Boss HR-2 Harmonist
Boss HR-2 Harmonist

HR-2 Harmonist, Octaver/Harmonizer/Whammy from Boss.

MGR/Steve 02/13/2005

Boss HR-2 Harmonist : MGR/Steve's user review

« Boss Boss HR-2 Harmonist »

  • Like
  • Tweet
  • Submit
  • Email
I bought a Digitech Whammy a year ago because I needed a harmonizer, but the whammy is only a basic harmonist, you have to do most of the work yourself. I was always looking to buy the HR-2 but could never find one, Boss discontinued them back in the late 80's. I finally found the HR-2 a few weeks ago at a pawn shop that I was going to sell a few of my pedals to, and the HR-2 is in perfect condition! Not a scratch on it and works flawlessly! The pedal I have has to be at least 15+ years old and still be in almost perfect shape and work like new, you know Boss is doing something right when their pedals last for years and years. The HR-2 didn't come with the box or manual, but I really don't need either, as long as the pedal works and looks great. Mine cost me about $126, I don't know how much they went for new back then, but if you find this pedal buy it right away, you will probably never get a chance to buy one again unless you get it off ebay. I tried out Boss's other harmonizers, the PS-3, which is only a basic harmonist with delay (why did they add in delay and get rid of the key you are playing in to make the pedal an intelligent harmonizer?) I also tried out Boss's new PS-5, it really isn't work it at all, doesn't sound as good as the HR-2 and costs more than it should. The PS-5 is really a crappy version of a Digitech whammy put in compact pedal form, which wasn't a good idea.

1st off, if you put the HR-2 after your distortion, you better get a Y cable to put into the detector in, because the distortion will distort your signal and the HR-2 will have a hard time figuring out what note you are playing and what note it should be playing, which produces a wierd sound, stray notes ringing on and off trying to hit the right note it should be playing. But, if you use a Y cable or use a tuner pedal that is 1st in your setup, use the 2nd output to go to the detector in input of the HR-2, then use the 1st output on the tuner to go to your other pedals so when you use the tuner it mutes your guitars signal when using the tuner. If you use the detector in from a tuner that is 1st in your setup, you won't have any problems, the HR-2 will hit every harmony on the dot, such a great pedal to have and use, especially if you know how to use it right like I do, then you can play things that would take an extra one or two more guitarists to play with you. The pedal has two voices, voice A and Voice B, you can pick any interval for either one, from 1 octave below, 6th below, 5th below, 4th below, 3rd below, detune, 3rd above, 4th above, 5th above, 6th above, and 1 octave above. Voice A and B have their own separate volume also, so you could use one or both harmonies. As long as you know what key you are in and what interval you want to use and what sounds best with what, you won't have any problems. You can get amazing sounds out of this pedal. Using this pedal, you can play stuff that would really take 2 or 3 extra guitarists to play, that's if they could even handle it themselves. That's why I had to buy this pedal, I can't find anyone else who can handle actually playing guitar, I'm not talking about little power chords and 4 notes solos, I'm talking about real, full chords with occasional power chords (with the 3rd in there), twin lead guitar riffs and solos, and melodic solos and also fast, crazy solos that most can't play or ever even seen some soloing techniques. The HR-2 takes care of me searching for another guitarist for now, it can handle playing in 3rds with me either on the rhythm part and solos. You can get the best sounding harmonies with this pedal. The tracking on this pedal is really good as long as you use the detector in.

I wish Boss would bring them back into production! They haven't made a single good harmonizer after the HR-2, the PS-3 is basic and the PS-5 is basic and intelligent, but you can only add one voice since they added in the stupid whammy bar sounds.

This pedal is proof that Boss makes some of the best pedals, my HR-2 is over 15 years old and works like new and looks like a brand new pedal. Most vintage pedals are a lot better than new digital crap.

The HR-2 is Boss's 1st and best harmonizer, you can add in 2 voices. The PS-3 and PS-5 only adds one voice. The digitech whammys are all basic pitch shifters. The difference between basic and intelligent pitch/harmonists is this. Basic: simpler pitch shifter that adds in the interval you select to your signal, it adds the interval in directly without harmonizing it with the key you are in. Intelligent: detects you signal pitch and adds correct harmony(s) to the notes you play. An intelligent pitch shifter does take more musical knowledge to use rather than a basic pitch shifter. Bottom line: The HR-2 is the best intelligent harmonizer you can find that is in pedal form. It can almost take the place of 1 or 2 more guitarists, but takes some thought and musical knowledge. You're not going to find a pedal better than or like the HR-2.

This review was originally published on