So, you’re on the hunt for the best harmonizer pedal.
Maybe you’re the only guitarist in your band and you’re looking for a way to make it sound like there are more guitar players in your group.
Or maybe you’re trying to make your guitar sound like a church organ, 12 string guitar, or pedal steel.
Harmonizer pedals are not only a great way to fatten up your sound, but they give you everything you need to create rich and layered harmonies that would otherwise be impossible for one player to pull off.
Here are our top picks for harmonizer pedals in 2021!
Snapshot: Top 6 Harmonizer Pedals in 2021
- Hotone Skyline Harmony – Best Budget Option
- TC Electronic Brainwaves – Best Polyphonic
- Boss Harmonist PS6
- Digitech Whammy 5
- Beetronics Swarm Fuzz Harmonizer – Best High End Option
- TC Electronic Quintessence – Best Overall
Shopping for an Awesome Harmonizer Pedal
For a long time, I ignored harmonizer pedals. I figured I didn’t need one since I can already harmonize notes by playing chords. It’s one of the things that makes guitar so unique and expressive.
However, I’ve come to realize there is a massive difference in tone between harmonizing on the fretboard and playing through a harmonizer pedal. Just tune a harmonizer down two octaves and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Picking out the right harmonizer isn’t the same thing as picking out an octave pedal. While most harmonizers do the octave thing, they also have just about every interval in between. For this reason, traditional octave pedals are not included on this list.
Many of the pedals on this list are called pitch shifters/harmonizers. As long as a pitch shifter included a Mix or Dry/Wet control to blend in your original note, it could have been included on this list.
I made sure to include pedals of all budgets, as well as to include some pedals that push the limit of what this effect can do.
Now that you know how I compiled my list, it’s time to jump into the top picks!
The Best Harmonizer Pedals in 2021
1. Hotone Skyline Harmony – Best Budget Harmonizer Pedal
- Polyphonic Pitch Shifter/Harmonizer of ±2 Octave Range with 11 Pitch Intervals (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,9,10,12,24 Semitones)
Harmonizer pedals can be found in small, robust packages that don’t break the bank. Don’t believe me? The Skyline Harmony from Hotone proves this to be true.
The Skyline is a miniature, digital harmonizer and pitch shifter effect pedal. This pedal is built like a mini tank, with the outer covering made of a zinc alloy and finished with red paint fitting to its name. There is even a barricade to keep your toes from knocking your settings. The Hotone Skyline is polyphonic, meaning that it can track more than one note at a time and is capable of harmonizing up or down two octaves.
The controls on the Skyline are easy to use, but allow for a wide array of harmonies to incorporate into your guitar rig. It has separate Wet and Dry controls. Placing these knobs at noon results in unity level and a perfect balance between your original note and the effect note. There is a switch for harmonizing up (represented by a treble cleft), down (bass cleft) and detune (D).
The knob on top of the pedal lets you pick how many semitones you want the harmonized note to be away from your root note and there is an LED inside that shines when the pedal is activated. I find this to be a nice touch for use on dark stages.
For a budget pedal, I’m really impressed with how well the Skyline tracks across multiple notes. Some notes in the middle of chords can get a little messy, but it’s not anything that the everyday listener will notice, especially if you’re using this alongside a crunchy tone.
Rolling the Dry signal off and boosting the Wet signal results in a traditional pitch shift sound. The replicated notes definitely have a sound of their own that makes your guitar sound more like an organ than a guitar, but this can be a very cool sound when used in the right setting.
- Pedal Type: Polyphonic Harmonizer
- Signal: Digital
- Power Requirements: 9V DC (53mA)
- Dimensions: 2.9 x 1.7 x 1.7”
- Features: True Bypass, 2 octaves, Wet/Dry
Final Thoughts on the Hotone Skyline Harmony
Budget effects are always a tossup, but the Skyline is a solid pedal. This is a great option for someone that needs a harmonizer pedal to fit into a small amount of space on their board, or who only intend to use it as a specialty effect and don’t want to sink hundreds of dollars. Compared to the others on this list, the Skyline is basic and straightforward. Sometimes that’s all you really need.
2. TC Electronic Brainwaves – Best Polyphonic Harmonizer Pedal
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What’s better than harmonizing one note? Multiple notes, that’s what! Few pedals can track polyphonic harmonies as cleanly the Brainwaves, and even fewer have as many extra functions.
