I’ve owned a DigiTech Whammy pedal for over ten years now, having bought the original Whammy IV model in the mid to late 2000s. These days, I’m in the market for the Whammy Drop Tune, because I know how cool these pedals are and how useful they can be. Not everyone has the money to buy one though, so plugin and VST substitutes persist.
While plugins are rarely as good as the real thing even though they’ve improved a lot over the last decade, there are some plugins you can buy that are solid emulations. Over the last 3 or 4 years, I’ve come across a few shifters/harmonizers similar to the Whammy pedal, and I’ve compiled even more for this article. Here are 8:
8 Whammy Pedal VSTs
1) Wharmonator in Amplitube
2) Wham Pedal from GarageBand
3) Pitch Bender from Blue Cat Audio
4) Wow Pitch Shifter in Archetype Gojira
5) Pitchproof from Aegean Music
6) Pitch Pedal in Guitar Rig 6 PRO
7) Elastic Bender EL-2 by AlyJamesLab
8) Whamdrive Distortion by AuraPlug
From what I’ve seen thus far, the 8 listed above are some of the best Whammy pedal simulators on the market. Sure, there are many, many pitch shifters, but they create a sound, unlike the Whammy which is why I did not include them in the list. I went for strictly whammy-like devices only. Let’s take a look at each one individually including where to get your hands on them, a brief demo and tutorial, as well as some other useful tips and tricks.
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Table of Contents
8 Whammy Pedal VSTs – [Free and Premium]
Other Whammy Pedal Tools
One thing I’d like to point out too is that you can use a MIDI/Expression pedal like the iRig Stomp I/O (on Thomann/zZounds). This pedal can be hooked up to your computer to essentially control the plugin with a real-life expression pedal right underneath your foot.
Because of its high price, it may actually make sense to just buy a real Whammy instead, but the iRig Stomp I/O does a lot more than act as a whammy. I believe there are other pedals that can do the same thing, but you would have to look that up on your own. But I digress.
Onto the 8 Whammy Pedal Plugins and VSTs…
For this article, I’ve included a selection of free and premium Whammy emulators which can be found in different places. Even if they are paid software, they can usually be accessed for a short time via demos or free trials. I’ll make sure to show you where you can find each, and whether or not they’re demo-available.
1) Wharmonator in Amplitube [Demo Available]
The first three Whammy simulators on this list legitimately excite me because of how fun they are to use. The Wharmonator is the kind of plugin that when you start using it, you immediately get that boost of creativity and an impulse to start making music.
Amplitube’s Wharmonator is #1 on this list because it deserves to be there, in my opinion. In terms of how it looks, how it sounds, and the features it has, it appears to be the closest thing to the real DigiTech Whammy that you can get on your computer or mobile device.
The Wharmonator is completely MIDI-assignable which means you can control it – while playing the guitar – with a MIDI expression pedal of some kind. And it sounds really good. Check out the YouTube video above that I made. It shows the meat and potatoes of the pedal, so to speak.
But what I don’t like about the Wharmonator is how hard it is to figure out how to use Amplitube, including how to install the demo, and then get an actual sound from it. For instance, getting Amplitube through the IK Multimedia Product Manager was a bit confusing, and then I had trouble installing Amplitube’s Wharmonator in GarageBand.
Eventually, I had to access it through the Desktop Application (which is another way of using it outside of a DAW). This is all well and fine, but it takes a hot minute to navigate through all of IK Multimedia’s websites, interfaces, and so on.
It even took me a second to figure out how to get the Wharmonator to actually make a sound because it turns out I was putting it before the amplifier and not in front of it like you would with a real guitar pedal. Anyway, that all said, the Wharmonator is a fantastic Whammy simulator and you can try out the demo here.
Here’s a brief step-by-step which I think will help you:
1) Download the IK Product Manager
2) Open the Product Manager
3) Choose the Previous Releases of Amplitube Custom Shop to Download It
4) Open Amplitube With the Desktop App (Not In Your DAW)
5) Click on the Pedal Symbol, and then Scroll Down to the Bottom to get the Wharmonator
6) Click On It To Unlock the 72-Hour Free Trial
7) Place the Wharmonator to the Left of the Amp Head and Not the Right
To get it, you’ll have to download the IK Product Manager and then click on the locked icon for the Wharmonator and then you can use it for as long as you want approximately 72 hours. The clock runs while you sleep, so pay attention to that.
