Pitch bending and shifting pedals have been around for decades. From the simplest early octave fuzz pedals to the ‘70s Electro Harmonix Micro Synth and Mutron Octave Dividers all the way up to the Digitech Whammy, effects builders have given players a lot of ways to tweak pitch over the years.
Pitch shifting is not without limitations, however. Many pitch shifters are monophonic pedals and can only handle two notes simultaneously if they’re played in perfect intervals like octaves, fourths or fifths. Once a third or seventh gets thrown into the mix—or for that matter a simple barre chord—things get garbled up fast. Morpheus’ Bomber, however, is a digital polyphonic pitch shifter and super dive-bomber pedal that has a range of five octaves that blasts through those limitations.
Back From the Future
Housed in a lightweight metal enclosure and finished in a metallic sparkle, the Bomber looks industrial-strength cool. Circular rubber grips mark the expression pedal and two stomp switches bypass the effect and select the various pitch parameters. A clearly marked set of intervals are visible on the top left of the pedal and an LED indicates which one is active. The interval settings include a Dive Bomb setting (three octaves), two octaves down, one octave down, a fifth down, a fourth down, a second down, second up, fifth up, octave up, and two octaves up. On the front of the pedal are 1/4" ins and outs as well as an adjustable trim level (with an associated input level display on the front panel), USB connector and 12VDC adapter input for the included power supply.
I commenced testing with a Stratocaster and Les Paul and dove straight into, well, Dive Bomb mode. It took a little time to get used to the sensitivity of the pedal. And because the range of travel extends over a three octave range you definitely need to spend some time working on accurately mimicking the sound of a tremolo—if that’s the effect you’re after. With a little bit of practice you can open up a whole world that goes well beyond what you could accomplish with any tremolo system.
I found that the most realistic and natural—or whammy bar-like—sounds came from the second interval, in part because they are so close to the original. As it moved up to a fifth there was a noticeable change to the harmonic structure of notes that suggested some undesirable digital artifacts. Moving up to an octave above the Bomber still had no problem detecting all of the notes in a complex chord but there was some fairly obvious change going on in the sound. If you’re going for a totally organic whammy effect, you might find the secondary tones annoying. I happened to think it was a very cool effect. Once you get two octaves up you’re beyond any tremolo system’s capacity for pitch shift. And if you’re open minded to unusual tones and effects, you’ll understand just how expressive this one can be.
The drop tuning function can be similarly radical. And I found that cleaner amp settings helped keep notes clear and I got some massive and muscular sounds from the drop tuning function that shook the walls.
Switching to the Les Paul, I backed off the pedal’s trim slightly to match the higher output humbuckers. The thickness of the Les Paul through a Mojave Dirty Boy amp was astounding and worked well with the Morpheus. I was able to pull of gargantuan riffs that sounded at once otherworldly and completely intelligible. The sound was not unlike the enormous tones I got out of my ’70s-vintage Mutron Octave Divider. With the Mutron I could never play more than a single note, but with the Bomber I could riff on full chords all the way down to two octaves—a mighty sound that is hard to describe in words.
The Bomber essentially gives you the power of a five-octave guitar with the most advanced tremolo system in the world—which last I checked, isn’t hanging on every Guitar Center wall. This pedal can transform your guitar into an entirely new instrument. And with excellent polyphonic recognition and lightning-fast tracking it feels practical and musical in its most radical settings. There’s no way to avoid some audible artifacts in more extreme settings but depending on your perspective, that aspect of the Bomber’s performance adds a lot of interesting textures. Morpheus demonstrates a great sense of musical adventure, innovation, and forward thinking in the shape of the Bomber, and there’s no shortage of cool ways to create with it. It’s only a matter of time before some probing player uses this thing on a record. It’s just that cool.
you’re a creative player looking to extend your guitar’s range and get a polyphonic tremolo system all in one.
six strings and an overdrive is about as out there as you get.