Tremolo is one of the earliest guitar effects and was commonly featured in many tube amps of the ’60s such as Fender’s Vibrolux and the Vox AC30, and now it appears in a variety of stompbox guises, which is why we have such a rich selection for our best tremolo lead pedals. Essentially, the effect is a periodic variation in the volume of your electric guitar signal.
Link Wray’s instrumental classic Rumble is one of the most iconic examples, as is Johnny Marr’s extreme effort in The Smith’s How Soon Is Now? and Green Day’s intro to Boulevard Of Broken Dreams. As you can see from these songs, tremolo encompasses a range of wobbles and chops, so let’s help you find the best tremolo pedal for your needs
Tremolo can sometimes be overlooked when it comes to effects, but just like reverb, delay, or chorus, one of the best tremolo pedals on your pedalboard can give your tone that extra bit of personality it needs to make it stand out. If you’ve always wanted your sound to have a little more vibe, then a little tremolo can go a long way. Introduced by DeArmond back in 1941, the tremolo effect has been a staple addition to guitar sound for 80 years.
Fender has incorporated it into its amps since the early ’50s (although Leo called it vibrato) and as such it found its way into players’ hearts, minds and guitar tones without them even realizing it. Explain further down the page why it’s not vibrato.
In this guide, you’ll find tremolo pedals ranging in price from $45 to $300 that offer completely different playing experiences. Some pedals produce a more artificial, digital sound that’s great for modern styles, and others follow the path of an amp-like harmonic tremolo that helps bring back the old-school vibe in droves.
We’ve included an in-depth buying guide at the end of this guide, so if you’d like to read more about the best tremolo pedals then click the link. If you’d rather go straight to the products, keep scrolling.
Best Tremolo Pedals of 2022
Keeley KDYNA Keeley DynaTrem Tremolo
Fulltone Custom Shop Supa-Trem2 Stereo Tremolo Pedal
BOSS AUDIO TR2 Tremolo Pedal
Wampler Latitude Deluxe V2 Tremolo Guitar Effects Pedal
Diamond Pedals Tremolo
Voodoo Lab Tremolo
Joyo JF-09 Tremolo Guitar Pedal
EarthQuaker Devices Hummingbird V4 Tremolo Guitar Effects Pedal
Keeley boss and pedal designer extraordinaire Robert Keeley was actively involved in the design of this pedal which brings some new ideas to the table. We’re all familiar with the basic tremolo sound, and in the early days it was so easy to tune it up and play without even considering the effect.
Tremolo can be ethereal, even spooky; It can even shatter in a high volume situation and everything in between. This pedal gives you three operational settings, and within those settings four separate waveforms. That gives you a lot of potential sound options.
The Dynatrem name has a very ’60s feel to it, but don’t let that confuse you. The Dyna refers to one of its modes of operation. This pedal responds to your playing style, and how you play determines the speed and depth of the effect. It’s dynamic. Play hard and it will respond with a more aggressive effect.
Play in a softer style and the sound will relax with you. That’s a very clever concept. Another sound option is a harmonic tremolo; In this mode, you can use the Shape knob to add reverb. The Shape control is also used to define which of the four waveforms you want to use.
Included are a noise canceller and volume control for the output. The pedal is a true bypass so you don’t lose tone when not in use. It’s well-made and robust for on-stage use with easy-to-use controls. It’s not at the top of the price range, especially when you consider that it’s an exceptionally good tremolo pedal.
Fulltone has produced a tremolo pedal that raises the bar. Packed with features, some standard, some new, and there will be huge stereo sound. It comes with the usual array of effect options. Waveform, mix control and tap tempo are available and it offers true bypass.
Phase correlation controls the phase of the outputs. It also comes with its own 18 volt power supply. You don’t need to go too far into the technical details, suffice it to say that it is generated by two identical circuits that converge and create a true stereo effect.
The waveform option also has some unique features. You can choose between the usual sine and square, but it also includes Fulltone’s Warble Sound. Perhaps the only way to describe it as a bit like a Leslie box. It delivers a big tremolo sound and delivers it in stereo.
