Pitch shifting was always a fringe subject for me. It is not an incredibly popular subject of conversation with my gearhead buddies, or high up on the list of GAS-inducing goodies. However, ever since listening to “Come Dancing” off of Jeff Beck’s 1976 LP, Wired, I was infatuated with the unique, artificial, and grinding overdrive of the octave-down effect (Jeff used a Mu-Tron Octave Divider on that track, for the curious). The Wizard of Pitch, from Wisconsin-based Dwarfcraft Devices is a completely new and unique take on the pitch shifting effect. Taking influence from the hallowed Uni-Vibe, and incorporating volume manipulation, pitch shifting, and vibrato, this pedal is great for ambient textures, or slogging and syrupy chords with layers of sonic action.
The enclosure of the Wizard is a warm yellow, with medieval inspired graphics. It’s smooth, light, and a slightly unique shape. Instead of opting for the standard Hammond enclosure, this pedal is just a bit bigger, and has sharper corners than the ones on most standard pedals, making it feel just that little bit more special. It has controls for Pitch, Mix, Speed and Boost, as well as two switches labeled Step and Bender. The Pitch controls the “tuning” of the pedal, or how many cents below or above the fundamental pitch of your note is. At the bottom of the range is down an octave, and at the top of the range is up and octave. At exactly 12 o’clock, there is no change in pitch, and it has little to no noticeable effect. The Mix controls the amount of dry signal being fed into the pedal, and the Speed controls the rate at which the tone of this pedal moves (this little box has a lot of different movements, and we will get into them soon). The Boost is, of course. the internal booster for your signal, and comes before the pitch shifter stage. The one downside to the boost is that it adds a lot of unwanted noise to your signal, which is probably my biggest bone to pick with this pedal.
The Step switch engaged by itself does almost nothing, but with the Bender switch engaged as well it creates a really sweet random sequence generator, snapping up and down in pitch across your notes, a bit like a sequencer on a synthesizer. By itself, the Bender switch reacts with your signal decay, shifting pitch in reaction with it, a bit like a Uni-Vibe.
Running this pedal clean or with a transparent booster gave me a load of different textures with a rich sonic quality. First in the tonal cake was the volume, which gives a light or hard swell depending on your attack. Secondly, a bit of your dry signal is mixed in depending on the mix knob. Thirdly: a bit of a delayed pitch up or down effect, and fourth is a subtle Uni-Vibe like throb (with the Bender engaged). With all of those combined, chords become ethereal textures, grounded by the weight of the throb. Running a fuzz after it turns these soft, mellow pitch shifted sounds into a beautifully chaotic slog, reminiscent of Hendrix’s Machine Gun tone with extra harmonic content and depth either above or below each note played.
Before playing the Wizard of Pitch, I had heard of Dwarfcraft Devices, but never really got around to playing its stuff. The Wizard of Pitch has made me a fan of its unique and brash attempts at creating tonal vessels to chart new sonic territory. If you are an adventurous guitar player, Dwarfcraft Devices and this little Wizard are definitely ones to keep on your radar.
What We Like: Sonically rich and harmonically complex. Lots of layers of complex sonic action. Perfect for ambient work, and works surprisingly well with fuzzes and boosters.
Concerns: A little too noisy, and tracking is a little too slow for any direct octave up or down tones.