Tremolo might be one of the oldest effects we have but there is no sign that its evolutionary journey is over just yet, and Portland, Oregon guitar effects pedal specialist Catalinbread has a new design to make us think again about volume modulation can do to electric guitar tone.
The Tremolo8 is a tremolo pedal with eight unique programmes, selectable via a rotary dial, that take you on a journey through the sounds of yesteryear, with that old-school pulse inspired by vintage Magnatone and Fender guitar amps, right on through to some truly out-there sounds.
C’mon, when someone says new tremolo pedal you’re not thinking ring modulation and a sine wave being modulated by a tri-voice chorus.
You will, however, most likely be thinking what reverb would go best with which voicing, and here Catalinbread is one step ahead, adding a Space dial that gives us a specially designed complementary reverb for seven of the eight modes – in Programme 6, with sine wave and chorus, the Space knob controls the depth of the chorus.
Other controls include Rate, which with a few exceptions adjusts the speed of the tremolo, Tone, which mostly acts as a high-pass filter, and Mix, which sets the wet/dry mix of the pedal. Straight out the box, the Tremolo8 is set in a buffered trails mode so that your reverb trails don’t abruptly stop when you switch the pedal off, but you can adjust this via the internal switch.
What the Tremolo8 gives you is options. If the guitar sounds of the ‘50s are your thing then the first two tremolo voices will give you that Fender/Magnatone pulse, a sine wave option that is offered with a tight reverb and medium trails or with long trails. You can tame the latter with the Tone control if things gets a little boomy with the reverb.
There are square and sawtooth wave modes that can be sauced with tight reverb with medium trails, a “Showman” Harmonic mode based on a 1960 Fender Showman – with a reverb voiced for soundscaping – while a dynamic Envelope mode with a speed that is determined by signal gain so it will react with your playing.
Rounding out your options are the aforementioned Ring Mod and sine wave with chorus modes. In the Envelope mode, the Rate knob controls the envelope sensitivity while the Tone adjusts attack/release. Add “ethereal, spacy soundscape reverb” to taste.
Catalinbread says the whole project was inspired by an old Fender Showman and the desire to put a digitalised version of this in a pedal, initially to give the staff something to play with. But things got out of hand and they started designing tremolo-specific reverb algorithms, and playing around with different LFOs. You know how these things go; designers get excited and next think you've got a serious pedalboard option.
The Tremolo8 is available now, priced £178/$219. See Catalinbread for more details.