Premier Guitar

Pigtronix Tremvelope Pedal Review

October 18, 2011





Tremolo is one of the oldest electronic guitar effects—a common feature on combo amps as early as the 1940s. In its most basic form, tremolo is simply amplitude modulation, like turning a volume knob up and down.

It’s nothing, if not a simple effect. And for the most part, it’s simple to please tremolo fans too. A nice vintage Fender or Gibson amp-based circuit or a pedal that can move from choppier square waves to softer sine or sawtooth forms will usually do the trick. But the analog, optical Pigtronix Tremvelope invites tremolo fans to look deeper into what the effect can deliver. By effectively combining a trem circuit with an envelope follower, Pigtronix has produced one of the most creative and dynamically responsive tremolos we’ve heard.

Here Piggy, Piggy
You can typically count on a Pigtronix stompbox to give you a lot of ways to tweak your sound, and the Tremvelope is no exception to the rule. With six 1/4" jacks, four mini switches, three knobs, three LEDs, and two footswitches, it has the potential to leave players used to bare-bones tremolo effects scratching their heads. Even the Speed and Depth controls are more versatile than those on an old amplifier, because you can control their effect on the tone with either playing dynamics or a TRS expression pedal. The sonic payoff for all the control options can be immense.

Wild as a Boar
Two mini switches (Depth and Speed) help make this expanded interactivity possible. Each switch has three positions: Plus, Minus, and Off. These switches modify the way in which the Envelope functions. Flip the Speed switch to Plus, and the tremolo will speed up the harder you play. Switch it to Minus and the opposite happens. This effect has a particularly profound emotive quality where quiet, tender melodies can be reinforced by slower undulations, but can be made more intense and manic when you play forcefully. This sort of dynamic interaction can also be applied to the tremolo depth with a flip of the Depth switch. Switching to the Minus setting has an inverse effect on Speed and Depth. For example, playing with a gentler touch will speed up the tremolo, while digging in will slow it down.

When set to its most extreme Depth setting, there’s even a bit of a signal boost that can provide some nice grit at the loudest part of the volume swell if your amp is at the point of overdriving. Though this can be perceived as signal coloration, the unit is actually remarkably transparent.

Additional controls allow you to further define the size and shape of the effect. Switching to the smoother sine waveform sounds more traditional. This setting is ripe for surfy and noirish mood explorations. The sawtooth waveform sounds more modern—perfect for choppier and percussive “How Soon is Now”-style Johnny Marr trem, or even more radical settings. The harder settings in particular are even more effective when used with the stereo output and two amps. At times, this can become positively brain-warping. Even in subtle settings, however, the combination of the Tremvelope’s dynamic control and stereo capabilities can be incredibly surreal and spacious.

The Verdict
The Tremvelope reflects just how far an imaginative pedal builder can go with the simplest effects, and the features describe here really only begin to scratch the surface. The Pigtronix Tremvelope is exceptionally well built. It’s also supremely dynamic and highly interactive, and if you’re open to what more radical applications of tremolo can do for your songs and playing, the Tremvelope can return your curiosity in spades.
Buy if...
you’re looking for a versatile and interactive tremolo that can deliver more unconventional sounds.
Skip if...
additional controls cause you additional frustration.
Rating...

Street $249 - Pigtronix - pigtronix.com

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