The range of sounds produced is quite surprising, and it will produce pretty much everything from the modern sounds to the simple yet charming ’60s effort. It is robust and designed for use on the road with clearly visible controls. This tremolo pedal from Fulltone has a lot going for it. It was designed and manufactured to raise the bar for quality tremolo pedals.
This is no ordinary tremolo pedal and offers many features. It will take some time for the user to understand what it is capable of and it will be time well spent as it offers a lot. Of course, it’s not cheap, and this may put some people off.
No review of effects pedals in any capacity is complete without seeing what Boss produces. For many, they make the best pedals that are easy to use and not overly expensive. They may not go for some of the fancy stuff but one thing can be said about them, they get the job done.
The one thing that has always impressed us about Boss pedals is that the functional design hasn’t changed much over the years and the TR2 is the same. Equipped with the usual strong outer casing with the standard heavy duty push pedal, it is designed and built to last.
Simplicity and excellence It is not complicated to use. It tells you you want tremolo, here it is. Boss has a reputation for simplicity with excellence. Welcome to TR2.
If you are looking for a tremolo pedal with nothing special that gives you the basic tones and makes it easy and very good, here it is. In terms of controls, you can adjust the speed of the effect and the depth at which the volume falls off, and there’s also a waveform that gives you a choice of triangular or square tonality.
If you want to produce a simple tremolo, that’s all you need. For such a simple pedal there is a great sound and a huge range of options. Yes, you will find pedals that have many more options and bells and whistles, but Boss is not in this market. Expressed in a simple way; You do the work. Priced more than realistically, this pedal represents a fantastic option.
Lots of technology in this pedal so if you’re a bit tech savvy you’ll love it. The Latitude gives you four separate time divisions, a waveform selector, and other controls for attack, speed, space, depth, and level.
Waveform options include Peak, Sine, and Square. To further expand its operational possibilities, it has multiple time divisions and a tap tempo function that lets you sync it to any tempo you want. There are four setting subdivisions for triplets, dotted eighths, eighths and quarter notes.
They’ve used digital technology to create analog sounds, some of which will take you back to the ’60s while others are brought up to date with modern day tremolo applications. You may need a cat’s eyes. It’s well made and sturdy, but to be honest we’re not sure about the dashboard design.
Yes, it’s cool and trendy, but is it functional? On a brightly lit stage yes, but in the usual semi-darkness of the stage, will you be able to look down and quickly read the options? Looks nice though. The sounds produced by the pedal are wide and very impressive. We think it will take some getting used to as there are so many options available to you. But if you’re willing to put in the time, the possibilities are almost endless.
A tremolo is a worthy option on your pedalboard, but if you want one that offers you something special, then the Latitude could be it. Quality Rare Quality comes cheap and neither does this pedal, it’s priced on the higher end.
Welcome to a tremolo pedal with enough bells and whistles to keep you busy for a while. And by that we mean it keeps you up really late some nights. At first glance, the controls look easy to use, but in some cases they have more features than meets the eye. There is a speed control that allows you to change the modulation rate from extremely slow to very fast.
The bass control gives you the choice of the intensity of the modulation from a very smooth sound to a more menacing sound, pulsing. Volume is pretty much the only knob that doesn’t come with its own manual. The Tap Tempo button allows for quick and accurate tempo changes, but when held down it doubles the tempo you choose.
The mode control offers six different options for you to experiment with, and as you do so, the waveform switch encourages you to experience four different waveforms. Amazing flexibility, but how does that sound? We could spend the rest of this review just explaining the controls, but it’s more important to know how this pedal actually sounds. As you’d expect, its analogue sound is impressive. And there are so many tonal options on offer that it would be difficult not to find one that actually suits your desires.
This pedal has pretty much every bells and whistles you can find and a couple of horns too. It’s a remarkable technology, but from a practical standpoint, will it take some time to get to grips with it and want to spend all that time learning exactly how to make the most of it? If yes? Then this pedal will offer you a lot. In terms of price, it is quite expensive.
This is a pedal from Voodoo Labs that tries to bring you a quality pedal with good features that won’t break the bank. The company wasn’t trying to create an all-conquering pedal; Rather, they’ve designed a pedal that takes the basics and does them very well.
