What is the best Harmonizer Pedal?
Having an efficient pedalboard is similar to having a toolbox—having the right tools for specialized tasks will turn you into a more versatile guitarist. In this series, I’ll be taking a look at the best guitar pedals for the money.
In terms of effects that will broaden your sound, harmonizer pedals are very unique. That’s why I’m here to let you know what they are, if you need one, review them and outline which product is the best harmonizer pedal available!
Our top 5 Harmonizer effects Pedals
Harmonizer Pedals – Reviews
While not the best on this list, this is a product that will get the job done. The effects are processed beautifully, giving you almost no glitches no matter how complicated the harmonies are. There are also two separate inputs and outputs depending on whether or not you want mono or stereo sound, allowing you to have nuance over your sound.
You can also choose between programming in intervals or musical modes, something that allows you to harmonize according to your music theory preference. There is also a great deal of nuance with the mixing knob, allowing you to keep your harmonies subtle or empowering. It’s worth noting, though, that there is no major or minor distinction when choosing harmonies.
However, one of the most disappointing things about this product is the design. For starters, the knobs are too small and feel very flimsy when trying to adjust settings quickly. The edges are designed well, but the knobs overall are too small to be convenient. Despite this, the overall design of the product is definitely stable, providing you good support no matter how much pressure you put on it.
- Great sound without glitches
- Separate mono/stereo inputs/outputs
- Choose between intervals or modes
- Buttons are too small
- No major/minor distinction
If you want a harmonizer pedal that will offer you durability along with quality, this get my vote as being among the best. There are few other models that have comparable sound quality, allowing you to have clear harmonies no matter how quickly you change on the fly.
I personally love the other options included, such as the Detune and S-bend (Super Bend) modes. I also really enjoy how you can create multiple harmonies at the same time, allowing you to create up to two separate harmonies for a single note (a total of three notes sounding at once). It works extremely well, providing prime harmony for vocal and acoustic performances.
This pedal also excels in how it is designed. Boss are noted for their incredibly durable stompboxes that are also sturdy to use, and this is no exception. The only aspect of this pedal’s design that I could find a gripe with is just that the knobs are too small. Despite this, I never found myself having much trouble turning knobs on the fly simply because of how easy-to-grip they are. Although I wouldn’t describe it as “budget”, this pedal is also a very moderately priced product, making it a great investment for anyone wanting a quality product.
- Incredibly sturdy design
- Unique Detune and S-bend modes
- Consistent sound quality with almost no glitches
- Create three part harmonies
- Durable, effective design
- Knobs are a bit small
The first thing you’ll notice about the US600 is that it is the highest-priced model on the list. This is mainly a testament to how high-quality the sound is.
There are no glitches whatsoever when using this device! I was incredibly surprised when I first plugged in and noticed how smooth the sound was, something that I had only experienced with the aforementioned Boss pedal.
With a variety of modes to choose from (Flutter, Tremolo, etc.) and major/minor designations to set the pedal to, you’re sure to have a nuanced sound with the US600. In particular, I love the ability to adjust your desired speed!
The design of this pedal is also incredibly durable, giving you one of the most sturdy stompboxes available on the market. The knobs are way too small, though, being hard to grab at times. Despite this, I recommend this pedal for anyone who can afford the price and who wants something truly high-quality.
- Good sound quality with no glitches whatsoever
- Variety of modes to choose from (Flutter, Tremolo, etc.)
- Adjust your desired speed
- Durable design
- Price might be prohibitive for some
- Knobs are too small
Those looking to try out a mini harmonizer pedal without sinking too much money into it will be satisfied with the AHAR-3.
This pedal gives you the basics at a very affordable price, having a surprising amount of features for a product of its size. The main knob to adjust interval is sufficiently big, making it easy to grab onto.
That being said, the knobs for Dry and Wet are incredibly small in comparison, making them difficult to work with. The small size of the pedal itself when compared to the main knob and foot switch make it unstable when significant pressure is applied to it.
It isn’t the most high-quality product on the market, but it does the job quite well. The sound quality of this pedal is also very good, only giving out a few glitches when rapidly changing intervals. A great option if you’re on a tight budget.
- Very affordable price
- Large interval knob
- Small Dry/Wet knobs
- Not a stable design
I’m including this item on the list because it is a high-quality product nearly on par with the aforementioned Boss pedal, but it also includes knobs that are very easy to use alongside a durable design. Certainly among the best.
Unlike the Boss unit, it’s unlikely that you will have trouble gripping any of the knobs on this device, making it accessible to anyone who can’t grip small objects as easily.
For example, I have a friend who has arthritis and therefore appreciates larger knobs on his effects units, making the TC Helicon Harmony Singer a great choice.
