Always consult the Owners Manuals first

Pitch block

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Pitch dual shift block.png Pitch quad shift delay block.png Pitch detune block.png Pitch crystals block.png Pitch-octave block.png Pitch-whammy block.png

Available on which Fractal Audio products

  • Axe-Fx III: 2x.
  • Axe-Fx II: 2x.
  • AX8: 1x.
  • FX8: 1x.

X/Y and channels

  • Axe-Fx III: 2 channels.
  • Axe-Fx II: yes.
  • AX8: yes.
  • FX8: yes.

Pitch in the Axe-Fx III

Pitch has its own pitch detector, separate from the Internal Controllers.

Pitch detection has been improved in the Axe-Fx III.

The number of voices has been increased to 4.

Pitch types are:

  • Dual Detune
  • Quad Detune
  • Dual Shift
  • Quad Shift
  • Dual Harmony
  • Quad Harmony
  • Classic Whammy
  • Octave Divider
  • Crystal Echoes
  • Advanced Whammy
  • Arpeggiator
  • Custom Shifter
  • Quad Shift Delay
  • Quad Harmony Delay

Position of the Pitch block

If you want to add harmonies to your main signal, put the Pitch block between the Amp and Cab block for best results.

Alternatively, split the signal into two before the Amp block, and put Pitch and a 2nd Amp block in the other row (Axe-Fx II and III only).

If you want to shift the entire amp signal (100% wet), like when simulating a down-tuned guitar, you can put Pitch in front of the Amp block.

"When going direct, pitch shifting often sounds best when placed BEFORE the Cab block. The factory presets may have the block doing the shifting (pitch or multidelay) after the Cab block. Try moving the pitch before the Cab for smoother results."
"The pitch block basically shifts the entire cab freq. response up/down if it's after cab. A slight detune might sound about the same either way but with a half step, whole step, etc. the difference becomes more apparent." (Bakerman)

CPU usage

"Once the CPU usage crosses a certain threshold (which could happen if you are streaming audio) the pitch detection will slow down as the global pitch detector necessarily has a lower priority than the primary audio processing. If you change the Pitch Source to Local then the local pitch detector runs at the same priority as the audio." source
"Pitch detection has a lower priority than audio processing. If CPU usage is very high the pitch detectors won't run often". source

The Pitch block in the AX8 and FX8 is very sensitive to CPU load, even far before the limit is reached. When using the Whammy mode for example, try to keep CPU usage below 60%.

Learn mode

The Pitch block has a Learn function. Turn it on, play a note and hold it: the device will now set the key according to the note you played.

Pitch effects

Arpeggiator

The Arpeggiator mode uses a 32-step sequencer.

Fixed Harmony

The Axe-Fx III changes the Fixed Harmony mode into:

  • Dual Shift
  • Quad Shift

Note that Quad Shift doesn’t have Feedback parameters.

Ola Englund demonstrates pitch harmony with a pedal.

Intelligent Harmony

The Axe-Fx III changes the Intelligent Harmony mode into:

  • Dual Harmony
  • Quad Harmony

Octaver

Several ways to create an Octaver effect (octave down):

  • Pitch: Fixed Harmony, 1 octave down.
  • Pitch: Octave Divide.
  • Ring Modulator: Tracking mode.

Detune (micropitch)

Pitch detuning is a great alternative to a chorus, without the "swirl" associated with 80's chorus tone. Use it in stereo for a very wide effect.

  1. Detune up and down the same amount, between +/-5 and +/-10.
  2. Delay the voices for more width (i.e. 7 ms).
  3. Set mix at 25% or lower.
  4. Put the block after the Amp block but before the stereo Cab block.
  5. Pan the voices for a wide stereo effect.

Try running a Chorus block after the Pitch block.

Beware of phase cancellation when running mono.

The AxeFx III changes the Detune mode into:

  • Dual Detune
  • Quad Detune

Whammy pedal

Use the Classic Whammy pitch types, and attach a pedal to the Control parameter.

Use Auto-Engage in the modifier menu to automatically engage the Pitch block.

You can engage a Whammy on the fly without using Auto-Engage:

  1. Put a Pitch block in line, set to Classic Whammy. Source: Global. Bypass Mode: Thru.
  2. Assign the Control parameter to your pedal's external controller.
  3. Assign the same external controller to the Mix parameter. Set Mix at zero. Modifier menu: Start 40, Mid 100, End 55, Slope 0, Scale 10, Offset 100.
  4. Make sure the Pitch block is engaged and save the preset.

Demo of the Whammy settings above.

Increase the Scale parameter in the modifier menu to create some "flat" space at the top, so the octave arrives earlier and stays put.

Decrease the max frequency of the pitch-shifted voice to 5 kHz or lower to make it less "digital".

Dropped tuning

  1. Put a Pitch block in series at the start of the grid.
  2. Set it to Fixed Harmony.
  3. For a drop of two semitones set one voice to -2.
  4. Set the other voice's Level to -80 to mute it.
  5. Set Mix to 100%, Tracking to On, Pitch Track to Poly.