Could the TC Electronic Brainwaves be any other color than pink? Clearly not. This standard sized, pink colored pedal has enough features to get your mind spinning. It has four effect modes, 3 inputs for preset TonePrints, as well as stereo In/Out.
Its dual voiced, with each voice having the ability to go up or down two entire octaves. While the standard settings on the pedal are enough for most, the pedal is fully customizable with the TonePrint app.
With all the functionality that the Brainwaves has, it’s hard to believe that accessing all its potential can be done with just four knobs and two switches. The FX Type Knob lets you choose which type of pitch shifting effect you want, of which there are four: Pitch, V1>V2, Wham, and Detune (more on these sounds later). There are also selections for three programmable TonePrints.
There is a switch for each of the two voices with their own intervals and up/down switch. Don’t see the harmony you want? Additional harmonies can be created in the TonePrint app and saved in the Custom slot. The Mix knob allows you to blend in your dry signal. Finally, the True Bypass switch has MASH technology to alter the effect in a number of different ways.
The Brainwaves doesn’t just do your usual pitch shift effect. The Detune setting changes your pitch by a few cents and can be blended in for vibrato or chorus sounds. The Wham setting turns the Brainwave into a whammy style pedal, shifting your guitar from two unison voices to the selected pitches gradually.
V1>V2 shifts the pitch you have set on Voice 1 down or up to Voice 2. The setting most will use for harmony is the Pitch effect, where voices 1 and 2 are both active. Setting the Mix to 50% gives a harmonizer effect, and setting to 100% creates a full blown pitch shift sound.
The Mash pedal takes this to a whole other level, giving you the ability to create Whammy, pseudo bends, and more with the help of the TonePrint app.
- Pedal Type: Polyphonic Pitch Shifter
- Signal: Digital
- Power Requirements: 9V (100mA)
- Dimensions: 2.0 x 2.9 x 4.8″
- Features: Switchable True/Buffered Bypass, MASH, TonePrint, Stereo
Final Thoughts on the TC Electronic Brainwave
The Brainwave doesn’t just have a bunch a features packed into a small box; it also sounds good with its incredible tracking. This could easily be an ambient noise making pedal, but instead it is entirely musical and an inspirational tool for the studio and stage alike.
3. Boss Harmonist PS6
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It wouldn’t be a “Best Harmonizer Pedal” list without an entry from the Boss PS series. The newest version, the PS6 Harmonist, is Boss’ most versatile sounding harmonizer to date and comes in at an affordable price point
The Harmonist comes in a standard Boss pedal enclosure and houses four different pitch bending effects, as well as three harmonizer effects. Boss makes their harmonizer especially usable with the inclusion of an expression pedal input along with stereo in/out jacks.
Like all Boss pedals, the PS6 has buffered bypass and is an excellent option for those looking to combat signal loss from long cable runs.
The Harmonist is deceptively complex for having only four controls. Each of the controls are highly interactive and change function depending on which Mode you select. The four modes include Harmony (Major/Minor), Pitch Shift, Detune, and S-Bend (Super Bend).
The Harmony mode works with a specific key (hence the Key control) and can be set to major or minor. The semitones are then adjusted with the Harmony (or Shift) control and can give you up to three voices. The Balance control works as a mix control, or as a Rise Time control for the S-Bend mode.
The Fall Time is controlled using the Key control in S-Bend mode as well. The bypass switch can also be used as a momentary switch.
The Harmonist PS-6 has a slightly robotic sound to it that I find to be full of character. The Detune effect is extremely usable and sounds like it could pass for a CE-2 chorus or vibrato. While this pedal might be able to pull off certain chords, the PS-6 is best used as a monophonic harmonizer pedals to give the illusion of two guitarists playing a lead line.
That being said, the pedal is far from limiting once you incorporate an expression pedal, effectively turning it into a full blown whammy pedal.
- Pedal Type: Harmonizer/Pitch Shifter
- Signal: Digital
- Power Requirements: 9V
- Dimensions: 2.9 x 5.1 x 2.3”
- Features: Buffered Bypass, Expression, Stereo In/Out
Final Thoughts on the Boss Harmonist PS-6
Though there are more expansive pedals on the market, but Harmonist strikes a solid middle ground between price point, versatility, and top notch build quality that Boss is know for. If you’re looking for a monophonic harmonizer with some added features, this could be the pedal for you.
