THESE DAYS YOU MIGHT SEE ANYONE from shredder Steve Vai to septuagenarian jazz guitarist Jim Hall manipulating a DigiTech Whammy pedal. From dramatic octave sweeps to steel-drum sounds, the Whammy offers a wide range of coloration right out of the box. But the Molten Voltage folks weren’t content to stop there, and have harvested the pedal’s pitch shifting and the latest version’s MIDI functions to create a menu of new sonic flavors.
The Molten MIDI 2 pedal ($109 list) is a small, sturdy metal box that uses MIDI to, among other things, turn the Whammy into a step sequencer, enabling it to continuously loop through up to 16 pitches. You can have the pitches jump from one to the next, or slide into each other in a style that synth players know as “portamento.” Two switches and one knob also allow you to step through pitches manually, choose original Whammy presets without having to bend over and turn knobs, and alter the programmed tempo of a sequenced loop by tapping in a new one.
Basic operation of the Molten MIDI 2 is relatively simple. I plugged the unit into the optional 9-volt DC power supply ($16 from Molten Voltage, though any 2.1mm, tip positive version will do), connected it to a Whammy with a standard MIDI cable, pressed the Start/Step/ Stop switch, and wow! Any note played on the guitar launched a cool sequence of additional notes.
However, I soon noticed the names of the settings on the pedal no longer referenced what I was hearing. As I scrolled through the different programs with Molten MIDI’s knob or Tap/Program switch, though the LED on the Whammy might be blinking next to the 5th/7th setting, what I heard when I pressed the Start switch was whatever sequence had been factory programmed into that slot by Molten Voltage. Once the sequence started, the LED on the Whammy shifted to whatever the base Whammy setting for that sequence might be, then stopped blinking. If I now stopped the sequence, I could use the DigiTech’s treadle as a normal Whammy pedal for that setting.
Okay, this doesn’t sound so simple, and once you get into manually programming your own sequences and effects, it gets even more complicated (as of this publishing, the manual and video have been revised to better guide you through the process). Fortunately, Molten Voltage offers a free software program that makes setting up your own sounds much easier. I simply connected the MIDI 2 pedal to my computer, and the downloadable software laid it all out on a single page, making it easy for me to program four-, eight-, and 16-note sequences or anything in between. Plugging the MIDI 2 back into the Whammy pedal instantly transferred my new sequences to their assigned slots. I found entering random intervals to be a great way to stimulate new musical ideas.
If you don’t use a Whammy pedal, you can still employ the MIDI 2 as a tap-tempo master clock. Say you lead a band that uses MIDI backing tracks—imagine being able to instantly change the tempo to suit yourself or the crowd, or modify it to match a time-challenged drummer or singer.
If you are a basic guitar-into-the-amp guy, or are content with the many sounds already available in the Whammy, the Molten MIDI 2 is probably not for you. But if you own a Whammy and want to extend its possibilities for minimal cash outlay, this device definitely deserves a try.
MOLTEN VOLTAGE MOLTEN MIDI 2
KUDOS Enormously expands the sonic potential of the DigiTech Whammy pedal. Provides non-Whammy users with a tap-tempo MIDI clock.
CONCERNS Manual programming is complicated.
CONTACT Molten Voltage, moltenvoltage.com