The only real cons to the Helicon are the limited modes and the price. The price might be prohibitive for some, resting on the upper end of moderate prices. On top of this, there are only three modes to control (Harmony, Level and Reverb) and only one stereo input/output jack.
However, there is a Reverb option, something not included with any of the others on this list. Those looking for an accessible, high-quality product will enjoy this!
- Large, easy-to-grab knobs
- Unique Reverb option
- Durable design
- Price might be prohibitive for some
- Only three modes to choose from
Choosing a Harmonizer Pedal for Guitar and Vocal Performances
What is a Harmonizer?
Chances are, you don’t need a harmony pedal to have an effective sound. However, they can be a valuable addition to any pedalboard regardless of the type of music you’re playing.
For those who are unaware of just what it is a harmony pedal does – it takes any given note/notes you play and processes it/them, creating harmonies on the fly. You can typically configure how you blend the note with the harmonized one, select your desired key signature, and choose from a variety of harmonies.
This helps on many levels – you can not only add color to your solos, but train your ear to hear intervals more naturally. For example, if you have your pedal set to a third, you will train your ears to hear thirds naturally through repetition.
Why use Harmony effects, anyway?
Harmonizer effects allow you to broaden the way you play. A good way to think about it is through a painting metaphor. You typically can paint with just one color at a time, being limited to the amount that can fit onto one brush. Playing intervals or chords is similar to using multiple colors at once with two brushes, but you’re still manually moving two brushes at a time.
With a harmonizer product, the work of moving the second brush is already taken care of, meaning that you don’t have to worry about holding another note. You can also blend notes into each other, an effect that is very much like blending colors through watercolor.
If you are somebody who wants to add density to your sound, using your harmonizer product while playing chords can give you some really cool textures. This works especially well when combined with a looper pedal, as you can easily create gorgeous, overlapping textures. For an interesting experience, try running this alongside a fuzz box.
Are There Any Disadvantages?
There are no disadvantages to harmonizer pedals really, but there is a learning curve required to get used to them, as it helps to know a bit of music theory. Because of this, it helps to understand the concept of harmonization so you know where to effectively apply your pedal. For example, if you have the harmonizer set to a third and you strum a G major chord, the result will be a B major chord. This is not ideal as it is incredibly dissonant with G major.
That being said, you don’t need to be familiar with music theory – you’ll have a bit of a steeper learning curve.
If you want to learn about the basics of harmonizing, this video is particularly helpful. It centers around singing and vocal effects, but the exact principles can be applied to guitar playing as well.
Who Might Use one?
Harmonizer pedals can have a wide variety of different uses spanning different genres. One of my personal favorite uses is by the guitarist Jonny Greenwood (of Radiohead) in the intro to their song “My Iron Lung”. In this song, the harmonizer effects help carry the melody quite well, giving a beautiful digital effect.
A different use can be found at the beginning of the Alex G song “After Ur Gone”, where he achieves the really intense effects by strumming aggressively. This is a really interesting instance of a harmony effects pedal being used in a creative way, showing you how the possibilities are only limited to your imagination.
Things To Look For/Attributes That Differentiate These Products
Harmonizer pedals all perform similar functions, but have different ways of getting there. This is why you should be looking for the different modes any given pedal has to see if it is right for you. For example, some products will only offer pitch shifting in octaves, while others will have detuning available as well.
Though all products will harmonize your notes, it’s important to know how much nuance you will have over the harmonization. Some products will allow you to distinguish major or minor when choosing an interval, while others will just assume major regardless of what you choose. There are also other products that will allows you to choose the speed of the harmonizing effect!
Of course, when deciding between products, the most important thing to look out for is the quality of the sound. Some effects products will process sounds more efficiently than others, leading to glitches and other types of disorienting sounds in the less impressive models. Harmonizer products are like this too, so be aware that—though they all do the same thing—some products are more efficient than others.
Some products will also offer stereo and mono input and outputs, allowing you to further customize the way the harmonies are applied to your sound. For those who are interested in having a technically “pure” sound, you should also be on the lookout for whether or not your desired product has true bypass capability. If you’re interested in learning about what true bypass means, here is a helpful introductory article.
Final thoughts on the best harmonizer pedal
Though it’s not a necessary pedal to have in your arsenal, it can open up a world of possibilities for any guitar player. As you can likely tell, there is a whole world to explore regarding the possibilities with harmonizer products, but the best harmonizer pedal by far is the Boss PS-6 Harmonist Pedal due to how easily you can perform very complicated actions.
Whether you want to create three part harmonies on the fly or detune notes as you go, nothing was tricky to figure out with the PS-6. On top of this, the prime sound quality is top notch, the design is very durable and the price is well worth it. It can also be one of the best harmonizer pedal for vocal harmony.
If you absolutely need one of these units (or just want one of the sake of it) but have limited funds, the Aroma Mini AHAR-3 is a great budget effects option.