Put a Digital Whammy Bar on Any Guitar, Even an Acoustic

All tremolo systems have their quirks, whether you use a Bigsby, Floyd Rose, two-point synchronized, floating or what have you.

But a new system says it can deliver perfect tuning and accurate pitch bends on any electric…or acoustic, for that matter.

Dubbed the Virtual Jeff, this potentially transformational piece of gear comes from Australian guitar tech company FOMOfx. Virtual Jeff delivers digital pitch control of analog guitar signals delivered via your traditional, humble pickup. While it has the feel and responsiveness of a standard whammy bar, the Virtual Jeff foregoes mechanical string bending to do its stuff digitally.

A separate processing unit lets the player assign eight pitch presets from one semitone to two octaves down, or from one semitone to one octave up. Two modes are available and are selectable with a footswitch.

As the FOMOfx site points out, you could set one mode like a Bigsby—two semitones down, one semitone up—and the other “like a Floyd Rose on steroids—two octaves down, one octave up.”

There’s a catch here, though, and it may not sit well with traditionalists. The processor lets you select what pitch you reach at the end of a bend. On the one hand, this makes bends predictable and opens the door for new musical possibilities. On the other hand, there are plenty of players who’ll swear by the value of learning to hit target pitches using nothing but your trained ear and hand.

FOMOfx says the Virtual Jeff has no affect on your tone, runs on a standard nine-volt power supply and has true-bypass switching. Installation takes “30 seconds” via a pair of included mounts. No drilling or routing is required, and the Virtual Jeff can be easily swapped between electric, acoustic and bass guitars.

Check out the video below to get a demonstration of the Virtual Jeff in action. And visit FOMOfx for more information. If you’re at Winter NAMM 2016, visit them at booth 2192 Hall D.

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Christopher Scapelliti

Christopher Scapelliti is editor-in-chief of Guitar Player magazine, the world’s longest-running guitar magazine, founded in 1967. In his extensive career, he has authored in-depth interviews with such guitarists as Pete Townshend, Slash, Billy Corgan, Jack White, Elvis Costello and Todd Rundgren, and audio professionals including Beatles engineers Geoff Emerick and Ken Scott. He is the co-author of Guitar Aficionado: The Collections: The Most Famous, Rare, and Valuable Guitars in the World, a founding editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine, and a former editor with Guitar WorldGuitar for the Practicing Musician and Maximum Guitar. Apart from guitars, he maintains a collection of more than 30 vintage analog synthesizers.