I would also try it out on the Desktop Application, instead of running it in your DAW. While I complained about it for a moment, the Wharmonator is legit and it seriously makes me consider buying the full version of Amplitube on top of the Axiom and Guitar Rig 6 PRO.
That said, you don’t have to buy anything to get a Whammy pedal VST assuming you already own a macOS or iOS device (the newest iPad Pro is probably the best). Onward…
2) GarageBand’s Wham Pedal [Free]
GarageBand is probably one of the most underrated music production tools of all time, and the Wham Pedal that’s featured in the Pedalboard of the Amp Designer is a great example of this. The Wham sounds awesome and just like the DigiTech Whammy Pedal.
I haven’t figured out a way to control it with a MIDI pedal or an external MIDI device of some kind. Still, if you record something with your guitar, you can use your mouse to rock the expression pedal back and forth to make it sound almost exactly like the Whammy like it’s used on “Killing in the Name” from Rage Against the Machine.
(It’s worth mentioning that you can control most of the pedals on this list this way). What’s nice about the GarageBand Wham is that you do every single thing that the Whammy can do, albeit, in a slightly different way. I made a short little demonstration video for you down below to show you what it can do, and what it sounds like:
All-in-all, GarageBand’s Wham is a great tool to use, it costs absolutely nothing, and it’s a shame there aren’t more people out there singing its praise. I’ll probably do a full video on it one of these days. Anyway, onto the next. If you’re familiar with the site, you probably already know what’s coming…
3) Pitch Bender from Blue Cat Audio [Demo Available]
The Pitch Bender is another awesome Whammy-esque tool that, like the Gojira Archetype plugin, has an expression pedal that you can adjust while you’re playing. I believe it’s also MIDI-programmable which means you can control it with an actual MIDI pedal like the iRig Stomp I/O I mentioned earlier.
The Pitch Bender has the ability to do almost everything a traditional Whammy Pedal can do, although, I must say that it obviously isn’t as good as the real thing (but it is close). It sounds very digital when you use the Octave-Up setting, but that’s alright.
Because of the “Mix” knob, it reminds me of the Electro Harmonix Pitchfork which I talked about in detail on my other site, Traveling Guitarist. It allows you to mix dry and wet signals of the whammy effect which is pretty cool. Check out my demonstration of it down below.
It does a good job of creating harmonies and the expression pedal, itself, is very responsive. Some people have talked about latency issues but I’ve never had that problem with any of Blue Cat Audio’s products. I think having a proper audio interface (like the very decent Scarlett 2i2 on Amazon) is a good way to nip that problem in the bud.
The nice thing is you can try it out for free for as long as you want by clicking on the free trial link I dropped earlier. I’ve been using the Axiom, Destructor, and other Blue Cat Audio plugins for a while now and I’ve written about them extensively in my guide to the best plugins for GarageBand, for instance, and in my article on plugins for guitarists.
4) Wow Pitch Shifter in Archetype Gojira [Demo Available]
The WOW Pitch Shifter from Neural DSP’s Archetype Gojira is pretty awesome too, although, I must say that I actually like the GarageBand Wham more than the WOW. Although, if you’re trying to get a really dirty Whammy sound reminiscent of Gojira, the WOW is probably the way to go.
It’s great at detuning your guitar which the Drop Tune can also do well, increasing the pitch sounds great, and the harmonies are solid too. That said, its tracking abilities – understandably – aren’t as good as what the real-life Whammy pedal can do, but this is to be expected.
Miles Does Music does a great demonstration of the WOW Pitch Shifter and what it can do. The Whammy pedal in the Archetype Gojira is also MIDI programmable, which the official demonstration shows in the link I just presented to you.
