Many guitarists have a hard time trying to separate one tremolo from the next. If you want to create that vintage vibrato sound or choppy, helicopter-like effects that you hear on your favorite records, a tremolo pedal is a must-have.
While many tremolo effects might seem similar to the untrained ear, different pedals do vary in terms of the way that they change your signal. Just like in mixing or arranging, the differences in tremolo pedals are all about the subtle things!
Today, we’re going to dive into the specs and features of our favorite tremolo pedals on the market, as well as tell you what you should look for when trying to get your hands on one!
- 1 Top 10 Tremolo Pedals
- 2 What Does a Tremolo Pedal Do?
- 3 Tremolo Types
- 4 Controls
- 5 Get to the Choppa!
Top 10 Tremolo Pedals
The Wampler Latitude is an excellent tremolo pedal all around and comes with a wide variety of controls to mess around with. This deluxe pedal allows you to manipulate attack, level, space, and tone, as well as your standard speed and depth controls.
In this regard, it's not only a tremolo effect pedal but a modulation pedal as well. From crazy stuttering sounds to helicopter-like chops, you can create just about any tremolo sound you can think of.
Wampler also gives you the ability to pick from three wave settings including sine wave, square waves, and peak waves.
The tiny little buttons in-between the controls with the music notes on them are for switching between subdivisions. You can switch between quarter notes, eighth notes, dotted eighths, or triplets, for serious control. Lastly, you get a high-quality tap control that gives you the ability to tap out the tempo of the song with your foot so you can sync up to whatever else is being played.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for the ultimate control over the sound and settings of your tremolo, know that the Wampler Latitude gives you just about everything you need. From different tremolo styles to insanely detailed manipulation features, it’s no doubt a trem pedal at the top of its class.
Best Budget Option
Behringer is known for making some of the cheapest usable pedals on the market. Thanks to the UT300, you can make use of your favorite, classic tremolo sounds for a fraction of the cost of higher-end pedals.
The Orange UT300 is made to mimic the vintage tremolo effect that was found in amplifier during the 1960s. This means that you can get some pretty cool Link Wray-style, Spaghetti Western tones with the easy-to-use interface.
There are only a few knobs onboard including Wave, Rate, and Depth. They feel great and give you the ability to dial in your perfect tones in a pinch.
Thanks to the compact size and the stompbox design, this pedal is perfect for those who need one to tour with!
Beyond that, you get a true bypass footswitch that won’t ruin the character of your dry signal.
Bottom Line: The Behringer UT300 is easily one of the most affordable tremolo guitar pedals out there before you start moving into the "is this even a pedal?" range. It's straightforward design, and compact sound makes it perfect for the on-the-go guitarist who needs some vintage tones in their live rig.
The Diamond Pedals Tremolo is another excellent pedal that takes the tremolo effect from ordinary to extraordinary. Thanks to the wide variety of adjustable parameters, you can turn your time spent with your tremolo to one that you may have never expected.
When it comes to the functionality of the pedal, there’s a lot to look at, including controls for speed, depth, volume, and timing. The timing knob is easily the most unique, as it allows you to switch between tap modes, rhythmic subdivisions, or chaotic mode.
Tap tempo allows you to tap out the tempo with the onboard LED, while the rhythmic subdivisions give you different rhythms at the switch of a knob. Chaotic mode is the wildest, as it randomizes the speed more experimentally.
Beyond that, you can also change up your waveforms from triangle to sine, to square, to chop, for completely different tones.
Bottom Line: The Diamond Tremolo is easily one of the best tremolo pedals out there with its wide array of controls, durable build, and clean boost characteristic. It may be a bit out of the normal guitarist’s budget, though if you want a trem pedal that will last you a lifetime and give you room to experiment, this one is it.
Fulltone is known for providing vintage amp sounds with every pedal that they release. Their Custom Shop Supa-Trem 2 is no different. It’s also one of the most unique looking pedals that we have ever seen.
You have a wide build with a strangely angled surface with all the controls on the face. That leads into a flat section where you find the two stomp switches.
While there aren’t tons of controls onboard, it’s possible to make some sweet juju with the ones that are there. That’s because Fulltone mimicked the circuitry of the vintage amps the pedal was based on to give you the most authentic trem tone possible.
You have your volume control, your depth control, a phase correlation knob for adjusting the phase between the two stereo outs, and a rate knob that alters the frequency of the tremolo. You can also select from three different waveforms to get a bit of a different texture.
