REVIEW: DigiTech Lyra

The Eternal Descent graphic novel series created by writer/musician Lexi Leon is kickass anyway you look at it, but especially from a guitarist’s point of view. A supernatural tale of epic proportions, it features among its list of characters the members of Static X, Atreyu, Firewind and Shadows Fall and Lord Shred himself, Joe Satriani. There is music to accompany the graphic novels too, composed and performed by the very talented Leon with legendary producer/engineer Eddie Kramer (you know him – he’s worked with Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, KISS and about a billion more). The DigiTech Lyra is designed to take several of the tones used on the Eternal Descent recordings and present them in easily accessible stomp box form, either for fans of the series or just for those looking for some interesting and unique tones sculpted by some very talented folks.

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Check out the latest programmable pedalboard from Digitech. Nice display, huh? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a multi effects unit with a display that big. Wait a minute, is that… nah, it couldn’t be… wait, it is! Yup, the iPB-10 actually holds an iPad, clutching the groundbreaking Apple device to its bosom like, well, like I did when I got my iPad a few weeks ago. The iPB-10 also includes an effects loop and an amp loop with ground switch, so you don’t need to sacrifice the loop feature to the ‘four cable method’ – you can hook your preamp into the unit via the amp loop while also using the effects loop as it was intended. Nice touch!

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All hail the DigiTech Whammy! I used to have a Whammy II, a very cool pedal that I no longer felt I needed when I got a multi-effects unit from another brand, so I got rid of it. Well of course I quickly got the sellers’ remorse over that one. I haven’t bought a DigiTech Whammy to replace it yet but I’m gonna find it hard to resist the new Whammy DT. Check out these new additions:

‘Shift Down’ and ‘Shift Up’ modes for changing the tuning down by as much as seven steps or an entire octave up or down.

Momentary switch for ‘hammer-on’ and ‘pull-off’ effects – step on it to alter the pitch, and lift your foot off to retun immediately to the regular unaltered note. Trillorrific!

True bypass

FS3X input for hands-free selection of Whammy and Drop Tune settings

MIDI input

Sounds awesome, no? More info at


NAMM 2010: DigiTech Vocalist Live 3

Alright, that’s it. I’m gonna get one of these pedals and turn myself into instant Alice In Chains. Never mind that I can’t write songs as good as them and I don’t look as cool in vintage thrift-store leather jackets. I’m gonna do it.

Check out this YouTube video of the Vocalist Live 3 in action.


SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, DigiTech, a leading manufacturer of vocal processors, and a Harman International company (NYSE-HAR), has announced the newest addition to the Vocalist product line, the Live 3. The Live 3 provides guitarists a 3-part vocal harmony, pitch correction, and vocal pre-effects in a single pedal.

The new Vocalist Live 3 is a powerful yet easy-to-use intelligent vocal harmony processor that automatically generates live multi-part vocal harmony by analyzing guitar chord progressions and the lead voice. The Live 3 gives virtually all artists, soloists and groups alike the ability to perform more songs that in the past had been considered too difficult without professionally trained backup vocalists.

The Live 3 combines studio-quality audio performance, state-of-the-art vocal processing, and an easy-to-use control interface to add up to two separate voices of harmony to a lead vocal to create a full 3-part, natural-sounding vocal performance. The Live 3 has Gender Control that gives each harmonizing voice a masculine or feminine sound. Users can customize the natural sound of the harmonizing voices from loose to tight by adjusting the Humanize setting.

Using patented musIQ® technology, the Live 3 continually follows the notes being played on the guitar and the lead voice to generate accurate and musically correct vocal harmonies. musIQ eliminates the need to pre-program the songs’ key or key changes to create get accurate harmonies, making the Live 3 much easier to use.

“The Live 3 is the tool performers are searching for to capture the audiences’ attention and take their performance to the next level.” stated Scott Klimt, Marketing Manager for Vocalist.

The Live 3 is designed to enhance and improve virtually every vocal performance using pitch-correction with Humanize Control and vocal pre-effects. The pitch correction in the Live 3 has the most natural sound available on the market. There are also five different vocal pre-effects available in the Live 3 to help give the vocals a high quality, professional-grade studio sound. These effects include warmth (tube preamp), compression, EQ, and Noise Gate. There are three different room settings for reverb and five separate delay settings for vocals. The Live 3 also has guitar effects, reverb and chorus along with a guitar tuner.

