JHS Kodiak Tremolo
By Chris Loeffler |
JHS Kodiak Tremolo
Pedal sound so big it's un-bear-able!
by Chris Loeffler
To my ear, there are few effects that set a mood as immediately and effectively as tremolo. Maybe that is because it is one of the first effects to be introduced to electric guitar and therefore one of the most embedded in its sonic vocabulary, but there’s something about tremolo, be it soft up-and-down tremor of a light sine wave or the on-off stutter of a cranked square wave, the hypnotic powers of the effect are undeniable as it lulls even the most passive listener into a trance.
The JHS Kodiak Tremolo is another addition to JHS Pedals’ rapidly growing line of small box tap-tempo pedals; an analog tremolo with variable waveforms. The Kodiak features controls for Volume, Speed, Wave, Mix, and Ratio, true-bypass switching, and is powered by a standard negative center 9v power supply.
What You Need to Know
One of the beauties of the tremolo effect is how simple it is, and the controls follow suit, making the Kodiak a pedal you can master without referencing the users guide. The Volume control sets the total output level of the effect, which is helpful to make up for the perceived volume loss that happens when the effect is turned on at unity. Cranking the Volume even higher results in a satisfying crunch when run into a preamp on the verge of overdrive that really stands out in the mix and adds harmonic complexity to a part and for bonus points you can even roll the Mix all the way down, effectively killing the tremolo effect to product a nice, clean boost.
The Mix control is a bit of an outlier of standard parameter nomenclature, as it functions identical to what is typically called Depth and adjusts how deep an amplitude (volume) cut occurs, setting how pronounced or understated the effect is. Anything from “not on” to complete volume cuts are available.
The Speed control, intuitively, sets the duration of the waveform, from multi-second waves that take an entire bar to resolve to machinegun stutters that stop just short of going into ring modulation territory.
The Wave control is where most of the tweaking will be done, and blends as it sweeps through four unique wave forms. Sine wave is the most standard tremolo sound, producing perfectly round, even throbs a la classic Surf music. As the control moves upward the wave morphs to Rhythmic, which generates a dah-da-da-dah type stutter for a slightly less monotonous, but no less mesmerizing, pattern. Next is the square wave, which forms a hard step from the direct signal to the Mix cut for a choppy, broken signal effect. The Ramp mode forms infinite cascading swells from the lowest point of the Mix setting to the loudest. It’s a different sound and probably one of the most dizzying, making it prime for use in Indie Rock and general experimental music.
The effect itself doesn’t have a tone and introduced no noticeable coloration to my direct signal. I also tried hammering it with cranked active humbuckers and wasn’t able to torture it to break up.
The Rhythmic setting is cool, but only has one pattern. It would have been cool to have the pattern change as the sweep of the Wave control went through that ¼ of the setting.
The JHS Kodiak Tremolo is a compact, flexible was to get four great tremolo types on your floor with tap tempo for less that $200. The tremolo is transparent, high-headroom, and low-noise, the tap tempo is accurate, and there’s enough boost to remove any perceived signal drop. Short of adding true stereo panning, there’s not much more to do in the world of amplitude modulation, making the JHS Kodiak a top-contender in my book if you’re looking for a tremolo. -HC-
Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer.