Drop-tuning guitars is a practice that has been around a long time and its popularity continues to grow. Whether it's the ability to play certain licks in certain keys or just the sound of the guitar chugging away in a lower register, drop tuning has a unique sound and sonic texture. Normally, drop tuning would require that you play your whole repertoire in that tuning or take the time to retune your guitar to each different tuning. In a live setting, that's a time-killer so the other alternative is to have multiple guitars, each in their own tuning. Let's not even mention what a pain hauling-around, setting-up, tuning, etc., even a couple of guitars in different tunings would be. The fix for this complex dilemma is the Digitech Drop.
Drop is a polyphonic pitch-shift pedal that is designed specifically for guitarists to virtually drop the tuning of a standard-tuned instrument. Based on the drop tune effect from Digitech's Whammy DT pedal, Drop walks the entire guitar's tuning down seven half-step increments. There are also settings for octave-down and octave-down plus original, dry signal. Since the effect is polyphonic, it reads all six strings simultaneously. Now you can take one guitar to rehearsal or the gig and cover any drop tuning down to low A by engaging a pedal.
To be clear, Drop does not physically re-tune your guitar nor will it tune-up an out-of-tune instrument. It's a 24-bit, digital pitch shifter that drops the audible pitch of the notes you input, dependent on Drop's setting. Since it reads all six strings simultaneously as one input, it drops the pitch of all six strings evenly, again dependent upon the setting.
Testing Drop, I utilized two different rigs to see how it performed in different settings. First, I plugged Drop into the guitar input of Avid's Eleven Rack and then I auditioned Drop plugged into a Boss DS-1X distortion pedal, then to the front-end of a Mesa/Boogie TA-15 and a 1x12 cabinet. I called up a favorite Eleven Rack preset called "Stock Single Coil" and plugged my Strat into Drop. I put the rotary selector on the number 1 setting and when I engaged Drop, I heard my guitar sound, one half-step lower. In my mind, I was preparing myself for the sound or feel to be drastically different but it wasn't; just me and my same riffs in a lower key. So I kept dialing the pitch setting on Drop downward and got the same results. With physical drop-tunings, the strings get flabbier as the tuning gets lower but the strings on my guitar were the same tension in each virtual tuning so the taut tone and tuning stability stayed consistent.
Switching to my "Classic Rock" setting on the Eleven Rack, which is pretty much a cranked Marshall sound, Drop performed exactly the same, it just sounded more wicked because I like that preset! I then changed the function of the true-bypass switch from latching to momentary, which means that I had to keep the switch held down in order to keep the effect engaged. This was particularly fun on the octave-down and octave-down-plus-dry-signal settings, as I could easily switch the effect in to punctuate short phrases or even single notes. Through the DS-1X and TA-15 rig, Drop was as accurate as ever. The owner's manual recommends putting Drop first in the chain of pedals for the most accurate tracking. Drop also comes with its own power supply that it should always be used with.
I did notice that one slightly out-of-tune string ringing against the rest was greatly exaggerated when Drop was engaged, especially in the lowest settings, causing a slight, but noticeable warble — you'll definitely want to have your guitar tuned up when using Drop. In the lowest settings, there is a tiny bit of latency that can be felt but not really heard. Complex five- and six-note chords had a note that would be missing for a nanosecond and then be audible in the lowest settings as well but these are all minor caveats. Overall, Drop performed better than I even expected and the functionality and size make it a welcome addition to any guitarist's pedalboard that uses multiple drop-tunings.
Say "goodbye" to multiple guitars in different tunings and all the associated headaches and say "hello" to Drop, the simple solution.