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So we all know what tremolo sounds like in a guitar amp. But...

Lately I've been experimenting with multiband tremolo, and using different waveforms. It can be sooo cool! With EDM-type stuff, negative-going sawtooth in different bands sounds amazing. Usually, it seems what works best is faster rhythms for higher rates, and slower, rolling rates for the lower bands.

You can also get pulsing effects that are quite delightful when the bands interact with each other. Throwing triplets or dotted notes on the middle band also seems to work well.

Anyway, it's not like this will solve hunger or initiate world peace, but it's been fun re-discovering tremolo in a context other than Fender Super Reverb amps smile

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Kronos has a decent tremolo guitar. I used it on my last original.

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Stereo tremolo sounds best with trapezoidal waveshape modulation. That's what the vintage Rhodes tremolo does.

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Originally Posted by The Real MC
Stereo tremolo sounds best with trapezoidal waveshape modulation. That's what the vintage Rhodes tremolo does.

Stereo is a whole other animal. I've mostly been doing the multiband stuff in mono, otherwise it gets more into auto-panning territory. Mono is much more forgiving of using different waveforms - for example, sawtooth on the upper bands, sine waves on the lower ones. But a lot depends on the music, too. The sharp snapback of a synched sawtooth or square wave means that the playing has to be pretty spot-on in terms of rhythm.

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Vintage guitar amp plugins may have some nice tremolo effects.

Real amps do but too spendy now.

If I am not mistaken, Danelectro amps were the first to have tremolo - doesn't mean they sounded the best but hey were good.
A Fender Vibrolux is a great tremolo, so is a Super Reverb, Ampeg had some nice ones, a friend of mine had a Wurlitzer electric combo organ with matching amp and I remember that tremolo throbbed.

I had a mid 60's Silvertone (Dano) combo with a great tremolo.

I played bass for Bo Diddley for one gig, his contract stated 2 Fender amps with tremolo. He preferred Twins but would settle for lower wattages based on what was available in the town he was visiting.
He set the tremolos at two different speeds.

So this is not new by any means.


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Originally Posted by Anderton
So we all know what tremolo sounds like in a guitar amp. But...

Lately I've been experimenting with multiband tremolo, and using different waveforms.

Please explain what "multiband tremolo" is? Does "multiband" refer to amplitude modulation of selected frequency bands? So, for example, the low frequency range of a guitar would remain with its natural amplitude level but the mid-range would be affected by the envelope modulation? How do you do that? Is it like multiband compression where different frequency bands get compressed differently? Does your favorite DAW allow you to separate frequency bands of a track for individual processing? That could let you get into all sorts of trouble. wink

I know that, in the context of amplified instruments, tremolo is amplitude modulation, which affects all frequencies equally. I have an Ampeg Reverbrocket with a "Tremolo" knob that not only increases the depth of amplitude modulation but also, the waveform changes in harmonic content (distortion) as you turn the knob up - probably a planned or unplanned accident resulting in overdriving something in the tremolo signal generator path. That would result in a change in harmonic content of the input (musical) signal as well as the overall amplitude.

Would Bo Diddly approve? (and I wrote that before I read Kuru's post on the subject)

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I recall making my own synthesizer/full polyphone square wave organ as a teenager, and including a tremolo on it, which taught me a lot about tones and acoustics!

For a good "High Fidelity" tremolo, you need a low distortion VCA and a pure wave LFO. Of course you can make a nice tremolo with grungy sounding modules, and possibly you favorite rhodes tremolo isn't HiFI at all...

Unfortunately, digital tremolo isn't as simple as people might expect: a digital LFO with a multiplication to the signal, because even for low LFO frequencies, reconstruction errors are going to get the better of your digital LFO effect, so it probably will sound iffy. Complicated digital pre processing before DA conversion can be built in in for instance a quality hardware device with digital tremolo to make even a panning one sound good, but it's hard.

For an organ, I recall using a Light Dependent Resistor approach to get a nice tremolo tone. My teenage experiment was based on an electronic LFO sine generator with frequency adjust, and a FET based VCA, which made a fine sound.

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You made me think of Link Wray's "Rumble" grin

I find a distinct difference between tremolo and vibrato.

Tremolo affects predominantly volume.

Vibrato predominantly affects pitch.

Therefore I refuse to call the whammy on a guitar a tremolo bar, when in reality it's vibrato. Leo got a lot of things right, but he got that one wrong smile

In the wind synthesizer community where almost any patch can have either vibrato (lip), tremolo (breath pressure), or both, it's important to be specific if you don't want to be misunderstood.

Now I'm thinking about that Animals song grin

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Originally Posted by Notes_Norton
I find a distinct difference between tremolo and vibrato.

Tremolo affects predominantly volume.

Vibrato predominantly affects pitch.

It's not just a predominant effect, it's the musical definition of each one. Perceptually, there may be some crossover, but that's something that's interpreted by individual listeners who are not necessarily trained listeners nor trained musicians.

