Invented in the 1940s by DeArmond, the tremolo is one of the O.G guitar pedals that’s used and adored by many guitarists of today. It was also the first pedal that came with an amplifier.
This is important as it helped pave the way and shape rock ‘n’ roll.
Musical greats like Chet Atkins and Roy Orbison used built-in tremolos in the 1950s to create the classic rock ‘n’ roll “slapback” echo, and as they say, the rest is rock ‘n’ roll history.
Before the invention of the tremolo, there weren’t many options for changing the sound of the guitar in any significant way.
For this reason, tremolo pedals quickly became a staple of any musician worth their weight in sound.
In this article, we are going to present the mighty tremolo pedal in all its distorted glory by showing you the what, how, why, and different tremolo types available today.
What Is A Tremolo Pedal?
A tremolo pedal is a device that allows you to play chords or melodies using multiple notes at once. The tremolo effect is achieved by varying the speed at which each note plays.
Tremolos are often used in rock music to create a rhythmic sound, such as in the song “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin. They also add a sense of movement to a piece of music.
You can use a tremolo pedal to achieve similar effects in other genres of music. For example, you can use a tremolo to simulate the sound of a string section playing together.
A tremolo pedal works by creating an oscillating signal that varies in frequency and amplitude. This creates a vibrato effect that makes it possible for you to play more than one note at the same time.
History Of The Tremolo Pedal
A lot of people agree that Harry DeArmond invented the tremolo effect. He made the 800 Trem Trol in 1948.
It was used by many artists including Bo Diddley, who was one of the most popular artists to use it in the early 50s. It wasn’t until the early 50s that companies began putting tremolo effects in guitars.
One of the most popular iterations of the tremolo was the Fender Tremolux, which came out in 1955.
Tremolo circuits were invented by Leo Fender. He used them in order to create a unique sound for his guitars. These circuits used very few components and a part of the amplifier circuit tube.
They worked because he used bias wiggle – The voltage of an amplifier tube was turned on and then off using a sine wave. This created the ‘choppy’ volume effect that we know today as Fender.
What Are The Tremolo Pedal’s Main Components?
The tremolo pedal has two main components: 1) a volume control; 2) a tremolo arm.
The tremolo arm controls how fast the notes will be played. It does this by changing the length of the circuit between the output jack and ground.
The volume control adjusts the overall volume level of the pedal. When you turn up the volume control, you increase the amount of power going into the tremolo pedal.
When you turn down the volume control, you decrease the amount of power going to the tremolo pedal. In this way, you can adjust the intensity of the tremolo effect.
In addition to these basic features, there are many different types of tremolo pedals available on the market today. Some have additional features, like reverb or chorus effects.
There are also some tremolo pedals that offer several different types of tremolo sounds. These include tremolo styles such as sweep, slide, and whammy bar.
What Is A Tremolo Pedal Used For?
A tremolo pedal works well when you need to add some extra interest to your guitar sounds. You can use a tremolo pedal to make your guitar sound more interesting.
For instance, you can use a tremolo effect to change the pitch of your guitar while you’re playing along to a song. Or, you can use a sweep tremolo pedal to create a sweeping vibrato effect.
A slide tremolo pedal can be used for soloing purposes. If you have trouble keeping up with the beat of a song, then you may want to try sliding your fingers back and forth across the fretboard.
You can also use a tremolo pedal for creating special effects. For example, you can use a wah pedal to increase the volume of certain parts of a song.
How Do I Use A Tremolo Pedal?
To get started with your new tremolo pedal, plug it directly into your guitar amplifier. If you don’t already have a guitar amp, you can purchase a separate preamp unit from any major retailer.
Next, connect your guitar’s input jack to the tremolo pedal’s input jack. You may need to experiment to find the right settings for your guitar.
Once everything is connected properly, press the footswitch located on the tremolo pedal. This activates the tremolo function.
Now, all you have to do is start strumming! As long as you keep your fingers moving, you’ll hear the notes coming out of your guitar.
If you want to change the pitch of the notes, simply move your finger along the fretboard until you reach the desired position. Then, when you release your finger, the note should stay where you left off.
If you’re having trouble getting comfortable with the tremolo pedal, try adjusting the tremolo arm first. To do this, hold the tremolo arm in place while pressing the footswitch.
Move the tremolo arm around until you find the setting that feels most natural for you.
If you feel like you’ve got the hang of things, then you can start experimenting with volume control. Turn it up until you find the volume level that gives you the best results.
You might also want to try using a tremolo pedal with your favorite electric guitar song. Try turning up the volume control and strumming away until you find the sound that you enjoy playing the most.
Tremolo Pedals Vs. Guitar Effects Units
A tremolo pedal is not the same thing as a guitar effects unit. The difference is that a tremolo pedal is designed specifically to create an artificial vibrato effect.
