Original Author: Staffay
Weapon: Whammy pedal
Model: Whammy (v.IV with MIDI)
Price: 188€ (Thomann)
The history of the Whammy goes back to 1991 when Digitech first made this product. It's fairly easy to understand that it is supposed to be a hardware-whammy to produce sounds similar to those made by a tremolo-arm. Originally the developers probably had an idea to make this device directed to players with guitars without a trem. But the outcome went far beyond this, and they probably had a blast when they constructed this piece of gear. It's really a one-of-a kind effect which can produce some really weird sounds as well as be used in a more traditional way. Amongst known players who use this device are Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Joe Perry, John Scofield, Dimebag, Tom Morello and of course Muris Varajic.
This unit comes with a color like a Ferrari - candy-red. It has a steel-cabinet with a 9v AC-adapter and has two outputs, one dry and one "combined". It also can be controlled via MIDI and has just three controls to deal with. On/Off, preset setting and the rocker itself.
This unit basically has three modes. Whammy, Harmony and Detune. What differs this edition from the original is really that some presets like Divebomb and Drop-tune has been added as well as MIDI-control.
The Whammy presets:
These presets bend the incoming notes in given intervals as following:
2 oct. up
1 oct. up
1 oct. down
2 Oct down
The first four presets are pretty much straight forward and do what it says. It can be used for moving a phrase up/down in octaves or to slide in/out of notes like a horn player might do. It can also simulate a tremolo-arm being pressed in either direction - but unfortunately not up/down at the same time. (eg. I would have liked to have a preset where "zero" is in the middle of the rocker and then slide in/out) Anyway, the pedal doesn't change the guitar's tone and these presets can be used in a lot of ways for the creative player.
The Divebomb preset lowers the note exactly three octaves down, and can be used to simulate Floyd Rose like effects. The Droptune setting is really made for all metal-guys - it lowers the pitch two semitones which is great when You want to play a heavy riff without retuning the guitar.
The Harmony presets: These presets add a second note to the one played and the rocker then bends the second note in the intervals given in the presets:
Oct up/Oct down
5th down/4th down
4th down/3rd down
5th up/7th up
5th up/6th up
4th up/5th up
3rd up/4th up
Min 3rd up/3rd up
2nd up/3rd up
All these presets can be used to simulate lap-steel effects or simply as an octavider, or playing just with a 4th or 5th. The second note added sounds as the original note in my ears, and it really behaves like a nice harmonizer.
The Detune presets:
These presets are really like the Harmony presets, but with the difference that the pitch of the second note added just shifts slightly producing a detuned sound similar to a chorus/flanger effect without modulation. The manual says that the sound shall be un-processed with the rocker in up-position - but this I found to be untrue since even in the up-position the attack and the tone was changed, but in a positive way. I spent some hours in this mode without really touching the pedal just playing some jazz, as it really softens up the tone and gives it a nice touch. There are two presets: Shallow or Deep. The volume of the second note is controlled by the rocker, eg. the amount of detune is controlled. Using the Deep mode some really cool Leslie-like effects were produced and these presets can very well replace a chorus/flanger in a live situation.
A good product just became better. This pedal shines, and it is rock solid built. The looks is just awesome and for me it's really like chocolate sauce over ice-cream.
The Whammy is a very competent and easy pedal to handle. One thing I didn't really like though, is the fact that the unit is fed by 9V AC - which is totally against the standards. It makes it impossible to mount in a pedalboard without having the extra power unit included. (which is really a reason to have a pedal-board - to get rid of all those battery-eliminators) Otherwise I must say that I'm very impressed over the creativity and the design that marks this pedal. It sounds just terrific, and a lot of noise as well as subtle things can be made with the pedal by the creative player.
I haven't found any alternative since this is the original, but similar effects can be produced by a harmonizer with MIDI-control.