The Vocalist Live 3 is now shipping with a MSRP of $429.95 in the US.

REVIEW: Digitech RP1000

Guitarists are forever locked in an epic battle between functionality and flexibility. We dig effects, but we prefer if they’re in the form of little boxes with easy-to-use controls. We love combining different sounds to create something new, but loathe doing the little tapdance required to turn them all on (or off) at the right time. Floor-based multi effect units are great, but most are designed to be the entire source of your sound, so you’re stuck, for better or worse, with whatever amp models are built in.

The new Digitech RP1000 takes a lot of the features that have made the RP series so popular, and integrates with your amp by allowing you to place the unit’s effects either before or after your preamp – kinda like having a pile of stompboxes on the floor and an effects rack plugged into the amp’s effects loop. There’s a roundabout way to do this with the Boss GT-8, which I used on stage for a while, but it was an unintended side effect of the design, and required all sorts of special cables and hum eliminators to work. The RP1000 is specifically designed to do it, so that’s one big advantage right there.

The RP1000 has over 160 internal stompboxes, effects, amps and cabinets, as well as an additional stompbox loop. Say you have a particular pedal you just can’t live without, but you want to use the RP1000 too: just place that pedal in the loop and you can turn it on and off within your patches. Neat. Oh and as an added bonus, you get Cubase LE4 recording software too!

Features include 14 very chunky, confidence-giving metal switches that control program changes, effects on/off, stompbox loop in/out, bank up/down, and the built-in 20-second looper (on the day I received the RP1000 to review, I’d been listening to a lot of David Torn, so I was in loop heaven). There are two different control modes: Preset and Pedalboard. In Preset mode you can switch up to 10 different presets on a single bank, while in Pedalboard mode there are 5 presets and 5 effect on/off switches. Think of Pedalboard mode as 5 different amp and pedal rigs, with the ability to turn on or off any pedal for that setup. Additionally, if you want to use your amp’s natural sound as the basis for your tone (instead of the RP1000’s amp models), there’s an internal Amp/Cabinet Bypass switch which removes the RP1000’s internal amplifiers and cabinet effects from the signal chain, leaving only stompboxes and effects.

One particular benefit of the RP1000 compared to most other multi effect floor units is that it includes dual stereo XLR outputs for going straight into a mixing desk. I plugged it into my DigiDesign Mbox 2  for some very accurate and clear reproduction of the sounds, and was particularly impressed by the edgy clean sounds and the Lexicon-licensed reverb effects.

I was able to compare some of the models to examples of the actual gear I had laying around, including the Marshall JCM2000, and the MXR Phase 90, and while the modelled sounds aren’t 100% spot on (with the exception of the extremely accurate DOD FX25 envelope filter, another unit I have kicking around the house), they sound close enough to give you most of the same vibe. I found that the stomp box models worked especially well with my amp instead of the inbuilt amp models. My favourites were the trigger flanger (very Frank Zappa); the DOD FX13 Gonkulator Modulator, which is great for Nine Inch Nails-style processed guitar sounds, and the harmonizer, which includes major and minor scales in all keys, as well as settings for some of the modes, for those who aren’t totally into their music theory. I especially liked the harmonic minor scale setting for instant Yngwie. You can set most effects to be either pre or post amp (or amp model), which is a huge benefit for those who need their phaser to sound spacey (after the amp) in one song, and syrupy (before the amp) in another, for example.

I found that the Carvin Legacy model didn’t sound like the actual amp, but if you’re after Vai tone you can get quite close by combining the JCM900 and Tube Screamer models with some digital delay and reverb. On the other hand, the acoustic guitar models sound surprisingly accurate and are very useful, and the various Mesa Boogie models are also pretty close to the real thing. I slung my Ibanez UV777BK seven string with DiMarzio Blaze pickups and dialled in a Petrucci-like Awake-era tone, kicking in the wah wah to get in the ‘Caught In A Web’ zone. Cool!

My only beef with the RP1000 is that there is no way to switch amp channels, which slightly limits the practicality of the unit – you may have to get used to having all your settings and effects stored on individual buttons for your clean, rhythm and lead sounds, but needing to step on a separate amp channel switch as well. One way around this would be to use varying levels of distortion pedal on top of your clean sound. Another would be to set up your amp with your medium-level distortion sound, then create a patch that drops out some frequencies and reduces the input (similar to lowering your guitar’s volume control) for a clean sound, and adding a boost or overdrive to kick it up to high gain territory. This is what Paul Gilbert does with a bunch of pedals and a single-channel amp, so an argument could be made that the RP1000 makes this method much easier.