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Originally Posted by Mike Rivers
Originally Posted by Anderton
So we all know what tremolo sounds like in a guitar amp. But...

Lately I've been experimenting with multiband tremolo, and using different waveforms.

Please explain what "multiband tremolo" is?

I would also be interested in an explanation. Is it the same as harmonic tremolo? EDIT: Yes, according to Eventide in the below video.

I pulled up a harmonic tremolo patch on my Empress Zoia and the band liked it the first time when I played my electric fiddle through it. They weren't so hot on it the next time. I think it has something to do with the practice room and how frequencies coming out of the cymbals, guitar, etc. in that room cause some weird perceptions of pitch and tone.

That harmonic tremolo patch was created by someone inspired by the release of the Harmadillo algorithm for H9, which I also have.


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Originally Posted by Mike Rivers
Please explain what "multiband tremolo" is? Does "multiband" refer to amplitude modulation of selected frequency bands? So, for example, the low frequency range of a guitar would remain with its natural amplitude level but the mid-range would be affected by the envelope modulation? How do you do that? Is it like multiband compression where different frequency bands get compressed differently? Does your favorite DAW allow you to separate frequency bands of a track for individual processing?

Exactly. What makes it easy is that Studio One has a splitter module with up to five splits, but it can split by frequency - like having five crossovers. It lives with its split offspring in a single channel, so basically, the audio comes into the channel, gets split up to five ways, processed, then mixed back together before returning to the panpot, fader, etc.

So I can put a tremolo in each split, sync them to different rhythms, and use different waveforms so there are all kinds of interesting interactions among timing, frequency, and amplitude that maintain rhythmic integrity. The particular tremolo in Studio One is also an auto-panner, so some of the bands can pan instead of do tremolo.

I first got into this kind of thinking when emulating one of those "Harmonic Tremolos" that used to be in Fender amps. The way they worked was splitting the guitar into lows and highs, then feeding two amplitude modulators, modulated by out-of-phase LFO waveforms. So as the highs got louder, the lows got softer and vice-versa. A lot of guitar players felt it had a "sweeter" sound than conventional tremolo, because the signal never actually went away, it just changed.

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Thanks you two. Sounds weird, but I guess that's (sounding weird) one of the tools of certain genres of music.

Just plain guitar amplifier tremolo sounds weird to me, too, but there are places where, to me, it works and is essential to that sound. Bo Diddly is one who made it a trademark, Roebuck Staples is another.

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Regular amp tremolo is of course iconic in blues and other rootsy styles. However, this will always be my favorite song built around that effect


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PreSonus posted my blog post about creating multiband tremolo, and it has an audio example on SoundCloud. The first half of the example is a synth pad, and the multiband tremolo kicks in during the second half.

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Stupid me back in the 80's once traded a Gibson Les Paul Custom for a 1978 Fender Twin Reverb. It was the heaviest and loudest amp I ever owned, the 135 watt version. The "Normal" inputs never worked and the tremolo didn't either. When eventually I tore into that thing I discovered that some of the wires to the Normal input preamp tube had never been installed. Later I replaced the "roach" in the tremolo circuit, the 300V opto-coupler type thingie, bought a foot switch and had some fun cranking that amp up with some serious vintage tremolo. I finally sold that amp a couple years ago and also finally, it was in 100% working order.

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Here's a hit song using tremolo on vocals decades ago.



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Originally Posted by Anderton
PreSonus posted my blog post about creating multiband tremolo, and it has an audio example on SoundCloud. The first half of the example is a synth pad, and the multiband tremolo kicks in during the second half.

Sounds cool. I don't have the Splitter feature in Waveform (at least I haven't found it, or for that matter looked for it).

I can see why that makes it easy but it's not out of reach by any means. A bit more cumbersome to use duplicate parallel tracks and separate the frequencies etc. but it could be done pretty quickly with 3 bands.


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Already quite a while ago, while working on low-mid frequency FFT averaging bands for acoustic control, I added a version for creating as opposed to remixing tracks, where the 9 bands I use got an individual LFO. Makes for subtle but interesting variations, but the disadvantage is: every time you run the effect on a track or mix, therelative and absolute phases of the LFOs are different, and so, like with an unsynced chorus, every run is different, which can get tedious amd wavy.

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Originally Posted by KuruPrionz
I can see why that makes it easy but it's not out of reach by any means. A bit more cumbersome to use duplicate parallel tracks and separate the frequencies etc. but it could be done pretty quickly with 3 bands.

The hard part is creating a crossover that produces a flat response when everything is summed back together again. I've tried creating bands in various ways (e.g., boosting/cutting bands on a graphic EQ), but a five-way crossover is pretty cool and saves a lot of time!

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Originally Posted by Mike Rivers
Originally Posted by Notes_Norton
I find a distinct difference between tremolo and vibrato.

