It’s really cool that Eventide in its PitchFactor workstation pedal - has a big box equivalent to the usual modulation, delay and reverb types. Yet Eventide is alone in compiling / combining such a full range of pitch-shifting and harmonizing effects into one pedal - there really is no other equivalent to that collection of 10 modes - Diatonic | Quadravox | Harmonic Modulator | MicroPitch | H910 / H949 Harmonizer | PitchFlex | Octaver | Crystals | HarPeggiator | Synhonizer. Everyone else has made do with a much smaller subset of those effects, and indeed most split apart octavers and harmonizers - even though there is overlap.
There are indeed a number of different pitch-shifting solutions at different degrees of complexity. Probably the most interesting of the newcomers is the fairly recent EQD Data Corrupter which combines pitch-shifting with oscillation and arpeggiation. No pitch-shifting listing would be complete either without the amazing but sizeable DigiTech Whammy in its most advanced DT configuration - which puts a very necessary expression pedal at the core of the device.
You then have the intriguing ongoing battle between Boss and TC Electronic - which I have touched on several times before. Boss has had it PS-6 Harmonist (Harmonizer) pedal out for a while, and it’s an excellent pedal at what it does, but TC Electronic’s brand new Quintessence takes that format and seriously one-ups it with a broader feature set, plus TonePrint, and plus Mash Footswitch - giving you a lot of the effects that are only available in the PitchFactor otherwise - and sort of blowing the Boss out of the water in most areas!
There are other quirky choices available - like the Dwarfcraft Pitchgrinder, but then you 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 also covered in the Octaver 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 broad scope of the Eventide PitchFactor, but you can get the H9 Harmonizer to cover off all those effects too - and that pedal is still on my wishlist. Harmonizing is not necessarily an effect I use too much - but of the pedals featured I am really interigued by EQD’s Data Corrupter and the new TCE Quintessence - which may both grace my pedal chain at some stage in the future - but more as temporary tools and textures to be swapped in when required, rather than fixed permanent parts of the chain.
Pedals are listed alphabetically by brand:
I already covered this pedal in my article about Double-Tracking where its 'Detune' function can give you a pretty decent thickening / doubling effect. Otherwise this is of course pretty much the industry standard Harmonizer pedal. I find it 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 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 prefer to spend my money.
If you're a Tom Morello fan then you should know the uses of this pedal quite well as he really knows how to show it off. In fact I ended up buying 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 clever on-the-fly pitch-shifting and modulation. The Ricochet is still cool, but it does not do quite as much as its much bigger brother. If you want a flavour of the Whammy but at a more compact form factor, I have no hesitation in recommending the £125 Whammy Ricochet - the purists can get the original large enclosure DT version.
This is a Pitch-Shifter Sequencer with 8 tunable steps - which works not dissimilarly to the Zvex Ringtone - although that does it with ring modulation. Apart from the 8 dials to set the pitch for each step, you have a Glide toggle and further dials to adjust step length and overall output Volume; there is also a second footswitch for tap-tempo. This is a really cool pedal for creating arpeggiated tonal sequences.
This cool new pedal is fairly unique in what it does - being a monophonic analogue harmonizing phase locked loop oscillator! There really is no way to explain it adequately beyond directing your attention to the above excellent demonstration. This device mixes up pitch-bending with oscillation and various levels of modulation to create the coolest of frequency patterns and textures. I cannot think of another pedal which does exactly this sort of thing - sure it's a specialist effect and possibly an acquired taste, quite a different form of harmonizing yet still within that overall category. It is a classic example of just the kind of pedal that EQD do so well - I've had several EQD pedals on my wishlist but not got around to acquiring any of those yet, this may just be my first essential EQD purchase!
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. Not much more to it than that really - you just set the up and down pitch intervals and levels and add overdrive gain to suit.
Due to the Pitch Fork's versatility and inclusion of whole octave intervals I also included this pedal in my piece about Octave pedals. It has a single interval dial, but then a really clever toggle to swith between Up | Dual | Down. You can also enable latched or momentary action. Notably this is also polyphonic versus the new TCE Quintessence which is monophonic. It really depends on how you intend to use it as to which one is best for you. There is no doubting the utility of the Pitch Fork, and it appears on a number of pro pedalboards. It's just an all-round useful pedal to own.
This is the 'Daddy' of all Pitch-Shifter and Harmonizer pedal with its 10 different modes onboard - Diatonic | Quadravox | Harmonic Modulator | MicroPitch | H910 / H949 Harmonizer | PitchFlex | Octaver | Crystals | HarPeggiator | Synthonizer. Neither Strymon, Boss or any 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 within its larger footprint size - though it's still significantly more compact than the Whammy DT above. Note that you can also get all those features within the Eventide H9 pedal - depending which 'package' you buy into. I think this is a really cool pedal, but possibly a little overkill for most.
Form the Whammy DT and PitchFactor at one extrem we have the diminutive Pitch Box at the other - to all intents a mini clone of the Boss PS-6 - this has those 3 key modes - Harmony | PitchShift | Detune and a pitch adjustment dial covering 2 ocatives or +/- 1,2,3,5,7,9,12,24.
So TCE have essentially taken the main parts of Boss's Harmonist / Harmonizer and smartened it up somewhat with the latest innovative technology that TCE to so well. There are 4 dials - Key | Scale | Mix | Harmony and 2 toggles - Regular / Sharp and Latch / Momentary - the first for 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 pith-shifting effects. While this is not really the equivalent of the Boss, as each has its own specialisms, it nonetheless takes the core of that pedal and adds some serious bells and whistles. I had 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 might use a pitch-shifter or harmonizer or whether you actually need it or would use it - but these are all really handy pedals to add unique dimension and texture to your tone. The cleverer pedals here also do some really unique effects that can make your playing sound far more interesting and more adept than your playing necessarily is. A number of artists have used these sorts of pedals in the past to produce some really stand-out signature sounds - you can make yourself sound like Mike Oldfield or the Allman Brothers with relative ease.
For my own needs I really like the Data Corrupter and Quintessence here - they are both added flavours for me, and not necessarily essentials. If there is one essential pedal within this list it's probably the EHX Pitch Fork which kind of covers off reasonably enough - Octave, Pitch-Shifting and Harmonizing. Of course if space and money are no object and you are really into this sort of stuff then there is really no proper alternative available to the Eventide PitchFactor or H9. The Eventide H9 Max Stompbox is still on my wishlist - but it's a rather pricey £655 and I have other priorities to get to first!