8 Whammy Pedal moments you totally have to hear

Steve Vai – Touching Tongues (Sex & Religion)
Vai combines a whammy pedal and delay to create complex harmonies and countermelodies in the chorus of this track from 1993’s Sex & Religion album. Very musical, very creative and very cool.

Living Colour – Wall (Stain)
With a delay effect keeping the groove going, bass player Doug Wimbish picks out certain notes to emphasise with the Whammy pedal before shifting the whole friggin’ riff up an octave over the course of the final bar of the intro. Awesome.

Pantera – Becoming (Far Beyond Driven)
Dimebag stomps on the Whammy pedal on the second beat of each bar of this killer riff. Live he liked to rock out without having to worry about pedals, so his tech did all Dime’s Whammy squealing for him.

Audioslave – Like A Stone (Audioslave)
Tom Morello uses the Whammy Pedal almost like Eddie Van Halen sometimes does with the whammy bar, using it to slide into each note from below. Awesome.

Pink Floyd – Marooned (The Division Bell)
The Whammy Pedal usage in this song is pretty subtle on first listen. David Gilmour uses it to stretch bends out over an octave, but he blends it in with his regular playing style so seamlessly that you can be forgiven for not even noticing.

Joe Satriani – Cool #9 (Joe Satriani)
The Whammy Pedal had been available for a while when Satch released this track on his low key, live-vibed self-titled album, and he’s used the pedal a lot since, but the open space provided by the vamp of this track leaves plenty of room to hear Joe’s intuitive Whammy Pedal technique in detail.

Coverdale/Page – Over Now (Coverdale/Page)
Jimmy Page uses the original WH1Whammy Pedal’s ‘Down 2nd’ mode to slide an A5 chord down to a D5. This setting is still present in the WH1, but these days they call it ‘Drop Tune.’

The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army (Elephant)
What sounds like a bass on this track is actually a Digitech Whammy Pedal with the pitch dropped way down below the basement. While Jack White loves his vintage analog gear, he’s obviously not shy about the occasional digital chip either.

CLICK HERE to read my review of the DigiTech Whammy Pedal.

CLICK HERE to buy the Digitech Whammy WH4 from Guitar Center for $169.95.

CLICK HERE to see Digitech Whammy pedals (all models) for sale on eBay.

REVIEW: MXR Classic 108 Fuzz

I’m a bit of an MXR/Jim Dunlop fanboy. The MXR-to-other-stuff ratio on my pedalboard is about 70:30. I push my amp with an MXR/Custom Audio Electronics boost/overdrive, I get my swirl on via an EVH Phase 90, and the Carbon Copy Analog Delay is probably the funkiest, warmest sounding delay on the market, and earlier this year I finally bought a Dunlop Jimi Hendrix Octave Fuzz, which was literally the very first pedal I became aware of, the day I bought my first guitar magazine at age 12.

And this brings us to the Classic 108 Fuzz. Essentially this pedal is simply the guts of the BC 108-loaded Fuzz Face, transplanted into a more pedalboard-friendly layout than the almost hubcap-like proportions of the original unit. Boutique builders have been doing this very thing for years, and MXR is well aware they need to do something to make the Classic 108 Fuzz stand out from the pack. So aside from the authenticity of being built by the very company that now owns the rights to the design, MXR/Dunlop has ensured this stand-outedness by adding a buffer circuit. More on that later.

Controls are simple: Volume and Fuzz. There are no tone controls or switches, just the buffer button. Unlike the original Fuzz Face, the Classic 108 Fuzz has a removable battery door (the same kind as on the bottom of my MXR/CAE Boost/OD), a simple design which I think should be implemented across the pedal line, and tradition be damned: who wants to have to unscrew a pedal baseplate just to change a battery? Other updates include optional AC operation (I ran it off a battery and my Gator power supply), true bypass, and a status LED. The buffer also has its own LED, when it’s on, it’s on, regardless of whether you’ve turned on the effect or not. This is especially important over long cable runs, where the signal would degrade if not given a helping hand through a buffer.

In unbuffered mode, the Classic 108 Fuzz sounds round, barky and dirty. Just like it’s supposed to. There’s a kind of synthetic charm to the sound that’s not attainable by later overdrive and distortion designs, which are intended to mimic or at least approximate the sound of an overdriven amp. This pedal is pure vintage bliss, Hendrixy voodoo intact, with unearthly-sounding overtones and squashed dynamics all over the place. Pickup selection and phrasing choices make some amount of difference to the sound, but the pedal always adds its own character, regardless of whether you set the gain level to ‘kill’ or if you back it off a bit for some grit and dirt. Chords mush together in an oh-so-fuzzy way, and single notes have a kind of buzzy, violin-like sustain – great for those Eric Johnson moments, especially with some nice cascading analog delay repeats.

Kicking in the buffer has an additional and very practical use: to eliminate an annoying oscillation which can occur between this type of fuzz and certain wah wah pedals. But it also has a drastic effect on the tone, almost kicking the sound up to hi-fi levels (which is not usually a term associated with vintage fuzz). Pick attack and note definition are increased, as are upper midrange harmonics. I loved this sound through my slightly overdriven Marshall DSL50 head, where it added an old school fuzz edge while pushing the amp into a more modern high gain sound. Lower gain levels on the pedal, or volume settings on the guitar, clean up the sound while maintaining that cool vintage vibe. Using my Ibanez Jem7VWH and a more modern-sounding digital delay, the result was a thick, compressed tone with lots of harmonics and an upper midrange spike with added thump to palm-muted notes on the lower strings while evening out legato lines on the higher ones.

Despite its simple origins, this is a very versatile pedal which can be appreciated by rockers, fusionists, blues guys, even metalheads who need an extra lashing of evil for solos. I’m sure I’ll be adding one to my ever-growing pedalboard as soon as possible, especially for the aforementioned Jem/digital delay/overdriven Marshall combination.

CLICK HERE to buy the MXR M-173 Classic 108 Fuzz from Musician’s FriendGuitar Effects Pedal