities for sounds that you may not have explored, previously.
Cons: The most expensive pedal on our the list today, has a learning curve, given the number of combinations you can make with it.
Fulltone Supa-Trem ST-1
Simple and easy to use, the Fulltone Supa-Trem is indeed superb in the way it churns out those effects. Equipped with just two effects knobs, this is a traditional approach to a tremolo pedal and it is a fine example that drives home the point about why classics are always the best. The pedal has two onboard footswitches that control the waveform and the speed of the tremolo. This is an intelligent design with robust construction and a vintage sounding signature tone. You are absolutely going to love this one!
Pros: Superb design, easy to use controls layout, robust construction, excellent vintage tone, perfect for studio recording.
Cons: A footswitch to control the tempo, would have made this pedal perfect.
The Trelicopter has been designed from the ground up, with the sole intention of saving pedalboard space and it works like a charm! This pedal has a full metal body construction and an extremely simple tone control layout. It has two buttons to control ‘depth’ and the color of the sound along with the ‘speed’ knob and that is it. Despite this basic approach to design, the Trelicopter is by no means a slouch. It is capable of giving the most expensive pedals a run for their money and is designed to last long and takes less space while managing to give you great effects.
Pros: Very small in size, save pedalboard space significantly, straightforward controls, metal body.
Cons: There are cheaper alternatives that do everything, as well as this pedal.
BOSS AUDIO TR2 Tremolo Pedal
Boss has the reputation of creating simple and easy to use pedals that put out a great tone. They are also well known for making devices that do a designated job, very well with a no-frills approach and this pedal is a fine example of their design philosophy. The Boss Audio TR2 puts out excellent tone, thanks to the standard tone control layout on the device. The sounds produced by this pedal sound authentic and truly vintage. This is a basic tremolo pedal that does what it is supposed to do, really well.
Pros: Excellent vintage tone, easy to use signature Boss design.
Cons: This pedal lies on the expensive side for such a simple straightforward design, compared to the competition.
Joyo JF-09 with True Bypass Wiring
Surprisingly robust in terms of build quality, the Joyo pedal does what a good tremolo pedal is supposed to do, i.e highlight the tone of the guitar without hijacking it. Built like a tank, this is one of those pedals that are designed to last long. The realistic tremolo effects that this pedal produces are very impressive and they sound nice and bright. The Joyo has a true bypass construction, something that will thoroughly impress a guitarist who wants hundred percent control over tone.
Pros: Metal body enclosure, True Bypass switch.
Cons: Joyo products do not enjoy the reputation of those from Boss or Behringer.
Danelectro DJ-5C Tuna Melt
Equipped with controls for speed and depth, the Tuna Melt has a third knob for controlling the waveform, a pretty straightforward layout. The vintage sound that it creates is pleasingly beautiful and its ability to recreate the sound of some iconic amplifiers from the 1950s is exactly why it is on our list today. Designed to output crisp and clear tone without any crackles, aberrations or ambient noise, the Danelectro Tuna Melt is built for the player who likes variety and some vintage goodness in their tone.
Pros: Superb vintage amp sound, very well priced.
Cons: The enclosure is made of plastic.
Nady TR-20 Tremolo Pedal
Enclosed in a metal body, the Nady TR-20 is aesthetically appealing and is outfitted with responsive onboard controls. The pedal is a fine piece of equipment that would shine in any guitarist’s kit. It has a standard 3 knob tremolo layout and is designed to run on a 9-volt battery supply, returning an impressive battery life of 10 hours. This is easily one of the best tremolo pedals in our review today.
Pros: Solid metal construction excellent tone superb value for money.
Cons: Does not have a ‘true bypass’ switch, but this is a con that would only bother a guitarist who wants total control over the tone.
BEHRINGER ULTRA TREMOLO UT300
Behringer is another name that is renowned for making high-quality effects pedals, that create a sublime tone. Also known to create products that impress the target audience by offering excellent value for money on a product, there is a good reason why the Behringer Ultra Tremolo is one of the best tremolo pedals out there. Built to be a quality product that makes no compromise in terms of tonal versatility, this pedal also works on a 9-volt battery supply.
Pros: The most value for money tremolo in our list today, a great pedal for a beginner guitarist, classic easy to use controls layout.
Cons: Plastic construction, controls knobs feel a little flimsy but then the price of the product is low as well.