Chorus & Tremolo
Chorus and Tremolo pedals work by adding an extra voice to the instrument – albeit a bit off tune. This works fine in the guitar; however, it doesn’t with the violin. Picture this: you’re alongside another violinist, playing exactly the same as you are… but, with a tiny difference in pitch. It can drive you mental!
That’s exactly how I felt trying the Chorus effect. Perhaps, with a tweak in the equalization, the end result can be more pleasant; it didn’t work that way for me, and I stopped using it altogether.
Same problem with the Tremolo; except, this time, the second out-of-tune voice has an added vibrato. This can be tweaked to be faster or slower; but it still comes out as fuzzy, and pitchy. Again, this is from my personal experience – if anybody has had better luck with a certain equalization, please do share!
Looking for a second voice? Then try octavators or harmonizers – but more on that on the second part of the article.
Flanger & Phaser
I use the Boss BF-3, that’s filled with amazing ways of tweaking the effect.
The first knob is divided into two: the RES (resonance potentiometer) modifies the flanger sound, the more you turn it clockwise. The result? That “spacey“, turbine-like sound, without affecting the violin’s real sound too much.
For a bigger distortion, play with the DEPTH and RATE knobs. Turning the Rate clockwise leads to a faster modulation; a type of vibrato without actually having to play it that way. The higher this goes, the faster the vibrato.
To match the background sound that we previously generated with the RES knob, but now with our violin sound, then it’s time to fiddle with the Depth knob. Turn it clockwise to increase the Depth; going all the way to the max with this and the RES creates a very interesting, crazy sound… I recommend trying it for fun, but don’t go overboard. This isn’t Spinal Tap; you don’t have to turn everything up to 11!
Feel like experimenting? Try the Momentary mode of the flanger. When setting the effect in this mode, it will only sound while stepping on the pedal. This can be used for certain notes or parts of the song; like a solo, for example. I’ve used it for my solo on this song, No Retornable. Check out how it sounds:
The Flanger pedal is really interesting and has a broad range of moods and feels. It’s only a matter of learning how to set it; just don’t abuse it…!
Violin Pedals, Part 2
On the next article, I’ll go further explaining other types of pedals, to pinpoint exactly what works for violins. Stay tuned!