Tremolo is not the most common effect for bass, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go there. On the contrary, you should always explore new creative territories!
The Black Cat Mini Trem is a classic tremolo pedal that, simply put, turns the volume up and down automatically and continuously. But this one has a couple of nice tricks up its sleeve. Let’s explore…
The Mini Trem has 4 knobs: SPEED, DEPTH, TONE and BOOST. It also features 2 footswitches, and LED and a classy-looking, gold-sparkle finish. The SPEED knob controls the speed of the effect (as would be expected) and the DEPTH allows you to control how much the volume goes up and down. The BOOST and TONE circuit is independent from the tremolo circuit and you can use the Black Cat Mini Trem as a high-quality clean boost and tone control as well as combining all of the 4 controls to tailor your tremolo tone.
The first footswitch simply turns the pedal on and off, but the second one is quite cool. When you hit it, it will double the tempo of the tremolo, or if you left it at that mode, it will cut the tempo to half the speed. Kind of like having the Hammond organ switch controlling a Leslie, but at the same time having control over the speed and depth of the modulation – not just ‘fast’ and a ‘slow’ modes.
The sound clips are divided into 6 rounds. The first 4 rounds are built on the same idea: I will go through the tremolo effect methodically at 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% effect intensity. Next, I will explore the tonal variations offered by the TONE knob and finally use the Mini Trem in combination with a Boss OC-2 Octave pedal to add even more life to a mellow, synthy sound.
NOTE! Please use headphones or ‘real’ speakers. You simply can’t judge low-end material on laptop, tablet or phone speakers…!
NOTE! If you are on a mobile device, please turn it to landscape mode to see the knob settings of the pedal for each audio clip.
The Mini Trem is very versatile, and as mentioned above, the TONE and BOOST knobs can come in really handy when searching for a good place in the mix. And in the sound clips, I didn’t even touch upon the function as a clean FET booster, but can verify that with the TONE knob in the 12 o’clock position, the boost is very transparent and does the job it’s supposed to. Add the TONE knob and you can set up the Mini Trem to boost the level a bit and at the same time add a tad of treble (or low-end) for a solo.
The double/half time footswitch is also a brilliant touch that can be used quite creatively and bring some interesting results to the surface.
The Black Cat pedals are hand-wired in the US, which you may or may not take as a sign of impeccable quality, but fact is that I have found no issues with this pedal and the first impression absolutely indicates a very high-quality pedal.
The design is nice – even if you don’t factor in the sparkling gold finish. For instance, the yellow LED flashes accordingly to the tempo of the effect, which is a nice touch, although not a ‘need to have’.
If anything, the two footswitches are located relatively close and the black labeling on the dark, golden surface probably won’t help you out on dark stage, so you better memorize which footswitch does what. That said, I like that the size of the pedal is similar to a standard Boss pedal, and would not have traded one of the footswitches (and the associated feature) for a pedal with a bigger footprint. One suggestion. The design of the pedal could have been ‘horizontal’, leaving more space between the two footswitches and have the four knobs on a row instead of in a ‘square’ configuration.
Oh, and speaking of the size of the pedal, I do find it a little strange that it’s named ‘Mini Trem’ as it is no where the tiny size of some of the other mini or micro pedals you’ll find on the market today.
Today (2015), a new BC Mini Trem will cost you $190, which is not too bad considering were talking about a hand-made pedal. Of course you can find a much cheaper tremolo pedal elsewhere, but overall, I think that the sound, versatility and quality of this pedal does justify the price tag. In conclusion, this pedal represents good value for money – without being absolutely mind-blowing.
I really like this pedal. Admittedly, I’d probably use it most at subtle setting around the 20-40% mark, but doubling as a clean boost with or without tone-shaping and especially the very rich and nice character it can add to a synth tone, the Mini Trem is definitely worth checking out.
Great build quality
Good value for money
Double/half tempo footswitch
Footswitches a little close
Well, if you don’t like gold…