The 7 Best Guitar Harmonizer Pedals in 2020
If you’re a solo singer or guitarist in a band, then it becomes difficult to add harmonies to your melodies and solos during live performances. Harmonizer pedals are really helpful tools in these cases, but with so many different types on the market, it can be difficult to pick one that’ll fulfill your purpose.
We’ve got you covered, as we’ve rounded up the 7 best harmonizer pedals that’ll take your performances to the next level.
Top Picks: 7 Best Harmonizer Pedal Reviews
Eventide is well-known amongst the guitar player community for their highly coveted studio rack units as well as effects pedals like the PitchFactor and TimeFactor, which offer unique and high-quality sounds. The Eventide H9 Max is an upgraded version of the original H9 and now offers many more algorithms and capabilities. It’s one pedal that includes almost all of Eventide’s signature effects, readily accessible through a compact and easy-to-use pedal.
The H9 Max comes pre-loaded with 52 algorithms and 99 presets. This includes many algorithms that include reverb, delay, modulation, and pitch-shifting, and most importantly, intelligent harmonies. It has an emulation of the original H910 and H949 harmonizers, which can take your guitar harmonies to another level, and intelligently detect the key you’re playing in. It can add harmonies of several different kinds, including minor and major, fifths, octaves, and more.
The H9 Max is not just a harmonizer pedal though, it’s a one-stop solution for reverb, delay, pitch-shifting, and modulation. With the H9 Control app on your phone or desktop, you can access its true deep-editing features and chain multiple different effects together. You can, for example, add harmony, delay, and reverb together to create some really otherworldly sounds.
The H9 Max is very easy and simple to use, with a single-knob system and 5 buttons, along with 2 footswitches and an LED screen. It’s built with durability in mind, and it’s very compact, so it’ll easily fit most pedalboards. It has a range of I/O connectivity, including USB, stereo inputs and outputs, MIDI in and out, as well as expression pedal input. It requires a 9V power supply.
If you’re looking for the best harmonizer pedal, then this is it. The Eventide H9 Max’s algorithms sound absolutely beautiful and unique, and it can really add flavor to any guitar tone. But besides harmonies, the H9 Max offers a ton of effects and algorithms in a compact stompbox that let you dive deep into the nuances of your tone.
BOSS is one of the most popular and famous manufacturers of guitar pedals, and their products are trusted by players worldwide. The Boss PS-6 is one of their recent offerings, and it’s an intelligent multi-voice harmonizer pedal that can add layers to your sound and take it to another level.
The PS-6 has 4 different modes: Harmony, Pitch-Shifter, Detune, and S-Bend. The Harmony mode can work in either Major or Minor keys, and it works brilliantly well. It accurately tracks the notes you’re playing and adds harmonies based on the selected key and the voicing. This emulates the feeling of 3 guitarists playing together, and is really useful for solo guitarists. Here’s what legendary Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman said about it (1):
Its tracking is really great and it can give me an extra two harmonies on stage so I’m pretty stoked about it.
Besides the Harmony, the other modes are quite useful as well. The Pitch-Shifter has a range of +/- two octaves, and the Detune can add subtle flavors to your sound. The S-Bend, which stands for Super Bend, is a crazy feature, with a rapid up/down pitch bend that wouldn’t normally be possible with a tremolo bar.
Like all Boss pedals, the PS-6 features a rugged, compact design that’ll easily fit any pedalboard. It has stereo outputs, with an expression pedal input to allow external control. It has a buffered bypass, and it requires a 9V DC power supply.
If you want a great harmonizer pedal for your guitar at an affordable price, then you should definitely check out the Boss PS-6 Harmonist. Its harmonizer mode is simple to use and functions very accurately, and it has pitch shifting as well, along with other unique features, making it the best guitar harmonizer pedal at its price range.
3. TC-Helicon VoiceLive 3 Extreme Guitar and Vocal Effects Processor Pedal – Best For Vocals
Type: For Vocals And Guitar
- Controls: 10 Footswitches, Edit Buttons, Control Knobs, LED Screen
- Bypass: Buffered
- Power: AC Power Supply
TC Helicon, a brand of TC Electronic and Behringer, is known for making high-quality vocal effects processors and pedals. The TC Helicon VoiceLive 3 Extreme is a major upgrade over the original, and takes elements from their other products, such as the TC Helicon Voicetone Harmony G XT and the TC Helicon Harmony Singer 2, and combines them together in one, all-encompassing solution for both vocal and guitar effects.
The VoiceLive 3 Extreme comes with over 250 factory presets that showcase its variety of vocal and guitar effects. With the 10 footswitches, you can easily switch between presets and turn the effects on/off in real-time. There are 11 blocks for the vocal effects chain, which includes delay, reverb, and most importantly, harmonies. The harmony effect is really accurate and can be set to a particular key, or it can even track the guitar chords you play, making it super easy to figure out.
This new TC Helicon harmonizer pedal also features some more cool things, like the ability to store over 100 backing tracks on the unit itself. You can even automate effect changes to make it easier during live shows, and all the audio can be recorded onto an external USB flash drive. With the variety of I/O connectivity that lets you connect mics, guitars, headphones, monitors, and more, this pedal is a beast for both live performances and studio recordings.