Bottom Line: If you’re in the market for a vintage, authentic tremolo sound, the Custom Shop Supa Trem 2 is one of the best out there. It’s easily worth the large investment when you consider the refined sound.
ZVEX always has a pedal design all their own, and we love the fact that they stuck with it when crafting their Sonar pedal. This tremolo effect pedal is no joke in terms of features.
You get four different knobs that you can adjust including volume, speed, duty, and Delta, each which you'll need to mess with to see what they do!
As a little easter egg, ZVEX added attack and release settings that you can access by holding down the tap button. There is a small toggle switch at the top as well, which allows you to switch from "clean" to "machine" to and take advantage of the built-in distortion.
Unfortunately, you don't get a waveform selector, though when you consider the range of speed available compared to other pedals, they definitely made up for it.
If there were one reason that this pedal was a popular choice among guitarists, it would be that there are tons of different capabilities to work with.
Bottom Line: In terms of getting creative and weird, the Zvex Sonar is probably one of the best tremolo pedals around. Thanks to the sheer number of controls and the things you can do with then, you can experiment until you’re blue in the face.
The Fulltone Supa-Trem ST-1 is the little brother of the Supa-Trem 2 and comes with just the essentials that you need to get an awesome tremolo sound.
The ST-1 is based on an old-school amp tremolo and uses a photocell to get the right sound. This helps to get rid of the annoying click that can be heard in decaying traditional circuit tremolo pedals.
Regarding controls, there isn't anything fancy. They kept it quite simple with only two big knobs labeled Speed and MIx. We love the fact that they're massive, meaning you can adjust them with your feet when playing live.
There is a volume knob at the end that helps to give you a whopping 14 dB boost, and you also get a hard/soft switch for adjusting the tremolo attack. Being able to set a rate and then get that same rate half speed is pretty cool.
All of this comes packed into a portable-sized black chassis that will fit nicely on just about any pedalboard.
Bottom Line: The Fulltone Supa-Trem ST-1 is the perfect tremolo pedal for playing live thanks to its easy-to-use interface and large controls. Don’t underestimate it though, as it is a simple yet powerful tool.
The Voodoo Lab Tremolo is another great photocell tremolo that gives the same effect as the Supa-Trem ST-1. If you’re looking for that trem sounds that moves like butter, this pedal has it!
One of the unique parts of the pedal that stands out right away is the Slope knob. Though the pedal is quite conservative overall, the Slope knob allows you to adjust the sound ever so slightly to get different textures. You can also make use of the Intensity knob to mix the effect in better. This way, you can go from the standard triangle waveform texture that peaks and valleys evenly to something that is more helicopter-like.
Beyond the effect controls, you also get a gain knob that allows you to use the pedal as a boost. All of these controls are laid out on the simple interface, one that screams “Voodoo Lab” in its design.
Bottom Line: Voodoo Lab has been around for quite some time, and their pedals are some of the toughest and most reliable out there. While their tremolo pedal might not be the fanciest in the world, it holds some pretty awesome, vintage sounds with some unique adjustable parameters to fine tune to your liking.
Boss is easily one of the most recognizable pedal manufacturers out there. If you pair durability with reliability, out will pop the Boss TR-2 Tremolo, a simple yet powerful tremolo effect pedal that won’t break the bank. If you’re in the market for a pedal that is a bit more user-friendly, it’s a solid option.
There are only a few controls including the rate control and depth, which both allow you to tune your tremolo effect fairly precisely.
We dig the fact that they’ve made the rate range pretty wide, allowing you to dial in a larger variety of sounds. In the center of the pedal is the wave dial, which allows you to move your waveform from triangle to square and everything in-between.
Beyond the controls, the Boss TR-2 comes in a compact size, perfect for just about any pedalboard out there! It also comes with the trusted Boss design that is nearly unbreakable, making it great for gigging and touring.
Bottom Line: Need a good tremolo pedal without all of the bells and whistles that will still get the job done? The Boss TR-2 is just that pedal, with serious durability, reliability, and user-friendliness.
The Mooer Trelicopter is such a tiny pedal that you could probably fit in your pocket and take it with you on the go. Don’t judge this little guy by the size though, as it can create a pretty wide range of tremolo effects that stand up to higher-end pedals.
We dig the little bias knob that allows you to change the overall feel of the tremolo. It also introduces a cool tonal color into the sound, something you don’t really get from any other tremolo pedals.
