The EHX Pitch Fork pedal can transpose pitch up and down over three octaves. This allows a number of potential uses including instant drop tuning, creating harmonies and thickening out a guitar’s tone. The pedal design is similar to the classic Digitech Whammy, although the Pitch Fork does not have an expression pedal.
Those who require an expression pedal but prefer the Pitch Fork design can use it with the EHX Expression Pedal. The Pitch Fork and the Expression Pedal purchased together are still cheaper than the Digitech Whammy.
The Whammy is also larger, heavier and cannot be powered by a battery. The Whammy does have the advantage of being a single self-contained unit though. Those who are only interested in the drop tuning possibilities of the Pitch Fork may want to consider The Drop by Digitech, which is dedicated to this function alone. The Drop is less expensive than the Whammy, but it’s still slightly more expensive than the Pitch Fork.
The Pitch Fork is 2.75″ (w) x 4.5″ (l) x 2.1″ (h), making it quite compact. It’s also very light. The pedal has a metal construction and is quite robust. It ships with an EHX 9.6DC-200mA power supply but can also run on a 9-volt battery. There’s an input, output and an input for the optional expression pedal. On the face of the pedal is a footswitch, accompanying LED, latch button, three-way mode switch, blend knob and shift knob. The footswitch and dual switch are both made of metal. The latter is quite thin. The placement makes it unlikely to be snapped though. The blend, shift and latch controls are made of hard plastic. A small white indent marks the positioning of the blend and shift controls. It would have been sensible to make the marker stand out more. It’s somewhat hard to see exactly where it sits in bad lighting.
11 pitch shift options
The mode switch toggles between transposing up, down or both simultaneously. The shift knob enables the 11 pitch changes: D (detune via a shift of 17 cents), minor second, major second, major third, perfect fourth, perfect fifth, major sixth, minor seventh, one octave, two octaves and three octaves. The detune function creates a sound similar to a chorus pedal. The blend knob allows to you mix the dry signal with the pitch shifted-sound. Maximising the blend allows you to completely cut out the dry signal and perform an instant downtune to a lower tuning. If you wish to create a harmony using a single guitar, leaving the blend at halfway allows the original melodic line to mix with the harmonised notes. Clear intervals like perfect fourth, perfect fifth and the octave produce the best results when creating harmonies.
The EHX Pitch Fork sounds best when playing harmonies in the lower register. It sounds thick and full when used this way. Moving up the neck accentuates the digital artefacts created by the pedal and is somewhat unpleasant. With the blend maximised for downtuning this issue is avoided. The pedal produces fairly good results when downtuning a semitone or a tone. It sounds slightly thinner than the original signal to my ears but it’s not too bad. Another guitarist who I have worked with state that to their ears, there is negligible loss in tone when used to downtune for the first few intervals. As you increase the number of steps downtuned, the tone becomes obviously false. I found this point was reached very plainly at four semitones shifted down.
Bass sounds on electric guitar
Transposing down a whole octave turns a guitar into a fair approximation of a bass guitar. It’s noticeably a shifted guitar still but it’s surprisingly full-sounding. Shifting down two or three octaves starts getting a bit ridiculous. By the third octave my amp could only produce a whisper as the notes were so low. With both harmonies and downtuning, the pedal produced best results with overdriven or distorted signals. Gain blends the artefacts together and creates a pleasant and full sound. Listening to a pitch shifted clean guitar part immediately highlights the artefacts created by the pitch shifting. Some users noticed a degree of latency while using the pedal. Personally I didn’t feel it while using the pedal. Even those that did feel it generally agree it’s only the player who would notice. The latency is mostly apparently only when using a blended signal as opposed to a fully shifted signal.
Latch function opens musical possibilities
The latch button is a unique feature. It alters the function of the footswitch and expression pedal input. In latch mode, the footswitch toggles between ‘effect on’ and buffered bypass each time it is pressed. This would be the more standard operation of the pedal, for example when engaging a drop tuning for a song, or a harmony throughout an entire musical section. In momentary mode the effect engages only when the footswitch is actively being pressed. When the footswitch is released, the pedal goes into bypass. This allows the player to play a riff or solo and drop in the effect at a certain point, adding a harmony or octave to a specific part of the riff. It opens up quite a lot of musical possibilities. It would be easy to create crazy pitch shifts in the style of Tom Morello using this function, particularly with the optional expression pedal.
In latch mode the expression pedal input continuously varies pitch, while in momentary mode the input controls the glissando rate for the Pitch Fork’s footswitch. When the footswitch is depressed, the pedal jumps from bypass to the interval set by the shift knob. The amount of time it takes to reach that new note is the glissando rate. This function also opens up some interesting musical options that would not be possible without the pedal. That glissando time can vary between 4 milliseconds to two seconds depending on the positioning of the expression pedal. Without the use of the EHX expression pedal the default glissando rate is 60 milliseconds.
The EHX Pitch Fork is a feature-packed and fairly affordable pedal. It would appeal to players who want to thicken out the sound of a single guitar band, those who want to create experimental guitar parts and guitarists who want to change tunings quickly and easily. It’s less expensive, lighter and more portable than its competitors. For some uses the pedal sounds excellent, while other settings create unwanted artefacts.
I use it mainly to drop my guitar to Eb. This pedal makes it way easier than retuning all my strings or switching to a backup guitar. Great purchase.
It tracks as good if not better than any pitch shifter out there and I have replaced every form of pitch shifting on my board with this pedal. It’s worth every penny.
When it comes to pitch shifters, there’s nothing better. At this price point, it’s a no-brainer.
You do hear a certain amount of garble when it is processing the sound. You do hear a bit of latency and it’s not so much of a studio quality effect. Playing live it might be OK but in a home studio it’s more of a toy.
The EHX Pitch Fork is a light, portable pedal with a range of useful features. For the price, it's a very good deal. Not everyone will like the artefacts created while running it on some settings though.