Building a “Tremulus Lune” on vero-board

One of my favourite pieces of music, let alone guitar playing, is by Ry Cooder. A track called “Feelin’ Bad Blues”. This video is an excerpt from the film Crossroads where the tune was used to great effect. For me it is the epitome of blues guitar. Sad, slow and gritty. And that thick tremolo (probably from an old Fender amp, not a Pignose) is the icing on the cake.

So that’s what this post is all about; making a pedal to give me that tremolo effect. It didn’t take long to find the defacto standard tremolo pedal; the Tremulus Lune.

Layout

Layout

Layout

Research showed that I could buy a kit, or even a pre-made one, but where’s the fun in that? I went for the layout from Guitar FX Layouts (seen here).

The novelty with this circuit for me was it used a component called a Light Dependent Resistor (LRD). Essentially one part of the circuit is a Low Frequency Oscillator (LFO), controllable with various potentiometers. The ‘low frequency’ part refers to the fact that it is creating a sine-wave in the range of 3-10hz (I haven’t actually measured it). This wave is used to drive a normal op-amp, thus varying amplitude over time, which is in fact the definition of “tremolo”. One difficulty was getting hold of the correct LDRs. ¬†They needed to have the range 5k/500k. It was easy to get hold of all kinds of LDRs, even from Radio Shack, but I had to trawl through Ebay to find the right ones. I have a bag of 20 now.

The build

The finished board

The finished board

This isn’t my first veroboard build, so the build/assembly went quite quickly, in a pleasant way, and I had it operational on my prototype rig within a couple of hours. It sounded amazing! It truly is a versatile tremolo; you really don’t need anything more complex than this.

The device has three LEDs. One for the usual on/off indicator; another one to couple the LFO with the op-amp (by pointing the LED at the LDR, kind of like a vibe pedal does) and a third one to show the speed of the LFO externally. I decided to use the nice fresnel lens LED holders I bought a while ago. I just think they look really cool. The picture below shows them in their full glory, although the red LEDs look somewhat pink. To fit them I needed to get a 17/64ths drill bit. I have hundreds of drill bits, but not that one. So, a trip to Ace Hardware for that.

Fresnel lenses

Fresnel lenses

The enclosure

This one’s got 5 knobs, so I had to use a 1590BB and I chose to go for a vertical orientation. As for a design I went for the whole Crossroads theme. I combined the lyrics to the famous song, and depicted the actual crossroads by using highway signs. As far as the decal goes, I wanted it to wrap over the sides as I thought it would look cool. I printed it on transparent ink jet decal paper this time as the enclosure is bright white.

Drilling the enclosure

Drilling the enclosure

The decal

The decal

Demo Recording

So I finished the assembly and got it all plugged into my usual rig, and recorded a swift demo. As I mentioned earlier, the reason I wanted to build this was for that archetypical blues tone. So here’s my own sloppy rendition of that kind of sound:

Click here for MP3

The setup was: Tokai Les Paul, neck pickup (a humbucker from a 1961 ES-335); my AX84 P1 Extreme into a 2×12″ speaker cab, with Celestions; my Box of Rock clone for some grit, and the Tremulus Lune of course. The reverb came from Logic, and was a ‘small church’ kind of setting.

The finished pedal

The finished pedal

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9 thoughts on “Building a “Tremulus Lune” on vero-board

  1. Tim says:

    Very nice looking and sounding!

  2. […] Project : hotbottles.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/building-a-tremulus-lune-on-vero-board/ […]

  3. Bern says:

    Hi. Thanks for this post and for your blog. I have never built a pedal though I’d like to try. This Tremulus Lune looks good and I may attempt it. I’ve also looked at the site the layout came from. But I’d like to ask one question please – in the picture of your layout, what is the blue box with the gold screw on the lower right hand side?

    • simonallaway says:

      That little blue box is the 10k trimmer. It’s used to match the perceived volume difference that you get when you use the effect. The right value here is definitely subjective and requires playing and tweaking when you first get it wired up.

  4. Fred says:

    Hello,

    First, please accept my apologies if I make some mistakes, as I’m French.

    I just discovered your blog and I really congratulate you for its quality. Explanations, pictures, comments and so on are really well done and very interesting.

    It’s about half a year I started to make pedals and I already have about 7 or 8. My first one was a tremulus lune but the results were so so. I made a second one and it was not bad but I had many noise. The sound is good but when I play and much more when I don’t, I have a noise wich follow the modulation. Two days ago I discovered your blog and decided to make a third one. In term of sound and potentiometers activity, it, really the best of the three I made. But I still have a noise problem. It’s not hum but much more in the highs. I used shielded cable for the in and out, I made a star grounding. The pcb is in an aluminium box but I can not find the reason.

    Did you also had the problem ?

    Do you have any suggestion to find the reason of the noise and cancell it ?

    Thanks in advance

    Have a nice evening.

    Fred

  5. simonallaway says:

    Bonjour Fred…ca va?

    Don’t worry about your english. It is way better than my French :)

    When I first hooked up the tremulus I did indeed have a noise issue, and it followed the pulsing of the LFO too. I realised that it was becasue the circuit has some of its own gain. That’s why there is a trimmer at the end of the circuit. I used it to turn the wet signal down to kind of match the dry signal.

    Now this part is subjective. Matching a steady dry signal with a pulsing wet signal is going to be up to your taste. But when I made this adjustment, which meant reducing the wet signal quite a bit until I felt it matched, it was much more quiet in terms of noise. In fact, now that I have played it in a live situation a few times, I am going to turn it down a bit more as to my ears it sounds a little louder when engaged.

    So, perhaps try that.

    Simon

    PS Thank you for the kind words about my blog :)

    • Fred says:

      Hi Simon,

      I didn’t expect a so fast answer, that’s great.

      First, I modified a bit the way my cables were inside the box and I also twisted the power supply cables. It reduced a lot the noise.

      I also tried to reduce the gain and now the noise is near zero and now easily stopped by my noise suppressor so that’s really cool. Tomorrow I will fine tune the gain because it’s now to late to use the amplifier, my kids are sleeping and they will not appreciate !

      I’ll keep you informed.

      Soon I’ll probably send you other inquiries because I’m very interested in your reverb and amplifier. My “dream” is to make a good amp with a reverb a delay and a tremolo in and yours seems to be really interesting.

      Thanks for your answer and see you on the blog

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