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Shifting guitar tunings & travelling light with the DigiTech Drop
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Shifting guitar tunings & travelling light with the DigiTech Drop

With a look as iconic as its sound, the DigiTech Whammy has been stepped-on by guitarists ranging from David Gilmour to Tom Morello, Jack White to Steve Vai. The Whammy was designed to emulate the pitching effects of a tremolo on a guitar by using a rocker-style foot pedal to drop or raise the pitch at a preset interval. Famous for its distinctive exaggerated pitch-bending sound, the Whammy continues to be popular today as an effect to make any guitar solo stand out of the mix...

Looking at the units side by side, it would be easy to think that DigiTech Drop is a stripped-down/half-pint/watered-down version of DigiTech Whammy, but whilst DigiTech Whammy is the effect to make you stand out, DigiTech Drop is your tool for complete tuning flexibility. 

Using the technology developed within Whammy, the DigiTech Drop applies its pitch-shifting effect in a way that allows you to completely drop the pitch of your instrument from 1 semitone down to a full octave. With downtuned guitars drenched on many modern hard rock and metal music genres, DigiTech Drop allows a guitarist to have access to all major drop tunings at the press of a footswitch in the studio, during practise, or - most crucially - on stage.

The controls onboard DigiTech Drop are very simple; there’s a single potentiometer that in conjunction with the 9 LEDs, determine the amount of semitones that the pedal is dropping the input signal. Positions 1-7 correspond with 1-7 semitones of ‘drop’, whilst position 8 is a full 12-semitone octave-down effect and position 9 is an octaver effect by combining the octave down and dry effects.

Being able to achieve these dropped tunings using a pedal means that a guitarist can avoid taking multiple guitars to the gig for all of the required tunings in the set. Simply place DigiTech Drop as the first pedal on your pedalboard, select your desired tuning, engage, and then your guitar is tuned down to your desired pitch. 

Being able to achieve these dropped tunings using a pedal means that a guitarist can avoid taking multiple guitars to the gig for all of the required tunings in the set.

Some guitar players use Digitech Drop as an ‘always on’ pedal; set it to drop 1 semitone and now any self respecting blues guitarist can turn their guitar into an Eb blues machine. Alternatively, turn your classic telecaster into a djent machine by dropping the pitch 6 semitones to Bb.

Much like the latest evolution of the Whammy, DigiTech Drop is fully-polyphonic and can drop the pitch of chords and other polyphonic information without glitches or other artifacts indicating to others that there’s a pedal at play! There’s also a ‘momentary’ switch on DigiTech Drop that allows the pedal to drop to a predetermined pitch for the duration the footswitch is held - perfect if you need an octaver or drop tuning effect for a few bars..

The Drop pedal is such a convenient device for my rig. Also saves carrying extra guitars for alternative tunings. An amazing tool for instant drop tunings - Michael Paget, Bullet For My Valentine.

Physically tuning a guitar to a lower tuning is not a straightforward task, especially when you’re approaching the really low tunings of C and B! When standard string gauges are downtuned, they can become slack due to the lack of tension. In many cases a guitar will require thicker strings in order to compensate for this, however that requires physical modifications such as widening the nut and truss rod to compensate for the decrease in tension. If the guitar has its own tremolo then it will also need even more modifications and if you want to achieve really low tunings, then the scale length of the guitar will need to increase in order to retain tension and intonation across the fretboard - that’s a modification you can’t make to a standard guitar! This is all a bit of a financial minefield!

DigiTech Drop provides all of the audible benefits of a down-tuned guitar without any of the drawbacks ranging from the physical modifications required for your guitar, or the stress on your back after carting your whole axe collection to each gig!

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