Ernie Ball Expression Tremolo review

A versatile treadle-adjustable tremolo with added reverb

  • £199
  • $199

MusicRadar Verdict

A tremolo that does more than most – well worth investigating for serious wobble heads.


  • +

    Fantastic tremolo tones. Great range of sounds. Harmonic mode is worth the price of admission alone.


  • -

    Old-school construction could cause problems down the line. Onboard reverb isn't especially flexible.

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The Ernie Ball Volume Pedal is probably the only truly iconic volume pedal in the gear world, represented on the pedalboards of touring superstars and garage bands alike. 

With its new series of expression-based effects pedals, Ernie Ball has been seeking to capitalise on their brand recognition and reputation to move closer to the booming compact effects market.

This Tremolo is a welcome addition to the range, with controls for depth, rate, wave shape and a decent reverb. The rate functions as a maximum for the treadle - with toe down it is fastest, toe up, bypassed. Although the additional reverb doesn’t add a huge amount, the different wave shapes are a joy, and the reverse-triangle setting is very Baba O’Riley over fingerpicked arpeggios high up the fretboard. 

Traditional trem sounds are available, and the effect of the more subtle trem sounds is in the ballpark of a vintage Fender. The hidden gem is the harmonic mode. Once discovered, the pedal didn’t see much action elsewhere, with subtle phasing sounds being mixed into picked patterns, and Jimi Hendrix histrionics into a distorted Marshall chewing up most of an afternoon. 

The only snagging issue is that the pedal still operates via the same loop and string system as the original volume pedal. Occasionally flaky and prone to needing replacing halfway through a tour, it might more appropriately be replaced with a modern optical system. It’s the only weak point of the build, though, as the pedal itself is rock-solid and the treadle travel is butter-smooth - and those sounds are certainly well worth experiencing. 

Alex Lynham

Alex Lynham is a gear obsessive who's been collecting and building modern and vintage equipment since he got his first Saturday job. Besides reviewing countless pedals for Total Guitar, he's written guides on how to build your first pedal, how to build a tube amp from a kit, and briefly went viral when he released a glitch delay pedal, the Atom Smasher.