500 Words- Adam P Hunt- The DigiTech Whammy Pedal
500 Words DigiTech Whammy
Ah, the nineties… Rap rock, nu metal, grunge, alt rock, indie rock, riot grrrls and the DigiTech Whammy pedal.
Bigger than a Dunlop wah pedal, smaller than a breadbox, the large red pedal became a fairly standard piece of kit during that decade, especially if your name was either Tom or Dimebag.
The original WH-1 Whammy was first manufactured by IVL Technologies between 1989 and 1993 as a multi effect expression pedal. The WH-1 allowed a player to select between octaver, drop tune, pitch blends, wah and chorus like features. What made the WH-1 pedal stand out were these various features could be manipulated with the foot rocker and could achieve unique and startling affects on the fly.
For purists IVL Technologies still makes a version of the WH-1 under the under the “Morpheus Bomber” name.
Since it’s inception the Whammy has gone through several iterations including a bass version and a MIDI Whammy.
For the record I think “MIDI Whammy” would be a great name for either a small dog or a K-pop band.
As listeners we’ve probably more familiar with the Whammy’s more exaggerated uses more specifically at the hands of Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello. Morello wanted a way to emulate the sounds of hip-hop DJ’s stutter, scratch, and pitch affects and the Whammy was just the thing.
Pantera’s Dimebag Darrell was also a prime mover (or prime offender) in helping to popularize the Whammy. Dime would use the pitch bend feature in such a way that sometimes it’s difficult to tell if he was using his whammy bar or his Whammy pedal.
But is that all there is to the Whammy? Is it simply and excuse too make funny noises? No.
The Whammy can also simulate slide guitar effects and for some one like me that is terrible at playing a slide that may be a real plus.
Several of the pitch blend options can also allow a player to simulate different guitar tunings; handy if you are restricted to bringing a single guitar to a gig.
Also, if you don’t want to rout out your favorite hardtail guitar in order to do divebombs, well… the Whammy simulates that sound too.
But to be honest with you, I’m running out of things to say. For a pedal that’s been around for so long and for one that is so widely used there’s remarkably little written about it.
Even though the Whammy is a polarizing pedal, either you dig what it can do or you don’t but if you play in a band where you need dreadlocks and a seven-string guitar, this may be the piece of gear you are missing.
Even though the Whammy isn’t going to find a home on my pedalboard any time soon but I understand its appeal.
Adam P Hunt is a freelance writer who has previously written for The Library Journal and Premier Guitar Magazine. We are so happy to have him join us here at Guitar Radio Show.com.