Let’s Talk Trem!


On a site which has a dedicated Duane Eddy forum, I thought this would be a good place to gather the communal wisdom on tremolo pedals, for what better way to emphasize your twang than to chop it up! Be it Crimson and Clover, Born on the Bayou, or How Soon is Now, many a great tune has used volume modulation to great effect.

My personal trem journey has reached from Danelectro to Strymon, Fender to Ampeg, and many in between. I've written about them in various places, which I will find and collect here.

In the meantime, I'd love to hear about all o' y'all's tremolo experience!


When I'm not using a tremolo amp, I've used a Rocktron optical Pulse for about 15 years. Loved the sound of the cheapo Danelectro Tuna Melt unit, but it just couldn't stand up to the rigors of gigging. The Rocktron has always been reliable, but not expensive. I know there are tons of Boo-Teek Trems out there, but I've never felt the need to dump the Rocktron.


I really like the Trem side of the Strymon Flint. 3 different styles and they all sound very good to my ears. Had the Boss PN-2 once that was great; had the industry standard TR-2 and didn't like it. Another favourite is the older T.C. Electronic Vintage Tremolo made by T.Rex in Denmark that is an exact copy of the Tremster pedal. A friend just got the new(ish) Supro Trem and I like what I hear so far.


My favs are an early big box Swamp Thang by Monster Effects and an early 2000s Frantone Vibutron....when not using amp trem of course. The Vibutron is more has square, trangle and s wave modes.


tabletop beat me to it - I've used an older Demeter Tremulator which I liked a lot. Didn't do anything to the tone but added the throb. After I redid my board I wanted to switch from the oddball power plug. I switched to a Frantone Vibutron which does what the Tremulator does - plus two other waveforms. I was interested in a Flint but for what I'm doing now the Vibutron works great.


For a long time I used an old big-box Dunlop TS-1 because I had read it was what Duane used for a long time. My latest trem that I like it a 2nd generation Fulltone Supa-Trrem but I also recently got a Lovepedal Babyface I like as well.

Not trem, but I found a Magnavibe adds a subtle vibrato that pairs nicely with trem.


Boss TR-2 works for me.. .but the antique DeArmond trem would be fun to try.


A lot of trem pedals seem to squish the tone - the Dunlop seems to do that to me.

The best tremolo I have heard is the bias-vary tremolo as found on some tweeds and I believe the Princeton Reverb. I'm not so much a fan of the roach trem you find in most BF Fenders. The bias-vary trem has the deepest throb and no ticking.

Apart from finding an amp which has bias-vary trem you could install it with a unit that Area 51 used to make, so I'm not sure if anyone else makes anything like it anymore. Failing that the best tremolo pedal I have heard is the Strymon Flint. The bias-vary trem setting is almost as good as the real thing - certainly good enough for me. The modulated tremolo is excellent too - not so wild about their roach trem setting because it sounds just like a roach trem!

For someone like me who uses pretty basic amps with no reverb or trem onboard the Flint is a great pedal. I think it sounds better than most onboard tremolos and reverbs anyway. And I just discovered that Jim Heath uses one so that's the sealer for me.


I've played a JMI-era Vox AC30 for pretty much my entire guitar playing life, so the vib-trem channel has always been where I get my pulsation. I'm an effects Luddite, to say the least, so to me, as long as it pulses, that's good enough.


My favorite so far is the "SurfyTrem" as it has both the Blackface and Brownface type tremolo's and is dead simple. I gravitate to the Brownface toggle side way more than the more traditional Blackface. It's more of a swirling, pitch-shift than just a thump, an absolutely beautiful sound and not that common in a pedal format.


I'll echo BirdsNBats - apart from real amp bias-tremolo, my current favorite is the SurfyTrem - the "blackface" side does the sweet wobbly bias trem I love, like a Princeton, and the "brownface" side does a convincing phasey wobble, very much like one of the larger brownface amps. It's a hard to get a bad sound out of too, intuitive controls, very musical pedal.


Hey Afire - Lots of my guitar player friends are nuts for AC30s so I have played a fair few. One thing I liked to do was blend the trem and either normal or top-boost channels with a patch cable - you get a lot more control over the depth of the tremolo that way. It sounded great to me.


Not sure if this counts as a pedal exactly, but definitely cool. For non tech types, start around 6:30 for the finished result and demo.

PS. Surfy Trem and Surfy Vibe are both great pedals.


I've built bias vary tremelo into most of my amps but in my vibrolux build I replaced it with this which is a tremelo which uses a vactrol but still retains some of the pleasing swampiness of a bias vary without the tendency to start going into ugly distortion if you're using the amp near it's clean sound limits. It was designed fro fender AB763 tpe amps with 6L6 power tubes. I like the opti bug type in my super too, Admittedly I've never tried a tremelo pedal. ..:


I had a Mojotone tweed Vibrolux with bias could feel it in your bladder!

I'm using a cheap Joyo trem pedal that's almost as good.


I use this trem from Boo Instruments on my main board. Made in the UK and seems to be very high quality. I prefer trems with a volume control -- turn the wobble knobs to zero and you've got a clean boost pedal.


On my second board (which has become as big as the main board -- same old story, you know how these things happen) I use this Rocktron Surf pedal, which combines a compressor and tremolo. I've had it for years. Built like a tank and sounds pretty decent using either function.


I built one of those 12AX7 based , bias vary trem-o-drive circuits a while ago. I love the trem sound

I always end up using a dano cool cat Trem pedal instead. Convenient and sounds good


Vactrol - Taxophilite

Which Vactrol did you use? When did you buy it? Where did you buy it from?


I fixed up the opto trem in my Ampeg Gemini this weekend and was reminded what a sound that can be! It's a shade "squarer" than I remember the trem in my Twin Reverb being. And then of course there's the wacky mode Ampeg calls "afterbeat" when you turn it up all the way, which sounds more like a synth than a guitar amp.

My Dano Cool Cat, and even the Strymon Flint have gotten me through times when I didn't have amp trem, but there really is no substitute for the real thing. The DOD VibroThang currently on my board offers enough creepy "other-ness" to be not redundant with my amp tremolo.


I get along wonderfully with my Nocturne Nail-Head Trem.


Catalinabread Valcoder (they need to think of snappier names) I likes it but controls are a bit twitchy from too subtle to helicopter chopper in a few tiny moves. Great boost though with trem down, levels up


I had a Valcoder, I liked it a lot - I could match the Valco trem in my 6150 amp exactly. A really unique tremolo. Unfortunately it crapped out and I don't feel like sending it in to find out what's wrong with it (hence the Vibutron).

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