Catalinbread Valcoder





Mid 60’s Valco-style dirty garage tremolo.

A tremolo with driveability

The Story

The Valco company of Chicago made amplifiers under their own name in addition to building amps for other companies such as Supro, National, and Gretsch, to name a few. Most of these were lower powered amps with a great sounding natural tube breakup and many models also featured a unique sounding tube driven tremolo. It had a hypnotic throb and was also capable of hard, choppy tremolo. Combined with the breakup overdriven characteristics of the amplifier, it created a percussive, rhythmic pulse that is very inspiring to play. The Catalinbread Valcoder was designed to recreate the tube tremolo as well as the amplifier breakup of these vintage amplifiers. Separate input and output controls allow you to get anything from a clean tremolo sound all the way up to a gritty tube like breakup driving the tremolo circuit.


The Valcoder features an all discrete analog LFO circuit inspired by 60’s Valco tube tremolo. With the depth and rate knobs set lower, the result is a smooth, bubbling modulation that is especially seductive when playing complex chords in the neck position. Crank the DEPTH and RATE knobs for haunting pulses to hard rhythmic chop that adds tension and attitude particularly to distorted passages.

The Valcoder has a dynamic and responsive audio path (JFET based) that adds a bit of vintage tube amp style grit and slight compression to your sound. Increasing the INPUT knob pushes the front side of the circuit harder adding grit and a bit of compression. You can set the OUTPUT knob to adjust for unity or boosted signal.

The Valcoder can also function as a great edge-of-breakup booster. With the DEPTH knob all the way down, and the INPUT & OUTPUT knobs turned all the way up, you will get a warm, gritty 10dB boost. This can be used as an always-on element to fill out your sound or can be used when you need it to help leads punch through the mix.

The Valcoder can be run from 9 -18 volts. 9 volts will allow for more compression and grit with a softer pick attack. 18 volts will increase the output level and will be slightly cleaner and less compressed with a more immediate pick attack. The tremolo effect will be stronger and choppier at 18 volts.


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