They did it, and the tonal options are good, while the pedal is well-priced. It has four basic controls that are easily visible on the device. The intensity control is the operating depth, i. H. how deep the signal should travel. The slope control does what it does, varying the sound from original tremolos and their dreamy tones to the more modern staccato varieties. The speed of the effect and the volume are self-explanatory.
Easy to set up, easy to understand and use, but how does it work? The answer is very good. Considering that the controls and options appear very basic, they create more than enough potential options for great sound than might appear at first glance.
It set out to recreate the analog sounds of a vintage amp, and it succeeded. And produces a classic sound and is able to blend its effects to produce a quality you might expect in a more expensive pedal. It has true bypass.
This is a pedal that doesn’t try to push the boundaries of technology; It does what it does and does the job well. Certainly worth considering for those who want a great sound but want to produce it easily and with little effort. In terms of price, it is in the middle range.
Joyo makes very good, inexpensive pedals and this tremolo is no exception. Once again, he takes inspiration from the tremolo tones of the ’60s using an optical circuit like that used in the original effect in Fender amps. Its very simple controls allow you to create the sound you want quickly and easily with the intensity and rate controls.
It delivers a very smooth sound wave for a distinctive ambiance right down to a very modern staccato chop. Guide Light A useful feature is that it has an LED light that flashes with the current speed setting, allowing you to make quick and easy adjustments if needed. It features true bypass, so there is no signal loss when switched off.
Joyo pedals are known for being inexpensive but still have a certain quality. Don’t let the price tag tell you it can’t be good; It’s a decent pedal. It’s basic and doesn’t have some of the features that more expensive pedals offer, but maybe you don’t need that. It does produce a nice tone though, especially on a slow setting, and is reminiscent of a very early tube amp effect.
We have to admit that the metal body doesn’t look that strong and sturdy, but as it’s metal construction it will likely take some wear and tear. It uses a 9V battery or an adapter. If you are looking for a very simple, easy to use tremolo that delivers a nice tone then this is worth considering and at the price you really can’t go wrong.
Earthquaker delivers some staggeringly good pedals. You always expect something different from their design and operation, so welcome to the Hummingbird v4 tremolo. Once again a pedal manufacturer has taken inspiration from the 50’s/60’s era and this pedal reflects the early Vox tones. It doesn’t stay long in the past, however, and pulls you into the modern tremolo sounds with a change in controls.
The controls are easy to use and perform the obvious functions with depth and speed. The level control is actually the volume. In the center of the pedal is a toggle mode switch that allows you to select the oscillation range between slow, medium and fast.
The controls operate other useful functions, one of which is that the pedal gives you a clean boost when you reduce the level to zero. It has many built-in options to help you create the sounds and presence you want.
Besides all these options, it also has a great sound, and the variations that are achievable in tremolo sounds are very impressive. If you want a pedal that will give you the sound and give you a lot more on top of that, this is worth a look. It is powered by a 9V battery.
With a tough, rugged build, this pedal is ready for most anything you can throw at it. In fact, when the effects kick in, it will likely reflect back on you. It’s loud and powerful, but when tuned into the soft end it has a certain nostalgic sweetness. It’s a very good option in the mid-range price range.
Tremolo Pedals Buying Guide
Tremolo is one of the oldest and most commonly used effects in music. Used to add warmth and variation to guitar tracks, it was a staple of early rock and roll recordings and remains popular in modern times. Its use dates back well before the origins of recording, to the classical era where it was used as a technique by string players. In the following guide we will dive into the finer details of tremolo. Whether you’re new to the subject or already have some background knowledge, you’ll find the information helpful in finding your tremolo pedal.
Tremolo in Tube Amps
Tube amps are the gold standard for guitarists. Producing a warm, authentic tone that is second to none, they have been at the forefront of live and recorded music for many decades. They are inseparable from tremolo as an effect, as the earliest way to create it was using the integrated units of these amps.
Luckily, tremolo pedals have made it possible to get the effect without having to carry a big tube amp everywhere you go. There are two types of tremolo traditionally used in tube amps. First there is the conventional method and second there is a method known as optical tremolo.
