Distortion Pedals For Guitar

Pitch Shifter Pedal Types? EVERYTHING You Need To Know!

Are you looking for some extra low-fatness for your riffs, or perhaps, some melodic harmonised patterns to please your creativity? It is important to understand the Pitcher pedal types, and they have help beff up your sound and provide alternative inspiration to your sound! 

Pitch pedal types? There are two kinds of pitch-shifters: monophonic or polyphonic. Monophonic pitch shifters process one layer of pitch whilst polyphonic pitch shifter process multipul layers of pitch. This means monophonic pitch shifter process single notes better whilst polyphonic process chords much better. 

In this article, we will go over the pitch shifter pedal types in more detail… Let’s get started!

1. What is a Pitch Shifter Pedal?

A Pitch shift pedal is a typical effect that is used for the guitar. The effect is a sound processing technique in which a sound’s original pitch is raised or lowered

A pitch shift pedal expands the range of your instrument, allowing you to reach notes outside the range of the fretboard.

2. Types of Pitch Shifter Pedals

There are two kinds of pitch-shifters: monophonic or polyphonic.

  • Monophonic Pedal – The monophonic pedal can only operate on one note simultaneously and is potentially overloaded if additional frequency information is entered into the input signal. This means it can only manipulate one note at any given time.
  • Polyphonic Pedal – The polyphonic pedal can distinguish between notes in a given signal (between the fundamental frequencies of specific notes and harmonies in other notes) and acting on each note one by one, allowing chords to be produced from a single note. Polyphonic pedals have the ability to produce a combination of a pitch conversion signal and a direct signal, allowing them to blend. Several other pedals will make several copies of the input signal and pitch those copies differently. It can make a 6 string guitar sound like a 12 string guitar.

3. How do Pitch Shifters Work?

A pitch shifter intelligently works out the intervals of the given note you are playing and then adjusts your pitch within a key by tones or semi within the detected scale you are playing. So you can never unintentionally play the wrong notes.

Pitch shift pedals operate by detecting the input signal’s pitch, processing it according to the command, and outputting it with a different tone (higher or lower). It does so by manipulating the electrical signal. 

It manipulating each note that is being played by either speeding it up or slowing it down.

For example, if the pitch increases in pitch then the note will have sped up and if the note decreases in the pitch then the note will have been slowed down. 

4. Detuning as Pitch Shifting?

Detuning is a form of pitch shifting where the pitch is altered by using a measure called cents (rather than intervals).

A single interval (e.g. a semitone and more) is about 100 cents.

A detuning effect would add a high and/or a low pitch-shifted note a number of cents away from the main note.

4. Why Are Pitch Shifters Used?

The pitch shifting effect is very productive as it can offer a thicker and smoother overall sound to your guitar. This is because the pitch shifter duplicates notes whereby the lower pitch note will increase the range of frequencies.

It works almost like an octave, but instead of doubling octave notes like an octave, it duplicates notes on whatever note you want. The pitch shifter helps you create harmonies of notes above and or below your original guitar pitch.

To transform it into a different key. E.g., if you can set a pitch to increase by a fourth, each note will be raised above the played notes by three diatonic intervals. 

5. How To Use Pitch Shifter Effect 

To be able to successfully use your pitch shifter you need to firstly understand the settings.

  • Blend: Normally, the first application you can find on the pitch-shifting pedal is the blending control. With this feature, you can combine the pitched volume with your dry signal by pairing your original notes with a harmonic counterpart for better outcomes.
  • Octave: While many intervals such as 3, 4, and 5 are assisted on pitch shift pedals, the octave is the most widely used interval. With the addition of an octave up or down signal, you can intensify the solo by giving the notes extra boost and intensity in the mix.
  • Harmonize: For some guitarists, pitch harmonizing is a brilliant choice for creating rich melodies. Mixing effects have long added flavor to riffs and make a mediocre tune unique. Harmony is most commonly used in singing, so to start with mixing, imagine your guitar as a single voice in a duet or a choir. You must still remember the top solo performance of “Hotel California.” With just a pair of simple solo pieces using harmony, it has become an iconic masterpiece over the decades. With this effect, guitarists quickly achieve this kind of duet effect with just one guitar.
  • Bend: This pedal type can also produce the same effect as the Whammy Bar on guitar. Almost all pitch-bending pedals would have some versatility from the previous three. The pitch pedal takes time to the equation and can progressively change a note’s pitch from one pitch to another. It can be achieved with an envelope like the Boss PS-6 or an expression pedal like the DigiTech Whammy 5.

6. Where should you locate your pitch shift pedal in the signal chain?

When shifting pitch, only affect the conductive signal, not all of the additional effects added after it in the signal chain. To do this, learn how to position the effects accordingly.

A pitch shifter has a specific place in the sequence. It should be placed on the guitar pedal to produce the sound naturally. The general order is:

  • Dynamics, Filters, & Pitch Shifters
  • Boost & Distortion
  • Modulation
  • Time

Pitch-shifting is seen in the above order as its kind of influence, making it easy to understand where it should be placed. Simply put, you’ll need to clean up and shape your waveform before filtering it. You apply all the distortion, modulation, reverb, and delay to the background until you have the background. If you don’t follow this order, you’re more likely to trigger those effects to shift pitch. Remember that you want them to process a modified signal, not vice versa.

