Vocal Harmonizers

Vocal Harmonizers

Postby JonnyBoy » Thu Dec 02, 2010 9:53 am

I was able to meet some real great local musicians last night that have been there done that and all, I was intrigued by their acoustic duo, pulling off some great classic tunes. Their vocals were spot on, and acoustic tone perfect. The singer is sponsored by Breedlove guitars and, they both sporting free top of the liners, lucky dog. The guitars were like butter. During the set break, I got to poke around their stuff to see they both were using vocal harmonizers, I guess as a Duo that really helps get some vocal girth on those thick chorus type songs. I couldn't believe they were even using one, since I have thought of them like a synth like sounding, R&b rap thing. It uses the guitar pitch to correct the vocals and add harmony with a stomp, up and down or how ever you have it programmed. I am aware singing can be done by those gifted with the talent, but those of us in the mediocre rangw, even like the guys last night can really benefit from this technology, something I thought was either out of reach for the wealthy top acts or just plain cheesy sounding like Usher or something. Of coarse you need to be able to carry a tune to get a natural sound (Blended), but it is crazy how much it helped their singing and how natural it sounded when blended with the music through the mains. I was also blown away when he said and the other guy agreed that without the harmonizer the vocals would be mediocre at best.
It was a Digitech Vocal pro 4, something I will be looking into myself to make things a few notches better!
I was wondering, if it is not embarrassing for anyone to admit it, if they use them or something like it to help keep vocals reined in, and what they are using and how... I was blown away at how they were able to use it/blend it and how natural it sounded. I was wondering if they had a rack system for a band application... Thought it would be neat to share and also hear some more about it.
Happy holidays, Jboy
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Re: Vocal Harmonizers

Postby jdsmodulus » Thu Dec 02, 2010 10:13 am

nice post...I have never used them but alot of people do. Its not limited to top acts at all. Without dropping names you might be surprised at how many folks put vocal effects and harmonizers in. It really has become industry standard to tweek vocals. My thought on them at first was like you say, I thought only Rap and urban country used it. Not true at all! I wouldnt mind trying out some of this tech that is available. I too am not the best singer and anything that can help is right on IMO. It just has to sound natural.
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Re: Vocal Harmonizers

Postby Rusty the Scoob » Thu Dec 02, 2010 10:43 am

I was in a country band in the late 90's and the lead singer used one extensively. He had each song programmed so that it would change chords when he hit a footswitch - if the chords of the chorus were D, G & C for example he'd have them each programmed in so he'd be tapping the button every time we changed chords... and if we ever wanted to do an extended version of something he'd be frantically hitting the "Back" button to add another chorus or two worth of chord changes. :lol: The sound was pretty good, though. In a concert setting it would have stood out as weird, but in a bar setting where people were line-dancing and drinking it sounded really slick and professional. I imagine the new ones are a lot better - this one didn't take any pitch input from the guitars or anything. I think it was much like a guitar harmonizer, adding a 3rd and/or 5th or whatever intervals you chose above the note that you were singing.

I should note - he was a very good singer on his own, very accurate and consistent, and I think that helped.


Also of note are Pitch Correctors. My GF(now also Fennario's Donna)'s Beatles tribute band all uses them and it's really taken their harmonies to the next level. I borrowed hers for a four-piece Wednesday gig we did last year and it was really interesting... I'm far from a good singer but as long as I knew about what note I wanted to hit it took me right there. It didn't even sound weird, it sounded exactly like my voice if only I had more accurate pitch. For $250 I'd sure get one if I were singing a lot of backups.
Last edited by Rusty the Scoob on Thu Dec 02, 2010 11:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Vocal Harmonizers

Postby Tennessee Jedi » Thu Dec 02, 2010 11:00 am

interesting .... me suck at singing
:D
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Re: Vocal Harmonizers

Postby JonnyBoy » Thu Dec 02, 2010 1:16 pm

Yes, the technology has gotten much better, the vocal pro 4 can pitch with the notes from the guitar, which I think is only effective as a strumming acoustic player. Maybe keys would be the best source for pitch in a 5 piece?
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Re: Vocal Harmonizers

Postby Rusty the Scoob » Thu Dec 02, 2010 8:52 pm

Keys are Even-Tempered - some notes are in tune and some are slightly compensated for nature. If you check out the natural harmonics on your guitar the higher ones are slightly sharp or flat - the 3rd is slightly sharp, I think? I forget. But if you were to tune a keyboard mathematically it would sound terrible. If you were to tune it to sound perfectly in one key it would sound terrible in all the others. JS Bach wrote a famous book called the Well-Tempered Clavier with pieces in all the keys, taking advantage of the new technology of even-tempered tuning.
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Re: Vocal Harmonizers

Postby JonnyBoy » Fri Dec 03, 2010 7:20 am

That is a great point Scoob, that makes sense. I think the greatest part of the technology is that it sounds authentic and balanced blended properly for backing vocals, especially with a acoustic thing while used sparingly for backing enhancement. It isn't going to make a tone deaf singer into Whitney Houston for sure, but I was very excited about the availability of technology and how well it works. Just like any effect, too much is just too much. :smile:
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