The Ultimate Guide To FX: Pitch
PITCH effects are often seen as being a bit confusing, and the units of yore weren’t always the most authentic.
What used to make your guitar sound like it had been fiddled with by chipmunks has evolved into a useful group of effects incorporating pitch shifting, harmonisers, octavers and DigiTech’s pitch-bending classic, the Whammy pedal. But what are the differences?
A pitch shifter transposes the pitch of your guitar either up or down, while a harmoniser blends your original signal with a pitch-shifted interval to create dual guitar lines.
An octave pedal is basically a harmoniser that’s fixed to produce notes an octave or two octaves below your original, and DigiTech’s Whammy uses a wah-style rocker pedal to bend your note within a given range.
However, it’s not quite as black and white as that, because many of today’s pitch-based pedals, such as the DigiTech Whammy (5th Gen), offer a combination of all of these effects.
Until a few years ago, pitch-shifting more than one note at a time (polyphonic) didn’t really work, but the latest breed of pitch-altering effects enable you to shift all six strings at once for electronic drop/capo tunings.
Regardless of which pedal you own, most pitch pedals operate in a similar way.
For harmony effects, you select the key you’re playing in, set the interval you want the pedal to create, and blend the signals together.
For pitch-shifting effects, you simply choose the interval (usually in semitones), and for whammy effects, you set the maximum bend range you’d like the pedal to achieve, then use the pedal to bend your notes up or down.