Optical tremolo was used by Fender on their blackface and silverface amps. It works by creating the effect with a dependent resistor known as an optocoupler, sometimes called a photocell. An LFO is used for the optical tremolo method.
This device turns a lightbulb on and off rapidly, causing the volume of the signal to also increase and decrease. The result is a smooth, sophisticated tremolo effect that’s easier to blend with other instruments.
Common Controls Found on Tremolo Pedals
You will find several common parameters on most tremolo pedals. These are usually represented as knobs that can be adjusted to change the characteristics of the effect being created. Although there are differences from pedal to pedal, particularly in layout, here are the controls you’re likely to come across.
The Velocity slider affects how quickly the volume changes occur. As we’ve already established, tremolo works by increasing and decreasing the volume of your guitar signal. As you turn up the Speed parameter, these fluctuations become faster, making the effect more extreme and noticeable.
The bass control changes the overall tone of the tremolo. This can be used to create darker, mysterious tremolo or brighter, more energetic versions. The bass controls vary with each pedal, and the way they affect your signal depends on the manufacturer’s intentions.
The volume slider is pretty self-explanatory, but important nonetheless. This parameter sets the overall level of the tremolo effect and can be used to create the perfect balance between the pedal and your other pedals. It’s always a good idea to check the volume of each pedal before a performance to avoid dynamic inconsistencies.
Tremolo Combined with Other Effects
Combining tremolo with other effects is a great way to add depth to your tone. One thing to keep in mind is that because tremolo increases the volume of your signal, you may need to change the levels of your pedals if you want to combine them.
Tremolo combined with a touch of distortion or overdrive can enhance your tone life. Both effects add gain and warmth, and the tremolos change in the loudness of your tone works really well with them. Likewise, combining tremolo with reverb or delay can also produce interesting results. Things can get a little messy when the reverb or delay decay is set to a high level, but when used subtly both are very compatible with tremolo.
Modulation-based effects like phaser, flanger, and chorus also pair well with tremolo. As the modulation adds movement to the signal, the tremolo can interact and create smooth blends of psychedelic overtones. Tremolo is a relatively non-invasive effect, so there is no limit to the number of other pedals it can be successfully mixed with.
Again, the best way to find combinations that suit your playing style is by experimenting and gaining an understanding of the results obtained by mixing specific pedals.
Tremolo vs. Vibrato: What’s the Difference?
Tremolo is often grouped with vibrato when it comes to effects pedals. It’s not uncommon for most tremolo pedals to also provide vibrato and vice versa. Although the two effects share certain properties, there are notable differences between them. Instead of increasing and decreasing the volume of a signal like a tremolo, vibrato causes a slight increase and decrease in pitch.
This difference is very significant. The two pedals work in the same way, but are applied to different aspects of the signal. Rotary simulator pedals essentially combine tremolo and vibrato. They raise and lower both volume and pitch, creating an odd-sounding, unique tone. Many guitars produce vibrato naturally, such as B. the Fender Stratocaster, which is equipped with a device known as a tremarm.
Tremolo Pedals in the Record Studio
The great thing about effects pedals is that they work in both a live music environment and a recording environment. The more pedals you have, the more possibilities you have when recording. Sometimes using a pedal can provide that spark of inspiration a song desperately needs. In the early days of guitar recording, engineers relied on the built-in tremolo units of large tube amps to create the effect.
This method is still used today as it is considered the truest form of tremolo. However, it’s not always possible for the average musician to lug a large tube amp into a home studio. This is where tremolo pedals come in handy. There are two main ways to use a tremolo pedal in the recording studio.
First off, you could use the more conventional method of placing a microphone in front of your amp, feeding your guitar’s output into the tremolo pedal’s input, and then back out of the pedal into the amp’s input. This method ensures that your tone and overall sound match those of your live shows.
The only downside to using an amp is that you can’t go back and change the recording after it’s been recorded. As long as the audio is perfect and your mic is working properly, this shouldn’t be a problem. However, some guitarists prefer a second method that doesn’t require an amp and is great for makeshift studio setups on the go.