There is a pretty wide range from that rhythmic chop to the vintage-style amp trem. Thanks to the small size, you'll be able to stick this just about anywhere on your pedalboard without a fuss!
Bottom Line: The compact Mooer Trelicopter is there to provide a small bit of tremolo when you need it most! The interface is small and straightforward, the design is real-estate friendly, and the sounds that come out of it are top-notch!
Moving into the lower-end tremolo effect pedals, we have the Kmise Belcat. This pedal is actually relatively new in the big scheme of things, though has been designed with the same reliability as many higher end pedals out there.
If you're looking for a vintage sound or something that is smoother and more subtler, that's where the Belcat really shines. Overall, the pedal is very user-friendly and functional. The interface gives you pretty much what you expect from a tremolo guitar pedal including the rate, wave, and depth controls.
The extent of the adjustment is what surprised us, as you can get a pretty wide range of tones from this thing.
We dig the fact that you can dial the wave knob to get everything from slow, drippy trem swells, to faster and choppier textures. Set it somewhere in the middle, and you get a nice sweet spot with essences of both.
Bottom Line:The Kmise Belcat is a durable and reliable tremolo pedal with a simple-to-use interface. If you don't need all the bells and whistles of a high-end pedal, or don't want to spend the money, this tremolo pedal is an excellent option!
What Does a Tremolo Pedal Do?
In their foundation, tremolo pedals are made to change your dry signal’s volume at a specific frequency. The changes in volume have to do with the “depth” control that you’ll find on your pedal.
Essentially, you’ll get the same volume that you run through the pedal, which will act as the loudest portion, while the quiet portion will be determined by the amount the “depth” is set at.
Once activated, the tremolo pedal creates what is called a wave carrier signal. This wave carrier signal will rapidly change the volume of your dry signal from the quietest point to the loudest point.
The most basic pedals utilize sine waves to do so, while more advanced pedals let you adjust the waveforms to get a different texture.
Sine Wave Tremolos
Sine wave tremolos are interesting in that they work kind of like overdrives, as they modulate from power tubes or transistors. If you look back to amplifiers of the 1950s with trem built in, you’ll likely find that it’s of sine wave character.
Sine wave tremolos aren’t the most accurate out there, though they are much smoother and softer than most.
With that said, if you are looking for a tremolo effect that is subtle, warm, and almost "drippy," we would recommend a sine wave tremolo like the Wampler Latitude.
Triangle Wave Tremolos
The Triangle Wave tremolo is easily the most popular type of tremolo pedal out there, as it is also the type of tremolo that you find built into fender amps.
The reason people love it is because it's exact and linear, giving you tight peaks and valleys that move as you'd expect and stay in time with the rate they are set at.
If you want a tremolo effect that is still smooth, yet cuts better than a sine wave, a triangle wave tremolo is your best bet.
Square Wave Tremolos
Square wave tremolos are the most unique of the waveform tremolos in that they can give you some pretty extreme sounds. We can date the square wave tremolo all the way back to the Vox Repeater that was made in the 1960s. If you want some serious chop, a square wave tremolo is ideal.
If you're looking to get ahead of the curve, it's worth looking into some tremolo guitar pedals that are more specialized. Many of these special tremolos feature tap tempo, stereo effects, ring modulators, or phase-shift.
They typically come at a much higher price, though can give you experimentation characteristics as no others can. You can find more info on these different types here.
Most tremolo pedals come with your standard rate and depth controls, though some, as we mentioned above, come with more advanced ones. An excellent control to look out for is wave control. This control allows you to switch between multiple waveforms to create subtle changes in your sound.
Another very popular control that we see on higher-end tremolo pedals is attack. The attack control allows you to adjust the speed of the pick attack, giving you a pumping effect if desired.
Lastly, we would recommend looking for a pedal with a tap tempo control. This control allows you to set your peaks and valleys to a specific tempo so that you can stay in time with the song that is being played.
Get to the Choppa!
From those subtle, vintage peaks and valleys to the helicopter-like chop, a good tremolo pedal can provide you with effects to enhance your sound and give you something interesting to work with!
We hope that you have a better idea of what to look for in a tremolo pedal now that you’ve read about our favorites.
Overall, if you’re serious about getting the best tremolo out there, we recommend the Wampler Latitude. It’s a one-of-a-kind tremolo pedal that allows you to tweak your sound endlessly into tremolo oblivion.