A guitar effects unit usually offers more than one type of effect. For example, a guitar effects unit could offer both a delay effect and a distortion effect.
Some guitar effects units even come with built-in amplifiers. Other guitar effects units require you to use an external amplifier.
Most guitar effects units come with their own footswitches. However, if you prefer to play without using a footswitch, you can always attach a footswitch to your guitar effects unit.
The good news is that you can buy a tremolo pedal and a guitar effects unit at the same time. After all, they work together just fine.
Tremolo Effect Vs. Overdrive Effect
The main difference between a tremolo effect and an overdrive effect is that a tremolo effect applies a vibrato effect to the sound while an overdrive increases the volume or gain of the signal.
An example of this would be if you were playing a solo on a song and wanted it to have a bit more presence than just the normal volume level.
You could apply a tremolo effect to the solo using a tremolo pedal. If you wanted to increase the volume of the solo without changing its pitch, you could use an overdrive effect instead.
Why Do Some Pedals Require Batteries?
Some pedals are battery powered so they don’t need any external power source like AC mains power. For these pedals, there may not be a power switch on them.
The only way to turn them off is to remove the batteries from them. In this case, you’ll see a power switch on the back of the pedal.
There are many pedals out there that do not require batteries to work. They are called “no battery” pedals because they don’t require batteries to function.
However, most no battery pedals still have a power switch on them so you can turn them off by unplugging them from their power supply.
What Are The Different Types Of Pedals Available Today?
There are many different types of pedals available today. Some are designed specifically for certain genres, while others have a more universal application.
There is no one pedal that will work for every style or genre of music you play. The type of pedal you need to use depends on what kind of sound you want and how much control over the tone you desire.
• Sweep Tremolo Pedal – A sweep tremolo pedal creates a sweeping vibrato effect by slowly changing the pitch of the strings.
• Slide Tremolo Pedal – This type of tremolo pedal allows you to slide your finger back and forth across the neck of your guitar.
• Chorus/Delay Pedal – A chorus/delay pedal adds reverb or echo to your guitar sounds. It does this by repeating the last few notes played over and over again.
• Wah Pedal – A wah pedal lets you increase the volume of certain frequencies in your guitar signal.
• Phaser Pedal – A phaser pedal uses two oscillators to produce different tones. One tone is used to modulate the other.
• Vibrato Pedal – A vibrato pedal produces a vibrato effect by rapidly alternating between high and low pitches.
• Fuzz Pedal – A fuzz pedal makes your guitar sounds distorted.
• Overdrive Pedal – An overdrive pedal increases the gain on your guitar signals.
• Distortion Pedal – A distortion pedal distorts the sound of your guitar.
Different Types Of Tremolo Waves?
There are three main types of tremolo waveform patterns available to musicians. Each creates a certain wave of sound which suits certain guitars and players best. Find out what they are below.
Triangle Wave Tremolo
This pedal produces a triangle wave tremolo, which is very common on guitar amps. The tremolo’s slopes tend to ascend and decline in equal parts.
You will also find that its peaks and its lows will be captured clear through the signal.
If you’re searching for some audio samples of a tremolo of this type, Clover and Crimson are two mighty fine examples.
Sine Wave Tremolo
A tremolo sine wave is formed by the intonation of an amplifier tube, which is similar to overdriving. It is a simpler style of tremolo when compared to the triangle wave.
However, It’s also less accurate, as the sine wave raised and subtracts amplitude, which offers musicians an asymmetrical tremolo.
Some people detail the effect as a syrup-like sound that can mirror the sound quality of a square wave.
Square Wave tremolo
If you want to discover overt effects, then you should consider a square wave tremolo. Fixed at high levels, square tremolos can offer rhythmic on and off patterns.
Tremolo pedals, and pedals in general, are one of the most versatile tools available to guitarists. They allow them to create interesting and unique sounds that, otherwise, would not be achieved on a guitar.
Whether this is your first time discovering tremolos or you’re looking to brush up on your tremolo knowledge and extend your pedal collection, we hope this article has been a helpful stepping stone in your long and prosperous guitar-shredding journey.
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My name is Howard Matthews and I have been playing the guitar since I was knee-high. My parents like to joke that I was pulling the strings even before I was born. In fact, one of my earliest memories is sitting on the couch with my dad’s guitar, wreaking havoc on the chords.
Now, 40 years later, I can attest that I play them much better than I did back then. I have followed in the footsteps of both my parents – much to their delight – and have been the main guitarist in my band for the best part of three decades.
Music has always been my passion, and until recently my life has been so consumed with it that I haven’t had a moment to have a breath (and I wouldn’t have it any other way)!