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Preferred Pitch-Shifter, Octaver and Harmonizer Pedal Selection

BossCooper FXCoppersoundDigiTechDown-TunerElectro-HarmonixFree The ToneHarmonizerMeris EffectsMu-TronOctaverPitchPitch-ShiftingTC Electronic+-
2021GPXOctaverPitchHarmonizer700V2.jpg

Sparked by a few recent acquisitions, this seems the perfect time to round up the best of Pitch-Shifter, Octaver and Harmonizer Pedals. I most recently secured a Boss PS-6, EHX Pitch Fork, and CopperSound Triplegraph.

 

The Triplegraph was acquired from Martel Music - I’m just waiting for CopperSound to hand-deliver stock there next week, which means I should get mine early April.

 

There’s two fairly recent arrivals here I have yet to snap up - the Pitch Fork+ and Free the Tone Motion Loop - which I will look to acquire rather opportunistically at some level of discount compared to current prices. I’ve noted before that a number of my wishlist targets are dependent on reaching my ideal buy-in price - which varies from time to time - depending on priority.

 

Other than the two mentioned, I have all of these which can be generally categorised as follows, while there are overlaps - so best-fit assignment therefore :

  • Octaver - Boss OC-5, CopperSound Triplegraph, Mu-Tron Octavider, TC Electronic Sub N’ Up
  • Pitch-Shifter - Cooper FX Arcades, DigiTech The Drop, DigiTech Whammy Ricochet, EHX Pitch Fork, EHX Pitch Fork+, Free The Tone Motion Loop, TC Electronic Brainwaves
  • Harmonizer - Boss PS-6, Meris Hedra, TC Electronic Quintessence

I feel that once I secure the Pitch Fork+ and Motion Loop, then I will have about as strong a selection of Pitch-based pedals as is available anywhere.

 

Once the Tripleragh arrives I will need to adjust the rig somewhat to accommodate it, and the Hedra and PS-6 will come into play again on the incumbent #2 OC-5 slot.

 

I would Love to hear from you if you believe I have overlooked a particular specimen that should feature here too.

 

Pedals are listed as usual in alphabetical order by brand :


Boss OC-5 Octave Octaver - £119

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Controls - Direct Level (Dry/Root)l, +1 OCT Level, -1 OCT Level, -2 OCT Level/Range.

 

This has been my mainstay Octaver of choice since its fairly recent arrival in September of last year. In my then overview I indicated that it was the best mix of the older OC-2 and OC-3 pedals. I prefer it in Vintage Monophonic OC-2 Mode with input selector strangely set to bass. While I have several uses too for the Polyphonic Mode. This is a truly excellent octaver giving you a full 4 octaves essentially with - Root/Dry, +1, -1 and -2 octaves. It also does that Range limiting thing in Poly mode where you can set only the lowest note/notes / string to have the octave effect - while the higher notes and strings play through without effect. I feel this is currently the best straight up octaver pedal - and particularly at the compact enclosure size.


Boss PS-6 Harmonist Harmonizer - £149

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Controls - Rise Time/Balance, Shift/3 Voice Harmony, Fall Time/Key, Mode x 4.

 

Modes - minor / Major / Pitch Shifter / Detune [S-Bend].

 

I have essentially 3 different Harmonizers - with varying degrees of complexity and ease of use. This is the last of the three to be added, but also the most likely to be deployed - because of its inherent ease of use. The TC Electronic Quintessence has a slightly broader feature set, but I found it somewhat complex and fiddly to deploy. While the Meris Hedra is hugely capable but also somewhat more complex to deploy with all its different modes and secondary parameters. In fact the Hedra is more likely to be used as a pitch-shifting delay, meaning that the PS-6 is really my go-to solution for pure Harmonizing.


Cooper FX Arcades Pitch Card - $299/£299

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Controls - Pitch, First Interval, Second Interval, Volume/Portamento/Freeze, Dry Level, Wet Level, Tone, Clock Rate.

 

Modes - Dual, Envelope Glide, Arpeggiator, Arpeggiator Freeze, Organ, Grains, Glass, Crystal.

 

I've actually just recently completed the Pitch Card overview - where I found that I particularly liked some of the more unusual modes here - or namely the Arpeggiator Freeze, Grain and Glass varieties - which are not really provided by any of these others here. So this is a little bit more of a quirky pitch-shifter, but really ingenious and actually very easy to use with its super user-friendly onboard interface. I've said it many times on this site - that everyone should have a Cooper FX Arcades as its possibilities are endless, and ever expanding. A lot of its Cards and Algorithms are really easy to dial in, some are somewhat Intermediary, and just a few are actually rather tricky - the Pitch card is relatively straightforward in most places and largely behaves how you would expect.


Coppersound Triplegraph Triple-Action Octave Up, Down, Kill-Switch and FX Loop Engage - $399

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Controls - Octave Down, Kill-Switch / FX Loop Engage, Octave Up, Momentary/Latching Octave Down Switch, Momentary/Latching Octave Up Switch, X Kill/Loop Switch.

