Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Swamp Thang Tremolo Pedals #11 and #147 (UPDATED June'08 and Dec. '08)

When I first started this blog the theme was, "Man, I wish I had that one back!" As I kept writing stories I came across some guitars that I didn't really want back all that much. There was a bass I wouldn't take back if you paid me. Well, depends on how much you paid me. Anyway, I've covered basses and guitars and a guest column about a reverb tank. But, I haven't gotten into an item that you can really rely on for your sound...pedals.

Technically, I'm actually covering two pedals. They are both Swamp Thang tremolo pedals by Monster Effects and MAN, I WISH I HAD EITHER OF THEM BACK. I will be completely honest and say that both times I have owned Swamp Thang pedals I got a good deal and made a profit, but that was never the intention. The intention both times was to keep the damn pedal. I am a big fan of tremelo as an effect and I have tried a number of pedals and processors. None of them compare (in my less than humble opinion) to the Swamp Thang. A number of years ago I owned an early '60s blonde Fender Tremolux amp and 2 x 10 cab. I loved this amp very much, but I started running into issues. It was old and had ground problems in certain clubs I played in. Once I stepped up to the mic to sing the first word of the first song of the night and I got JOLTED backwards from the electrical shock I got when my lips touched the mic.

I had a small burn on my lip for a week.

So, I reluctantly sold the amp and went a little more modern...moved all the way up to the '70s with a nice old Music Man 410 Sixty-Five. Hey, can I get all of these back please?

Anyway, the real point of all this is that the tremolo on that old Tremolux is impossible to beat and is "often imitated but never duplicated." However, the very best thing I've found to compare with the old blond Tremolux is the Swamp Thang. Love it. Need another one. Keeping my eye out daily on eBay. I don't know how they do it at Monster Effects, but they seem to get that brown saturation like a real Fender. I could go on and on, but I'll just say that this is one pedal I will definitely be replacing when I can afford another one.

Over the years I have shrunk my electric rig down to "living room" size and I have narrowed my needs to four things. 1.) A Fender Telecaster (just got my eleventy millionth one today), 2) A Fender tube amp with reverb (currently a Blues Junior for size restrictions), 3) an Ibanez Tubescreamer ('nuff said), and 4) a Swamp Thang tremelo pedal. That's it. I can do without a chorus, a phaser, a flanger, anything made by Z Vex, and all that crap. I would have to consider a Crybaby wah if I added a fifth item, but basically I can get by with the four.

If you have a Swamp Thang and want to part with it, particularly the early brown large box models, let me know. I'm gonna need one.

UPDATE: June 9, 2008 - I got another Swamp Thang. I battled long and hard on the eBay for it and shelled out more for this one than for either of the other two ($163). This one won't be getting away. It's one of the original "large box" versions, #81 to be exact. This one stays put. Don't even try. Go ahead, call me "sucker" to my face. I dare ya!

UPDATE 2: Dec. 23, 2008 - I got #147 back.
I got an email from a guy who had read this story and he said, "Hey, I think I'm the guy that bought Swamp Thang #147 from you on eBay...do you want to buy it back?" He made me a great deal and I bought it back. Since I already had found one for myself (see above), I decided to get this one and give it as a Christmas gift to my good friend and band mate Oliver. It's now in his hands and I don't think it will ever leave. That one is out of circulation.


Kahuna Kawentzmann said...

I must check one out some day. Until then I keep using my generic but good and reliable Schaller Tremolo.
You know my way of getting brownface bias tremolo from it? I put it between the two inputs and keep one channel in the mids (treble 0, bass 0) and the other with treble on 10 and bass on 10. I can finetune the sound by using depth, it’s a starting point anyways.
This works for blackface Fenders, I think it won’t work on silverface amps, because the channels are out of face.

Anonymous said...

This a rather old/updated post you made, but listen to this: I've got your #147! Unless there were a couple flips of it after you sold it, I'm the one who bought it off of you on eBay some months back.

Jaimie Muehlhausen said...

Hey, that's pretty cool! I'm sure you probably got it from me...I watch eBay every day and search for Swamp Thang pedals as part of my regular bunch of stuff I search. So I'm sure you got it from me.

As you probably read, I just got another one and am really happy about it. It just sounds so damn good. Well, if you ever part with it let me know. I've got a buddy who needs one and I'd consider buying it for him as a gift if I've got the money at the time.

thanks for writing. and if you've got a good "one that got away" story please send it my way. - Jaimie

Mike said...

Hey Jaimie, Mike Callahan here again. I'm getting ready to/going to sell my Swamp Thang (formerly yours, #147). Were you still interested in it? It's nearly the same as I got it from you - I just put velcro on the bottom. I'm not in a huge hurry to sell it, but my playing and pedal board are going in different directions, and I could use the money on some pickup swaps. Let me know - here's my email:

metalheadmike @ gmail .com (parsed for spambots)

bubba said...

I just scored #23 Brown box "Swamp Thang" I had the new small box one and it is good but nothing comes close to the old ones, very hard to find, took 2 years to find mine, anyway they are the best for sure but good luck finding one, Bubba M.

Rob yerblues182@hotmail.com said...

Apparently I have the very first one made! I got it on ebay a while back and after a little bit of time goes by it starts to give me some problems, so I track down John the creator and I send it to him and he fixed it, but after he got it he emails me and tells me that this is the very first one that he made! It's actually in a blank brown enclosure with no labels or anything, the only reason I knew what it was is because it's stamped on the PCB board and he has his name and address written on the inside! And yes, it is the best tremolo i've ever heard.

Josh said...

Ahhh I've heard so much about this pedal and keep trying to find one. I'm tortured by the sounds of an old blonde Fender Bandmaster amp tremolo and think this will get me in the ballpark. If anyone has one of the newer black box versions, large or small I would be very interested.

Anonymous said...

I still have your old #11 ! Keeping it, though ;)

Jaimie Muehlhausen said...

I keep making the mistake of selling my Swamp Thangs when I need money and recently I found myself needing a tremolo pedal again. Haven't been able to find a Swamp Thang, so I read all the reviews and ended up picking up a Sugar Baby pedal for under $100. Supposed to be the next best thing to a Swamp Thang. Well, I can tell you it's no Swamp Thang. Not awful or anything, but just not as good. I don't what it is...but there is some magic in there somewhere.