Dating way back to the Forties, tremolo was the very first external effect ever created for the electric guitar, and it also was the first effect ever built into a guitar amplifier.
However, for decades tremolo remained a pretty simple and straightforward effect that modulated amplitude at a consistent frequency, creating a steadily pulsating, rhythmic sensation.
Recently tremolo technology has undergone a renaissance of sorts, and a variety of new, highly advanced tremolo devices that greatly expand the versatility of that wonderful warble are starting to appear on the market. The new Electro-Harmonix Super Pulsar Stereo Tap Tremolo is the most sophisticated of this new breed of tremolo effect, offering a multitude of inspiring, musically useful, and just plain cool sounds that go far beyond normal tremolo.
With eight rotary knobs, four push switches, three footswitches, stereo inputs and outputs, an expression pedal input, and a tap footswitch/external clock input jack, the Super Pulsar goes well beyond the average tremolo pedal (the fact that it has a 16-page manual reveals just how sophisticated and versatile it is). While most modern tremolo pedals let users select different waveforms (sine, triangle, square), the Super Pulsar lets you define the waveform’s shape even further with continuously variable narrow or flattened sine wave peaks, triangle wave ramp up or ramp down, and square wave pulse widths between four to one hundred percent. The pedal also provides nine user-programmable, 16-step rhythm patterns that offer a welcome alternative to the consistent clock-like on-off effect of normal tremolo.
An envelope follower circuit allows users to dial in dynamic, touch-sensitive effects, such as tremolo that speeds up or slows down as the strings are picked harder or the strength of a note fades out. The Wave Invert switch inverts the modulation waveform and can create “backwards” effects. In addition to being able to tap the modulation rate, users can select dotted eighth note, quarter note triplet, eighth note, eighth note triplet, 16th, or 32nd note divisions. The pedal even stores eight presets that recall knob, switch, rhythm, and tap tempo settings.
The Super Pulsar is one of the most creatively inspiring effects I’ve tried in a long time. I’ve previously used up to four tremolo pedals to create hypnotic rhythms, but duplicating a desired effect was difficult. The Super Pulsar’s programmability ensures that even the wildest and most rhythmically sophisticated sound can always be reproduced whenever you want it, and it goes into entirely new creative territory as well.
LIST PRICE $317
MANUFACTURER Electro-Harmonix, ehx.com
• Provides fully adjustable sine, triangle, and square waveform shapes plus nine user-programmable 16-step rhythm patterns to generate any imaginable tremolo effect.
• Eight presets instantly recall all knob, switch, rhythm, and tap tempo settings, allowing users to switch from straightforward tremolo to dynamically responsive effects.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Electro-Harmonix Super Pulsar redefines tremolo for the new millennium by offering a staggering variety of inspiring, musically useful effects that go far beyond the clock-like tremolo effects of the past.