 

I loved this pedal from the first time I saw it, and I've been chasing it for the last 6 months. Initially I was waiting for it to come into European distribution - but that still seems to be a while off, so I bit the bullet and pre-orderd one from Martel Music as soon as those went up on Reverb.com. Many thanks to Jordan Collins for the assist and for keeping me updated on progress - shouldn't be too long now. This is just the perfect life performance tool where you can stomp on each of the 3 telegraph (foot)switches independently or in tandem. The two outer octave ones can be set to momentary to latching, while the middle switch can either be a Kill-Switch, or the FX Loop Engage - for brining in another flavour. I will be mostly deploying with Kill-Switch engaged and in proper Jack White full on stomp mode. Part of the reason that this pedal took quite so long in R&D is the it had to be very significantly toughened up to withstand the rigours of touring, and the pouring Jack White administers for every gig. I've said before that this is a proper game-changer, and I'm really looking forward to integrating my unit into my setup. The only downside being its rather massive girth!


DigiTech The Drop - Drop-Tuner - £94

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Controls - Drop Level, Momentary : On/Off.

 

Drop Level - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, Octave, Octave + Dry.

 

This works mostly pretty well, but is not quite exactly as good as actually re-tuning your instrument. I tend to use this very sparingly nowadays, but it does have its uses - particularly if you're jumping around registers with just the one guitar. So it's a really useful utility, but occasionally not as pristine sounding as I would like! Not much more to be said here really.


DigiTech Whammy Ricochet Pitch-Shifter - £101

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Controls - Momentary : On/Off, Ballistics : Shift + Return, Range Up/Doen, Pitch Degree.

 

Pitch - 2nd, 4th, 5th, 7th, Octave, 2 x Octaves, Octave + Dry.

 

This pedal is all about the Tom Morello Octave Leap - per the 'Killing in the Name of' solo. And that is pretty much exclusively what I use this for. I switched to the TC Electronic Brainwaves for a period - thinking that its MASH feature might give me more of the same with a few more other options. But it turns out that I prefer the Ricochet for that function - so the Ricochet is always back on the board when I want to get my Tom Morillo on!


Electro-Harmonix Pitch Fork Polyphonic Pitch-Shifter - £149

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Controls - Blend, Shift, Dual : Up/Down, Latch push-button.

 

Shift - D, m2, M2, M3, P4, P5, M6, m7, 1, 2, 3.

 

Oddly this was actually the last added here, it's been on my wishlist for a number of years now. This is most everyone's pitch-shifter of choice - most probably the industry standard by now. I feel this has overall the most natural sounding pitch-shifting, while most others have some slightly degree of digital artefact. I'm not saying this is 100$ perfect, but it's the closest for most. I acquired the rather more capable TC Electronic Brainwaves ahead of this by some distance, while if I need a quick and easy pitch-shifter then this would likely be my first choice. Very simple to deploy and covers quite a lot considering its overall neatness of simplicity.


Electro-Harmonic Pitch Fork+ - £195

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Controls - Dry Level, Shift 1, Shift 2, Value Enter/Save, Aux, Shift 1 On/Off, Shift 2 On/Off, Expression, User, X-Mod, Preset, Latch, Dual Footswitches - User + Bypass.

 

Shift ± - D, m2, M2, m3, M3, P4, b5, P5, m6, M6, m7, M7, 1 Oct, m9, M9m m10, M10, P11, b12, P12, m13, M13, m14, M14, 2 Oct, m17, M17, P18, P19, 3 Oct.

 

I've indicated for a while that this is one of my wishlist targets - it pretty much doubles up the original and then exponentially multiplies the different options. A really clever advanced pitch-shifter for sure with highly visual but still somehow limited screen. There's no doubt I will have one of these eventually - just waiting for its price to ameliorate a little, and scanning for bargains and discounts of course.


Free The Tone Motion Loop Sample-Repeater-Shifter - $350

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Controls - Rate, Effect Level, Filter, Save, Home, Left, Right, Parameter Select, Dual Footswitches - On/Off + Preset.

 

Modes - Pitch ±1|2 Octaves, Loop Signal, Waveform Shaping, Soft Clipping, Delay, 128 Presets.

 

This is something of an innovation which kind of mixes up the CBA Mood, and elements of the Cooper FX Arcades - what with the screen and extensive Parameter control. To me it has a real air of Chase Bliss Audio if they went with a slightly different aesthetic - and pricing is bang on CBA level. There's a lot of clever stuff onboard here for a slightly different take on Pitch-Shifting. I will snap one up when it's price is right for me!


Meris Hedra 3-Voice Rhythmic Pitch Shifter - $299/£299

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Controls - Key/Scale Type, Micro Tune/Pitch Correction, Mix/Delay Feedback, Pitch 1/Time Division 1, Pitch 2/Time Division 2, Pitch 3/Time Division 3, Alt (Hold), Mode, Dual Footswitches - Tap + By Pass.

 

I mentioned recently that this was my pedal of choice for its main operational area versus the fairly similar recent Eventide MicroPitch. Both of those are very capable Pitch-Shifted Delays, which is what I've mostly ended up using the Hedra for - while initially I was actually just using it as a standard octaver! This has a fantastic feature set, while I'm not so keen on all those secondary parameter controls - I would much rather have dual-concentric pots or some other more contextually visual topography. The Hedris take a while to get used to, but once you're fully up to speed it's capable of some incredibly magical twinkly effects.


