The Whammy Bar as a Digital Effect Controller

Kristoffersen, Martin M and Engum, Trond

Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression

In this paper we present a novel digital effects controller for electric guitar based upon the whammy bar as a user interface. The goal with the project is to give guitarists a way to interact with dynamic effects control that feels familiar to their instrument and playing style. A 3D-printed prototype has been made. It replaces the whammy bar of a traditional Fender vibrato system with a sensor-equipped whammy bar. The functionality of the present prototype includes separate readings of force applied towards and from the guitar body, as well as an end knob for variable control. Further functionality includes a hinged system allowing for digital effect control either with or without the mechanical manipulation of string tension. By incorporating digital sensors to the idiomatic whammy bar interface, one would potentially bring guitarists a high level of control intimacy with the device, and thus lead to a closer interaction with effects.