For such a small, simple-looking pedal, the Pitch Fork from Electro-Harmonix can make a lot of noise.And it's good-quality noise too, with enough versatility to cover both the bizarre and the conventional sounds of pitch-shifting. If you start by watching the EHX demo video, you may even lose track of everything you can do with the Pitch Fork.
Should that be the case, we'll keep track for you here, showcasing the good, the bad and everything in the middle.
We'll also paint a picture for you of the ideal buyer.
But what exactly does that mean?
It means the purpose of this review (and all of Guitar Chalk's reviews) is not to demo the pedal, but instead to help you make an educated decision about whether or not you might want to buy it and whether or not it would suit your needs.
Because pedals aren't cheap, right?
We spend our hard-earned money to get these things.
So if you're interested in the EHX Pitch Fork, this review will help you make the call with some confidence.
EHX Pitch Fork FeaturesThe first thing I want to point out is that, while the Pitch Fork supports an expression pedal, it doesn't ship with one.
That's a disappointment, especially since pedals like the Boss Super Shifter or Harmonist have expression functionality built in, while also supporting external expression. Though the Latch button does give you some control over the behavior of the footswitch, it doesn't meet the same functionality level of the Boss shifters.
Specifically, "Latch Mode" means that the button will cycle between "effect on" and a buffered bypass every time it's pressed.
In "Momentary Mode" the effect will stay on as long as the button is depressed, but will then cut off whenever it is released, which is intended for us during shorter periods of wanting to use the pedal, saving you a second button click.
But there's no real expression to be had without another purchase.
So that's a bummer.
On the positive side, you can move up or down (plus or minus) three octaves giving you a spread of seven total.
That switch in the middle, labeled "DUAL," lets you decide which direction you want to go. If you leave it centered, you'll combine both the high and low octaves together, allowing you to emulate an 18-string guitar spanning three different octaves.
So you're hearing the root note, the high octave, which is 12 semitones above the root and the low octave, 12 semitones below the root.
You'll then have 11 different switches on the "Shift" knob, with some oddly cryptic labeling.
However, these labels simply refer to a series of intervals and octaves you can choose from.
Via the instructions manual, you can decipher each one fairly easily.
The blend knob simply adjusts the mix between the dry signal and the effected signal.
So at first glance, this pedal looks slightly complicated, but all the controls and features are intuitive, which you can't say about the Boss Super Shifter. Boss has even tried (and succeeded to an extent) to correct this problem with the Harmonist.
So there's a lot of noise to be made and the learning curve isn't too steep.
A simple interface is, perhaps, an underrated aspect of most guitar pedals, especially shifters.
Sound QualityThe tone quality here warrants little complaining.
Though EHX also hasn't done enough to set the Pitch Fork apart from other Shifters and octave pedals. So the sound is of good quality, if not generally familiar.
That said, there are still some specifics worthy of mention.
If you add the expression pedal, the pitch shifting mechanism is smooth and balanced, though I like the sturdiness of the DigiTech Whammy a lot better. In a pure sound-quality battle between the two of them, there isn't a great deal of difference.
The dual mode, which I expected to be a bit chaotic, actually sounds distinct and fairly clear. Even with some added gain, there's a lot of definition and projection of the effect.
If you go with the high octave, the notes sound incredibly pristine and shimmery.
In that mode it almost seems like a different instrument, especially on the higher frets where, keep in mind, you can still play three octaves in either direction. Those high pitches have their place, especially if you're trying to add subtle ambiance or background noise to a piece of music.
Dropped tunings have a thick, rumbling resonance to them, but still project notes with a fair amount of clarity. If you get low enough (an octave or so) your guitar will be able to match the pitch of a bass.
So the Pitch Fork doesn't miss a beat here.
Capable of most sounds you would expect from a good pitch-shifting guitar pedal, it delivers them all at high quality standards without cutting any corners.
In that regard, EHX did a great job with this box.
Useability and PracticalityWith just the high octaves and the shimmery sound quality, the Pitch Fork could make a home in just about any genre.
Though I think the more important point in determining whether you could make good use of it, is whether you lean towards or work in the area of lead or rhythm guitar. Either side could find use for this pedal, but I would argue that it's designed for single notes and arpeggios, more so than full chords and rhythm.
In other words, a lead guitar player might find it more useful and practical.
If you're more on the rhythm side of the coin pitch shifting in general might not be a great fit.
Again, that's not an exclusive rule, just something to consider if you're worried about finding use for the EHX Pitch Fork.
We should also consider that the DigiTech Whammy (and perhaps the Boss shifters) are the big league hitters in this market, as just about every pro you can think of who owns a pitch shifter, uses the DigiTech Whammy.
And if it comes down to choosing between the Pitch Fork and the Whammy, I like the Whammy a lot better.
Here are a few of my reasons:
- Expression pedal is built in.
- More modes and settings.
- A hallmark of professional pedalboards.
Does that mean it's a bad pedal?
Not at all.
But it might mean that the guitar pedal world is getting crowded and that it just makes more sense to go with the original king of the hill.
PriceWhat could change your mind is the price tag of the Pitch Fork.
At $130 it's the cheapest of the three we've discussed. Here's a broader price comparison:
- DigiTech Whammy: $200
- EHX Pitch Fork: $130
- Boss OC-3 Dual Super Octave: $130
- DigiTech DROP: $180
- Boss PS-6 Harmonist: $170
I think this helps give us the "ideal buyer" for this pedal.
If you'd rather not spend the big money on a niche effects pedal and you don't care about the reputation or history behind it, consider the EHX Pitch Fork as a more affordable and a fairly well-designed alternative.
Here's my final word on this box.
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