A harmonizer is a very characteristic pedal. The harmonized effect is something that adds a whole lot of flavour to the guitar but at the same is very hard to ignore. The harmonizer was made for creating full, extra intricate melodies that push the guitar more into the spotlight in a song. In countless solos, harmonization is a technique used to make the audience feel the power of two guitars at once.
If you use a harmonizer pedal, you can achieve pretty much that exact same feeling by yourself. Basically, the harmonizer is just a pitch shifter/octave pedal. The difference between a harmonizer and an octave pedal is that the harmonizer can modulate the guitar signal in steps of single semitones instead of the octave pedal, which only jumps in steps of 12. Harmonizers are commonly used for guitar and voice because the frequency range that they cover is distinct enough that adding 3rds, 4ths, or 5ths on top of them won’t make it too muddy.
Bass guitars often use octave pedals, but not so often harmonizers because the bass does not have the clarity or melodic sustain to be supported by harmonies.
Delay, reverb, chorus; all these effects are generalists. They can be slapped into almost any rig and make the guitar sound better. Harmonizer is a different story. It is a specialist pedal. It produces a very distinct sound, and it is heavily recommended that you make yourself familiar with that sound before purchasing. The very remarkable thing about these types of specialist effects is that they can make the guitar feel like a completely different instrument. It is not only fun but can be helpful when you are out of ideas.
For more specific details on harmonizers and how they function, please visit the buyer’s guide! There, we will also discuss what the controls/knobs commonly do on a harmonizer.
First on this list is a pedal from EHX. As a brand, EHX is usually a safe bet for pedals. They produce top-quality gear with excellent sound. Before we go further, you might want to know that harmonizer pedals are typically more expensive than your average effect pedal. The pitchfork sits just slightly above average for this list and is actually relatively cheap when compared to harmonizer pedals on average.
This pedal can harmonize up and down three octaves. The wide range of pitches makes it usable for almost anything. On top of that, it has a glitch-free harmonization that is built for the guitar. Eleven different positions of the main knob switch between intervals for transposing the dry signal. In addition, you will also have a dual-mode that outputs two pitch-shifted signals instead of one, pitching the signal to an octave above and an octave below. The EXP input also allows the player to change the pedal’s output while playing, giving more power to sound control.
How to use this pedal
There is an infinite amount of uses for a pitch-shifting pedal. One common thing is using it to fatten up or thin down any guitar section. It can also be used to drop tune the guitar without using a baritone or change strings. Also, many players like to change instruments with just the click of a button. The electric guitar quickly changes sounds to a high-quality bass guitar using the Pitch Fork. This pedal is perfect for the guitar.
BOSS Harmonist Guitar Pedal (PS-6)
- User friendly interface
- Well-established brand/manufacturer
- Muddy output
Next, we feature a classic harmonizer pedal. In addition to making good starter pedals for the guitar and bass, Boss is also famous for making incredibly sturdy pedals. It makes the PS-6 an obvious choice for a live musician that travels around with their rig a lot. Almost all BOSS pedals have the exact same shape, and they will be the last pedals to have technical problems in any pedal-chain. Like many other harmonizers, the PS-6 allows you to choose between different keys to harmonize your lines in and whether you want the harmonization to follow the major or the minor scale.
How is it different?
While most pedals in this listing will function in very similar ways, the sound output does vary entirely from one pedal to the next. The Boss PS-6 outputs sound a little muddier and less distinct than the previously mentioned EHX pitchfork. For some, this hits right on the money. If you make this into a real example, the BOSS PS-6 might be better for someone looking for a subtle low or high octave. However, this pedal is an excellent overall choice and will work well as anyone’s first harmonizer pedal. It is cheap and fits perfectly into a live artist’s toolkit.
TC Electronic Quintessence Harmoniser
- A lot of fun features
- Controls look a little cluttered
This pedal from TC Electronic is capable of a lot of fun stuff and comes at a low price. It has some standard features such as the key selection and ”mix” knob, letting you choose how much of the FX sound the pedal should output. It has a high-quality sound output and will function perfectly for an electric guitar without glitching. In addition to harmonizing to certain keys and choosing between major/minor, the Quintessence Harmoniser also has the option to harmonize your sound after several various scales. These include scales such as Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian and Mixolydian.
It is a very useful option if you are more in tune with advanced guitar playing and know exactly what you want your pedal to do.
The Q Harmoniser is made by TC Electronic. TC Electronic has built-in their ”tone-print” function into their newer pedals. The Q Harmoniser has the ability to Tone-print. It means that you can alter the sound of your pedal in a new way. Many famous players use TC Electronics pedals, and they dial in their favorite sound on any given pedal and ”tone-print” it into the app. So other players can later take that sound and print it into their own pedal. It is a very cool thing that works very smoothly for anybody with a smartphone.
However, it is a bit of a niche thing that might turn out not to be inspiring at all. For some players, imitating another might be considered boring.
Beetronics Swarm Fuzz Harmoniser
- Great sounding
- Innovative controls
- Extremely cool
- Might be considered confusing
Moving on and moving up in price. Looking at the name of this pedal pretty much tells you what it is aiming for. If you’re a soulful blues player or someone who is looking for clean, angelic harmonies, look away from here. This pedal is absolutely insane. Both in the good and the bad sense. It features controls such as” Flight,”” Sting,”” Worker,” and so on. Beetronics produce highly-customized niche pedals that are all bee-themed. It is an eye-catcher, it has fun and inventive controls; but does it sound good?