With this method, the guitar is simply plugged into the input of the tremolo pedal and the output is sent directly into a digital interface. The signal is unaffected by the amplifier, so the guitar tone sounds natural and clean. This makes it easier to mix the tremolo effect afterwards. You could even record the guitar track clean onto the interface, then re-amplify it and then add the tremolo, allowing you to play around with the settings until you get the effect you want.
Buffered vs. True Bypass Tremolo Pedals
When effects pedals first became widely available in the 1960s, their primitive internal circuitry created noise problems that guitarists had to contend with. As music technology advanced in the years to come, some innovations were made that minimized this problem.
Most tremolo pedals fall into one of two categories: buffered or true bypass. These two mechanisms are used to improve signal integrity, limit noise problems, and produce the most consistent output possible. However, they are both very different in how they work and the exact results they produce.
First, buffered pedals amplify your tone, sending it through the signal chain and restoring its performance to optimal levels. It performs this function all the time, regardless of whether the pedal is active or not. Buffered pedals are advisable for cable runs as they can preserve the signal and drive it into the amp without attenuation.
The only danger with buffered pedals is that they are known to boost the highs, mostly insignificantly, but some guitarists prefer to avoid them for that reason. True Bypass, on the other hand, works by letting your guitar’s signal pass through the signal chain when the pedal is off without altering it in any way.
This means it preserves your audio and combats any degradation in signal integrity that may occur. The only problem with true bypass pedals is that they are ineffective when used with long cable runs. The longer the cable run, the more your audio will be affected.
Whether a buffered or true bypass tremolo is better depends on your needs. When using massive cable runs, buffered pedals are advisable. If you use short cable runs, true bypass will get the job done.
Where to Position a Tremolo Pedal in Your Signal Chain
While the placement of effects pedals in a signal chain is subjective to some degree, there are a number of general rules that, when followed, will produce the cleanest, most streamlined results. Having said that, I would always recommend guitarists to play around with the traditional effects pedal arrangement as they might stumble upon a combination that suits their style perfectly.
With some effects pedals, there are certain positions that have proven to be the most efficient. After the tuner pedal, it’s common to start the chain with dynamics-based pedals like compressors, EQ, limiters, and volume pedals. These pedals need to interact with the signal when it’s cleanest to work most effectively.
After dynamic pedals come filters, that kind of wah. These pedals significantly affect the tone of the guitar and if placed later in the chain they could become unpredictable as they are subject to many other effects. Then come all the gain-based pedals. Distortion, overdrive and fuzz fall into this category.
These pedals are arguably the most transformative. After dirt come modulations like phaser, chorus or flanger. This is where tremolo is traditionally positioned, in the gap between modulation and timing-based pedals like delay or reverb.
Because tremolo pedals affect the volume of the overall signal, it’s best to place them as close to the end as possible. This means that changing the volume will not affect the performance of most other pedals on the board. As mentioned earlier, this advice is just conventional guidelines, and sometimes the most interesting tones emerge against the grain.
You probably noticed that some of the tremolo pedals I listed earlier in this article have two outputs instead of the standard one. The reason manufacturers use two outputs is so you can split your signal with the pedal. The advantage of splitting your signal is that you can send separate outputs from the pedal to two amplifiers.
This technique is used by most guitarists who play in large venues and require more power than can be provided by just one amp. If the tremolo pedal has two outputs, you can send one to your clean amp and your wet signal to the other. This means you always have the option to isolate your clean or wet channels, or play both simultaneously to add depth to your output.
For guitarists who play in bands that lack a second guitar, this method can prove very useful. You can always have your clean channel played through one amp, and when a song needs an extra dose of sonic amplification, add the dirty channel, which will be played through the other amp, dramatically thickening the overall sound.
This way you create the illusion of two separate guitars playing at the same time, double tracked but with different timbres due to the use of effects on one of the outputs.
Tremolo VST Plugins
The alternative method of creating tremolo with an effects pedal or in the traditional way with an amp’s built-in unit are VST plugins. This digital software has grown in popularity dramatically in recent years as it requires no external hardware and can be applied to a recording after the fact. In fact, many engineers and producers would argue that VST plugins are great tools for recording a mix.
