It’s really cool that Eventide in its PitchFactor workstation pedal – has a big box equivalent to the regular modulation, delay and reverb types. Nevertheless Eventide is alone in compiling / combining such a full assortment of pitch-shifting and harmonizing effects into one pedal – there really is no other equivalent to that selection of 10 manners – Diatonic | Quadravox | Harmonic Modulator | MicroPitch | H910 / H949 Harmonizer | PitchFlex | October | Crystals | HarPeggiator | Synhonizer. Everyone else has made do with a much smaller subset of these effects, and indeed most split apart octavers and harmonizers – even though there’s overlap.
There are indeed quite a few different pitch-shifting solutions at different levels of complexity. Possibly the most interesting of the novices is the fairly recent EQD Data Corrupter which combines pitch-shifting with oscillation and arpeggiation. No pitch-shifting listing would be complete without the amazing but sizeable DigiTech Whammy in its most sophisticated DT configuration – that sets a very necessary expression pedal at the core of the device.
Then you have the intriguing ongoing battle between Boss and TC Electronic – that I have touched on several occasions before. Boss has had it PS-6 Harmonist (Harmonizer) pedal out for a while, and it’s an fantastic pedal at what it does, but TC Electronic’s new Quintessence requires that format and seriously one-ups it using a broader feature set, also TonePrint, and plus Mash Footswitch – giving you lots of the effects that can only be purchased in the PitchFactor otherwise – and sort of blowing the Boss from the water in many areas!
There are other quirky options available – like the Dwarfcraft Pitchgrinder, but you then have the simplest solution in the Mooer Pitch Box, and the more vanilla offerings from EQD’s Pitch Bay and EHX’s Pitch Fork – which I covered in the October overview as it has dedicated octave settings too. While the TC Electronic Quintessence offers quite different functionality really to its Sub’N’ Up – even though there are similarities.
I have always liked the extensive scope of the Eventide PitchFactor, but you can find the H9 Harmonizer to cover off all those effects too – and that pedal is still on my wishlist. Harmonizing isn’t necessarily an effect I use too much – but of the pedals featured I am really intrigued by EQD’s Data Corrupter and the new TCE Quintessence – which may both grace my pedal chain at a certain point in the future – but more as temporary tools and textures to be swapped in when required, rather than fixed permanent areas of the chain.
Pedals are listed alphabetically by manufacturer:
Boss PS-6 Harmonist – #135
I already covered this pedal in my article about Double-Tracking where its’Detune’ function can provide you a fairly decent thickening / doubling effect. Otherwise this is obviously pretty much the industry standard Harmonizer pedal. I believe it is interesting to compare Boss’s approach with that of TC Electronic – the latter of which has just launched its own version in effect of this pedal – not exactly the exact same thing, but with lots of extra bells and whistles nonetheless and with the TonePrint function – able to replicate everything the Boss does and a lot lot more for just #10 more. I know where I would rather spend my money.
DigiTech Whammy DT – #193
If you are a Tom Morello fan then you need to be aware of the uses of the pedal quite nicely as he really knows how to show it off. The truth is I ended up purchasing the much more compact DigiTech Whammy Ricochet for much the same reasons. The DT variant of the Whammy though is the full featured version with integrated expression pedal – for really intelligent on-the-fly pitch-shifting and modulation. The Ricochet is still cool, but it doesn’t do quite as much as its much bigger brother. If you want a flavour of the Whammy but in a more compact form factor, I have no hesitation in recommending the #125 Whammy Ricochet – the purists can get the first large enclosure DT version.
Dwarfcraft Pitchgrinder – #259
This is a Pitch-Shifter Sequencer with 8 tunable measures – that works not dissimilarly into the Zvex Ringtone – but that does it with ring modulation. Aside from the 8 dials to set the pitch for each measure, you have a Glide toggle and additional dials to adjust step length and general output Volume; there is also another footswitch for tap-tempo. This is a really cool pedal for creating arpeggiated tonal sequences.