4. Digitech Whammy 5
Though the Whammy from Digitech is most know for its whammy effect (what gave it away?), this expression style effects pedal has a great Harmonizer side to it that often gets overlooked.
The Digitech Whammy has a unique build that makes it worth the extra hike in price with its expression pedal based approach to harmony and whammy effects. The expression pedal lets you sweep from one note to the next in the Whammy mode (essentially the pitch shift side of the effect) or as a mix on the harmony side of the pedal.
These effects have been used extensively by the likes of Tom Morello and Jack white among others. It can be used as either a mono or polyphonic harmonizer.
You can essentially think of the Whammy 5 as having two sides: Whammy and Harmony. Each side has a list of LED’s that correspond to the interval that is getting shifted or harmonized to. There is also a switch for classic (Mono) and Chords (Poly) voices. Like many great harmonizers, the Whammy also features a detune effect with shallow and deep modulation settings.
The most important control on the pedal is the expression lever, giving you full control over how the harmonies are expressed, giving you everything from swells to dive bombs.
The Whammy is one of those pedals that has an instantly recognizable tone to it. It is often paired with overdriven guitars to give synth or robot like quality. The Whammy can’t be helped but to take over your tone completely and is one of those pedals that becomes part of your style instantly should you decide to start using it.
The tracking has improved with each model, but the tones of each have changed slightly as well, so definitely check out the earlier models if you’re interested in this style of effect.
- Effect Type: Expression Pedal Harmonizer
- Signal: Digital
- Power Source: 9V
- Dimensions: 8 x 6.3 x 2.5
- Features: True Bypass, Polyphonic Mode, MIDI in,
Final Thoughts on the Digitech Whammy 5
The Whammy is arguably Digitech’s most famous (or infamous) pedal they’ve ever created, and it’s been around for thirty years! It’s one of the first truly experimental pedals and is capable of creating wild sounds on top of fantastic organ and synth harmony parts. If you’re a fan of harmonizer pedals, but want more movement out of the pedal, then the Whammy is a great option to consider.
5. Beetronics FX Swarm Fuzz Harmonizer – Best High Harmonizer Pedal
- Pedal Size - 5.5" x 4" x 2.75" (including knobs, switches and etc)
This is easily the most exciting harmonizer pedal that I came across in my research and it is a brand new design. Fuzz + Harmonizer = one perfectly named and crafted pedal.
Unlike the rest of the pedals on this list, the Swarm Fuzz is 100% analog and combines a square wave fuzz with two different voices (one up to an octave up and one down to an octave below). You’re not limited to octaves with this pedal though, as there are nine different intervals to select from including unison, major thirds, fifths, and more.
This is an expertly crafted pedal that will easily stand up to the hardships of the road and it has a really unique look to it fitting of its bee-theme.
The controls are pretty clever here. The Species control lets you choose which interval you want harmonized to. The Worker knob can be thought of as a Fuzz or Gain control. Queen controls the upper register and Drone controls the Lower register.
The Flight and Sting knobs are dedicated to modulating the harmonies, with Flight controlling the modulation response and Sting controlling the rate of modulation. Hidden on the side of the pedal is your master volume control.
What makes this pedal awesome is that you could buy it for the fuzz or the harmonizer effects on their own. The fuzz tone sits somewhere between a fuzz face and a muff style fuzz, as it can get pretty wild without losing the articulation in your pick attack. Turn the Worker control all the way off and you have an expansive harmonizer effect for your clean tones.
But this pedal is meant to bring these two beasts together, and in doing so Beetronics has created a truly unique effect. From video game worth synth tones to chaotic pitch drops, the Beetronics FX swarm can do it all.
- Pedal Type: Fuzz/Harmonizer
- Signal: Analog
- Power Requirements: 9VDC (7mA)
- Dimensions: 5.5″ x 4″ x 2.75″
- Features: Fuzz, Modulation, Harmony, Master Volume, True Bypass
Final Thoughts on the Beetronics FX Fuzz Harmonizer
Harmonizer pedals are always fun and spark creativity, but none could possibly do it like the Fuzz Harmonizer. I’ve always felt that harmonizer pedals sound better with distorted guitars, so why not have a pedal that combines the two? This effect is sure to cause a stir at guitar shows in 2021.
