My first encounter with the DigiTech Whammy pedal was while listening to Pantera’s Far Beyond Driven album. With pitch bends flying every which way over the limit of guitar string tension it was clear that there was something more than Dimebag’s virtuosity was at work. And as bands from Radiohead and The Smashing Pumpkins embraced the effect in wildly varying ways, the effect became a huge success.
The original Ferrari red WH-1 was hard to miss on a pedalboard—with an expression pedal on the left and controls for Harmony, Detune, and Whammy effects on the right of the unit. Later versions added wah, auto-wah, and bass whammy, though the original remains highly sought-after for its straightforward simplicity. With the Whammy DT, DigiTech builds on the simplistic, rugged design of the original while rearranging the control set a bit. More importantly, it adds several controls and capabilities that enhance versatility, including expanded tuning capabilities and improved pitch tracking.
Drop It Like It’s Hot
Unlike the original Whammy, The Whammy DT’s controls are on both sides of the rocker. Previously the Harmony, Whammy, and Detune effects were on the right, now they’re on the left. The right side of the pedal is now completely dedicated to the Whammy DT’s wealth of Drop Tune effects. Keep in mind that Drop Tune in this unit does not indicate the ability to change the tuning of individual strings independently. But the unit offers an astounding 18 different Drop Tune settings from -7 semitones to +7 semitones, as well as Octave Down, Octave Down + Dry, Octave Up, and Octave Up + Dry. One footswitch (Drop Tune) turns this effect on while the other footswitch (Momentary) turns it on while the switch is held down.
The left side of the pedal is home to the traditional controls that Whammy fans have come to know and love—Harmony, Whammy, and Detune. A signal footswitch engages the preset selected on the left side of the pedal. The Harmony presets are the same nine available on earlier versions. Each preset contains two intervals, for instance 4th Up or 5th Up. At the toe up position on the rocker a 4th Up interval is blended with your dry signal. Depressing the rocker to toe down bends this interval to a 5th Up. In Whammy mode the toe up position is your unaffected dry signal. At toe down this note is bent up to the destination note. In Detune mode a Shallow or Deep chorus effect is intensified based on the position of the rocker.
Like its previous incarnation this unit enables MIDI control over all parameters, and it also has an optional footswitch input for hands-free preset switching.
From a performance perspective, the Whammy DT is extremely flexible and easy to use. The Drop Tune function alone has numerous practical uses when you’re leaping between genres and tunings. But even within a single song or even phrase, use of the Drop Tune’s momentary switch can extend the range of your instrument and allow you to pave new fretboard highways on the fly.
On the expression pedal-controlled side of the unit the tried-and-true performance options are as interactive and wild as ever. The Whammy effect bends your pitch fluidly, much like a slide whistle or theremin. Adding a bit of vibrato to your foot will apply an elastic, rubbery, or cartoony sort of sound to your pitch. And imagine hitting the a climactic note in a solo with your band in a full crescendo, and imagine bending that note up another two whole octaves—or just as easily—plunging two octaves down.
True to Pitch
The primary difference I noticed between the sound of the Whammy DT and previous Whammies is the clarity of pitch shifting. Older Whammies often struggled to produce drastic pitch bends that were free of digital artifacts. To some players that warbling artifact was a charming side effect of the older model. But if you’re looking for pristine pitch bending then you’ll be pleased that the Whammy DT’s processing sounds much more like a mammoth whammy bar radically working its way through a super-wide pitch range than a glitchy digital approximation—even at the most extreme settings.
After nearly 20 years on the market Digitech’s Whammy pedal continues to evolve. And this latest version really does seem to sum the lessons of two decades and combine them into a very cool evolution in which the possibilities often seem limitless. The DT’s huge array of tuning options and the ability to mix and match these presets will ensure that you’re able to bend and harmonize your riffs, making them more colorful and unique accompaniments to your compositions—however radical or subtle.
you’ve been waiting for a more pristine sounding Whammy.
the idea of bending over three semitones makes your fingers and/or brain hurt.