Tremolo affects predominantly volume.

Vibrato predominantly affects pitch.

It's not just a predominant effect, it's the musical definition of each one. Perceptually, there may be some crossover, but that's something that's interpreted by individual listeners who are not necessarily trained listeners nor trained musicians.
Thank you Mike!

That's why I use predominant. Especially on wind instruments (including voice and wind MIDI controllers) there can definitely be some bleeding of one into the other.

In one forum I used the terms in a more exclusive manner and someone did analysis to prove that in many cases tremolo had a little pitch variations, and vibrato had a bit of volume included.

There's one in almost every forum wink

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Originally Posted by Anderton
Originally Posted by KuruPrionz
I can see why that makes it easy but it's not out of reach by any means. A bit more cumbersome to use duplicate parallel tracks and separate the frequencies etc. but it could be done pretty quickly with 3 bands.

The hard part is creating a crossover that produces a flat response when everything is summed back together again. I've tried creating bands in various ways (e.g., boosting/cutting bands on a graphic EQ), but a five-way crossover is pretty cool and saves a lot of time!

I probably wouldn't care too much if the response was "flat" since the polyrhythms of amplitude (and therefore of frequency since different bandwidths are moving at different intervals) would make measuring any particular instance would fairly meaningless in context - at least to me. I'm not a stickler that things sound the way they are "supposed" to sound, perhaps rather the opposite. For me, sounds define themselves by what they turn out to be.

A friend came over to learn more about using his DAW and I made a kick drum into a shaker using a graphic EQ and a pitch shifter. I also made it so deep it could not be reproduced or heard. Not sure he learned anything but I found it amusing.


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Originally Posted by KuruPrionz
I probably wouldn't care too much if the response was "flat" since the polyrhythms of amplitude (and therefore of frequency since different bandwidths are moving at different intervals) would make measuring any particular instance would fairly meaningless in context - at least to me. I'm not a stickler that things sound the way they are "supposed" to sound, perhaps rather the opposite. For me, sounds define themselves by what they turn out to be.

On one level, yes, but I really try not to make my life difficult at the mixing stage. When there are unpredictable peaks and valleys that detract from other elements of the mix, then that's one more thing I have to fix.

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A friend came over to learn more about using his DAW and I made a kick drum into a shaker using a graphic EQ and a pitch shifter. I also made it so deep it could not be reproduced or heard. Not sure he learned anything but I found it amusing.

Anything is a potential instrument smile

One time I was doing a workshop in Sweden and I said I could make an instrument out of anything. So of course, some guy came up and gave me like 250 ms of sound. So I looped it, layered it, transposed it, processed...voila, instant pad!

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Originally Posted by Anderton
Originally Posted by KuruPrionz
I probably wouldn't care too much if the response was "flat" since the polyrhythms of amplitude (and therefore of frequency since different bandwidths are moving at different intervals) would make measuring any particular instance would fairly meaningless in context - at least to me. I'm not a stickler that things sound the way they are "supposed" to sound, perhaps rather the opposite. For me, sounds define themselves by what they turn out to be.

On one level, yes, but I really try not to make my life difficult at the mixing stage. When there are unpredictable peaks and valleys that detract from other elements of the mix, then that's one more thing I have to fix.

Understood. Our approaches to tracking are different, which is fun. My own approach is probably a consequence of the rather unique experience of spending 9 years in Fresno gigging with Roger Perry, a fine singer and guitarist who knows so many songs from memory it still blows my mind. We never had a set list or a list of songs, we almost never practiced, we took requests and often enough Roger would simply start playing songs and not stop for an hour. I had to learn to keep up on the fly, always.

Eventually we had some tunes that we played fairly often and I knew them well but even then I had to ready for them to be in a different style or key or both. We were booked every Th/Fr/Sa and often more than that.

All this to say that I am completely comfortable with just tossing a pile of first take tracks onto a song idea, giving that time to be understood and then going back to work on an arrangement. In that process, the initial concept of what the song was at first might be completely gone.

The "unpredictable peaks and valleys" may turn out to be my favorite thing about a track and rather than concern over them detracting, I may just eliminate anything else that is now "in the way".
It's not very calculated in the initial stages, I have to allow whatever it is to be "born."

I've long since accepted that mixing is impossible, tedious, and a way to find what ever it is, is.

From your response, I'm guessing (please forgive if I am incorrect), that you have a pretty solid idea of what you want to create when you set out in the beginning.
And that's a great way to go.

Perhaps I don't have that skill as well refined or maybe playing gigs the way I did drove me insane. I found a band up here that more or less does the same thing. Making it up on the spot is what I love most about playing guitar.


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Originally Posted by Anderton
PreSonus posted my blog post about creating multiband tremolo, and it has an audio example on SoundCloud. The first half of the example is a synth pad, and the multiband tremolo kicks in during the second half.

Cool effect!


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