6. TC Electronic Quintessence Harmonizer – Best Overall
- Exceptional dual-voiced intelligent harmony pedal with PolySense and innovative pressure-sensitive footswitch
While the Brainwaves is more focused on pitch shifting, the Quintessence has its full attention on high level harmonizing. With settings for every scale and key imaginable, the Quintessence is ready to bring harmonizer pedals into even the most challenging of musical voicings and genres.
This dual voiced, stereo harmony pedal is for those who know their music theory, and those who don’t. The Quintessence is different from any other harmonizer pedal due to the fact that it can harmonize in just about any mode. The pedal itself comes with a wide array of stock keys and modes, but can be further expanded upon through the TonePrint app.
It also comes with TC’s MASH technology to add some extra expression capabilities to the pedal. One of the most impressive uses of the MASH tech is to bend harmonized notes within the selected scale. However, the coolest aspect of this pedal is its hidden delay engine. More on that shortly!
The controls on the Quintessence are aimed to give you as much versatility in terms of scale and harmony as possible. There is a knob for each Key, as well as a switch to sharpen the key center. Next to that is a control for the Scale, which lets you choose from the six predominant scale modes.
Don’t see the scale type you want labeled on the pedal? Just use the TonePrint app and beam it to your pedal and the scale can be accessed through the Custom parameter. The Harmony knob lets you choose the type of interval you want harmonize, ranging down a sixth up to a sixth above your played note. As with the scale, more harmony intervals can be accessed through the TonePrint app.
There is a Mix control so that you can dial in your dry signal, or go 100% wet for a pitch shift effect. We can’t ignore the MASH tech, which is accessed through the touch sensitive true bypass switch and can be set to latch or momentary with the associated switch.
While many harmonizer pedals can get you in the ballpark when it comes to harmonizing, the Quintessence is ready to harmonize under any scale or mode. No more odd sounding harmonies that don’t fit the mold. The great sounds don’t stop there though, as the short delay engine allows you to create arpeggio style harmonies, playing notes shortly delayed after your initial note. You have to hear it to believe it.
I really like the momentary switch as you can play single note lines one second, then chords the next for some serious Queen style riffs. The Quintessence tracks as well, if not better than any pedal on this list and is a fantastic polyphonic harmonizer.
- Pedal Type: Harmonizer
- Signal: Digital
- Power Requirements: 9V
- Dimensions: 2.0 x 2.9 x 4.8″
- Features: True or Buffered Bypass, Delay Engine, Stereo, MASH, TonePrint
Final Thoughts on the TC Electronic Quintessence
It was a hard choice between the Brainwave and the Quintessence for the top spot, but I had to give the Quintessence the edge for its sophisticated approach to harmony. This pedal must have taken a lot of R&D to get just right. The result is a harmonizer pedal that can work for simple octave up rock/fuzz effects, or full blown fusion harmony (or disharmony if you want). This is a game changer for this style of effect and will hold its own even as multi-effects pedals begin incorporating harmonizers.
An Effect as Expansive as Harmony Itself
Few effects have as much direct correlation to musical elements as harmonizers, and as a result that have serious potential to add musicality to your playing. This can come in the form of chords and double stops that you normally wouldn’t play, to detuned chorus effects, to pitch shifting whammy effects. It’s all fair game once you put a harmonizer pedal down on your board.
Harmonizer pedals have been around for decades now and they have become more and more sophisticated. You can now find a harmonizer that is as simple as an octave pedal, to a harmonizer fuzz hybrid, to harmonizers that accommodate literally every known scale that man is aware of.
Harmonizers are also great tools for getting inspired if you’re a beginner. If you don’t know how to play chords or how to properly harmonize, these pedals can get you the sounds you’re hearing in your head and can inspire you to learn how to play them on your instrument.
Whether you’re a garage rock band, or a fusion and music theory expert, there is a use for harmonizer pedals in your arsenal of effects. You may just find it to be the most musical and inspirational effect that you own.
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Davis Wilton Bader is a professional guitarist/writer based out of St. Louis, MO. He plays in the bands Lumet and The Outskirts.