Can You Use Guitar Pedals for Vocals?


Vocal processing through guitar effects pedals does require some effort. Because the signal level from a microphone is lower than that of an electric guitar (amplified at source by a pickup), you’ll need to boost it first.

In this article, I’ll show you how to do just that. I’ve also included some examples of different types of pedals, which are definitely worth checking out if only for the great demos!

So without further ado, let’s jump in.

How do you record vocals with a guitar pedal?

If you want to record vocals with a guitar pedal, you’ll need to boost the signal first by using a device known as an impedance matcher. This will ensure that you don’t lose any of the dynamics and tone of your original signal.

An impedance matcher, or DI (for direct injection) box is a small electronic unit with input for connecting either a standard guitar cable or microphone lead and an output to connect to your recording devices such as a computer interface, digital audio workstation, or digital multitrack recorder.

The output from an impedance matcher is a balanced line.

This means that the signal is now able to be amplified by a standard microphone input on your recording device without any loss of tone or sound quality because there isn’t anything coming into contact with the delicate internal workings of your gear.

Now you have boosted and balanced your signal, you can try recording using a guitar pedal.

There are certain effects pedals that work particularly well for vocals such as the Boss VE-20 which has some great sounding harmony and pitch correction settings built right in.

And if pitch shifting isn’t enough, there’s always Auto-Tune!

Another good option is to use an octave pedal.

This will take your vocal signal and split it into two separate signals, one an octave below the original, the other an octave above (hence octave).

Using this technique can create interesting effects as well as some more experimental sounds.

Please note; you should use caution when using these types of pedals with vocals as they can be a little unpredictable!

Can you run a microphone through a guitar pedal?

When used in conjunction with a microphone, guitar effects pedals are typically operated at an extremely high impedance.

To get a microphone to function correctly through it, you’ll need a pre-amp and several transcoders.

It’s not particularly challenging to accomplish, and it’s certainly been done before.

However, it’s not something I would recommend for the average musician or bedroom producer.

There are plenty of other ways to get great vocals that don’t involve mucking around with instrument-level signals and potentially damaging your gear in the process!

So this is why most people opt for using pedal effects on electric guitar rather than any form of vocals.

However, as with all things audio, there are always exceptions to the rule!

Can I use guitar pedals as outboard gear?

You’ll probably come up with a lot more ideas than you’ll keep when you start getting into this stuff.

Pedals are fantastic for rack effects. It has the potential to transform your mixes, and it’s totally free outboard gear.

Make sure you’re not using this stuff in place of your normal outboard gear.

That’s when they lose their magic!

Think about what kind of effects would be great for each instrument or vocal part, then try experimenting with different pedals until you find something that works well.

Remember to have fun and experiment as much as possible.

There are no rules!

Can you use guitar pedals with acoustic instruments?

You can definitely experiment with recording electric guitars, vocals, and other acoustics through effects pedals.

However, if the instrument is an acoustic one such as a piano or ukulele, then I would advise against it unless you have access to a very high-quality microphone and preamp.

If you’re particularly interested in experimenting with the acoustic guitar, then I would recommend checking out some of these pedals:

This is a great way to add some interesting effects to your music without having too much processing power or time involved (although an enormous amount of creativity!).

Just make sure you get the right guitar cables for your pedals!

Read Also: My Gear Recommendations

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