Best Octave Pedal – 2018 (All Types Of Octave Pedal With Buying Guide)
Since the dawn of rock, guitarists and bassists have always sought the means to expand their sounds for the biggest possible wallop. This was especially true of small ensembles, such as power trios.
Jimi Hendrix was one of the first to use the Roger Mayer created Octavia, which was a fuzz octave doubler (octave up pedal) that gave Hendrix’s Stratocasters the hint of a distorted 12 string guitar.
Taking the sonic spectrum 180 degrees in the opposite direction, Jimmy Page helped to popularize the MXR Blue Box which was an octave divider (down) pedal on some early Led Zeppelin tracks, most notably “Fool in the Rain”. Today we are pleased to present you a deep insight about best octave pedal available in the market. Hope you will enjoy it.
Not to be outdone, bassists also seeking bigger and more awesome sounds started using tremolo pedal or octave pedals as well, since not everyone could obtain a 12 string Hamer bass like Tom Petersson of Cheap Trick.
Sub octave bass sounds generated by synthesizers that were used on disco, R & B, and early forerunners of Electronic Dance Music by artists like Kraftwerk, Yellow Magic Orchestra and the Terry Lewis and Jimmy Jam team led bassists to explore the possibilities of their instruments further, demanding greater headroom and power handling capability from their amps and speakers to accommodate these sounds that were outside the physical realm of their instruments.
While there are numerous studio quality rack units that can offer several octaves of audio processing either up or down from a fundamental note or chord, most guitarists and keyboardists prefer pedals, so the focus of this article will rest primarily on advice for prospective buyers to help choose the best octave pedal to suit their needs.
In general, octave pedals, whether they multiply or divide the original input signal, need a strong, clean, clear note or notes from which to pitch shift. As a result, most of them work best at the beginning of any signal chain. Notes that have been modulated or distorted, where their fundamentals are indistinct, can result in unpredictable and often harsh sounding results.
6 x 4.2 x 2.8 Inch
3 x 5 x 4 Inch
5.8 x 4.5 x 2.8 Inch
Pitch and Harmonic Shifter
13 x 4.2 x 12 Inch
How to Choose Best Octave Pedal
Within the realm of stomp boxes, today’s musicians have a literal smorgasbord of choices available to them, and octave pedals are no exception.
Digital algorithms to perfect tracking and minimize lag, which was one of the primary issues with earlier analog pedals, have combined with improved cable technology to largely eliminate the problems that marginally clean signaled guitars were especially prone to in days gone by.
The current considerations have more to do with the particular player’s applications and sound requirements than with a binary option, such as with the iPhone or Android. With this in mind, here is a checklist for buyers:
Probably the most subjective aspect of stomp boxes. The best octave pedal for Jack White or Jimi Hendrix may not cut it for you if you are looking for cleaner type sounds.
Additionally, the ability to balance between octave up and octave down features, both of which some pedal models may provide, can be a crucial factor if old school pre set levels are too limiting. Additional EQ options to tweak may be important for other players.
Additionally, just like overdrive, flanging, delay or reverb, not all octave pedals sound the same. Although the differences might be a bit more subtle, the filters and how the chosen processing chips shape the sounds in each pedal design will create the octave effects, but how they track and blend with humbucking pickups vs single coils or solid body vs. semi hollow or hollow body guitars can be quite diverse
And these variations should certainly be part of the equation when making an evaluation to narrow down the choices. For example, the Earthquaker Organizer and the Electro Harmonix POG 2 are multi octave pedals that can emulate a Hammond Organ sound with a brilliant blend of EQ and multiple octaves to simulate the sound of organ stops.
While they both aim for the same effect, they sound remarkably dissimilar, and even an untrained ear can discern the difference. As for which one is better - that is a purely subjective opinion.
One’s choice(s) of guitar or bass to be used and which sound ultimately is preferred will be significant decision influencing factors, and perusing octave pedal reviews beforehand can be helpful.
One of the most precious real estate considerations many musicians have is not their rehearsal space but their pedal boards. Especially for musicians in densely populated urban areas like New York or London, where traffic congestion and the cost of parking render public transportation as the only viable option for routine travel to and from rehearsals or gigs, the size and weight of a pedal board is a huge decision, and the number of pedals that a player might like to carry may have to balance out with more practical considerations. Certain octave pedals, such as the Electro Harmonix POG 2, are quite large and may take up the space equivalent to 3 or 4 slimmed down or reduced units, such as Mooer Pure Octave or the Hotone Skyline Octa.