This means you can use a MIDI expression pedal or an external MIDI device of some kind (ie, electric pianos, pedals, a drum pad, midi keyboard, etc) to control how the pedal rocks back and forth. This guy did a good demonstration as well. Because of the sheer amount of demos for this plugin, I didn’t feel it was necessary to make my own.
5) Pitchproof from Aegean Music [FREE]
Aegean Music’s Pitchproof is probably one of the best free plugins available to music producers and guitar players. You can create all kinds of harmonies similar to a DigiTech Whammy Pedal including diatonic 2nds, 3rds, 4ths, and so on and so forth. You can also pitch up or down by semitones from -12 to +12.
What makes this plugin special is 1) it’s free and 2) it actually sounds great, evidenced by the vocal harmonies created by MusicTechHelpGuy in this video. The only downside to this plugin is there is no expression pedal like what you would see on a DigiTech Whammy.
I’m not sure if it’s MIDI programmable although I can’t see why you wouldn’t be able to control some of the MIDI parameters with an external MIDI device. By default, It’s kind of like the Harmony side of the DigiTech Whammy Pedal, although, it can drop-tune and up-tune, just not like the way you would with a pedal.
That all said, it does a great job of creating harmonies on both guitars (which it was made for) and vocals too [another YouTube demo here]. Anyway, let’s talk about another Whammy simulator that you can find in Guitar Rig 6 PRO.
6) Pitch Pedal from Guitar Rig 6 PRO [Demo Available]
Another plugin I believe is a Whammy simulator is the Pitch Pedal from Guitar Rig 6 PRO (install the demo here – if you’re interested). You’ll notice a reoccurring theme from a lot of these plugins – most of them are colored red just like the actual pedal. Check out my demonstration of it below.
The Pitch Pedal from Guitar Rig 6 PRO is probably one of the simpler plugins on the list because it only has two primary parameters: the Pitch and the Mix. You control the pitch in increments of percentages rather than semi-tones, and then you adjust how strong the harmony or mix is with the Mix button.
Ultimately, the Pitch Pedal acts as a solid harmony plugin with pitch-shifting capabilities, but it too, like the Pitchproof from Aegean Music, isn’t that close to the Whammy, although, it can certainly sound that way at times. I believe the Pitch Pedal is also MIDI-responsive though.
7) Elastic Bender EL-2 by AlyJamesLab [No Demo/Trial]
This is one of those plugins that I haven’t actually tried, so keep that in mind, but I’ve seen a lot of recommendations for it and the YouTube tutorial makes it look pretty awesome. The Elastic Bender appears to be able to do a lot of the things the Whammy can do and quite a bit more.
But as I said, I can’t sing its praises too much because I haven’t tried it. Have a look at the YouTube video shown above and then head to the website if you want to buy it. From what I understand, I don’t think there is a demo for it available.
8) Whamdrive Distortion from AuraPlug [Free]
And finally, we have the Whamdrive from audiorammer/Aura Plug. I included it last on the list because of my troubles with it. The harmonizer does work, and so does the up-pitch and down-pitch, but the Drive button, for whatever reason, tries to blow my speakers whenever I toggle it on and off.
The expression pedal is also not very responsive and takes a lot of mouse movement to get it to fully open and close. These two reasons are why it’s listed at the bottom. Maybe you can find another use for it, maybe not, but I think it’s worthy enough to throw on this list.
For More Whammy Pedal Articles and Info
Important Things to Note
1) Most DAWs Come With A Pitch Shifter (But It Won’t Be A Whammy Necessarily)
For this article, I made sure not to include just regular pitch shifter plugins, because as we all know, just because it’s a pitch shifter, it doesn’t mean it’s like a Whammy pedal.
Whammy Pedals are pitch-shifting devices that feature an expression pedal that oscillates between two settings or configurations. Not only that, but they have their own timbre and sound that are unique and unlike a regular pitch-shifting plugin. Either way, I hope this was helpful to you.
3) Blue Cat Audio’s Axiom (on Plugin Boutique)
4) Scarlett 2i2 (on Amazon)
5) Guitar Rig 6 PRO (it’s on sale on their site right now)