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Pinch Harmonic Warble in Alt Tuning


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First off, I have to say that I am super impressed with the Variax Standard. I actually bought the JTV-59 about a year ago and decided to return it based on the slight latency in alternate tunings and the inability to pinch harmonic. As someone who is into metal, pinch harmonics are kind of a big deal.


Since then, I bought an open box version of the Variax Standard in order to give it another try. I am really glad that I did. I am kind of thinking about getting rid of some of my other guitars because I haven't played them in a week since I got this thing.


To start, when I am in standard tuning (using the alt tuning knob) I have 0 latency and pinch harmonics work excellent. I even physically tuned the guitar down to Drop C (CGCFAD) and left the knob on standard tuning, again 0 latency and pinch harmonics work excellent. I tuned the guitar back to standard tuning and turn the alt tuning knob to Drop D, my custom Drop C preset, or even baritone and I get a little latency (still usable) and warbles when I pinch harmonic. It is most noticeable on the 5th and 6th string, but happens on other strings as well.

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This is probably caused by inference between the strings and the magnetic pickups. This is a typical problem with Strat-style guitars with 3 pickups. You can try lowering the pickups a little. Try finding the point where the interference just starts. This will of course change the tone of the pickups. Its a compromise that is typical of this guitar configuration.

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Thank you amsdenj. When I initially got the guitar I had the warble problems when I was playing fretted notes (i.e. not using pinch harmonics). So I lowered the pickups then which resolved that problem 99%. However, I have again the lowered the pickups, after reading your suggestion, so that the each pickup face is flush with the pickguard. This seems to have no effect on the pinch harmonic warble.


Based on that I am guessing that it might have to do with either body resonance, or firmware not being able to detect the correct note in order to adjust the pitch.


I tried some other tests with natural harmonics on the 6th-3rd strings:

- 12th fret - Good

- 7th fret - Good

- 5th fret - Medium warble

- 4th/9th fret - Very noticeable warble, sounds like two harmonics are playing a half step apart


It kind of bums me out, because besides the minor latency and pinch harmonic warble, this an amazing guitar!!!

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Sadly, there will be some warble issues with a Variax, but it's controllable through some variables.


I believe the pitch shifter has tracking, and possibly monophonic, but since there's individual pickups per each string, it doesn't need to worry about multiple notes.

Because of this, there's always the possibility of warble though, which is when a pitch shifter rewrites the waveform of the signal incorrectly and creates this out of phase pitch problem.


Like someone said before, magnetic pickups can be a variable. If it's super close, it's going to pull the strings and possibly cause the vibration of the string to become just unpredictable enough for the pitch shifter to go crazy.


Another factor is setup, which brings in the question of fret buzz, but you're doing open harmonics, so fret buzz shouldn't be the concern here.


If you can, back off your pickups a bit and see if it helps. Adjust your pickups to a prefered height, without sacrificing tonal characteristics that you want out of the pickup height.



Honestly, compared to the old generation 300/500/600/700 guitars, the new Variax guitars have way better tracking. I used to have issues with doing pull offs and getting warbles, but not on my JTV.



Best of luck to you.

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Thank you clay-man.


I can affirm that there is no fret buzz, as you mentioned, due to the open harmonics.I backed off the pickups even more so that they are inside of the pickguard and still have the issue.


For the most part the tracking in alt tunings is spot on, it is just these little things that bum me out. I think the solution I am going to go with is eventually physically tuning the guitar to Drop C. I just tried doing this and leaving the tuning knob to "Standard", it resolves both the warble and minor latency issues. Since I usually a Drop C guitarist, I might leave it there in the near future.


Thanks for the feedback.

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Real tuning will always sound better than pitch shifted tuning.  Alt tunings are a tradeoff.  The guitar also does not respond like it normally does because the sound feedback from the amp is not at the string frequency.


That is very true. Feedback will not really work well since it's a different pitch hitting the strings you're playing, hence not really syncing up and giving feedback buildup like a normal guitar.


It still works to some extent, but it's obviously not as good as the same pitch hitting the string.

Another thing is, you can't get mag feedback from piezos, so you only strictly can rely on string vibration feedback.


I will still say though, that the Variax is hands down the best sounding guitar pitch shifting hardware there is right now. It really sounds close to actually downtuning the strings, just gets a little muddy when you go super low.

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