Moog MF Trem
The guitar effects industry is and always has been an eye-filling landscape pockmarked with never-ending, cavernous rabbit holes. Some of us who traverse this plane seeking a sound all our own find ourselves unproductively wrapped up in ancillary selling points, designating ever-changing value and brokering favor based on how high the latest offering sets the bar. I’m particularly guilty of ignoring some truly great pedals in favor of sleek, artfully adorned pieces of hype that I ended up dissatisfied with just as often as I was pleased. The mercurial nature of the consumer-level pedal nerd is not a universally bad thing for the craft of effects-building or for music itself as we often crave and demand new combinations of effects and new ways to use them. While the industry is happy to oblige this demand, an intuitive return to the basics of what makes a core effect great is seldom met with less than a sigh of refreshed relief and familiar nods in acknowledgement of “Yes, I know exactly how I’m going to use that!”
The updated classic has been the crux of many a great company in this, the golden age of guitar effects. For example, MOOG (counterintuitively pronounced “mōg”) has stood conspicuously tall as an innovator in the music industry since the company’s inception in the 1950’s and has lead the charge into modern music without rest, frequently releasing products that build on previous works and change what we think is possible in any piece of music hardware.
For guitarists, the Moogerfooger line of effects pedals, first released in 1998, have become a boutique pedal lover’s wet-dream, offering flexibility and unreal tone, albeit in a massive package. MOOG later released the Minifooger line in 2013 to great critical acclaim, packing simplified interpretations of their legendary Moogerfoogers in enclosures designed to fit comfortably on a pedalboard. The Minifooger line included Delay, Drive, Boost, Ring Mod, and Tremolo and in 2015 was bolstered by Chorus and Flange units and an art update. Today, we’ll be taking a look at the Minifooger 03 MF Trem, an intuitive and diverse tremolo that lives up to the MOOG family name.
- 100% Analog Circuitry built around a balanced modulator and Sub-Audio VCO (voltage controlled oscillator)
- Harmonically eclectic range spanning into bass and synthesizer voices
- True Bypass
- Four Knobs for Shape, Tone, Depth and Speed
- Expression input control for Speed (+5VDC)
- Compact and lightweight
MOOG is the sort of company that can get away with giving their product a name that is literally a number and the function of the product, as opposed to a whacky nickname. Don’t get me wrong, I love the sh*t out of whacky pedal names (I browse Reverb listings in the morning for a laugh) but when you’re flexing the bicep of a company name like MOOG, people will trust anything that comes after it. Luckily for us, MOOG is also the sort of company that is not just known for their innovative and high-quality music products, they practically invented the innovative and high-quality music product.
Skin deep, the Trem is an unapologetic exercise in utilitarian design, bearing an angular black and silver countenance that would make Sol LeWitt smirk in appreciation. As if weaponized, the Trem possesses a bolted-on faceplate with its function and place of origin printed on. Unsurprisingly the cast aluminum enclosure is tightly constructed and appropriately lightweight, making it perfect for travel. Knobs for Tone, Speed, Depth, and Shape are in their logical, upward-facing configurations; the Trem’s mono I/O, 9V power in, and expression pedal input are all top-mounted to save room, effectively making the total footprint (provided you are using elbowed 1/4” cables) a respectable 3”x7”. The importance of size in this case is nothing to sneeze at, considering the tone inside these negligible borders is anything but negligible.