This is a Guest Review by Guitarist, Stephen Rose.
Since its introduction in 1989, the Digitech Whammy WH-1 pedal has become a staple for many musicians due to its unique array of tonal options. Though the WH-1 was only in production for four years, it has had a long lasting significance and is highly coveted. The Whammy pedal has been so successful that Digitech is now on their fifth generation of this special device. It’s versatility and pitch-shifting capabilities has drawn the attention of diverse artists such as: The Edge, Tom Morello, Dimebag Darrell, and Steve Vai. The unmistakable sound of the Whammy’s pitch shifting abilities can be heard on familiar tracks like “Killing in the Name”, “Even Better than the Real Thing”, and “Becoming”.
The WH-1 is housed in a solid metal casing with a sturdy treadle, which is topped with a thick piece of rubber. It can definitely be thought of as a revolutionary, pitch-shifting tank. The pedal that I am reviewing is well worn but still functions without any noticeable issues. The WH-1 offers 16 pitch-shifting options, which are selectable via a rotary knob. There are 5 different Whammy options that can raise or lower the pitch by 2 octaves. The Detune setting allows the user to pick a Shallow or Deep setting. I find the Shallow setting to be tone-friendly and is only engaged with the pedal in the toe down position. Many of the settings in the Harmony area do not offer a great deal of appeal to me, but I am a fan of the harmony going up a 5th in the toe up position and up a 7th in the toe down position. There are a couple of positions on the neck that reminded me of the “I’m melting” scene in The Wizard of Oz. Many of the other settings, regardless of treadle position, sound very much like 1980s’ arcade games when played higher up the neck.
Some drawbacks to the design of the Digitech Whammy WH-1 would be that any change to the current setting has to be done by hand, and the WH-1 does not offer any sort of light indication to help with the selection. This could be very challenging if trying to make a change during a performance or recording session. Newer Whammy models offer a light to indicate the current selection. Another downside is the requirement of a particular power supply for operation. Many pedals offer both a power supply or battery option for power, but the WH-1 and all other subsequent models only allow for a brand-specific power supply. While I didn’t have the original one that came with the pedal, I was easily able to locate an aftermarket power supply that worked.
All in all, it really is a great pedal that is like no other, allowing you to get the craziest of sounds out of your guitar. Check out the Digitech Whammy on Amazon.