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Is is possible to automatically shift all notes of an electric guitar?

E.g. can you let your guitar sound like a base?

This probably involves changing the created frequencies electronically.

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  • Welcome. It's expected that when folk come here to ask about somethig, they've done some prior research. What couldn'y you find? – Tim Dec 29 '20 at 15:11
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    @Tim I guess I just did not know the right terminology. – J Fabian Meier Dec 29 '20 at 16:12
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Yes, it is possible with pitch-shifters, "octavers" and synthesizers. Which product is suitable depends on several things. (1) do you need to do this live or could you record on an audio track and then do the transformation off-line? (2) Do you need it to be polyphonic or would a mono synth be ok? (3) Do you need it to transpose down only i.e. for bass, or up as well? (4) Do you need tranposing by any amount, or just octaves? (5) Do you need it to output MIDI data for synthesizers? (6) Can you or do you want to install a special pickup on your guitar? (7) Do you need this on stage in a robust package? (8) How much money can you spend?

Here is a list of products I have tried:

  • Electro-Harmonix BASS9 guitar synthesizer
  • Electro-Harmonix Superego Plus (pitch shifter)
  • Roland/Boss SY-series guitar synthesizers
  • Roland GR series guitar synthesizers (requires a special hex pickup)
  • Jam Origin MIDI Guitar 2 software

Particularly the BASS9 pedal works relatively well for playing a bass line with a guitar. All of them have a little bit of latency, and almost any real bass works better than even the most fantastic guitar effect option in the world.

If you search online music stores for pitch shifters and octavers, you'll find dozens of options for basic pitching. Which won't work really well for a bass IMO.

For live transposing all strings to a different tuning, I see two possibilities as of 2020:

  • (1) install a special hex/multi pickup (Roland GK or Fishman TriplePlay)
  • (2) use Jam Origin MIDI Guitar 2. (Or maybe Roland SY-300 or SY-1000)

For sheer MIDI tracking speed, the Fishman TriplePlay ought to be the best, since AFAIK it's based on the old Axon technology which guesses the upcoming note from the initial attack transient, basically even before the note has had time to sound at all.

If you don't need to do this live, i.e. if you can record the guitar on an audio track, and then transform the notes "offline", then you have all sorts of audio-to-MIDI converter software and Melodyne at your disposal.

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  • The Boss SY-5 was a disaster, I had two before realising the latency was inbuilt. Gone with SY-1, which is excellent. – Tim Dec 29 '20 at 15:03
  • @Tim I know, I have the SY-1 and it's really nice, though the sounds are extremely synthetic. – piiperi Reinstate Monica Dec 29 '20 at 15:05
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    Synthetic? Well, it's a synth, ain't it? – Tim Dec 29 '20 at 15:06
  • @Tim It's the sort of synth where nobody in the building is left wondering if that was a synthesizer sound! :D Would love to hear what sort of stuff you've made with it. – piiperi Reinstate Monica Dec 29 '20 at 20:23
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Yes, pitch-shift effect 'pedals' are available. The lower 4 strings of guitar match those of bass guitar. Or you can get into the realms of guitar-controlled synthesis.

Unfortunately the rules of this forum prohibit recommending specific gear. Though that would be useful here.

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  • Thank you. Do you have more information about this or a source? – J Fabian Meier Dec 29 '20 at 13:22
  • The rules don't prohibit recommending gear. They prohibit asking for recommendations. – piiperi Reinstate Monica Dec 29 '20 at 13:39
  • Neat get-out! What if the OP hints REALLY strongly that he wants recommendations? – Laurence Payne Dec 29 '20 at 13:41
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    Then the community should really strongly hint that the hinting part has a hint of off-topicness? – piiperi Reinstate Monica Dec 29 '20 at 13:42
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    From my interpretation of 'the rules' the first comment under the question should have been, "What has your research shown you so far? Why was it not suitable?" – Tetsujin Dec 29 '20 at 14:18
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The other answers consider electronic techniques to transpose pitches lower.

But no one has yet mentioned the capo, a mechanical way to transpose all the guitar pitches higher.

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  • There's also the Steinberger TransTrem transposing tremolo system, which lets you transpose all the strings down or up. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TransTrem Quote from usage guide "3. TO TRANSPOSE: Drop arm down, then turn clockwise to engage D, C, and B tunings. Pull arm up and turn clockwise to engage F# and G tunings, To disengage, rotate arm counter clockwise." – piiperi Reinstate Monica Dec 29 '20 at 16:26
  • OP asked about guitar-to-bass, but yes, capos are useful – Dave Jacoby Dec 29 '20 at 17:46

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