Pitch Pilot puts a whammy bar on individual guitar strings
Vibrato systems like those from Floyd Rose and Bigsby are designed to temporarily change the tension of guitar strings, usually at the bridge, to create subtle pitch variations or monster dives and sweeps. The Pitch Pilot is an interesting twist on this age-old mechanism, which gives players pitch control of individual strings instead of having to divebomb all of them simultaneously.
Instead of routing a string through a hardtail and over the bridge of a guitar, Pitch Pilot users would need to feed it through a mini metal bender fixed to the front of the tailpiece. This can be done for just one string (for a B-Bender effect), or one for each of them – potentially giving a 6-string slinger the ability to individually control the vibrato on every string of the host instrument.
It's the brainchild of guitarist Tim Clarke, and has been 6 years in the making. Once installed, players are able to bend individual strings up by seven semi-tones or down by three. It can be moved out of the way for palm muting and can also be used in conjunction with an existing whammy bar.
The Pitch Pilot is currently designed to be fitted to Gibson Les Paul guitars, doesn't require any permanent modification and has the potential to open up whole new ways of playing or, at the very least, lead to interesting effects. Guitar World's tech editor Paul Riario tried a prototype last year, installing one on the B string and another on the bottom E, and was able to alter the pitch of those strings while the surrounding strings remained in standard tuning.
The Les Paul version is already on sale, but Clarke wants to get a Pitch Pilot that's compatible with a Fender Telecaster and Stratocaster into the hands of players. To this end, he's launched on Kickstarter, where pledges start at CAD 75 (US$60) per unit. If all goes to plan, shipping is estimated to start in June. The, erm, pitch video below has more on the device.