The world of effects pedals developed at varying speeds of progression and technological advancement. There were periods of exponential growth followed by periods of stagnation. With that in mind, it’s not so surprising to have large quakes in the industry from time to time.
One of the best instances of a single pedal creating a lot of ruckus was when Digitech took a gamble and shocked the community with their WH-1 Whammy pedal. Funny enough, the reactions to this new gadget were rather bleak. Purists were all up in arms about it, claiming that it’s a gimmick that won’t take hold, and that DigiTech took a wrong gamble.
However, what actually followed proved that these voices of judgment were completely out of touch with reality. DigiTech Whammy went on to become one of the most iconic guitar effects pedals ever made, being used by hundreds of famous guitar players on award winning albums. Today we are going to introduce you to this awesome pedal, and show you what the fifth generation of DigiTech WH-1 Whammy has to offer. With that said, let’s get right down to it.
DigiTech Original Whammy – A Bit Of History
Whenever a product appears, despite what industry it belongs to, that claims it’s the jack of all trades, people will be skeptical. That is completely normal and expected. However, the type of treatment WH-1 was subjected to was rather uncalled for. At least until everyone realized just how much potential this pedal offered to the users. After that brief moment of clarity, the popularity of WH-1 skyrocketed to legendary heights. That is pretty much where it is today, even though it’s rather old by now.
Before we dive into its full features, check out this video demo by Evert Zeevalkink of the Digitech Whammy V (the one we are looking at today) showing off a little bit of what this pedal can do.
Features Of The Digitech Whammy 5
Once you first unpack this bad boy, you will notice what appears to be an expression pedal in a wider body with lots of LEDs on the right side. Understanding what those are for turns this pedal from a confusing piece of gear to a very intuitive effects pedal. So, what is it that Whammy brought that was so impressive in the first place? Well, let’s just say it was among the first and most complex pitch shifter pedals you could get at the time. There are three modes of operation, each with a variety of its own options.
To start things off, let’s look at the Whammy mode. This is basically your octave effect part of the pedal. You can choose between six different options. You have 2 octaves up, 1 octave up, both of those options only in the other direction of pitch shift, and then there are dive bombs along with drop tunes. This mode alone is what a good number of guitar players are buying this pedal for. On to the next awesome feature.
Harmony bend modes are where the real power of the Whammy is at. There are so many different options to choose from, including 2nd up/3rd up, 4th up/5th up and so on. The combinations are numerous and well executed. Then we have the Detune mode that offers two different values of detune. You can have a slightly detuned signal that is layered on top of your guitar’s source signal, or a more detuned one.
One day with this pedal will tell you all you need to know about how valuable and practical of a tool it really is. Once you figure out how to use it efficiently, you will wonder how you ever managed without it. DigiTech Whammy WH-1 doesn’t discriminate based on the genre of music, nor does it require some special type of use. It’s a true tool of a modern guitar player.
Here’s Tom Morello talking about the DigitTech Whammy and how it adds to his arsenal.
The model of Whammy we are reviewing today is the fifth generation of this legendary pedal. Most people will tell you that the first one was the best one, however DigiTech managed to bring the fifth iteration very closely to their initial design. In terms of performance, the pedal is just a beast. One of the main issues with pitch shifting pedals is their ability to track. This becomes even more obvious once you start shredding some complex shapes on your guitar. Saying that Whammy WH-1 has no problems with this phenomenon would be a straight lie, but its limits are very well defined.
Check out this full demo of the Whammy 5 by Youtuber Shnobel.
Once you hit polyphonic features of the pedal, things will work out rather well until you start increasing the tempo. That’s when the pedal might have trouble keeping up with you. However, a slight amount of caution takes care of that issue completely. When used in its harmonic setting, DigiTech WH-1 Whammy is just a beast that eats up everything and anything you have to throw at it. Once really good addition to this new model is true bypass. Now you can exclude this pedal out of your signal chain without having to worry if it’s going to change your tone in any way.
What started as a high-risk gamble, turned out to be one of the best business decisions DigiTech has ever made. The amount of value and versatility Whammy brings to any guitar setup is hard to measure. This is partially why some of the most legendary albums in circulations were recorded with Whammy on the list of used gear. One of the guitarists who really leaned towards this guitar is Tom Morello, and we all know what he could do with it. Adding the DigiTech Whammy to your pedalboard is sure to introduce at least few completely new dimensions of sound.
The only thing you need to worry about if you want a completely trouble-free experience is that you don’t push the pedal past its limits. The price is a bit high, but it perfectly reflects the value you are getting out of this thing. Actually, it’s might even be considered a true bargain at this point in time. If you are on the fence about this pedal, we definitely suggest that you at least try one out. It’s one of those things where you have to see it for yourself in order to appreciate its value.