Blog Tremolo Vibrato Rotary Totaalfoto

In our other blog about modulation effects, three mod-based taste-makers were conspicuously missing and, even despite their instantly recognisable sound, these effects are used more often than you might think. If you want to take your guitar sound a little further than your more standard modulation effects can, then why not consider throwing a little tremolo, a bit of vibrato or a rotary effect into the mix?

Tremolo: Let Your Guitar Shiver

Blog Tremolo

In guitar land, the word ‘tremolo’ has a few different meanings, to the point where there is no consensus on the correct usage. But, when you’re talking about effect pedals, we know exactly what tremolo means. Simply put: tremolo is a time-based effect that varies the volume of an input signal, resulting in a wave-like sound. You can hear the tremolo clearly on the track ‘Crush with Eyeliner’ by R.E.M.

When it comes to high-tremolo-quality, Boss sets the bar with the TR-2 Tremolo, but if you want the same vintage sound for a more affordable price, then the Trelicopter from Mooer is a great option. If you want more control over the tempo, then T-Rex offers up the Tapster.

Vibrato: Wobbling Chords & Notes

Blog Vibrato

The words ‘vibrato’ and ‘tremolo’ are sometimes used interchangeably – the main example being the ‘vibrato’ effect that happens when you move the whammy bar of a ‘tremolo’ bridge. But when it comes to guitar stompboxes, vibrato is very different from tremolo. Both effects have a pulsing, wave-like sound to them, but what tremolo does with volume, vibrato does with pitch. This is exactly why vibrato falls into the same category as chorus, flanger and phaser pedals – since you’re dealing with modulation. For a really clear illustration of what you can do with a vibrato pedal, see ‘Black Hole Sun’ by Soundgarden.

Want to start your vibrato journey with something a bit more affordable? Then go for the Behringer UV300. If you want outstanding, Japanese build quality, then the new Boss VB-2W from the Waza Craft Series will give you exactly that alongside legendary vibrato sound. If you want that authentic Jimi Hendrix style vibrato, then you’ll need the Mini Deja Vibe from Fulltone.

Rotary: The Leslie-Sound of a Hammond Organ for the Guitar

Blog Rotary

This last effect kicks open a door to a sound that was once exclusive to Hammond organ players. The Hammond organ is the ideal team mate for the Leslie speaker, which features a physical, rotating speaker – hence the ‘rotary’ effect. The rotary effect is a bit like combining a vibrato with a tremolo and seeing what happens. To really hear the distinct sound of a rotary pedal, have a listen to George Harrison’s guitar lines on the verses of ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ by The Beatles.

Since this effect doesn’t come built into every guitar amplifier, there are plenty of pedal-style options out there. The most high-grade example is probably the digital Lex Rotary from Strymon. The Lester G, made by the legendary Electro Harmonix, also gives guitarists plenty of rotary-tweaking options and, finally, the Leslie pedal built by none-other-than Hammond is definitely worth a mention.

Hopefully, this blog has managed to clear up any misconceptions and explains the differences between these three great effects, so you’re better equipped if you want to start kitting yourself out with some pulsing, rotating, psych-rock-worthy pedals.

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