A virtual vibrato tailpiece? Yes, but it’s more than that.
Pitch-shifting guitar signals isn’t new; just ask anyone who bought a DigiTech Whammy pedal ten years ago. But time marches on, technology improves, and DSP gets faster and more accurate—which brings us to the Bomber, a truly polyphonic (yes, you can play chords), pedal-controlled pitch shifter.
Vibrato Tailpiece In a Pedal
Some guitars, like a Fender Strat, are born with a vibrato tailpiece while others, like Gibson’s Les Paul, aren’t. But now, thanks to the Bomber, all of my guitars have a vibrato tailpiece—it not only bends up and down, but is actually more like the electronic equivalent of Ned Steinberger’s TransTrem, which provides an equivalent amount of pitch shift for each string.
Ins, Outs, and Interfacing
The rear panel has ¼-inch phone input and output jacks, a control for setting levels, and a mini-USB port to allow for updating the pedal software. A wall wart provides power.
On the top panel, a sturdy, substantial pedal presents a decent-sized target. One footswitch handles bypass, while another selects the pitchshift interval (down is 2nd, 4th, 5th, octave, two octaves, and “dive bomb”; up is 4th, 5th, octave, and two octaves). There’s no “shortcut” to step through the intervals, but you don’t have to hit the footswitch repeatedly—if you hold down the footswitch, the pedal cycles through the intervals. When it lands on the desired interval, release the footswitch.
So What? Pitch Shifters Sound Nasty
But not this one, which is why it’s being reviewed. Of course, the less transposition, the more realistic the sound; I found pitching two octaves up useful only for sweeping—you wouldn’t want to leave it there and just play. However, as long as you stay within an octave, the sound quality holds up.
There are two catches, though. The reason why the Bomber works so well with guitar is because it’s optimized specifically for guitar—although bass worked reasonably well if I played high on the neck, anything else I tried through the Bomber, particularly if it had high-frequency content, sounded as bad as the guitar sounded good.
The other caution is that the Bomber needs to precede any effects. Bomber through distortion sounded fabulous; distortion through Bomber didn’t.
In the studio, matters get even more interesting—this box isn’t just about playing live. I split my guitar into two DAW channels, one with an external insert feeding the Bomber followed by AmpliTube 3, and the other channel going through only AmpliTube 3, set for the same program. The two paralleled tracks sounded almost identical—except, of course, the one with the external insert could do all the pedal dive-bombing tricks. Playing the two against the other allowed seriously novel effects—I could do things like play guitar, then magically slide chords down an octave against the straight track.
If you don’t play guitar or bass, forget about Bomber. But if you do, you’ll get quality, polyphonic pitch-shifting that’s happy to feed effects racks, be paralleled with other effects, and turn your pitch into a rubber band.
Morpheus Bomber $269 MSRP
STRENGTHS: Delivers excellent fidelity with guitar and bass. Obvious UI. Sturdy, all-metal construction. “Dive Bomb” setting drops pitch 5 octaves.
LIMITATIONS: Needs to be the first eff ect following the guitar. Not optimized for other instruments.
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