PreSonus Blog

3 Special FX for Lead Guitar

Melodyne can do much more than vocal pitch correction. Previous tips have covered how to do envelope-controlled flanging and polyphonic guitar-to-MIDI conversion with Melodyne Essential. The following techniques add mind-bending effects to lead guitar, and don’t involve pitch correction per se.

However, all three tips require the Pitch Modulation and Pitch Drift tools. These tools are available only in versions above Essential (Assistant, Editor, and Studio). A Melodyne 5 trial version incorporates these versions. The trial period is 30 days, during which there are no operational limitations.

Fig. 1 shows a lead guitar line, before and after processing, that incorporates all three processing techniques. This is the melody line used in the before-and-after audio example.

Figure 1: Original lead line (top), processed lead line (bottom).

Vibrato Emphasis/De-Emphasis

To increase or decrease the vibrato amount, use Melodyne’s Pitch Modulation tool. In fig. 1, the increased vibrato effect is most visually obvious at the end of measures 43, 49, and 52. To change the amount of vibrato, click on the blob with the Pitch Modulation tool. While holding the mouse button down, drag up (more vibrato) or down (less vibrato). Extreme vibrato amounts can sound like whammy bar-based vibrato.

Synthesized Slides

Notes with moderate bending can bend pitch up or down over as much as several semitones:

1. Select the Pitch Modulation tool.

2. Click on a blob that incorporates a moderate bend.

3. While holding the mouse button down, drag up to increase the bend up range. With most notes, you can invert the bend by dragging down.

Because a synthesized bend can cover a wider pitch range than physical strings, this effect sounds like you’re using a slide on your finger. In fig. 1, see measures 44 and 45 for examples of upward bends. The end of measure 47 shows an increased downward bend.

For the most predictable results, the note you want to bend should:

  • Establish its pitch before you start bending. If you start a note with a bend, Melodyne may think the bent pitch is the correct one. This complicates increasing the amount of bend.
  • Have silence (however brief) before the note starts. If there’s no silence, before opening the track in Melodyne, edit the guitar track to create a short silent space before the note.

Slide Up to Pitch, or Slide Down to Pitch

This is an unpredictable technique, but when it works, note transitions acquire a “smooth” character. In fig. 1, note the difference between the modified and unmodified pitch slides in measures 43, 44, 47, 49, 50, and 51.

To add this kind of slide, click on a blob with the Pitch Drift tool, and then drag up or down. The slide’s character depends on what happens during, before, and after the note. Sometimes using Pitch Modulation to initiate a slide, and Pitch Drift to modify the slide further, works best. Sometimes the reverse is true.

This is a trial-and-error process. With experience, you’ll be able to recognize which blobs are good candidates for slides.

The ”Hearing is Believing” Audio Examples

Guitar Solo.mp3 is an isolated guitar solo that uses none of these techniques.

Guitar Solo with Melodyne.mp3 uses all of these techniques on various notes.

To hear these techniques in a musical context that shows how they can add a surprising amount of emotion to a track,this link takes you to a guitar solo in one of my songs on YouTube. The solo uses all three effects.