EarthQuaker Device Data Corrupter – #225
This cool new pedal is fairly unique in what it does – being a monophonic analogue harmonizing phase locked loop oscillator! There is actually no way to describe it satisfactorily beyond directing your attention to the aforementioned excellent demonstration. This system combines up pitch-bending with oscillation and various levels of modulation to make the coolest of frequency patterns and textures. I can’t think of another pedal that does exactly this type of thing – sure it’s a specialist effect and an acquired taste, quite a different form of harmonizing yet still within that general category. It is a classic example of just the kind of pedal that EQD do so well – I have had several EQD pedals on my wishlist but not got around to getting any of those yet, this may just be my very first essential EQD purchase!
EarthQuaker Devices Pitch Bay – #189
The Pitch Pay is a really neat 3-part polyphonic harmonizer with overdrive. You have 6 control dials – Pitch Up | Pitch Down | Gain | Up Level | Down Level | Root (Dry) Level. Much more to it than this – you just set the up and down pitch periods and amounts and add overdrive gain to match.
Electro-Harmonix Pitch Fork – #149
Because of the Pitch Fork’s flexibility and addition of entire octave intervals I also included this pedal in my bit about Octave pedals. It’s a single interval dial, but then a very clever toggle to swith between Up | Double | Down. You can also enable latched or momentary action. Notably this is also polyphonic versus the new TCE Quintessence that’s monophonic. It really depends upon how you intend to use it as to which one is best for you. There’s no denying the usefulness of the Pitch Fork, and it appears on a range of pro pedalboards. It’s just an all-round useful pedal to have.
Eventide PitchFactor – #438
Here is the’Daddy’ of Pitch-Shifter and Harmonizer pedal with its 10 different modes onboard – Diatonic | Quadravox | Harmonic Modulator | MicroPitch | H910 / H949 Harmonizer | PitchFlex | October | Crystals | HarPeggiator | Synthonizer. Neither Strymon, Boss or some of the others offering large pedal workstations have made an equivalent to this – if you want an all-in one multi-mode Pitch-Shifting Workstation pedal – this is really the only one on offer – it can do all manner of things in its larger footprint size – though it’s still considerably more compact than the Whammy DT above. Note that you can also get all those features within the Eventide H9 pedal – depending on which’package’ you buy into. I believe this is a really cool pedal, but possibly a little overkill for many.
Mooer Pitch Box – #50
Form the Whammy DT and PitchFactor at one extrem we have the diminutive Pitch Box at the other – to all intents a miniature clone of the Boss PS-6 – that has those 3 important modes – Harmony | PitchShift | Detune and a pitch adjustment dial covering two octaves or +/- 1,2,3,5,7,9,12,24.
TC Electronic Quintessence – #145
So TCE have basically taken the primary pieces of Boss’s Harmonist / Harmonizer and smartened it up somewhat with the most recent innovative technology that TCE to so well. There are 4 dials – Crucial | Scale | Mix | Harmony and two toggles – Regular / Sharp and Latch / Momentary – the first for the type of scale and the latter for footswitch action. You also have the brand new Mash footswitch type and 3 TonePrint slots for some truly amazing pitch-shifting effects. While this isn’t actually the equal of the Boss, as each has its own specialisms, it takes the core of that pedal and adds some critical bells and whistles. I’d had my eye on the Boss PS-6 before but would rather have the slightly cleverer Quintessence.
You may not have given too much though to how you may use a pitch-shifter or harmonizer or if you actually need it or might use it – but these are all really handy pedals to add a unique dimension and texture to your tone. The cleverer pedals here also do some very unique effects that can make your playing sound far more interesting and more adept than your playing necessarily is. Numerous artists have used these sorts of pedals in the past to create some really stand-out signature sounds – you can make yourself seem like Mike Oldfield or the Allman Brothers with relative ease.
For my needs I really enjoy the Data Corrupter and Quintessence here – they are both added flavours for me, and not always essentials. If there is one essential pedal within this list it is likely the EHX Pitch Fork that sort of covers off reasonably enough – Octave, Pitch-Shifting and Harmonizing. Obviously if space and money are no object and you are really into this type of stuff then there’s actually no proper option available to the Eventide PitchFactor or H9. The Eventide H9 Max Stompbox remains on my wishlist – but it is a rather pricey #655 and I have other priorities for to first!