One Control Tiger Lily Tremolo
By Phil O'Keefe |
Does this tiger earn its stripes?
Japan's One Control has been on a bit of a mission - they've been bringing the ultra-boutique designs of famed designer Bjorn Juhl (of BJFe pedals fame) to the masses at a price point that is considerably less than his often hard-to-find hand-built originals cost. If you're unfamiliar with One Control, be sure to check out my review of the Bjorn Juhl-designed One Control Honey Bee Overdrive. Today we're going to be taking a look at another one of Bjorn's designs, as built by One Control - the Tiger Lily Tremolo.
What You Need To Know
- The One Control Tiger Lily tremolo is a very compact "micro" pedal that measures a mere 47mm W x 100mm L x 48mm H (1.85" W x 3.94 L x 1.89" H), including the protrusions from the jacks and knobs. As with most micro-sized pedals, it's also fairly light, weighing in at only 160 grams (5.34 oz).
- The Tiger Lily was designed by Bjorn Juhl, and is made in Japan by One Control. The design was influenced by the sine wave tremolos of early Gibson and Premier amplifiers, and the pedal has a very smooth sound overall, but one that can be made much choppier than the tremolos on those amps, depending on how you adjust the controls.
- The enclosure is made from aluminum and expertly machined, and like the namesake flower, it's orange in color. The similarity to the flower is further reinforced with the black accents provided by the pedal's three control knobs and black labels and graphics.
- There are three control knobs on the Tiger Lily. You get the usual Speed and Depth controls, and they function as you'd expect, with the Speed knob setting the rate of the tremolo's volume fluctuations, and having a speed range that is similar to the amp tremolos that inspired it. The Amplitude and Depth controls operate somewhat similarly to each other and adjust the amount of tremolo, but affect different parts of the circuit.
- Per Bjorn's suggestions, for mild tremolo, use minimum Depth and set the Amplitude to where the tremolo begins to appear on the end of phrases. For standard tremolo, set the Depth to noon and adjust Amplitude to taste, and for heavy tremolo, max out the Depth and just the Amplitude to taste.
- The range of tremolo available - from subtle to heavy, is quite impressive. While the Tiger Lily uses sine wave modulation, at high Depth and Amplitude settings the signal can get nearly gated-sounding, with a hard on/off texture that is somewhat reminiscent of square wave tremolos. Lower Depth and higher Amplitude settings offer a wide range of more subtle tremolo sounds and textures.
- The inputs and outputs are mounted on the sides of the pedal, and like the rest of the micro pedals in One Control's BJF series, they're staggered so that you can mount multiple pedals closer together.
- Input impedance is 180k ohm, while the output impedance is 10k ohm.
- The Tiger Lily has a small, recessed slide switch mounted on the input side of the pedal that lets you invert the phase of the pedal. This can come in handy for problem-solving, and is useful when running two amps (and parallel effects chains) in stereo, as well as for bridging two channels on some Fender amps so both are operating simultaneously, and in-phase.
- Surprisingly, you have options when it comes to powering the Tiger Lily. Not only do you get the expected 2.1mm center-negative power receptacle for a (optional) industry-standard 9V power adapter, but pulling the back plate off of the Tiger Lily reveals an internal compartment for a 9V battery - something that few micro-sized pedals offer.
- The Tiger Lily's current draw is very low at only 1.5mA @ 9V DC, so a battery should last quite some time as long as you remember to disconnect the input jack when you're not using the pedal.
- The construction is clean and neat, and utilizes surface mount components. This is no surprise considering the small size of the enclosure and the space-savings that this construction approach provides. The internal battery compartment and electronics are protected by a small, removable electrically-insullating plastic J-card; while it's not very likely to fall out, you'll still want to make sure you don't lose it when changing the battery.
- The Tiger Lily has a signal to noise ratio of 80dB, so it's relatively quiet and isn't going to add excessive noise to your sound.
- The Tiger Lily uses true bypass switching, taking the electronics completely out of the signal path when it is bypassed. A small yet bright red LED located just below the knobs illuminates whenever the effect is active.
- Describing the interaction between the Amplitude and Depth controls isn't easy, and the two controls may seem redundant at first glance, but five minutes of playing with the pedal will make everything clear - they really do compliment each other and provide increased flexibility compared to two-knob tremolo designs.
- The black lettering against the orange color of the pedal can be a bit difficult to read.
- The input and power jacks are very close together - you may have difficulty using both if your guitar cable has a unusually large plug, especially if you're using a larger-sized power plug too.
What do you get when you combine the talents of a brilliant Swedish pedal designer and the craftsmanship of an expert Japanese pedal manufacturer? You get a cool sounding and very well-built boutique-quality pedal with some unexpected surprises that retails for a very reasonable price. Case in point: the Tiger Lily is a very interesting and somewhat unusual tremolo pedal. First of all, micro-sized pedals usually don't have the ability to be battery-powered, so it's very nice that you get both battery and external adapter powering options with the One Control Tiger Lily Tremolo pedal. The phase switch is another useful and unexpected feature that will come in handy and help solve problems in more complex pedalboard setups.
The Tiger Lily's also unusual in the level of control that it offers; unlike most micro-sized tremolo pedals that typically only offer speed and depth knobs, its unique three-knob approach, with separate Depth and Amplitude controls, gives it the ability to go from mellow and subtle to a very choppy, almost on/off type of sound where it produces a hard, nearly gated sounding tremolo effect. I love how you can dial it back so that it's essentially only audible on held and decaying notes and chords too - you don't often find that kind of subtly or flexibility in a compact tremolo either. And as pedal connoisseurs have come to expect from Bjorn Juhl's designs, it sounds wonderful, with a warm and very amp-like character.
Once again One Control has brought one of Bjorn Juhl's highly sought-after boutique designs to a much wider audience in a reliable, compact and cost-effective form. Kick one of these tigers with your toe if you get a chance - I think you'll really dig the sound that will blossom forth from it. -HC-
Want to discuss the One Control Tiger Lily Tremolo pedal or have questions or comments about this review? Then head over to this thread in the Effects forum right here on Harmony Central and join the discussion!
One Control Tiger Lily Tremolo ($169.00 "street")
One Control's product web page
You can purchase the One Control Tiger Lily Tremolo from:
Phil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician and Guitar Player magazines.