Pitch Shifter

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Pitch Shifter

Does exactly what it says: changes the pitch of a note. Is sometimes incorporated into other units, like a digital delay, and is sometimes freestanding. Can be set to a perfect interval, like a third or a fifth, to play parallel harmony with oneself. Set at a fifth, with some distortion, it would allow you to play a power cord with one note! This could yield some cool fast heavy results if you play up and down the neck with it on. Can also be set to some in-between ratios, like halfway between a third and a fourth, or set to a tritone, for some very sick and twisted sonic results.

Usually has two knobs : pitch and mix (ratio of wet to dry signal).

Extreme pitch shifting can be heard on Rage Against The Machine's music, especially on the solo to "Killing In The Name ."

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Vibrato (Also Called Tremolo)

An automatic pulsing interruption of the signal. Like reverb, this is usually a function built into the amp but is occasionally freestanding. Also, like reverb, is usually controlled by a foot switch plugged into the back of the amp and altered in amount with a knob (usually two) on the front of the amp. The two knobs are Depth (mix of dry to wet) and Speed (speed of interrupt or pulse in the signal).

Actually, vibrato in this case is a misnomer. This pulsing variation in volume is really tremolo. Sometimes this function is correctly identified on an amp as Tremolo, not Vibrato. But usually not.

Vibrato is a gentle (or sometimes extreme) oscillation in pitch, like that produced by pumping on the whammy bar on a guitar.

Ivy: "Disappointed" (subtle).

Hooverphonic: "2Wicky" (actually an Isaac Hayes sample, on the intro guitar line).

Figure 4.7. Tremolo pedal.


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Noise Gate

Does exactly what the name implies. Reduces noise. It does this by completely cutting the signal off (to zero) when the volume falls below a certain level, which is set by the Threshold knob. The idea is that you set the threshold to just above the level of the noise produced by the guitar and amp when you are playing nothing.

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Envelope Filter

Envelope Filter is a sort of automatic wah wah. It wahs the tone more depending on the attack (how hard you pluck the string). Sounds funky. Jerry Garcia used one a lot on guitar. Flea uses one on bass.

Sounds very similar to wah wah. Maybe "Narcolepsy" by Third Eye Blind.

Figure 4.8. Envelope filter.



You can buy, or if so inclined, make, a purely mechanical pedal with a rocker that can control (with a break cable type attachment) any knob on any other pedal.

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Multi-effects units are a combination of some or all of the above. They usually have a cover and fold up into a suitcase type thing and lay on the floor. They have a lot of different effects built into one unit, and you can program them in any way you like. For instance, you can give them numbers (shown on a digital readout) according to where they are used in the set, so you can just tap through.

The only problem with a multi-effect unit is that if it goes out, you're hosed. With separate units, if one dies, you just remove it from the chain of boxes and go on with your day.

Figure 4.9. Multi-effects unit.


Figure 4.10. Guitarist using a multi-effects unit.


Figure 4.11. Another guitarist using a multi-effects unit.


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