The PS-6 Harmonist is one of the more versatile pedals Boss has ever stuffed
into their ubiquitous stompbox shell. The Harmonist is not only a multi-voice
harmonizer, it is also a pitch shifter, chorus, and octave shifter wrapped up
into one. And for the gigging guitarist in particular, it packs a ton of features
from subtle to extreme that can spice up a solo or even a whole song.
The Harmonist is housed in a metallic-blue version of the Boss casing.
In addition to the standard input jack, the PS-6 features an expression
pedal jack. It also offers stereo outputs.
While there are only four controls, each has multiple functions. The
Balance control blends direct and effected signal, and also doubles as
the Rise Time control when in S-Bend mode. The Shift knob controls
pitch shift intervals, and also functions as a Voice Harmony control.
The rotary Key pot sets the key signature chromatically from C to B,
and also does duty as the Fall Time control. Finally there is the Mode
knob that selects algorithms consisting of Minor and Major for the
keys, Pitch Shifter, Detune, and S-Bend (Boss’ abbreviation for Super
Let the Games Begin
Going directly into Pro Tools, I fired up the pedal with a TH1 amp modeler
and used a Hamer Korina Special for my guitar in all tests. The first
setting I tried was the S-Bend mode. In this mode, you use the Rise
Time and Fall Time knobs to determine how long it takes for the note
to reach its pitch. Pressing down on the footswitch shifts the pitch of
the notes, and when you release the footswitch, the notes either climb
or drop to the actual notes you’re playing—an effect not unlike the radical
pitch-shift craziness you can get out of a DigiTech Whammy pedal.
This was a blast. In S-Bend mode, by tapping on the switch I was able
to create ultra-wide and dramatic sweeps up to notes for solos, as well
as a slew of crazy effects.
In Detune mode I was pleasantly surprised with the unusual chorus
effects the PS-6 delivered. Using the Shift control, I was able to dial in
the style of detuning from very subtle to bold, and the unit’s Balance
control let me sneak in just a bit of chorus or really lay into it.
Harmonizing your own lines can be an effective way to add a virtual
member to the band, or it can fall completely flat. The Harmonist is a
strong performer for most common harmonizing applications, but its
performance is not without some glitches. For example, octaves, fourths,
and fifths sound clean and strong. However, I found thirds and sixths were
slightly less clear and often produced less-than-musical digital artifacts.
That said, the Harmonist’s collection of chord inversions and harmony
types makes it a valuable pedal. Latency wasn’t bad and tracking was spot
on except for a few times when the pedal got confused on the major/
minor setting. In that case, you could hear it flipping back and forth
between major and minor thirds.
With the PS-6, Boss built in a lot of features you don’t typically see in a
harmonizer pedal. And over the course of a gig, you could conceivably get
a lot of very usable and unique textures without covering the same ground
twice. More reserved players may not find much use for features like the
S-Bend mode. But if you’re looking for new ways to add dimension to any
facet of your playing, the PS-6 packs a lot of options into a single box.
you want multiple pitch and harmony
effects in one compact pedal.
you need pristine pitch shifting of