Regardless of what vocal affects you choose, you REALLY should choose! It is time for singers to take control of their sound –says Jaime Vendera.
Jaime Vendera is one of today’s leading vocal coaches known world-wide for his glass shattering voice.
In my teens I hung around some amazing guitar players; I was always in awe of their pedalboard setups. A guitarist could create their own unique sound and change it at the touch of their foot. Shouldn’t singers have this same option?
While the pedals didn’t make the guitar player, they did help to hone their unique tone. Being a singer, I was a bit jealous.
“Why don’t singers have their own line of effects pedals?” I often thought.
Now many companies offer pedals for vocalists – I’ll tell you some of my favorites at the end of the article but, first things first: here are seven reasons that ALL singers need to have their own vocal effects pedals:
You’ll begin to see your voice as the instrument
When a singer begins to play with effects pedals, they develop a better musician’s mindset
Many singers don’t view their voice as an instrument. But, it is the greatest instrument of all.
We tend to overlook the need to practice as many hours as a guitarist. But, I find that when a singer begins to play with effects pedals, they develop a better “musician’s mindset” and spend more time practicing and experimenting.
You’ll become more involved in the music creation process
Once I created my own pedal setup, I began to think of songs in a new light. I would configure different songs with different pedals to add to the overall sound spectrum of every given song.
The layout of vocal effects per song got me more involved with the overall process beyond just singing the words. I also started thinking about the emotions I was portraying and how they worked with each effect. For example, I might sing a little breathier and portray a little more desperation vocally when I was using a “Radio Voice” effect from a pedal.
You can create and define your sound just like guitar players
Of course, pedals and effects do NOT make you a singer. You must still develop your instrument. But just like a guitar player, you can add to your overall sound.
You control your sound
When you are running your own effects, you aren’t a slave to the soundman and basic effects running from the board. Now you can change and adapt your sound and you work through the set list.
This is the one reason that I do love the VoiceLive3. It is easily programmable and I’ve saved dozens of patches that coincide with different songs. For example, I have a “John Maher patch” and even a “Seal patch” for singing Why Georgia and Crazy.
You’ll learn to harmonize
This one is indeed a bonus. I am a harmony freak, but for years I could never get my guitar player to sing along and harmonize… at least not until I started using a harmonizer pedal. He then started singing along with the harmony the pedal was creating.
Believe it or not, after a few months of doing this, he literally learned to sing harmony without the use of a pedal. Ha-ha, the pedalboard was his “vocal coach!”
You’ll become more creative
Now when I write songs, I think in terms of effects. For example, I might think to myself, “I’ll use a radio voice for this verse, and when I get to the chorus, I’ll use the doubler.”
Pedals have made me think more in terms of the overall sonic picture. Listen to LISA on Soundcloud – I sing very breathy, and while it is all me (I didn’t use vocal effects to sound that breathy) my creative mind was lead to sing in such a manner because of my years of using vocal pedals.
You’ll become your own singer
I have a lot of students who email to say, “Can you teach me to sound like Myles Kennedy, James LaBrie, etc.,” to which I always reply, “We already have a Myles, James, etc., so why don’t we teach you to sound like YOU!”
While vocal effects pedals should NOT define you, they can help to open your eyes to the sonic possibilities. You’ll learn how effects bring out the best in your voice. Along the way of developing your effects persona you will also find yourself.
Some of my favorite vocal effects pedals
When I was younger, I actually built my own “singer’s pedalboard” by buying used guitar pedals that intrigued me. I had a flanger, a distortion pedal, and an octave doubler just to name a few.
Vocal pedals have now been produced by several companies, including Digitech, Boss, and TC-Helicon.
I started out with the Antares AVP-1. But eventually I picked up the VoiceLive and have since moved on to the VoiceLive 3.
However, my heart lies with individual pedals, which is why I have a pedalboard layout with multiple single pedals such as a Mic Mechanic, a Doubler, and a Harmonizer.
I love personal vocal effects pedals so much that I even promote them and teach how to program them in my books and online school!
Remember that you are the instrument and you deserve the same capabilities as other musicians to embellish your already amazing instrument.
Jaime Vendera is a Vocal Coach, world-renowned for his wineglass-shattering voice as seen on shows like MythBusters, Dr. Oz, and Super Human Showdown. He is a contributor to The Ultimate Guide to Singing and author of ‘Raise Your Voice’ 1 & 2, ‘The Ultimate Breathing Workout’ and the ‘Sing Out Loud’ series. He also runs the Vendera Vocal Academy. His new App, Tuned XD, is the ultimate multi-tool for musicians.