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So Orange has released a new guitar amplifier, you are shocked right, an amp company releasing an amplifier! But the TremLord is something a little different for Orange. 

The centrepiece of the amplifier is an all valve Tremolo, this is Orange’s take on the 1950’s amplifiers that used this effect to such acclaim.

This made me think one; what is tremolo and where will I have heard it before.

First, what is Tremolo?

Tremolo is simply put a modulation effect, it changes the volume of your signal at certain speed and depth. This is not to be confused with vibrato, which changes the pitch of the signal.

On the TremLord you can set two different speeds of tremolo and also the depth of the modulation. This means it’s perfect for use live with a footswitch.

Uses of Tremolo in Songs

Otis Redding – “A Change is Gonna Come”

This is the song that made me explore songs using tremolo, Otis Redding’s version of “A Change is Gonna Come” is a fantastic example. After the opening horn section the unmistakable tremolo guitar chords float in, which then stay throughout the whole song.

After this I dived headlong into finding more interesting and diverse song that used this effect, trying to find examples from across the musical spectrum and also the past 60 years.

Radiohead – “Bones”

Hearing “The Bends” for the first time I remember the raking sound of the tremolo on “Bones” being one of my favourite parts. It felt like the start of the band moving their sound away from the grunge sound of the first album. I chose a live version as it shows Jonny Greenwood using the effect throughout the song. 

Rage Against the Machine – Guerilla Radio

Tom Morello is known for his unique use of effects and I think this was one of the first Rage Against the Machine songs I ever heard,  I remember struggling to understand what that sound was! Heavily leaning on his trusty boss tremolo pedal the track has become a mainstay of the bands live performances and as the live footage shows it’s no wonder why. 

Rolling Stones – “Gimme Shelter”

The lilting almost glassy sounding guitar intro to the track could be one of the most famous uses of the effect. This stone cold classic was released in 1969, sometimes I feel it gets forgotten about, as people remember “satisfactions” fuzzy tones more. But this for me is the Rolling Stones in a song and the guitar makes it.

The Smiths – “How soon is now?”

This couldn’t not be on the list, its so in your face the Tremolo effect. One of The Smiths most famous songs, this was actually originally a B-Side of the 1984 single “William, it was really nothing”. The original demo for the song was called “Swamp” which hardly surprising when you hear the song.

One thing I noticed while going through this is how many great songs that use this effect, I could have provided another 30-40 songs easily. So if you have any songs that you think I may have forgotten, please comment in the comments and I look forward to delving into even more tremolo songs!

There were a lot of whispers within the company about Marcus King before his London Islington Assembly show, a gig where Orange founder and CEO Cliff Cooper embarked on a two hour journey to introduce himself and say hello before the show, and where I had countless phone calls, messages and emails from various colleagues around the globe pre interview, making me aware of how.god.damn.important. this 22 year old guitar prodigy was for the future of music and how they’d send me home on the first flight to Norway (not really…) if I didn’t make a good impression – so no pressure there.. During the interview I found out more about his love for the charismatic frontman, and that he started playing guitar at the age of 3, an age where I personally was still trying to grow a full head of hair. To get back into it, ladies and gentlemen, the ever so clever, Marcus King.

Finding someone like yourself playing this sort of music and playing it as well as you do at 22, really makes me believe there’s hope for future generations. I assume you must have been young when you started playing, may I ask how young?
Marcus King:
I first started playing when I was about 3 or 4, and I’ve been playing professionally since I was about 11.

I’m guessing music’s been a natural part of your upbringing as you come from a strong blues background with your dad being fellow blues man Marvin King. Apart from that, there are such strong elements of soul, funk, and even some latin grooves in your playing, what other types of music did you listen to when growing up and learning to play?
Marcus King:
I was really inspired by guitar players such as Clapton, Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn from a young age, another early discovery was The Allman Brothers Band, as well as The Marshall Tucker Band and a bunch of other great Southern bands. Later on, I got really intrigued by “the frontman”, and artists such as James Brown, Otis Redding  and Aretha Franklin – anyone who had that certain attitude would really speak to me. What really changed the game for me was when I started studying jazz theory, and discovering Miles Davis and John Coltrane was really life changing to me, a clear game changer.

You got your band with you, The Marcus King Band, here tonight – how do you work when you make music, do you write the most of it on your own and bring it to the band, or is it done as a unit?
Marcus King: Most of the songs I write and bring to the band for them to add in their flavour, and that’s what creates a Marcus King Band song, a collaborative effort. To those of you who don’t know, The Marcus King band is:

Drums: Jack Ryan – 6 years in the band
Trumpet: Justin Johnson – 5 years in the band
Bass: Stephen Campbell – 4 years in the band – Uses an AD200
Saxophone: Dean Mitchell – 4 years in the band
Keys: Deshawn “D-Vibes” Alexander – 1 year in the band

Now to put you on the spot in front of founder Cliff Cooper, how have you been finding using Orange on this past tour?
Marcus King: I’ve loved every second of it – I’ve never had a mishap using an Orange, which is one of the things I love the most about them, how dependable they are. Plus, you can play ‘em straight outta the box! Tonight I’ve got a Rockerverb 50, which is my favourite Orange head, and a 4×12 cab. I’ve also always been a reverb guy so when Orange’s Pat Foley in Nashville introduced me to the Rockerverb, I was sold on it. Pat’s great, and he’s become close friends with my dad as well.