A Snow Globe Strobe of Sound
The clever Canadian sound shapers at SolidGoldFX have managed to chop down and shave off the essential attributes of the more comprehensive Stutterbox, to provide a simplified grab-and-go tremolo. The Stutter-lite provides a lively luminescent pulse that is akin to vintage tube-bias modulated amplifiers. This cream and green little dream machine can massage a guitar passage into sine wave tides of tremolo glory that are both warm and authentic sounding. In fact, I can close my eyes and almost see the repetitive radiant heartbeat of glowing tubes throbbing in time with each pulse.
With a slow speed and moderate depth setting, the ebbing sounds of sweeping volume set a true crime-scene-intrigue to notes and chords. This setting can be used for the minor key macabre-throb of T Bone Burnett roulette or just to add subtle movement to a low and slow tempo tune. Turning up the speed brings in a more pronounced on-off chop that never quite ventures into square wave territory and remains smooth, even at the extreme end of the dial. Faster settings are simultaneously warm and chilling. They can add a touch of frost to a sweet arpeggio with lower depth settings, or billow out flurries of quickly melting notes like snowflakes on a hearth at the higher.
Giving The Tone The JFET Jitters
The Stutter-lite mixes the three essential ingredients for tasty tremolo tones: The speed control provides a well-thought-out pulse range that remains amp-like and musical throughout the sweep. The depth control is fine tuned to go from barely there, to Checkpoint Charley spy movie flare, and all points in-between. The volume control can be used as the perfect tool to dial out the perceived level drop that plagues lesser tremolo pedals. In fact, it can even boost the preamp section of an amplifier to make a bold statement whilst engaged.
The round, dimensional wobble of the Stutter-lite is generated by an all-analog JFET audio path. The smooth sound wave arcs pulse in time with the bypass LED and it is fairly easy to dial in the right speed for the tempo—even without the tap tempo feature of the Stutter-lite’s bigger brother. Tube bias tremolo is known for its smooth integration into a mix and this JFET-based analog simulation gets really close to the glass bottle hypnosis that has been adored for decades.
What we like: Amp-like trem tone, bombproof build quality, easy tone dialing and analog warmth, make for a top-tier tremolo pedal. Did I mention the gorgeous wintergreen finish adorned with cream graphics and matching Bakelite knobs? This is one handsome pedal that decked out in all available vintage vibe finery—both visually and tonally. It is a perfect set-it-and-forget-it solution for amps that don’t feature onboard tremolo.
Concerns: There is a lot of competition in the world of tube-trem simulators out there, and some come at a lower price-point. But, hearing the chewy orbital oscillations of the Stutter-lite and gazing into the blinking snowflake eye can cause instant audio addiction transfixion. Plus, it looks good enough to eat.