Everyone has probably heard of the Cusack Tap-A-Whirl Tremolo pedal with tap tempo. Guys like Jeffrey Kunde, James Duke and a whole slew of other guys have been using the Tap-A-Whirl for upwards of a decade. Every so often something new will come out but in the end they always seem to go back to the Tap-A-Whirl.
The reason for this could range from a number of reasons. For me though the reason I have chosen Cusack for my personal rig is durability. I have had a Screamer on my board for almost a 6 years now and it has yet to leave my board. Anyways this article isn’t about an overdrive pedal, it is about the Cusack Tremolo.
I have had the Tap-A-Whirl multiple times but honestly it is just more than I need. I loved the sounds I got out of it but I end up using tremolo on maybe one song per week and the Tap-A-Whirl took up two single pedal spots, so I swapped it out for this.
A scaled down version of the Tap-A-Whirl, this pedal is simply called the Tremolo. It features controls for level, rate and depth like a standard tremolo effects pedal. It also has a 3 way mini-toggle that allows you to switch between three of the most popular Tap-A-Whirl waveform settings.
This waveform is the smoothest and most subtle of the wave forms. It has that slow swell and light attack that people use to built in amplifier tremolo effects will love. The sound is very warm and rich and reacts very well with delay, reverb and overdrive.
I found this setting to be the best for ambient riffs, swells anything where a more choppy setting would produce too much movement.
The Square/Ramp setting has really grown on me. As in terms of subtly and choppiness it sits right in between the Sine and Square, which makes sense seeing it’s spot on the switch. I have found this setting works really great on some of the ambient stuff, but also riffs like the opening riff from Mighty Warrior that James Duke plays on the Seafoam Green Jaguar.
This setting also works great for the warble effect in bridge of This is Amazing Grace by Phil Wickham.
This is by far the most aggressive of the three. I have only found a few places to use this setting and to be honest, as a Worship guitarist there is not going to be much place for this. It is super fun though. We recently did a few Worship Nights where we did some experimental ambient drone stuff where I used a really wet reverb, fuzz and this square wavelength setting to produce a really resonant drone sound. It was really cool and the square setting really cut through the fuzz where the other settings just ended up getting washed out.
I am very happy with this pedal. It has been on my board for a little over a month and it does exactly what I need it to do. I love the magenta level and depth knobs that really pop against the silver sparkle case and simple modern graphics. The clear rate control with LED tempo indicator is a really cool touch and is just another example of the fellas at Cusack thinking outside the box.
Compared with the Tap-A-Whirl, I didn’t feel like it was missing anything for my application. As mentioned I end up using it once maybe twice a week at most and never felt like I needed the tap-tempo. If someone was in need of a tap tempo on this pedal there is a RCA jack that accepts tap tempo, so you could run an external switch or even control tempo via a clock like a Selah Quartz or RJM Mastermind PBC.
Some of the crazier settings and parameters on the Tap-A-Whirl were handy but again for me they were just overkill. The sine, square/ramp and square settings were plenty of flexibility for me.
Built like a brick porta-john, incredible tones, and with popular settings pulled from it’s bigger brother this is a no-brainer for the average tremolo pedal user. If you end up using your tremolo pedal in place of delay and/or reverb at times like James Duke, I would opt for the Tap-A-Whirl as the tap-tempo is a deal breaker in those applications.