NEWS: ProGuitarShop launches gear microsites

I just got this press release from ProGuitarShop about their new series of product microsites. This one is based on the Digitech Whammy Pedal, but there will be many others.

For my own thoughts on the venerable Whammy Pedal, check out my review here and my ‘8 Whammy Pedal Moments You Totally Have To Hear’ here.

CLICK HERE for ProGuitarShop’s eBay store.

Now we’ve all heard of the Digitech Whammy pedal, right? Have you ever tried to find any information on it? All retailers have the same info as the manufacturer on their website. This is great if you need to find out what voltage power supply to use or if the Whammy is true bypass, but what if you need to know if the Digitech Whammy is up to the task of imitating pedal steel licks. Does the pitch shift function shift smoothly or does it sound like the pitch is walking up or down the stairs? Can I get the rich doubled sound like the solo of “Money”? You just cannot find this information on any retailer’s site or even Wikipedia. That’s why we are proud to announce the launch of This informational site is dedicated exclusively to the Digitech Whammy pedal. Features, tones, artists, even videos and nicely shot photographs will tell you more about this legendary pedal than anywhere else. How many salesmen have you grilled before you buy a product? How many of them answered your questions satisfactorily? No matter how knowledgeable they are, there is always opinion and bias in any information you’re given. That’s because they are there to make the sale. Now you can find all the information you need on the Digitech Whammy, including some awesome video demonstrations, without the hassle of calling a retailer or walking into a store and wondering if they really know the gear, or just need the commission. This site is for you, the working guitarist. Check out and find out if the Digitech Whammy is the right pedal for you.

NEWS: Steve Lukather’s personal gear on eBay!

Huge thanks to I Heart Guitar reader Sean from San Jose for alerting me to this awesome auction of a whole bunch of Steve Lukather’s personal gear.

Sean says:

Last night I was searching eBay for Ibanez guitars and came across a listing for a Steve Lukather prototype. Well out of my price range, but I went ahead and checked the other items that the seller had. It looks like Steve Lukather is using L.A. Vintage Gear to sell a bunch of his used gear. This is huge for any Toto fan. If it were Paul Gilbert selling his stuff the next auction you would see would be for one of my kidneys.
Perhaps most enticing to an Ibanez geek such as myself is Luke’s Ibanez prototype guitar. I guess the market’s going to be flooded with kidneys pretty soon cos I’d like pretty much all of this stuff too!

Here’s the listing for Luke’s Ibanez Prototype Guitar
Here’s what the listing says:

~ Lukes Ibanez Prototype Guitar ~
If you’re a Steve Lukather fan then this guitar has to be the Holy Grail for you. This guitar was made for Luke in we believe 1983. This is a prototype made for Luke that was supposed to go into production but didn’t materialize. This is THE ONLY ONE made! There wasn’t 2 or 3 made, just this ONE !

Guitar is in great shape. 26 years old now ! Frets are perfect . Comes in it’s original custom case.

There are heaps of photos with the listing. Very cool.

REVIEW: DigiTech TimeBender delay

DigiTech has a long history of innovative pedals (in the mid 90s they released various stompers which added compression or delay to distortion, and let’s not forget how the Whammy Pedal revolutionised lead guitar). The TimeBender seeks to combine traditional delay effects with some completely out-there ones, with a control interface that practically demands creative experimentation. Now, I love a good delay pedal (my current favourite is the MXR Carbon Copy, a very different beast to the TimeBender), so I jumped at the chance to get my hands on the TimeBender for a few weeks of testing.

Features include controls for Tone, Repeats, Modulation and Pattern. A Voicing knob cycles through 100 different pitch shift intervals so instead of simply repeating your notes the TimeBender can play them back at different pitches altogether. You can set delay times with a knob or with the footswitch on the right, and you can alter the delay intervals further with a Multiplier button so once you have the tempo, you can start messing around with the rhythm too. You get 5 seconds of delay time, and modes include Digital, Analog Variable Speed Tape, Moving Head Tape Dynamic (ducking) Digital, Dynamic (ducking) Analog, Dynamic (ducking) Tape, Time Warp (wide delay time modulation) Reverse, Envelope (chopping delay), 20 Second looper and Strum modes.

