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Rage Against The Machine originally became famous for its strong message that has moved generations – and continues to do so. However, that message would have reached far fewer people if it wasn’t for an appropriate vessel. That vessel came in form of Tom Morello’s work. Morello, unlike many of other famous guitar players, wasn’t all that willing to bury his signal with effects. With that said, being the only guitar player in a band that wanted to push a message across with a decent amount of emotion, he had to be pretty resourceful.
One of the more significant stompboxes on his pedalboard is the Boss TR-2 Tremolo. This pedal is considered to be among the very best tremolos on the market. and it is rather simple in nature. Even so, it was enough to give the RATM a certain edge that has definitely helped them get to the level they are on right now. Today we are going to take a closer look at this pedal and see how it can help you spice up your tone. Without further ado, let’s jump right in.
Boss TR-2 Tremolo Review
Modern tremolos are divided into two pretty distinct categories. You have your vintage tremolos, which offer a very specific kind of swirl, and then you have the modern ones. The latter are more clinical in terms of color that add to the tone. That is something some guitar players are looking for, but most want the good old vintage stuff. The reason for this is simple. A vintage tremolo has a warmth that simply flows well with any kind of electric guitar music. This statement is exponentially amplified if you are planning on playing blues, rock or similar more tamed genres of music. Boss TR-2 Tremolo offers this type of experience at a pretty reasonable price.
When you look at a Boss pedal, there are two things you can expect to get from it, no matter what. First one is a completely indestructible enclosure. Their stompboxes are known to take an immense amount of abuse before even showing signs of giving up. The other thing is clean control cluster. Boss TR-2 Tremolo shares both of these traits. The enclosure is the standard Boss type, only this time it comes painted in a darker shade of green. Controls are also a bit different in terms of aesthetics. They have used their older layout with larger knobs, just like you can see on the DS-1.
Speaking of controls, there are three available. You have your Rate, Wave, and Depth knobs. Rate determines the speed of the tremolo effect once you turn it on. The slower rate will give you a more subtle effect while higher rate gets you into that golden swirly territory. Depth controls how ’deep’ the dips go. In other words, the level to which your tone is going to be lowered in order to create the tremolo effect. Lastly, we have the Wave control. This knob has two values, square and triangle, on each of its end positions. By turning the knob, you change the wave shape of the effect from a triangle to a square. Naturally, you can dial in anything in between as well
In terms of powering the pedal, things are simple, as always. You can either go with their power adapter that requires a wall socket, or a single 9V battery. Using a battery will definitely help with the tremolo as it any kind of noise being produced by the adapter can put a dent in the effects’ performance.
When Boss first released the TR-2 a long time ago, many wondered whether or not it can even live up to the hype. Packing a vintage tremolo effect that is actually good, into an essentially affordable package, has raised quite a few eyebrows. However, over time its worth has been proven many times. The controls it comes with are considered to be standard these days, but they offer a lot more tone-shaping potential than you would usually get from a Trem effect.
One great thing about the TR-2 is that it doesn’t suck the life out of the tone. Even if you choose to infuse your signal with a very aggressive tremolo, there will still be definition and volume to boot. On the other hand, using a more subtle setting can give you that warm vintage vibe we all love. On a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of versatility, Boss TR-2 ranks somewhere around 4. It does what it was designed to do and a bit more, but it is far from a super versatile modern tremolo pedal. For the most part, that is fine. Vintage tremolos fill a very specific role, which TR-2 gets just right. Reliable, consistent and overall decent, this stompbox is a perfect tool for anyone who needs to swirl up their sound a bit.
Tremolo has been around for quite a while now. Its uses have proven to be many. More than it was initially anticipated. Boss TR-2 is a noteworthy member of this family for a number of reasons. Not only does it offer one of the best vintage style tremolo effects you can get at the moment, but it does so at a remarkably decent price. It is living proof that a guitar effects pedal doesn’t need to be expensive in order to be good. That is something we can conclude by the fact that Tom Morello and many others use it extensively to this day.
If you are looking to emulate Tom’s tone, TR-2 is going to be an essential part of your rig. On the other hand, if you are just looking for a good tremolo pedal that brings vintage swirls at a reasonable price, TR-2 is one of the very few solutions which are worth considering. Boss simply doesn’t disappoint, especially with crucial effects such as tremolo. Their experience has allowed hem to build a model that anyone can use, and quite honestly, should use.