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Subdecay Vagabond - Could you be the one?

Killshakes

Member
Messages
1,585
I've really been into tremolo lately, and the Subdecay Vagabond has caught my eye / ear. It seems like it offers a great mix of sound and options--bias, harmonic, envelope, etc.--in a simple, compact design. There aren't a ton of demos and reviews around though (I've seen everything on YouTube, etc.).

Have any of you had the chance to use the Vagabond? What did you think? How did the basic sound compare to other tremolos you've used (I've got a Fulltone Supatrem and a BA Throbby at the moment)? How well did it perform with drive or fuzz? Any quirks you noticed? I'd love to hear some user experiences and opinions.
 
Messages
3,669
My 2 Cents

I've done a couple harmonic trem shoot outs, which I have yet to post, but my thoughts are that the Vagabond is one of the better ones in the harmonic category. It's funny how you can have a bunch of pedals doing the same thing and they all sound a bit different.

It might be just me, but when the intensity knob is cranked on the Vagabond, it sounds like it may alter the wave shape a bit to be more squarish. So the highest intensity you can set on the Harmonic trem without that happening is around 2 o'clock. The range is great. So I have no issues with that, just found it interesting.

The Supa-Trem (soft Mode) is a smother, more shallow wave form than the Vagabond Bias mode. The hard mode on the super trem is not as squarish as the Vagabond.

The bias mode on the Vagabond sounds more like the Throbby as far as range goes. There is a tone difference between those 2 pedals, but I can't pick out what it is. I'll leave it to future videos to portray what I mean.

Bias mode on the Vagabond does fine with distortion. Harmonic doesn't fair so well, but I think that's pretty common with Harmonic Trems.

If you are looking for something simple that offers both Bias and Harmonic, I don't think you'll go wrong with it.
 
Messages
751
My 2 Cents
It might be just me, but when the intensity knob is cranked on the Vagabond, it sounds like it may alter the wave shape a bit to be more squarish. So the highest intensity you can set on the Harmonic trem without that happening is around 2 o'clock. The range is great. So I have no issues with that, just found it interesting.
That was an intentional part of the design. Especially for bias mode I wanted to take the sound of my Princeton Reverb and make it actually completely turn off the sound when the tremolo bottoms out. That's not easy to do with tubes (at least not without creating other problems.) Really the whole philosophy behind the pedal was to push the effect past what could be elegantly done inside a tube amp.
I wasn't sure how the harmonic tremolo would do with the near square wave LFO until I had a working prototype. I ended up really liking it and left it that way.
For either trem style the vagabond's intensity knob set around noon or 1:00 is about the maximum depth you'd get out of an amp.
Bias mode on the Vagabond does fine with distortion. Harmonic doesn't fair so well, but I think that's pretty common with Harmonic Trems.
I definitely prefer a harmonic tremolo before dirt (and add some reverb) That might upset pedal order tradition, but following rules was never something I was good at. :p
 
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ScienceFriction

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
926
I got the Vagabond yesterday, so I haven't had time to explore everything it can do. That's pretty cool about the wave shape shift via the intensity knob. I posted my thoughts about it in the Brownface/Blackface tremolo pedal thread, so I don't want to repeat myself. Looking at all the different options out there, and listening to them, I think the Vagabond suits my needs and wants perfectly. The envelope drift control is a lot of fun, and to me is more useful than a shape change control would have been. However, I like that option, so it's cool that it's kind of slipped into the intensity control. Compared to the others, it seems to have more range of speed too, which I like a lot. I love that fast, percussive, psychedelic tremolo sound.
 
Messages
3,669
That was an intentional part of the design. Especially for bias mode I wanted to take the sound of my Princeton Reverb and make it actually completely turn off the sound when the tremolo bottoms out. That's not easy to do with tubes (at least not without creating other problems.) Really the whole philosophy behind the pedal was to push the effect past what could be elegantly done inside a tube amp.
I wasn't sure how the harmonic tremolo would do with the near square wave LFO until I had a working prototype. I ended up really liking it and left it that way.
For either trem style the vagabond's intensity knob set around noon or 1:00 is about the maximum depth you'd get out of an amp.
Nice, I think it's a fairly unique feature. Glad you confirmed what my ears were hearing, good to know I'm not crazy :)

I definitely prefer a harmonic tremolo before dirt (and add some reverb) That might upset pedal order tradition, but following rules was never something I was good at. :p
^^ Definitley going to try this out. All my tests with dirt and harmonic trem have been dirt before trem.