However, using a tremolo plugin for live purposes would generally be more of a hassle than simply using a pedal. Music purists may prefer using the tremolo produced by a top-of-the-line tube amp or analog pedal. The manual aspect of physically tweaking the settings and relying on it to produce the sound you want is seen as the truest way to achieve the effect.
It’s worth playing around with tremolo plugins in your recording software, as the process can provide useful insight into how the effect works, how each parameter works, and how it sounds when combined with the other effects built into a DAW’s effects rack are or loaded as VST plugins.
If you’re recording the perfect guitar take but weren’t using a tremolo pedal at the time, a VST gives you the option to go back and add the effect afterwards. This is where plugins really come in handy for mixing audio after the initial recording is made, and in some cases they save you having to go back and re-record a usable recording.
Tremolo Pedals and Keyboards
Not only is tremolo a popular effect for electric guitars, but it also sounds great when used with a keyboard. Since the frequency response of a keyboard and a guitar is quite similar, most pedals can be swapped between the two sound sources. Rhodes, Wurlitzer and other electric pianos sound great when a touch of tremolo is added.
The effect adds warm overtones to the output, making the sound more immersive and warm. To use a tremolo pedal with a keyboard, simply take the instrument’s output and connect it to the pedal’s input, just like you would with a guitar.
As with all effects pedals, it takes some experimentation to find the perfect settings for a particular keyboard voice. The settings that work with an electric guitar may need to be matched to the timbre of a keyboard, so you’ll have to play around with them to find the right balance.
Multi-Effects Pedals with Tremolo
While most of the tremolo pedals on this list offer a unique effect, there are some that offer many other processing options as well. Multi-effects pedals are a great way to keep clutter on your pedalboard to a minimum, and they also save guitarists money compared to buying numerous individual pedals. T
he only downside to choosing a tremolo pedal that also includes other effects is that most of the time, the increase in choice is matched by a decrease in single-effect quality. For example, if you buy a pedal that only offers tremolo, the circuitry and internal components are designed specifically for that effect. Conversely, a pedal that houses various effects is likely more scattered in terms of focus, with quantity overriding quality.
The vast majority of tremolo pedals require 9 volts DC. This is the standard for most small to medium sized scooters. Typically, larger pedals housing multiple effects and circuits require more power, e.g. B. 12 or 18 volts. The easiest way to power tremolo pedals is to use a dedicated power supply.
This is very useful when using multiple pedals, as the power supply can be added to your pedalboard and connected to each pedal with small power cables during a recording session. Using a power supply prevents this from being necessary.
You can set up your board first, order all the pedals you want and then attach the power supply to the pedalboard with Velcro. That means when it comes to performing or recording, all you have to do is plug the power adapter into the mains and you’re good to go.
Another option that some tremolo pedals offer is battery operation. This is only present on the pedals that require 9 volts where power can be provided by a single 9 volt battery. This opens up the possibility of playing gigs on the go where power supplies may be limited. Combining batteries with a power supply is the best way to ensure that the chance of the wilt dying and leaving you drained of power is kept to an absolute minimum.
Tremolo Arms (Whammy Bars)
Some guitars, notably Fender Strats, are equipped with tremolo arms. Sometimes referred to as whammy bars, tremolo arms are attached to the guitar with a bubble level that allows the guitarist to quickly vary the tension of the strings simply by moving the bar back and forth.
These devices fall under the category of vibrato systems. Technically, a tremolo arm doesn’t create the tremolo effect, it changes pitch and makes it vibrato. When used quickly, it changes volume and causes fluctuations, so you can classify this as a tremolo.
There’s a reason tremolo has existed since the dawn of music history and is still popular today. The effect is simply timeless, adding a dimension of movement to a guitar tone that cannot be reproduced.
After reading through this in-depth guide to tremolo pedals, you should now have a good idea of which particular model is best suited to your needs. As soon as you hold your new pedal in your hands, the fun begins. The key to creating signature guitar tones is experimenting with your new pedal.