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How to unlock Kontakt pitch bending

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Many of the Kontakt instruments are locked to twelve equal, or have only limited pitch bend range. This means you can't bend the notes with a pitch bend wheel after they are played. It also means you can't use them for pitch bend retuning based on channel remapping in software such as Scala , Tune Smithy and Alt Tuner etc.

However, with many of the instruments, it can be quite a simple matter to unlock the pitch bends once you know how to do it. Others, especially the pianos, tend to be permanently locked into twelve equal and can't be adjusted in pitch at all.

Here is how you do it:

First, you need to go "behind the scenes" and edit the instrument, click on the spanner icon at top left.

Kontakt set pitch bend range stage 1.png

Now you might need to click on the Mod button at bottom left

Kontakt set pitch bend range stage 2.png

Now look for the pitch bend modulator.

Kontakt set pitch bend range stage 3.png

Make sure it is set to modulate pitch in the drop down to the right. Then adjust the slider until it shows 2.0 st - this is the standard pitch bend range of 2 semitones up and down.

If there is no pitch bend shown there, you can add it using Add Modulator

Kontakt set pitch bend range stage 4.png

This works for many of the instruments. However you might find that even after doing all this, that the instrument does not respond to pitch bends. If that happens, that's probably because it has been heavily scripted and the script ignores pitch bends.

In that situation you need to go to the script tab

Kontakt set pitch bend range stage 5.png

Then look through all the four tabs and you may find an option there to set the pitch bend range. If so this overrides the pitch bend modulator setting. Some instruments have a knob there which you adjust to set the pitch bend range.

Another thing you can do is to disable all the scripts in turn until you find the one which is disabling pitch bends.

Here is the Kontakt harpsichord in the factory library

Kontakt set pitch bend range stage 6-harpsichord.png

To disable the options tab click on Bypass, until it turns red. It will then respond to pitch bends.

As you see this tab has its own built in tuner including quarter tone option. I expect that's what is interfering with the pitch bends.

As you can see in this case I've added in the Keyswitch retuning to the third tab, and that works fine, is able to retune to any tuning table and also respond to pitch bends.


Velocity keyswitches retuning

This is a script you can add, which lets you do full tuning table uploads to many Kontakt instruments, provided you have software able to send the necessary messages.

It is a very new idea, only a few weeks old, developed by discussion amongst a group of microtonalists and software developers, and in beta at present - and so has no software support. However, I plan to release a version of Bounce Metronome able to update tuning tables in this way (currently in beta) and other software developers have also shown interest in adding this as a feature in the future after it comes out of beta.

See High numbered velocity keyswitches retuning

Kontakt pianos

Most of the Native Instruments Kontakt pianos are locked into twelve equal and that short list of example temperaments, same as for the Harpsichord above.

Most of them have essentially the same layout, with the same script tabs and similar layout of each tab.

With most of them, you can't add a modulator to modify pitch bends - if you add a pitch bend modulator, it defaults to modifying volume instead and there is no pitch option available in the drop menu.

There seems to be no way to adjust pitch or tuning except to use their tuning drop down list of a few 12 tone temperaments + 24-et.

Even if you disable all the scripts, it still doesn't respond to pitch bends, because there is no way to add a pitch bend modulator.

Probably only Kontakt can do anything about this.

There is one exception. The instrument called simply "Concert Grand" in the Kontakt factory collection is able to respond to pitch bend glides, so long as you bypass the "options" script tab, similarly to the harpsichord.

Kontakt pianos velocity keyswitch retuning

The problem here is that most of them have no free slot. However the August Foerster Grand has two free script slots. If you bypass the Options script tab and add my Velocity retuning script to one of the two remaining free slots - then though it is still unable to respond to pitch bends, it is retunable with the velocity tuning keyswitches:

August Foerster Grand.png

Perhaps the other Kontakt pianos could be retuned some time in the future if Kontakt themselves choose to add my velocity retuning script to them, either merge with one of the existing slots.

They could probably retuned, also, if Kontakt find a way to add extra script slots to their instruments.

It probably doesn't matter too much that they don't respond to pitch glides :). We just want to be able to retune them to any arbitrary temperament or indeed things like 72 equal, 53-et etc.

You can also use the Maestro Concert Grand which is in .gig format and easily imported into Kontakt.

Maestro Concert Grand.png

Here I've made the velocity retuning script into the performance view. It can do any of the velocity keyswitches tuning, and also it can handle pitch bends as well just like a normal sampled instrument, so if you want a piano which lets you vary the pitch during the note, with pitch glides and pitch vibrato etc, this one can do it :).

Sadly, the "Concert Grand" in the Kontakt factory set, though it responds to pitch glides when you bypass the tuning, has no free slots so can't respond to velocity tuning keyswitches.

Organs, harpsichord, Clavinet

Note, the Kontakt organs are just fine. All you need to do is to bypass the options script tab, similarly to the Harpsichord example above, also the clavinet and vintage electronic organs these all work just fine in my tests.


I don't understand why it is that so many of the Kontakt instruments default to either a very limited pitch bend range, or completely locked into twelve equal. But at least in many cases it is reasonably simple to unlock them once you know what to do. You can also add the velocity tuning keyswitches to many of them too.

The pianos though are a notable exception. I haven't yet found any way to retune any of them, except for the very short list of tunings that come preset with the pianos - with the notable exception of "Concert Grand" for pitch bends, and the "August Foerster Grand" for velocity keyswitch retuning.

You can also import the free "Maestro Grand" which is a decent enough instrument, and is able to respond to both pitch bends and also velocity keyswitch retuning.

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