If you want a one-stop solution for vocal effects, harmonies, and guitar processing, then you should go for the TC Helicon VoiceLive 3 Extreme. It’s an expensive investment for any musician, but with the host of features onboard, its easy-to-use interface, and the unique automation and recording features, it’s one of the best vocal harmonizer pedals, and it can truly make one’s life a lot easier even during the most intense performances.
TC Electronic, a sister company of TC Helicon, has gained massive popularity recently amongst modern guitarists for their innovative and affordable range of effects pedals. The TC Electronic Quintessence Harmonizer pedal was specifically designed for solo guitarists and bands looking to add more flavor to their melodies and guitar solos, with a compact, 2-voice harmony effect that can work in any scale or mode.
The Quintessence has four knobs on its front that control the Key (from C to B), Scale (with 6 modes and a custom setting), the wet/dry Mix, and the type of Harmony. The Harmony setting can be single-voiced or double, as necessary, and there are 3 TonePrint slots as well. The TonePrint editor, on desktop and mobile, lets you go in-depth and fine-tune the sound to your desire.
Besides the fantastic TonePrint functionality, the Quintessence also features TC Electronic’s new MASH technology that turns the footswitch into a pressure-sensitive expression controller, almost like a whammy pedal. You can lightly press it to turn the harmony up to the next interval, allowing for some really expressive performances. This is what guitarist Tom Quayle said about the pedal (2):
It’s an amazingly full-featured pedal, with the fastest tracking I’ve ever heard and just a ton of flexibility.
The Quintessence is built in a compact stompbox format, with a durable build. It has stereo input and output jacks along with an LED indicator for the power status. The bypass can be switched to true or buffered, and it can be powered by a 9V power supply or battery.
If you’re looking for a simple and easy-to-use harmonizer pedal for your guitar, then the TC Electronic Quintessence is a good choice. Its controls are straightforward and allow you to play in any key, scale, or mode imaginable, with accurate polyphonic tracking and great-sounding harmonies. On top of that, the innovative MASH feature gives you even more expressive capabilities.
Another vocal harmonizer pedal on this list by TC Helicon, the Play Acoustic is a direct upgrade over the TC Helicon Voicetone Harmony G XT, the Voicetone H1, and the TC Helicon Harmony Singer 2. It’s a simple pedal that allows you to add effects and harmonies to your vocals, and also process your guitar sound during live performances and shows.
The Play Acoustic has 14 effects onboard; six for your acoustic guitar, and eight for vocals. These include reverb, delay, TC’s signature micro mods, harmonizers, choruses, and more. It’s designed to let you connect your acoustic, plug in your vocal microphone, and just start jamming away. It can add some beautiful upper and lower harmonies to your voice intelligently based on the chords you play.
It’s quite easy to navigate amongst the 3 footswitches, and the LED screen gives you information on the currently selected preset, with storage for over 100. It also has an in-built looper, and the wide range of connectivity means you can connect headphones, external PAs, and even a mobile phone to play backing tracks. The USB port lets you record your performances in high quality, and the stereo XLR outputs provide great sound.
If you’re a solo singer-songwriter or a vocalist looking for an easy pedal that can process your acoustic guitar and your vocals simultaneously, the Play Acoustic is a fantastic option. It offers amazing-sounding harmonies that can follow your voice based on the guitar chord progressions, and it’s a must-have tool for solo gigging musicians looking to add more flavor to their performances.
Type: For Guitar
- Controls: Dry, Shift 1, Shift 2, Value
- Bypass: Buffered
- Power: 9V DC PSU
Electro-Harmonix has been innovating new effects pedals for many years now, and are very popular amongst guitarists for their addictive tones. The original Electro-Harmonix Pitch Fork was an instant success, and loved by guitar players worldwide. Now, they’ve launched the Pitch Fork +, an improved polyphonic pitch-shifting pedal with octave harmonies, detunes, and more.
The Pitch Fork + has 3 main control knobs that control Dry, Shift 1, and Shift 2. Shift 1 and 2 are two independent pitch-shift engines that can be set to a variety of modes as per your desire. It has a range of +/- 3 octaves, with a detune capability of +/- 99 cents. So you can really dial in some melodic octave harmonies or even go for a wicked, detuned sound if you so wish.
Electro-Harmonix have built the Pitch Fork + to be a rugged, durable pedal that’s roadworthy and pedalboard-friendly. It has a lot of I/O connectivity, including an expression pedal jack, along with an LED screen and several lights to show the active modes. It features a buffered bypass and requires a 9V DC power supply.
If you’re looking for some of the best octave harmony effects, then you should definitely consider the Electro-Harmonix Pitch Fork +. It’s a major update over its already-amazing predecessor, and it’s a simple pedal that can add a lot of flavor and make even simple melodies sound beautiful. Perfect for experimental players!
