BOSS PS-6 HARMONIST
The Harmonist ($149 street) sports Detune, Harmony, and Pitch Shift effects, along with a Super Bend (S-Bend) mode that allows you to do dramatic foot-controlled bends of up to four octaves (single notes only for upward bends; chords or single notes for downward bends). The Shift control selects the amount of pitch shift that occurs when the pedal is fully depressed, while the Rise Time and Fall Time knobs (which double as Balance and Key controls respectively) adjust the duration envelope. The Harmonist also does two- and three-voice harmony effects on single notes only. In this function the Key knob selects, yes, the key you’re playing in, while a multi-function Mode knob chooses between major and minor keys. The pitch of the harmonies is selected via the Shift knob.
The Harmonist packs dual 1/4" outs and an input jack for an optional expression pedal (such as a Boss FV500L), which can be used for on-the-fly pitch shifts. The Harmonist performed flawlessly in our tests, providing everything from simple detuning to radical pitch bends (chords can be pitch adjusted in Pitch Shift mode) to harmonized melodies that can make you sound like a double- tracking wizard. All in all, the Harmonist is an impressive performer and a serious device to consider if you’re in need of some harmony in your life.
KUDOS A wealth of harmony, detune, and pitch shift options. Excellent tracking.
CONCERNS Pays to remember which effects work for single notes only.
BOSS ST-2 POWER STACK
The world is full of pedals that do either vintage-style overdrive or modern metal rage, but the ST-2 ($99 street) is designed to deliver both of these sonic extremes and all points between. A key feature of this pedal is its Sound control, which changes not only the gain, but also works in conjunction with the onboard modeling technology to affect the character of the distortion. In the lower gain “Crunch” range you get tones that have the warmth and dynamic qualities associated with vintage tube amps. These grindy textures sound cool for blues solos and hardrock rhythm playing. Turning the Sound control toward the “Drive” position ups the gain substantially and uncorks a more aggressive and ballsy overdrive tone that’s in the wheelhouse of a Marshall JCM 800— great for solos and heavier rhythm grooves. And if you lust for more sustain, swinging the Sound knob to the “Ultra” setting puts the ST-2 into its molten metal mode, which has gobs of gain and a slightly scooped midrange curve.
The Bass and Treble controls can be used to further tailor these tones to your tastes, and another handy feature of the Power Stack is its abundant output, which can be used to pummel the front end of an amp even when running a lower-gain setting. This proved to be a great way to get a fat, juicy lead sound from an otherwise very clean Dr. Z EZG-50 combo. Overall, the Power Stack is an affordable and extremely flexible distortion pedal that can cover the bases for lots of different styles.
KUDOS One-knob control of a wide range of tube-flavored distortion tones.
CONCERNS Some metalists might wish for a midrange control.