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I'm looking for suggestions for vocal effects to be used in a live setting. I'm not a bad singer, I just don't really like my voice... in fact I'm not a huge fan of female vocals altogether. Its boring and unexciting.

I'd really like to start writing some of my own music and I'd like to try and sing and play it, but I would love some sort of fun unique sound or effect to sing with. What are some good suggestions? I'm open to anything: using pedals, special microphones, other effect boxes!

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    My suggestion is to get comfortable and find your voice before trying disguise it with special effects. Maybe experimenting with vastly different vocal styles would help. – Grey Aug 19 '14 at 18:26
  • Can you elaborate on experimenting with different vocal styles? – Eichhörnchen Aug 19 '14 at 18:28
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    You could listen to and imitate (perhaps with the help of a teacher) different dramatic styles, all the way from heavy vibrato opera, to screaming heavy metal or nasally country, or whispery pop. The list goes on forever. Somewhere in there is your own unique style, and it'll add alot more to your performance than any outchain effect can. – Grey Aug 19 '14 at 18:37
  • What genre are you interested in singing? It depends on that. If you listen to hip-hop then auto-tune is something that's used quite a lot which you can give a try. In experimental metal you can try tremolo effects on vocals, harmonizers etc. If genre isn't fixed then, as @Grey pointed out, figure out what genre your vocals match best. Then you can head in that direction. – Jimmy Aug 20 '14 at 6:02
  • right. I go in the general rock direction. I've experimented with things like metal screaming and stuff, but my voice is just too high pitched and its not nice for anyone. Again I basically know how to sing I just literally don't like the way my voice sounds. I sound like a 5 year old girl. lol. Thanks for the suggestions though ;) – Eichhörnchen Aug 20 '14 at 16:30
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Since you are trying to do something original, nobody can give you a definitive answer.

I'm going to assume the question means you really don't want to develop your untreated voice, and you don't mind sounding like a robot, having unclear lyrics etc.

I would recommend buying or borrowing a budget guitar multi-FX pedal - or a computer application like GarageBand or Guitar Rig. Try out the presets, but more importantly, get stuck into editing patches yourself, auditioning different effects and parameters.

There are pedals for under $50 which would be suitable for this exercise.

The voice has a similar frequency range to a guitar, so the effects should work. You may need a pre-amp between your microphone and the FX pedal, to get a loud enough signal into it. Most modern multi-FX pedals accept both instrument-level and line-level inputs.

Effects that may be especially effective on voice include:

  • delay - long delays in time with the tempo are quite common in rock/pop/dance music. So are slapback delays
  • reverb - very common on vocals - more traditional than your aspirations perhaps, if I read the question right.
  • phaser/flanging - these effects used on vocals have precedent in psychedelic music
  • chorus - either used subtly to simulate multiple voices, or heavily as an artificial sounding effect
  • overdrive/distortion - that "through a loudhailer" vocal effect
  • tremolo
  • pitch shift/harmoniser - probably horrible, but you can try it

Once you've experimented and have a firmer idea of what you want to achieve, you can think about whether the multi-FX pedal is the right way to do it in the long run.

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Try out a number of mics and amps. Forget about effects by and large.

You are sort of fantasizing about turning your voice into something more like an instrument. How popular are purely instrumental bands without vocals?

The voice is quite a multidimensional sound production device and you tend to have decades of practice at least with some aspects of it. When you are stacking effects on, you tend to take away several degrees of freedom.

That may feel like a win when you have not managed to make profitable use of those degrees of freedom, but it's like keeping a knee locked in order to make it easier to learn running. It helps only in a very early stage, providing some simulation of progress that you eventually will have to unlearn.

So I'd rather recommend finding a mic and amp in the affordable range you feel reasonably comfortable with, and then work with that until you have progressed enough to be able to move on in a recognizable direction.

Even heavy metal guitar players will tell you that to get really good, you need to practice quite a bit without distortion. It's garbage in, garbage out. And even when you put in enough effects that it's garbage out anyway, there still is a recognizable difference between good garbage and garbage garbage.

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The TC Helicon company makes a wide variety of individual effects processors for live singing, as well as multi-effects units.

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You might want to investigate learning to use a vocoder. That is a classic vocal effect.

Then there is the talk box.

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It depends on what you want to achieve. Adding reverb may be a nice idea or you could go for a gristleizer

If we're talking metal there is a problem that the guitars and the female voice often occupy the same part of the spectrum. Two possible solutions are either switch back and forth like guitar-vocals-guitar-vocals or tune down the guitars.

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