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A ringmodulator is a technique in which two high-frequency signals are multiplied together. This creates a signal that consists of the sum and the difference of the frequencies of the two signals, the sum tone and the difference tone. So suppose you play an A (440 Hz) on your guitar and set a carrier of 1000 Hz, it produces 1,440 Hz (sum) and 560 Hz (difference).

With a ringmodulator pedal, one signal is the guitar signal and the other is often a sine wave that can be set on the pedal. A ring modulator produces a compound tone with many discordant sounds. So it can be a bit difficult to hear.

Most pedals have two inputs, one for the guitar and one for the carrier. You can use any signal as a carrier, it doesn’t have to be a (pure) sine wave. When you choose a low-frequency signal (below the audible range), one speaks of beat, which is similar to tremolo.

You have to learn to love a ring modulator and the first encounter can be a bit overwhelming. These are mainly pedals with which you should experiment to your heart’s content. Take your time and try as many different carriers as possible, if the pedal allows.