Another entry on this list by Roland, the Boss VE-2 Vocal Harmonist is a vocal processor pedal that’s designed to offer solo singers and songwriters easy access to high-quality effects for their vocals and acoustic guitar in a portable, battery-powered unit. It’s a smaller brother to the more elaborate Boss VE-8 Acoustic Singer, but still offers great-sounding harmonies with an innovative ‘Auto Harmonist’ function.
The VE-2’s main feature is the ‘Auto Harmonist’ function, which can intelligently track the guitar chords you play and adds matching harmonies to your vocals. There are over 24 types of harmonies available here, with variations to make things more interesting. There’s a dedicated reverb and delay knob that lets you dial-in just the right amount, and for songs with key changes, you have a hybrid mode where you can set the key of the song.
The VE-2 is a very portable pedal, and could easily fit inside a backpack or any travel bag. It can run on just 4 AA batteries, or an AC adaptor, so it’s a simple plug-and-play operation whether you’re practicing or performing. You can connect any microphone to it, including condensers, along with your acoustic guitar, and even headphones. Plus, the USB allows you to record to a computer.
If you’re looking for a simple, portable vocal effects processor and harmonizer, then the Boss VE-2 Vocal Harmonist pedal is a great choice. It’s been designed to be very easy to use, even for amateur musicians, but provides high-quality effects and great harmonies at an affordable price that makes it a great buy for solo musicians.
Buying Guide: How To Pick The Best Harmonizer Pedal For You
When considering a harmonizer pedal, the first thing to consider is its type. Harmonizers come for a variety of instruments and even vocals, and hence we’ve reviewed a mixture in this article. If you’re a guitarist looking to add some cool harmonies to your solos or riffs, then you would need a pedal that can specifically track guitar signals. And for solo singers and band vocalists, you would need a vocal processor with harmony functions.
Intelligent harmonizers detect the notes you’re playing and harmonize them based on the selected key.
Some pedals, like the Eventide H9, have many more effects like reverb, delay, and modulation built into them. Depending on the pedals you already have and your required purpose, your needs may vary. Hence, pick one that’ll fulfill all your requirements.
Controls And Design
The other important aspect to consider is the design of the pedal, and the controls available on it. Harmonizer pedals come with a variety of controls, but most of them have controls to select the key you’re playing in, the type of harmony to apply, variations of scales and modes, and the mix level between the original and harmonized signal.
Some pedals have LED screens and other indicators that make it easier and more intuitive to understand the currently selected effects. They may have preset memory as well, and may even have USB connectivity for recording, firmware updates, and app-based editing. So pick a pedal that’ll give you just the right amount of control necessary to find your desired tone quickly.
Harmonizer pedals also come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some, like the PS-6, are quite compact and easily fit with other guitar pedals, while some may require more space. Vocal harmonizer pedals also come in different sizes. Hence, you should make sure you choose a pedal that’ll easily fit in with your existing setup.
Bypass And Power Requirements
True bypass ensures that your guitar’s original tone is not lost in any way when the effects pedal is bypassed, and so it results in a smooth operation. But true bypass can also cause issues when used with very long cables and large pedalboards, as the high-impedance input signal from your guitar will face resistance from the wires and start to lose some top-end frequencies.
Buffered bypass converts your signal to low impedance to prevent any high-end frequency loss.
Buffered bypass pedals, when bypassed, hence act as ‘buffers’ between your guitar and other pedals. In many situations, this is more helpful, and will also ensure that the signal’s integrity is maintained without any kind of ‘tone-sucking’ (3).
The power requirements of a harmonizer pedal are also something to consider. Will you always connect it to an external power supply, or do you need one that can run on batteries? Depending on your usage scenarios, you should choose one that’ll work for you and fit with your pre-existing pedal setup.
A harmonist pedal takes your input signal, either vocals, guitar, or perhaps another instrument, recognizes the notes you’re playing, and then harmonizes it based on the selected key, variation, and intervals. It can have multiple voices, with minor, major, octave, fifth, etc., types of harmonies. This is very useful for playing harmony leads on a single guitar and adding more depth to vocals while singing.
You can use a harmonizer pedal in a variety of different ways. The first step is to select the root key you’ll be playing in, and the mode, such as minor or major. Then you can select the type of harmony based on the interval, such as minor third, major fourth, perfect fifth, etc. Once these settings are selected, you can mix the level of harmony with your original signal. These basic principles apply to any harmonizer, whether for vocals or guitar.
A harmonizer normally goes near the beginning of the effects chain. Like pitch-shifters and octavers, harmonizer pedals need a clean signal without any distortion, delay, or modulation to be able to identify your signal accurately and apply the appropriate harmony. However, some players prefer to use them after a distortion pedal for metal leads and solos. This depends on the tracking capabilities of the harmonizer pedal, so you should try it out for yourself and see what works best.
- Marty Friedman with BOSS ST-2 and PS-6. Retrieved from: https://youtu.be/fP6j2ZAVD_M
- TC Electronic Quintessence Pedal Review. Retrieved from: https://youtu.be/UD-bAXgRasw
- The truth about True Bypass and Buffered guitar pedals. Retrieved from: http://www.roland.co.uk/blog/the-truth-about-true-bypass-and-buffered-guitar-pedals/