By Martina Fasano
While I’m a 70s and 80s-loving gal when it comes to my rock’n’roll, I have a definite soft spot and deep-rooted pedigree in 1960s pop, rock, and R&B. Enter the stereo tremolo effect and it’s distinct yet versatile sonic capabilities. The stereo tremolo effect has always been a favorite of mine – from Tommy James’ “Crimson and Clover” to Nancy Sinatra’s version of “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down),” the “woozy” and almost comforting feeling of the effect quickly grabbed hold of my attention, and no matter where I am, anytime I hear the tremolo effect I’m brought back to the glorious days of lying on my bedroom floor as I listened to the music I loved, and still do.
But aside from that signature tremolo sound there are other ways that you can make use of tremolo pedals like the Shapeshifter. Here are five ways you can use the pedal to coax some neat sounds out of your guitar.
It’s happened to the best of us. A pedal fails or something goes awry at a gig and you’re left with the pedal that you didn’t even anticipate using that evening. I’ve been forced to improvise more than once in my lifetime, and the failure of a chorus pedal for whatever reason (thanks a lot dude in the front row with two beers in hand!) doesn’t have to be totally catastrophic if you’ve got a Shapeshifter on your board. Set it like this, add some amp reverb and you can coax a shimmery, chorus-like sound that may help you get through that power ballad.
Any Nine Inch Nails fan will already know about using tremolo to get a classic “helicopter” sound but if you take some time to dial in the parameters below you can effectively use the very percussive sound you achieve to create a loop (with your looping pedal or recording software) that you can use as a pretty unique foundation to the next great industrial-inspired song. Warning: using this effect for any length of time while others in your living quarters are around may result in dirty looks. A lot of them!
Drone and Ambience
If you’re looking to have a pedal-type tone drone in the background while the rest of a shimmery chord rings out, the Shapeshifter has several ways to assist you. The settings below helped me keep a pedal note in the “background” of my playing while allowing the “foreground” notes to ring out in that classic shimmery tremolo tone you’d expect. Perfect for more ambient tones or those times when perhaps you’re longing to have a higher-pitched note droning along with the bass in a particular song.
The best way to describe this next use is almost like a bat’s echolocation capabilities. Imagine a sound that echos beyond the time of you playing the note – like a delay but with a panning out kind of sound. Extremely useful in a pinch where delay isn’t available to you or you need something that gives you a distinct echo with a bit of a warble to it. Try it and you’ll hear what I mean!
I can’t promise any satanic messages or proof of aliens, but if you use the settings below you’ll be able to mimic a quasi-reverse tape sound from your Shapeshifter. Granted, it will depend on what you play and just how much “reverse” sound you want, but when you consider the fact that you won’t need to bring an unknown synth or keyboard player along with you to your next gig to play that really awesome section of the new song you wrote, you can’t lose.
These are just five ways I found of using the Shapeshifter that are perhaps not the way you’d expect to. The types of sounds you can get from this sparkle-happy purple stomp box is endless. What sorts of sounds have you managed to add to your tonal repertoire using the Shapeshifter? Comment and share your settings below!