Compared to the others, it seems to have more range of speed too, which I like a lot. I love that fast, percussive, psychedelic tremolo sound.
I agree there, compared to most it has a higher maximum speed, I also showcased this in the shoot out.
 

TravisE

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,475
I picked one up. I'm fairly picky about tremolo and was ready to drop some big dough to get what I wanted...and still may.

I will say that I'm pleasantly surprised by the Vagabond. Brian is a good dude so I was super happy that another one of his pedals interested me.

I honestly dont care about the harmonic tremolo. It's nice to have but not something I use often. I want thick, swampy, warm bias Trem. I really wanted to Supa Trem 2 to be the one. It wasn't. Neither was the Flint, unfortunately.

I'm still in the Honeymoon phase with this thing but it seems to be pretty good. I also really like the envelope feature but find it a little tough to get dialed in.
 
Messages
11,412
That was an intentional part of the design. Especially for bias mode I wanted to take the sound of my Princeton Reverb and make it actually completely turn off the sound when the tremolo bottoms out. That's not easy to do with tubes (at least not without creating other problems.) Really the whole philosophy behind the pedal was to push the effect past what could be elegantly done inside a tube amp.
My Allen Encore has bias tremolo and I find it much deeper sounding than the Fender RI trems. It does that bottoming out you describe. When I'm not using that amp, I use the OG bantam box Catalinbread Valcoder in my avatar. Maybe I'll win the Vagabond giveaway and kick off the Valcoder. :)
 
Messages
751
I picked one up. I'm fairly picky about tremolo and was ready to drop some big dough to get what I wanted...and still may.

I will say that I'm pleasantly surprised by the Vagabond. Brian is a good dude so I was super happy that another one of his pedals interested me.

I honestly dont care about the harmonic tremolo. It's nice to have but not something I use often. I want thick, swampy, warm bias Trem. I really wanted to Supa Trem 2 to be the one. It wasn't. Neither was the Flint, unfortunately.

I'm still in the Honeymoon phase with this thing but it seems to be pretty good. I also really like the envelope feature but find it a little tough to get dialed in.
Glad you are enjoying it. I know pedal honeymoons can be fleeting. I never thought I was super picky about tremolo until I started trying to design one. That's when I realized how simple, but ingeniously awesome many amp tremolos are... even if they can be a bit limiting.

My Allen Encore has bias tremolo and I find it much deeper sounding than the Fender RI trems. It does that bottoming out you describe. When I'm not using that amp, I use the OG bantam box Catalinbread Valcoder in my avatar. Maybe I'll win the Vagabond giveaway and kick off the Valcoder. :)
A friend of mine back in the early 90s did amp mods. I remember he had a small tube amp where he tried to make it do heavier square-ish tremolo. You could hear it going "thwack thwack thwack" even when you were playing. (don't recall what amp it was)
He also hotrodded strats with humbucker or active pickups, chopped them up to make them "pointy" and painted them pink or neon green. I know that would be considered an abomination today. He did make some okay money doing it as an out of work carpenter though.

Another episode shooting out the Harmonic mode on the Vagabond with other pedals that offer harmonic trem.
Dude! comparison videos are freaking HARD. You are killing it though. (I subscribed a while back.)
 
Messages
11,412
A friend of mine back in the early 90s did amp mods. I remember he had a small tube amp where he tried to make it do heavier square-ish tremolo. You could hear it going "thwack thwack thwack" even when you were playing. (don't recall what amp it was)
He also hotrodded strats with humbucker or active pickups, chopped them up to make them "pointy" and painted them pink or neon green. I know that would be considered an abomination today. He did make some okay money doing it as an out of work carpenter though.
I had that "thwacking" problem with an old SF Deluxe Reverb. I bought it because I loved the tremolo on my Vibro Champ, but the DR never quite got there. The Allen's trem is deep like the Vibro Champ.
 