7. Types of Pitch Shifter Pedals

If there are so many options on the market that overwhelm you, it’s recommended that you narrow down your purchasing requirements with two main features below.

First, does this pedal combine multiple pitches? Initially, this feature can only be found in the harmonizer and octave pedals. The earliest first pitch-shifting pedals can only directly translate the original sound and then output the transformed signal. Newer products may give a combination of the original notes and the newly moved notes. Older forms, also, may not lock you into harmony.

The second function is to process chords and generate down-tunings. The modern polyphonic pedal style’s evolution can detect individual strings and let you play in various tunes without detuning the guitar. It saves you a lot of time, as you can trust your device. In some models, the ‘detune’ mode can reproduce your signal at a slightly lower pitch to make your tones thicker.

Here are some reviews of some of the pitch-shifting pedals that we have compiled for you to refer to.

Boss PS-6 Harmonist

The Boss PS-6 Harmonist is the first candidate. At first glance, the four revolving controls can be confusing. Like most stompboxes, it provides simple controls and is easy to use with easy understanding of keys and effects. The PS-6 has an expression pedal input to enable pitch bends, which works in tandem with the Super Bend pedal setting. The PS-6 is also capable of harmony mixing, regular pitch shifting, chorus, and stereo output. Although some of the harmonic intervals on the PS-6 are affected by digital pitch shifting artifacts, the rest tracks easily without producing lag or artificial sound.

Electro-Harmonix Pitch Fork

Next is the Electro-Harmonix Pitch Fork, a product with a simple design but powerful sound effects. It focuses solely on pitch shifting, has a fair price, and does not skimp on features. This pedal is polyphonic, which means it can handle rhythm guitar chords and lead guitar or bass melodies. The pedal offers several intervals for you to choose from. The modes that Electro-Harmonix Pitch Fork support are vibrant when allowing users to select the pedal to increase or decrease the setting time, or simultaneously up and down. It can lead to some unique effects. It also has the expression input, which helps us link the expression pedal to the pitchfork and control the bends.

Whammy’s fifth-generation

Whammy’s fifth-generation contains all intrinsic initial Whammy effects, such as harmonizing, detuning, and adding effects to the 4th, 5th, and Dive Bombs. Although previous Whammy pedals, except for the Whammy DT, are monopoly pitch shifts, this new generation is polyphonic, allowing you to bend the pitch and harmonize the chords. If you want the original vibrato effects, the pedal also includes a Classic/Chord switch to change the mono or polyphonic mode. With some power and input upgrades, the new Whammy seems to be more user-friendly. The only feature missing is the dry signal output feature, much like the previous models.

7. Examples Where Pitch Shifter Has Been Used?

The pitch-shifting technique has been used a lot and for a long time now. Cartoons such as “Alvin and the Chipmunks” or “Tweety and Daffy Duck” used pitch shifters to produce recognizable character voices. Trey Parker and Matt Stone used pitch shifting for most characters in the “South Park” show.

In music, The Beatles producedseveral musical masterpieces from 1966 to 1967, which were made by recording instruments that were half-step high and voice low. Examples include “Rain,” “I’m Only Sleeping”, and “When I’m Sixty-Four.”

The Beatles – Rain

Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine is known for his creative use of pitch shift effects. On the intro part of “Know Your Enemy”, he moves the pitch to seven notes and blends it with his dry cues, creating an abstract, almost robotic, and easily recallable tune. He also applied the same effect to his solo performance.

Rage Against The Machine – Know Your Enemy

Snarky Puppy‘s melodic instrumental piece – “The Clearing”. Jump to 8:08 to listen to guitarist Mark Lettieri’s solo with a layered octave effect.

Snarky Puppy, Metropole Orkest – The Clearing

Have you been surprised that Dimebag Darrell made two-octave bends in his majestic solos? It’s not a miracle. He used the DigiTech Whammy pedal.

Pantera – Good Friends And a Bottle Of Pills

Listen to another song “Becoming” on the album Far Beyond Driven. Goregrind and often death metal also use vocals typically pitch-shifted to produce a strikingly low and harsh sound. DigiTech Whammy is probably the most famous pitch pedal and can be found in the works of Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead, Joe Satriani, Tom Morello, or Jack White.

Pantera – Becoming

My Iron Lung – Radiohead

Burial, a British electronic musician, is known for integrating pitch-changing vocal tunes into his albums.

Burial – Untrue

In the famous bass intro of The White Stripes song “Seven Nation Army”, guitarist Jack White played the electric guitar through the lower octave pitch shift pedal. The band has no bass players and has never used a bass player on any of their songs before. They imitate the sound of a bass guitar instead.

The White Stripes – ‘Seven Nation Army’

Conclusion

Hopefully, after this article, you have a quick overview of the pitch shift pedal: what pitch shift is, how the pitch shift pedal works, and some hands-on examples of how guitarists use it in their music. It is an impressive effect to satisfy your passion for music creation. We hope you will soon find a suitable pitch shift pedal and enjoy it!

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