Price paid: $ 70
Purchased from: RIT Holland
Ease of Use: The Chopper Tremolo is yet another solid, toneful pedal in the GarageTone series from Visual Sound. Featuring the classic speed and depth controls, along with a new "wave" control, a variety of great sounds can be conjured from the Chopper with ease. Having never used this pedal before, I was easily getting what I wanted with no trouble after just a few minutes of jamming. // 10
Sound: I use this pedal with a variety of guitars (mostly PRS and a Fender Strat) through an Egnater Tweaker, so I'm able to get a very wide range of sounds, from blues and jazz to classic and modern rock. I am happy to report that when used tastefully, the Chopper can be a great addition to many tunes. The speed and depth controls work like any standard tremolo pedal - speed controls the frequency of the volume oscillations, and depth controls how much volume is cut out (maximum depth meaning volume goes from normal to no signal in one oscillation). With just these controls, you can imitate the tremolo effect of many classic amps like Fender and Vox.
The wave control is a cool addition that allows you to alter the volume wave shape of the effect. Turning up the wave knob produces a more pronounced rise and fall in signal level, without altering the speed of the tremolo. The net effect is that when turned up, it produces a more noticeable effect, when turned down, a more subtle effect. Which is a nice addition that makes the Chopper more versatile than a standard amp tremolo. Unfortunately, a side effect of this pedal is that when engaged, there seems to be just a touch of volume loss. Even at the peak of the volume wave, sometimes the signal isn't as loud as the bypass signal. It's very subtle, but it's there. Nonetheless, a good sounding effect for someone wanting a decent tremolo, and overall I'm impressed. // 8
Reliability & Durability: As with the other GarageTone pedals, this seems to be a fairly standard unit in terms of durability. The casing is average, and the footswitch and knobs are smooth and solid within reason. The 9v jack does seem a little flimsy, but hasn't caused any problems. I've had no issues with this or my GarageTone Drivetrain, so for a "budget" pedal, these still seem to be well made. // 8
Overall Impression: As stated earlier, I dabble in a little bit of everything, and have found some cool uses for the Chopper. It's great for slow, subtle volume swells, for songs in the style of Norah Jones or John Mayer, as well as chopping a distorted tone, like the intro to "Legs" by ZZ Top. With so many of the more "modern" amps not featuring the tremolo effect, the Chopper is a great pedal to have at a great price. Not exactly a must have for a beginner's pedalboard, but a great addition when you really want to put that finishing touch on your tone! // 8