Anatomy of Guitar Tone: Fender Brownface Tremolo Trick

Hey everyone, Mark Marshall with The Pro Audio Files and

Today I want to talk about emulating the tremolo sound that is known in the Brownface Fender amps, and they have a very special kind of tremolo. What it actually does is it sags the power a little bit, so as the later Fender amps came out, particularly the Blackface, they no longer did this sag tremolo, where it felt like it dropped the power as the tremolo was coming in and out. It was a little bit of a harder tremolo.

It adds a bit of a subtle thing, but when you’re doing a lot of dusty, kind of swampy, southern blues rock stuff, I think that it’s cool to be able to be aware of these nuances.

For this example, I’m going to use this Supra-Trem from Full Tone. I have it on the soft setting, and you can see where I have the settings setup for that. I’m going to also use that in conjunction with this KLON KTR. I don’t have it on too heavy of a gain setting, just a little bit so it makes it a little bit crunchier, and a little more present in the mids.

[mix, guitar with Supra-Trem and KLON KTR,Supra-Trem second]

[mix, guitar with Supra-Trem and KLON KTR,Supra-Trem first]

When I put the KLON before the tremolo pedal, there was a little more gain going to the amp, so it was a little more output and a hotter signal, and this kind of makes sense if you think about it, because if the tremolo is before the overdrive pedal, the tremolo is constantly adjusting the amount of guitar signal being sent to the tremolo pedal, in essence, it lowers the overdrive as the tremolo fades in and out.

One of the other things that you’ll notice is that when the tremolo was first, the signal was just a little bit softer. I kind of like this because it’s a bit more of a subtle tremolo effect. Sometimes I think when you’re using tremolo, it can be a really brash effect, and sometimes, you just want it to be moody and vibey, and this is a really great approach to be able to do this.

Mark Marshall

Mark Marshall

Mark Marshall is a producer, songwriter, session musician and instructor based in NYC. More at
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