Multiple pitch and harmony effects in one pedal

Download Example 1
Octave below pitch shift setting
Download Example 2
Thick chorus setting
Download Example 3
Super Bend mode with full step setting
All clips recorded with a Hamer Korina Special into Overloud's TH1 amp modeler in Pro Tools.
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.

Full House
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 Bend) modes.

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.

The Verdict
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.

Buy if...
you want multiple pitch and harmony effects in one compact pedal.
Skip if...
you need pristine pitch shifting of all intervals.

Street $149 - Boss US -

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