Mu-Tron Octavider - $279

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Controls - Stabilize Off/On, Ringer Off/On, Mix, Tone, Dual Footswitches - Effect + Bass Only.

 

You can't really get a simpler Octave Up/Down pedal than this. Classic analog Sub-Octave, with optional Green-Ringer style Upper Octave. High spec full analog build - sounds fantastic and is super easy to deploy. That said this was still mostly sidelined by the newer Boss OC-5, while it does get a repeat rotation every now and again. This is no doubt a cool and capable pedal - while there are several others in this selection with a significantly broader feature set - so really depends on what you're looking for.


TC Electronic Brainwaves Pitch Shifter - £100

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Controls - FX Type, Up/Down 1, Voice 1, Mix, Up/Down 2, Voice 2.

 

FX Type - Pitch, V1-V2, Wham, Detune, TP1, TP2, TP3.

 

Voices - Off, Uni, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 12 (Oct), 24 (Oct), Custom.

 

I initially brought this in to give me a little more functionality over and above the DigiTech Whammy Ricochet - which is still my main use for these sorts of pitch-shifters. I actually found out that the momentary setting on the Ricochet was somewhat easier to deploy than TC Electronic's MASH footswitch. I've said many times that there needs to be an external Mini knob to set the MASH Sensitivity. As it requires quite a hard press, and it seems to have a little more lag than the the Ricochet Momentary. Also there is a difference in setup and deployment - meaning that I was mostly back to using the Ricochet again. That said this has quite an extensive feature set of course with TonePrint capabilities - meaning there are certain modes here which work really well for this pedal. While for the Tom Morello thing - I really find the Ricochet preferable.


TC Electronic Quintessence - £100

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Controls - Key, #, Scale, Mix, Latch/Momentary, Harmony.

 

Key - C, D, E, F, G, A, B.

 

Scale - IOmaj, DO, PH, LY, MI, AEmin, Custom.

 

Harmony - -6th, -4th, -3rd, 5th, 6th, 3rd + 5th, 3rd + 6th, TP1, TP2, TP3.

 

This was my first Harmonizer as such, and while I initially found it tricky to get to grips with, I eventually figured it out, while Harmonizers by their very nature can be tricky to set up. My initial target was Iron Maiden's Trooper harmonics and I actually got that working pretty well - although it took me a while to get there. I've seemingly forgotten most of the music theory that got me to grade 4 violin and roughly grade 5 piano. I tend to arrive at most things these days by playing be ear and aiming for sound and feel. This works tolerably well, but like the Brainwaves, there is an inkling of digital artefacts in the signal, and I did not much like the low sensitivity of the MASH footswitch. That said this is a very decent harmonizer - while I typically tend to prefer to deploy the PS-6 and Hedra in this role - I somehow find those easier to deploy somehow.


TC Electronic Sub N' Up - £79

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Controls - Dry Level, Poly/TonePrint/Classic, Up Level, Sub Level, Sub 2 Level.

 

And last but not least is the very first go these that I acquired some several years ago now - this was my original octaver, which was then supplanted by the Octavider, then OC-5 Octave, and now CopperSound Triplegraph. This is another 4 octaves Octaver including the Dry/Root note - and then Upper Octave, and 1 and 2 Sub-Octaves. I think this could probably do with an update and a rotary Mode selector with a few more options and TonePrints. Again some very slight digital artefacts, but really a vert satisfactory octaver overall - while it won't have that many rotations ahead of it as it's largely been supplanted by more recent arrivals. That said it does the POG thing very well - and still gets the occasional recall because of that.


Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

I thought it would be opportune to signpost where my rig is heading this year - courtesy of the above visual. There are several other pedals to come into the mix, but I'm not yet at liberty to divulge their details!

 

As I mentioned in the intro - I think I'm pretty well covered here now, and certainly shall be when I eventually acquire also the Pitch Fork+ and Motion Loop.

 

Most of the time just two of these will be deployed at any given time - with the Hedra taking up residency again on slot #2, when the Triplegraph lands and goes in on new slot #14b. This means that most of the rotation will be on slot #2 and each of these will be fitting for a place there, while on occasion I might bring #3 into play too - it really depends on the specific usage scenario. And note that the Cooper FX Arcades is pretty much permanently deployed - sot hat can be brought to weigh in too when needed - even though I'm about to take a hiatus with the Arcades for a little EHX Attack Delay action in the interim!

 

By and large what I mostly use are 3 different Pitch effects - Octaver, Morello-style Pitch-Shifter, and Pitch-Shifted Delay. Which principally will mean Triplegraph, Ricochet and Hedra for those specific applications. The others will come in for more specific applications, while the Triplegraph is likely to be permanently in action on 14b.

 

Do let me know if you think I've overlooked any key alternatives. I am broadly very satisfied with this particular selection and feel it pretty much covers all bases.

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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan Karlsson
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