Messages
751
I had that "thwacking" problem with an old SF Deluxe Reverb. I bought it because I loved the tremolo on my Vibro Champ, but the DR never quite got there. The Allen's trem is deep like the Vibro Champ.
The DR is optical, right? It's definitely easier to get around the LFO noise problems in an optical tremolo. It makes me wonder if either the last triode in the preamp, or the phase inverter tube were bad. I've never owned a DR though and have only played the reissues.
 
Messages
11,412
The DR is optical, right? It's definitely easier to get around the LFO noise problems in an optical tremolo. It makes me wonder if either the last triode in the preamp, or the phase inverter tube were bad. I've never owned a DR though and have only played the reissues.
Yeah, it's optical. In the end, I just didn't want to deal with the hassles of that amp, so I sold it. The Allen has done me right since. Still, I love a good square wave tremolo. :aok
 

meterman

Member
Messages
7,890
I got my Vagabond tremolo last week and I love it!! Really sweet pedal. The harmonic trem is quite beautiful and haunting like everyone has said and the bias trem is nice and swampy. It's got a very wide range of speed and depth, I initially had a bit of trouble finding my personal sweetspot b/c the range is so wide but it's worth it for the extra flexibility. The volume boost is nice, not huge but very useful. I LOVE the envelope drift control, particularly set to start fast and then ramp down slower, so cool. Gives some great motion and interest to the bias trem and really makes the harmonic trem sound even more Univibe-like. Hitting it harder with overdrive causes it to go so fast it's barely perceptible then it slows down and gets more audible, a really great effect. I'm running it with rate at 1:00, depth at 11:00, envelope at 2:00 and volume at 1:00 and really digging it, don't want to turn it off in fact. Compact size is very board-friendly, seems very sturdy and well made, looks cool and cost less than $200.

This is only my third trem pedal but it's definitely a keeper. Others were the VL tremolo, nice sounding trem but after my third footswitch replacement I gave up. Next was a Bruce Bennett Pulsator trem which is a clone of the Blues Pearl Tejas tremolo, which may be based on the Arbiter Tremface iirc. It's a cool pedal, extremely swampy but has a huge volume boost and tons of gain, unity gain is below 9:00 and it's really twitchy, has so much gain you could use it as a dirtbox. Neat and vibey pedal for old school blues but not super versatile and too grungy for nice clean stuff, always added a bit of grit and fuzz. This pedal is the one to beat for me, very happy customer.
 

dirtytony

Member
Messages
2,657
do this pedal has background noise? I have a black cat that sounds perfect but has background noise when compensating with boost control..
thanks
 

edwardz

Member
Messages
361
Who’s using the Vagabond? This just made it on by radar recently.

I like that it’s small, analog and only draws 25 mA. I hear both the harmonic and bias modes sound really good too.
 

meterman

Member
Messages
7,890
Who’s using the Vagabond? This just made it on by radar recently.

I like that it’s small, analog and only draws 25 mA. I hear both the harmonic and bias modes sound really good too.
I am and I love the thing. The perfect trem pedal! I've only had a few but this has all I want. I think it sounds warmer and more authentic than the Flint. Speed and intensity have a nice wide range and smooth taper, the volume control is very useful and the envelope drift is unique and fun to mess around with. The bias trem is very good, as good or better than the Flint or the Voodoo Labs I have, and the harmonic trem is really amazing especially through an amp with good low end. I've got it early in the chain (before dirt) which is recommended for using dirt with the harmonic trem, but I mostly run it clean or with a Timmy. If I used trem alot or needed tap tempo, different waves, divisions etc it's obviously not the right choice but for a simple, great sounding and compact all analog pedal it's awesome, I'd go for it I doubt you'll be disappointed. Small, solid, TB, USA made, runs at 18v, perfect for me. It's sandwiched on my board between a Retrosonic Phaser v2 and Flanger, I'm in modulation heaven!
 
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