Vibrato and Tremolo

vibrato vs tremolo


Two Tools of the Trade

Many musicians confuse the terms “vibrato” and “tremolo,” but they are two distinct effects, each offering players a different tool for tailoring the sound to their needs.

Tremolo is a change in the amplitude — or volume — of the signal. Tremolo modulates the volume up and down in a cyclical manner.

Vibrato is an actual pitch change of the signal, or a bending the note up and down. As musicians apply vibrato to their instruments they are changing the pitch, not the amplitude.

Magnatone was one of the very first companies to produce a true pitch-shifting vibrato effect. In fact, this distinct Magnatone sound is the technology behind our phrase, “True Dimensional Sound.” For years, other manufacturers where offering tremolo only, and calling it vibrato. This misunderstanding has been perpetuated over time, so even today, many guitar players do not know the difference and use the terms interchangeably.

The Low Frequency Oscillator (LFO) is a critical part of the effects. This component creates the sinusoidal rhythmic pulse that controls either the pitch change or the amplitude change. Most LFO’s have a limited range of speed and controllability, but this is not the case with the new Magnatone amps. The LFO has been fully updated to allow users to set the effect extremely slow while maintaining stability and consistency in the circuit. But the updated design is effective in achieving the more familiar, faster speeds as well.

While Magnatone was a true pioneer in Vibrato technology, both vibrato and tremolo are available in different combinations with various Magnatone amplifiers.