Yes, it does! The Beetronics Swarm Fuzz Harmoniser has some extremely high-quality sounds to dial in. Toying around with the ”Flight” and ”Sting” knobs will produce vastly different blends of pitch-shift and fuzz.
Can it be too different?
Two types of players would make an excellent match for the Beetronics Harmoniser. The first type is someone who has looked at this pedal or similar pedals before and knows exactly what type of sound he is after. It really does sound like a bee, and there is no better way of putting it: sharp, stinging fuzz with harmonization that becomes eerie in the blend. The unique blend of harmonization and fuzz will sound intrusive for the majority of players who are only looking for a harmonization pedal.
The second type of player that would benefit from this pedal is the type that loves to experiment. Nevertheless, it will be quite an expensive experiment. The Beetronics Harmoniser has a ridiculous amount of different sounds that you can find your way to by just playing around with the controls. But for someone who wants a more practical pedal to use and a little more straight forward, this would likely be a wrong choice.
Eventide Harmoniser PitchFactor
The Final Boss
- Intuitive controls
- Built in tuner
- 100 top quality presets built in
- Synthesizer effects and more more
- Too many controls might make the pedal counter-productive
There is no arguing with it. This one is a top-quality pedal. It is costly and comes with a wide variety of sounds to justify that price. Unlike the Boss PS-6, this is a pedal that you want to treat with care. It is sturdy and will stand the test of time, but don’t go stomping too hard on it! This pedal has so many features you could write a book on it. But let me try and Summarise.
To create the PitchFactor, Eventide handpicked some of their best delay and pitch effects from their rack units and put them in a stomp-box. Over 100 presets and various voicings give this pedal similar creative freedom to your typical MultiFX pedal. But it is centered around delays and pitch-shifting, so Eventide rightfully named it a harmonizer. Although the Pitchfactor looks scary, the interface is extremely user-friendly and can be controlled by foot and fine-tuned with the various knobs.
What can it do?
Besides having over 100 already made wonderfully sounding presets built into the unit, you can upload your own presets via phone or simply dial in presets on the pedal itself and save them like that. The pedals’ various voicings include” PitchFlex”,” HarPeggiator”, and” Synthonizer”. All of these will make your guitar sound completely different. It is perfect for playing chords; it can arpeggiate and even “learn” which key to harmonize in if you strum your guitar for it.
This pedal is the ultimate all in one harmonizer. Many many musicians such as Jimmy Page, Steve Vai, and Brian May have used this pedal and its models off of the Eventide rack units, which have been used in studio environments to a massive extent. In addition to being a harmonizer, the different presets can be a real lifesaver if you are in a creative rut. The” Crystals” preset will make the guitar sound nothing like a typical harmonizer/pitch-shifter pedal, but man, it is beautiful. It can truly do anything you want it to and is the perfect match for someone who wants a harmonizer pedal to last them their entire lives.
Here we will go more in-depth to the typical controls on a harmonizer pedal typically do so that you can dive deeper into the pedals listed here. But first, how does a harmonizer pedal work?
Roughly speaking and as previously mentioned, the harmonizer is a pitch-shifting pedal. It takes the original dry signal of your instrument, modulates it, and mixes the modulated signal with the original dry signal.
The most basic knob on any Harmonising or pitch-shifting pedal in general. The most basic knob on any Harmonising or pitch-shifting pedal in general. It controls how much of that wet signal is mixed with your dry input signal.
Various interval options
One of the most common uses for a harmonizer or pitch-shifter is to harmonize in octaves. It means going up or down either 12 semitones from what is outputted from the guitar. The harmonizer pedals featured in this article all can choose from other intervals such as 3rd, 4th, and 5th. All this means is that based on the selected key and minor or major modes the pedal will harmonise the note that is played 3, 4, or 5 steps up/down.
A lot of harmonizers will have a ”latch” button. It is super useful for playing solos or lead sections where you only want to apply the harmonization to a small segment of the whole passage. With the latch button enabled, you simply have to stomp the pedal and hold it down for as long as you want the harmonization effect to be enabled.
This listing has a lot of different options that are varying. The TC Electronic Quintessence Harmoniser has a unique tone-print function. The Eventide Pitch-factor has a huge number of effects to choose from. The Beetronics pedal features a unique user interface with made-up names for controls. The point of these things is to try to set their pedals apart from the rest. But all of these extra little features that are in this listing actually have a use. If you don’t like to think about definitions, names, and how things work, the Beetronics Fuzz/Harmoniser unit might help boost your creativity. If you enjoy emulating famous players and want to help your sound that way, then the tone-print function from TC Electronic has a very real use.
Just because a pedal is complex and has many knobs to dial does not make it right. With the same argument, a simple pedal like the BOSS PS-6 is not worse than another pedal because it does not have as many features as the Eventide Pitchfactor. Some pedals like the Beetronics Fuzz/Harmony are a little more experimental and future-oriented, and some stick to what they know works, like the EHX Pitch Fork or Boss PS-6. At the end of the day, the critical thing when choosing a pedal is how you like the sound. Follow your ear by watching demo videos and researching until you find something that you think sounds good.
Hold on to your wallets before you know what you want.
As the old pedal saying goes: ”There is always room for one more”.’