A fat-sounding tremolo—and a super-tweakable modulation playground.


I’m a tremolo nut. So Matthews Effects’ Conductor, which opens doors to interesting and functional tweaks on this underestimated effect, is cause for celebration.

If you’re only used to amp tremolo, the Conductor might seem a touch tricky. The wide-ranging depth knob is the only “typical” tremolo control. The pedal replaces the conventional speed/rate knob with tap-tempo and division controls, enabling super-precise and percussive tremolo settings. You can switch the waveform between sweetly contoured sine, ramp, and ramp-down forms, or the choppy on/off textures of the triangle/square wave. The output control is great: It not only compensates for perceived volume loss, but also adds a smooth and addictive clean boost that you miss when the effect is off. The tone control is useful for adding presence to tremolo pulses that might otherwise get lost in a busy mix

The lack of detents or clearly labeled settings on the division and waveform controls can feel a bit vague in the heat of performance, perhaps making the Conductor better suited to studio sound sculpting than onstage tweaking. That’s no bad thing, given that the Conductor has the stuff to be indispensible to modulation-crazed studio hounds. At 250 bones, the Conductor is pretty pricey. But you’d be hard pressed to find a tremolo machine more flexible, fun, and fat-sounding.

Test Gear: Fender Telecaster, Fender Tremolux

Ratings

Pros:
Beautiful, deep tremolo. Super-tweakable and precise. Useful tone and output controls. A potentially powerful studio ally.

Cons:
Clearer labeling and control detents would make the pedal more stage-friendly.

Street:
$250

Matthews Effects Conductor
matthewseffects.com

Tones:

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Rig Rundown: Adam Shoenfeld

Whether in the studio or on solo gigs, the Nashville session-guitar star holds a lotta cards, with guitars and amps for everything he’s dealt.

Adam Shoenfeld has helped shape the tone of modern country guitar. How? Well, the Nashville-based session star, producer, and frontman has played on hundreds of albums and 45 No. 1 country hits, starting with Jason Aldean’s “Hicktown,” since 2005. Plus, he’s found time for several bands of his own as well as the first studio album under his own name, All the Birds Sing, which drops January 28.

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Diatonic sequences are powerful tools. Here’s how to use them wisely.

Advanced

Beginner

• Understand how to map out the neck in seven positions.
• Learn to combine legato and picking to create long phrases.
• Develop a smooth attack—even at high speeds.

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Knowing how to function in different keys is crucial to improvising in any context. One path to fretboard mastery is learning how to move through positions across the neck. Even something as simple as a three-note-per-string major scale can offer loads of options when it’s time to step up and rip. I’m going to outline seven technical sequences, each one focusing on a position of a diatonic major scale. This should provide a fun workout for the fingers and hopefully inspire a few licks of your own.
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