Sunday, July 31, 2011

Product Review: Boss PS-6 Harmonist

This product review is from a company I have believed in for many years....Boss. I have found over the years Boss makes some of the best sounding and reliable pedals. Up until T.C. Electronics started making kick butt pedals, the majority of the pedals I used were Boss. One pedal I have sworn by that is not Boss or a T.C. pedal is the Digitech Whammy pedal. The Whammy revolutionized the way pedals sounded. The pitch shifting capabilities and the note harmonization was never done as good or as amazing as the Whammy did. The only problem with the Whammy Pedal???? It cost a ton of money. Many a company has come along since the Whammy and tried to make pitch shifting and harmonizing pedals. To me they all sound like crap and were horrid reproductions of the great Whammy. Since the Whammy came around 15 or so years ago technology has advanced a ton. Now companies are making some better Whammy-esque pedals. The Boss PS-6 Harmonist is one of the new crop of pedals that does a great job of it. It does so at a fraction of the price and it also does so in a pedal that is the normal size of a pedal. Anyone that knows what a Whammy pedal is also knows how big it is. We are going to get into the Boss Harmonist right now.

The Specs-
1) it is the size of any normal Boss single pedal
2) the current draw is 45 mA, dc 9 volt (can be powered by an adaptor)
3) Blue colored pedal
4)has two 1/4 inch out for stereo outputs
5)has one 1/4 inch input
6)has one 1/4 inch input for an expression pedal (make it work like a whammy)
7) four control knobs
from left to right
knob 1- controls balance. lets you control the direct signal versus the effect sound. when you have the pedal in "s-bend" mode this knob controls the amount of time it is to take to transition to the set pitch
knob 2- when in the harmony mode of the pedal it sets the pitch of the harmonies. when in pitch shift/detune/s-bend it sets the amount of pitch shifting.
knob 3- key knob/fall time it sets the key to play in when using harmonies. when in s-bend mode it adjusts the amount of time it takes for the pitch to transition from the set pitch back to the original pitch (the fall time)
knob 4- mode knob used to switch among the harmony (major and minor), pitch shifter, detune and s-bend modes.
8)the light to tell you the pedal is on.
9) the pedal is turned on with a hit of the foot just like most normal Boss pedals

Now we are get into how a little of each setting sounds. I will break it down by function- Harmony,Pitch Shifter, Detune and the S-Bend effect. I am going to use the setting samples from the owners manual.

First up-Harmony Function.
I had the balance knob straight down the middle, I went through all the 2 part functions on the voice knob (3 part harmonies have an orange around them and are located with the knob all the way to the left, then again all the way to the right) had the key bounce between Eb and I bounced the mode knob between major and minor. The harmony knob takes you through (from left to right) an octave lower, next turn is a major 3rd an octave lower,turn again then a major 6th an octave lower, turn again then a major 3rd, next turn a perfect 5th, next turn a major 6th, last turn before 3 part mode is an octave up. These were all with the mode switch on major by the way. One thing I notice is how clean the pedal sounds. It most companies attempts on a harmony pedal the faster you play the more "soggy" the notes sound. In every harmony switch no matter how fast I played I could always understand the notes. I am more partial to the 5th and octave up harmonies. There is a great reproduction of the notes being harmonized and the original notes stands clear and clean as well. Keep note that the harmony goes with the key. So if you move through the notes of the scale with a say, 5th harmony it will be harmonizing through the scale and wont stay a perfect 5th away from all notes. As you hit the 7th degree of the scale it will naturally be a flat 5th because thats what happens in the scale. This function is cool, you just need to be aware of that.

Next is the Pitch Shifter Function.
I love the pitch shifter mode!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!This is where you can get your harmonies without worrying about the key. This function is awesome. The notes are clean. Has all the same characteristics of the harmony mode but without having to worry about what key you are in. Home run on this. Love it.You don't have to worry about if its major or minor key. You just go for it and rip it. This pedal would be worth it if it did only this.

Next is the Detune Function.
On the detune function stick the balance on 12 o clock, on the shift/harmony knob you can use the orange spots that are for 3 part harmonies to get different levels of detune. Detune is alot like a chorus effect. I love detune. I like it alot more than chorus. On this pedal the detune sounds rich and full. I love it. Sounds great. Another great feature on this pedal.

Next and last is the S-Bend Function.
On this your pedal works like a wah or a whammy. The effect is only engaged when your foot is on the pedal and is controlled by how much or how little you press down. This function has to many possibilities so I am just gonna tell you about some of the sounds I got. In one knob settings I was able to produce that guitar intro part to Black Sabbath's Iron Man. You know the part where you bend your string behind the nut the raise the pitch on the intro of the song. Another switch of the knobs and I hit a natural harmonic and hit the pedal and it makes the sounds of the space ship doors opening on the original Star Trek show. This function and make it sound like you are bending your string a whole step or a 100 steps! LOL! Your guitar can sound like a space ship or anything your imagination can think of. This function is far out.

The Boss PS-6 Harmonist is a great pedal. Better than most the pedals of its kind out there. You can also get an expression pedal (sold separately) that can make it like a Whammy pedal. I loved this pedal. At only $159.99 at Rock Bottom Music it is a far cry from the price of a Whammy pedal but with most all of the awesomeness of a Whammy. If you are looking for something different with endless possibilities then this is your pedal. Get on down to Rock Bottom and check it out. Imagine hooking up a violin or some other instrument than guitar to this. It will blow your mind. Awesome pedal, great price and Boss quality!

here is the boss demo of it on youtube.

1 comment:

  1. Very accurate description of this outstanding pedal and it's functions.

    ...and I agree that the Pitch Shifter setting is the one I actually use live, as it obviates the need to search for the right key sig. setting, and it gives you almost as many usable options. Also, the detune function is actually better than most all the dedicated chorus pedals I've heard - it has a very 2-dimensional quality similar to a Roland JC120 in that it almost sounds like there is an actual spatial seperation going on.

    Well done John, and after a month of use I give this pedal a 10 out of 10.