Around the back are stereo inputs (!!!), stereo outputs (the left inputs and output jacks double as the mono versions), a jack for the optional 3-button FS3X footswitch and an expression pedal jack for any mono (tip/sleeve) passive expression pedal. (DigiTech says any volume pedal in the 100 kOhm – 500 kOhm range with log taper will work as well.) An expression pedal lets you morph between different settings for a given delay type, voicing, and time pattern, giving you control over parameters such as delay time, tone, repeats, and modulation.

You’re definitely going to have to read the manual if you want to get the most out of the TimeBender. For instance, the pitch shift parameters are listed in a combination of numbers and letters: 2O means the input is shifted down 2 octaves; 7L means the input is shifted 7 tones down the scale (I guess the L means ‘lower’), U means unison, and 3H means the input is shifted three tones up the scale (so H probably means ‘higher’). You can use your ears to find your way around to a certain extend but it certainly helps to at least know how a 4th sounds different from a 5th, for example.

As someone who uses an analog delay pedal quite a bit, I was eager to compare the TimeBender’s Analog mode to my MXR. The TimeBender’s simulated version of analog delay is very authentic, with the right level of frequency roll-off and subtle mush, while the tone isn’t quite as excitingly unpredictable and ratty sounding as my analog pedal. It’s a kind of ‘neat’ version of the analog delay sound, and I’m sure that players who like the warmth of an old school bucket-brigade pedal but aren’t into the noise and chaos lurking beneath the surface will be way into the TimeBender’s take on the effect.

The Moving Head tape delay will give you Jimmy Page Echoplex sounds, with lots of vintage vibe but with modern touches such as the option of adding modulation and greater tone control. Lots of fun using an expression pedal with this one! The Ducking modes (when the delay effect fades up to its full preset volume when you stop playing, and fades down again while you’re actually playing) are perhaps the smoothest I’ve ever heard. In the past I’ve sort of shied away from using this effect because the fade-in is usually too abrupt and jarring, but the TimeBender’s Ducking settings are not just usable, they’re downright stunning, working especially well if you’re using a mono rig where you don’t have the luxury of diverting repeats to different speakers to maintain the clarity of each voice.

The TimeBender’s Strum mode is probably my favourite setting. Hold down the pedal, strum or pick a rhythm, and release the pedal, then when you play a note the repeats will follow the rhythm you just strummed, (up to six notes worth). If you combine it with the pitch shifting this becomes much more than just an extremely useful ambient effect – it becomes an entire essential songwriting tool. If The Edge can do what he does with regular, fixed-time, non-pitch-shifted delays, imagine what he could do with rhythmic repeats which play back different notes.

Envelope mode chops up the input almost like an arpeggiator on a keyboard, and there are some genuinely freaky sounds attainable by the Reverse and TimeBender modes which remind me a little of some of Steve Vai’s more extravagant audio experiments such as ‘Alien Water Kiss’ from ‘Passion And Warfare.’ Come to think of it, the pitch shift delays also allow you to get those ‘Ballerina 12/24’ sounds without spending $4,000 on a rack processor.

Let’s not forget the Loop mode. Some folks will surely buy the TimeBender for this feature alone. You can record, play back, and overdub loops up to 20 seconds long (mono only). The manual points out that you can “record a bass line with the voicing set to an octave down (8L), and then set the voicing to unison and play over the looped bass line. Also, with an expression pedal, you can store a unison voicing in the toe position and an octave down in the heel position, and switch between your “bass” and guitar on the fly.” Craziness. I had a grand time using the TimeBender in conjunction with my guitar’s pickup selector and tone controls to create an ambient soundscape to jam over, but you can use it for a lot more than the kind of bad new age music that seems to come out of me whenever I mess around with loops.

My only beef with the TimeBender – and it’s not a very big one – is that it would be nice to have a dry output jack so you could send an un-delayed sound to your main amp while sending stereo repeats to left and right rigs. If such hi-tech wizardry is important to you though you can easily use a signal splitter – even a stereo chorus pedal with the effect turned off could do the trick – then just shut off the volume of the original note using the TimeBender’s Mix knob.

While it helps to know some music theory to get the most out of the TimeBender, even if theory’s not for you there’s still room to stumble upon interesting and exciting new sounds. Whether you want very high quality delays to set-and-forget or a hyper-intelligent, sophisticated delay, the TimeBender is well worth the money and time.

CLICK HERE to buy the DigiTech TimeBender Delay

Here’s a demo of the TimeBender by ProGuitarShop.