Those of you, who were lucky enough to be a performing musicians in 1960s, will remember what kind of rave was caused by Blackface amplifiers by Fender. They utilized optocoupler or photocell circuitries that created the warmth that everybody admires till this day. They had a distinctive character that set them apart from other amplifiers on the market. That is why their sound is probably one of the most sought out things among musicians. Many brands try to replicate the tone of these legendary amplifiers, but it will be fair to say that not all of them succeed.
Luckily, there are manufacturers that still manage to capture all the specifics of photocell circuitries and replicate their character. This way musicians have the ability to have the quality of tube tremolos without spending all their savings on a single unit. Today we are going to discuss the pedal that belongs to this category and get detailed about its features and capabilities. Namely, the star of the show in this article is Tremor Optical Tremolo from BBE. It is the replication of everything we adore so much and maybe some more. This powerful stompbox will cost you way less than the amplifier and will keep your bank account intact. If you are interested, then let’s get started!
When it comes to the features of Tremor from BBE, there are a lot of points that we have to mention. First of all, this baby is shelled in a chassis that could bodyguard your whole pedalboard. Its durable body is configured in black color, accentuated with creme knobs and writings. Its minimalistic design will make you awe and force you to perform with it for hours. More importantly, Tremor features all-analog circuitry that was put together by Paul Gagon, the former R&D Engineer at Fender.
Do you know what that means? That means that this pedal captures the valve amp vibes to the fullest. This fella has 1% metal-film resistors for consistency, high-voltage poly caps and a military-spec circuit board. This way you are guaranteed to have a prominent tone that will not be ruined at any stage. Plus, Tremor features true hardwire bypass switching that keeps your signal intact when deactivated. This baby has 1MEG Ohms input impedance that recognizes and delivers the sound of your pickups precisely.
The output impedance runs at 1K Ohms, guaranteeing maximum quality. This pedal can be powered with batteries and has an easily-accessible compartment. It can also be supplied with an adapter in case you do not want to deal with drained batteries. Tremor can operate at two different speeds, which have complementary blue LED that flashes with the selected rhythm. All in all, this fella has simplistic features that are usable during daily performances. It can be employed with ease and will deliver ethereal performance no matter what. A tube tremolo in the box – what could have been better than that? Not that much, really.
No matter how precise the replication of Blackface tone is, if you do not have enough controls, then the whole effort goes up in the air. You do receive the sound you wished for, but you cannot tailor it to your taste or gear. And that is the most unfortunate thing that could happen to you and your music. But that is not what we have here. On the contrary, BBE Tremor has more control than you could have imagined. Its layout is not that typical and gives you the possibility that you do not always see in other pedals. Let’s see what is so different about this fella.
The control section features three encoders and two footswitches. The first couple is labeled as Speed 1 and Speed 2. They alter the rate of your tremolo and give you the option to switch between the two speeds without any fuss. You simply press the complementary footswitch (Speed 1/Speed 2) and you are done. I am sure you can imagine how convenient that can be during live performances and rehearsals.
The third knob i.e. Depth changes the intensity of the effect and enables you to steep your sound with tremolo or keep it simple and add just a tiny bit. The other footswitch we have here is in charge of activating or turning off this fella. That’s it. It will take you seconds to set up this pedal and then you will have left all your time for experimentation.
BBE Tremor Sound
Since BBE Tremor claims to be the replica of Fender’s amp tremolo, the real test for it is, of course, the sound. Nothing about it would make sense if it did not do what it promised to. But that was highly unlikely after all the features we have discussed. This thing was designed to create a warm, organic tremolo and that is exactly what it does. It takes your unaffected signal, fluctuates its volume and gives you anything from classic tremolo to psychedelic mayhem.
The ability to switch between the speeds of BBE Tremor gives you a lot to work with. As you switch between fast and slow modulation, you can achieve some interesting results. This pedal does not color your tone at all, which is why we love it so much. And yes, it is truly pretty close to the Fender’s valve tremolo. It is capable of delivering spectacular results with such a little effort that you will not want to stop playing. At this price, I do not think it could get better.
On the whole, BBE Tremor Optical Tremolo is a wonderful option if you are looking for that vintage tremolo. It has the qualities that are necessary for replicating the feel of tube amplifiers and it does so without overcomplicating the control layout. This baby will earn a permanent spot once it mounts itself on your pedalboard. Listen to its sound, see how it performs with different setups and make up your mind accordingly. It only takes a decent research to find the best tremolo pedal out there. Good luck!
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