Pigtronix Tremvelope Pedal Review

The analog, optical Pigtronix Tremvelope invites tremolo fans to look deeper into what the effect can deliver.

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.

Street $249 - Pigtronix - pigtronix.com

<<< Previous Review: Juliet Collective Circadia
Next Review: Earthquaker Devices Bit Commander >>>

It’s not difficult to replace the wiring in your pickups, but it takes some finesse. Here’s a step-by-step guide.

Hello and welcome back to Mod Garage. After numerous requests, this month we’ll have a closer look at changing wires on a single-coil pickup. As our guinea pig for this, I chose a standard Stratocaster single-coil, but it’s basically the same on all single-coil pickups and easy to transfer. It’s not complicated but it is a delicate task to not destroy your pickup during this process, and there are some things you should keep in mind.

Read More Show less

The emotional wallop of the acoustic guitar sometimes flies under the radar. Even if you mostly play electric, here are some things to consider about unplugging.

I have a love-hate relationship with acoustic guitars. My infatuation with the 6-string really blasted off with the Ventures. That’s the sound I wanted, and the way to get it was powered by electricity. Before I’d even held a guitar, I knew I wanted a Mosrite, which I was sure was made of fiberglass like the surfboards the Beach Boys, Surfaris, and the Challengers rode in their off time. Bristling with space-age switchgear and chrome-plated hardware, those solidbody hotrod guitars were the fighter jets of my musical dreams. I didn’t even know what those old-timey round-hole guitars were called. As the singing cowboys Roy Rogers and Gene Autrey strummed off into the sunset, the pace of technology pushed the look and sound of the electric guitar (and bass) into the limelight and into my heart. Imagine my disappointment when I had to begin my guitar tutelage on a rented Gibson “student” acoustic. At least it sort of looked like the ones the Beatles occasionally played. Even so, I couldn’t wait to trade it in.

Read More Show less

Need an affordable distortion pedal? Look no further.

We live in the golden age of boutique pedals that are loaded with advanced features—many of which were nearly unthinkable a decade or so ago. But there’s something that will always be valuable about a rock-solid dirt box that won’t break your wallet. Here’s a collection of old classics and newly designed stomps that cost less than an average concert ticket.

Read More Show less