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Valcoder ('70s Collection)
Valcoder ('70s Collection)

Valcoder ('70s Collection)





Mid '60s Valco-style dirty garage tremolo.

A tremolo with driveability.

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.

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DEPTH: Controls the intensity of the tremolo. Many of the old Valco amps with tremolo only featured a SPEED control. There was no way to get less chop if you wanted. With the addition of this control, it not only makes the Valcoder’s tremolo sounds more versatile but also allows you to remove the tremolo portion of the circuit completely for use as a boost.

 This controls the overall output level of the Valcoder. Setting the INPUT control to minimum and turning up the OUTPUT knob will give you a cleaner tremolo sound that will match your bypassed signal in volume. Turning up the INPUT control will add some harmonics and grit as well as volume. The OUTPUT control can be used to attenuate the volume boost available from the INPUT knob should you want to get that gritty harmonic breakup at unity gain. The INPUT and OUTPUT controls can also help with the perceived volume drop of turning on a more typical tremolo effect.


SPEED: Controls the rate of the tremolo. The speed range was tuned with the classic Valco amp-style tremolo in mind, ranging from a moderately slow speed to a fast chop. Faster SPEED settings benefit from turning down the DEPTH control, as this will soften the chop, or you can go crazy and crank both for full-on machine gun chatter!

INPUT: Original units had a short and long echo playback head selectable by a pair of slider switches or a rotary switch that allowed the user to select one or the other, or both on at the same time. We expanded upon this concept by putting the playback heads on a continuous mixer, allowing accents and new rhythmic possibilities by favoring one head volume over the other. Counter-clockwise is the short delay time head, clockwise is the long head, and noon is both heads at equal amplitude.


The Valcoder accepts any good quality filtered and regulated 9-18v DC power supply with a center-negative plug. It can also be run off a 9V battery; the current draw is very low (only 15mA), so a battery can last over 40 hours as long as the input is unplugged when not in use. If you have the means, experiment with the different powering methods and pay attention to how they affect the sound and feel. There are certainly differences between them, and it’s cool to be able to tailor the pedal’s dynamic response for your given setup in this way!