You can also use the Advanced Whammy mode in the Pitch block. Sounds and works the same but it's a little easier to to configure.

If you can't stand the latency (there always will be some!):

Dive bomb

To simulate an automated "dive bomb" pitch effect:

  1. Create a preset with a Pitch block.
  2. Set Pitch mode to Classic Whammy, Up|Dn 2 Oct., Pitch Track: off, 100% mix.
  3. Enter the Modifier menu of the Control parameter in the Pitch block. Set Source to one of the externals. Set Damping to 750, for starters.
  4. Enter the Modifier menu of the Bypass parameter in the Pitch block. Set Source to the same external controller as above.

On the foot controller:

  1. Program a switch to send the external controller's CC.
  2. The switch can be latching or momentary, whatever works for you.

To operate: select the preset. Press the switch (press and hold if it's a momentary switch) for the effect to kick in. Press again (or release) to stop, and bypass the Pitch block.

You can also use your expression pedal instead of a switch. Use the corresponding external controller.

Instead of a switch, you can also use Auto-Engage.

You can adjust the length of the dive through the Damping parameter, use another Whammy mode, make it even more dramatic by adding a Flanger, etc.

Multiple harmonies

Bakerman explains how to generate 5 harmonies with one guitar and one Axe-Fx II preset.

Custom scales

The "Custom" Pitch type uses the values on the Custom Scales page in the Global menu.

AustinBuddy's custom harmonies tutorial.

Parameters

The parameters are also explained in the Owner's Manual.

Parameters table

Parameter Axe-Fx III Axe-Fx II AX8, FX8
Type yes
Config - Input Mode yes
Config - LFO Rate, Tempo, Depth yes
Master - Master Level yes
Master - Master Pan yes
Master - Master Feedback yes
Master - Master Pitch yes
Master - Master Delay yes
Detector - Detector Source yes
Detector - Tracking Mode yes
Tracking - Tracking yes
Mix - Low Cut, High Cut yes
Detune - Detune 1,2,3,4 yes
Detune - Delay 1,2,3,4 yes
Detune - Feedback Mode yes
Detune - Feedback 1,2,3,4 yes
Detune - Level 1,2,3,4 yes
Detune - Pan 1,2,3,4 yes
Shift - Detune 1,2,3,4 yes
Shift - 1,2,3,4 yes
Shift - Delay 1,2,3,4 yes
Shift - Delay Tempo 1,2,3,4 yes
Shift - Feedback 1,2,3,4 yes
Shift - Level 1,2,3,4 yes
Shift - Pan 1,2,3,4 yes
Harmony - Key yes
Harmony - Scale yes
Harmony - Learn yes
Harmony 1,2,3,4 yes
Harmony - Glide Time yes
Harmony - Number of Notes yes
Harmony - Tonic yes
Harmony - Note 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 yes
Arpeggiator yes
Arpeggiator - Key yes
Arpeggiator - Scale yes
Arpeggiator - Arpeggiator Run yes
Arpeggiator - Arpeggiator Steps yes
Arpeggiator - Arpeggiator Repeats yes
Arpeggiator Tempo yes
Amplitude Shape, Pan Shape yes
Amplitude Alpha, Pan Alpha yes
Stage 1,2,3....16 Shift yes
Whammy Mode yes
Whammy - Start Shift, Stop Shift yes
Whammy - Whammy Control yes
Whammy - Tracking Mode yes
Crystal Echoes - Feedback Type yes
Crystal Echoes - Splice 1/2 Time yes
Crystal Echoes - Splice 1/2 Tempo yes
Direction yes
Crossfade yes
Custom Shifter - Scale 1/2 yes
Custom Shifter - Key yes

Economy (FX and AX8)

Some types in the Pitch block in the AX8 and FX8 provide an Economy mode. This offers comparable audio performance with lower CPU usage.

Track: Poly or Mono

The Pitch Track parameter in the Fixed Harmony and Whammy modes offers these settings: Off, Poly, and Mono. Poly works best for shifting chords and/or lower amounts of shift. Mono works best for shifting single notes and/or larger shift amounts.

Source: Global or Local

This parameter determines which signal the Pitch block uses for tracking:

  • Global (default): the signal at the input of the grid (pitch controller) is used to track the pitch. This will usually do, unless there are specific demands or when the CPU load is high (see below).
  • Local: the signal at the input of the Pitch block on the grid is used to track the pitch. Use this when you need accurate and fast pitch detection in high CPU usage presets.

Pitch in the Axe-Fx III has its own pitch detector, separate from the Internal Controllers.

Voice: Feedback

This parameter comes before the Voice Level parameter. So when Feedback is turned up and Level is turned down, you'll still hear repeats.

About harmony scales

The Owner's Manual explains the different harmony scales.

More information

Wikipedia.