Location on a pedal board can also become a tricky proposition, as the spaghetti of patch cords and power supply cables needs to be routed as minimally as possible to maximize all available real estate.
Since octave pedals deliver their best performances, by and large, at the front end of a signal chain as close to the instrument as possible in order to afford the most accurate note tracking, the size of the octave pedal, which over 80% of the time is added on to most musicians’ signal chains after much more prevalent gain, compression, modulation and time based devices, the choice of octave pedal can necessitate a pedal board configuration overhaul.
While bells and whistles and tweak ability are favored by many guitarists and bassists who spend the bulk of their time recording, the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) approach in live performance situations is still the best tried and true way to minimize gear malfunctions and user error gaffes onstage at gigs.
While some octave pedals sporting multiple knobs for EQ, balance levels, and other possible tone shaping options may be wonderfully useful when cutting tracks, these same pedals can be a disaster if one or more knobs gets shifted accidentally in the middle of a solo.
Conversely, certain octave pedals, especially old school type fuzz octave units as mentioned earlier, have pre set octave levels that may be too subtle or excessive with your particular guitars and other effects in your signal chain, and the inability to change it might render that otherwise “great sounding in the store before you purchased it” octave pedal into a paperweight for gigs.
Also, pedals that have been miniaturized tend to have tiny knobs which might be difficult to read and adjust on a dark stage if different settings are required throughout a setlist.
As the vast majority of musicians are on tight budgets, satisfying GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) attacks are frequently a matter of compromise and often making do creatively with whatever can be obtained within reason at a given moment.
Lower priced units that are clones of popular models may suffice in spite of plastic parts vs metal and higher noise specs than the originals. That said, the price range of known name brand models can start at around $60.00 street price up to over $470.00 for a fully loaded pedal like Electro Harmonix HOG 2. In between is a broad selection of choices with an average street price of around $175.00 - $225.00.
Best Polyphonic Octave Pedals Reviews:
1. T-Rex Engineering Octavius Guitar Octave Effect Pedal Review:
Denmark’s T-Rex Engineering has long been a favorite pedal supplier to luminaries like Guthrie Govan, Pete Townshend, Gary Moore and others.
Housed in a plum colored sturdy steel case, the T-Rex Octavius is powered by 9V AC adapter. There is no battery compartment. There are two (2) footswitches: on the left is an octave effect on/off switch; on the right is a boost. Each sports an individual LED light. The Octavius has a largish footprint with four (4) control knobs. Clockwise from the top left are:
The Octavius has quite a bit of versatility packed into one unit.
An alternative sounding pedal to the POG and Mooer Tender Octaver, and the boost function can offset the Octavius’ larger footprint by eliminating the need for a separate clean boost pedal.
2. Electro-Harmonix POG2 Polyphonic Octave Generator Review:
As Electro Harmonix was one of the first effects pedal companies in the late 1960s and 1970s, its founder, Mike Matthews, is often hailed as a visionary for his pioneering Big Muff Pi fuzz, Bad Stone phaser, Electric Mistress flanger, and Memory Man analog delays, which created the signature sounds of famous records by Pink Floyd, The Police, U2, and countless others.
Never one to rest on his laurels, Matthews has had more competition over the last 2 decades, especially from the huge crop of boutique pedal designers now flooding the industry.
Large footprint, multiple slider switches for -2 to +2 octave settings, dry output, detune, filter and attack. Knob setting for storing presets and footswitches for bypass and preset recall.
With an expanse of 5 octaves and synth type filter, attack and detune controls along with the ability to store presets, the POG 2 is probably one of Mike Matthews’ landmark devices of the 21st century and though it has its challengers, no one else has a unit that sounds so unique with with a comparable level of versatility for the price.
3. T-Rex Engineering QUINT-MACHINE Four-Tone Generator Pedal with Octave Up/Down and 5th Up Review:
The Quint Machine is an octave down and octave up pedal similar to the Octavius but the boost function is swapped for a 5th up control in a more standardized pedal configuration.
The added 5th allows the Quint Machine to compete with and raise against the Earthquaker Organizer (see below) and the Electro Harmonix POG 2 in the faux Hammond Organ simulation department.
The independent voicing control of the 5th gives a guitarist the ability to also recreate harmony guitar parts, such as those of the Allman Brothers, either separately or in conjunction with the added octaves.
Excellent octave pedal with hidden weapon harmony.
4. Electro Harmonix Micro POG Polyphonic Octave Generator Guitar Effects Pedal Review:
Squarish case (Micro), 3 knobs for -1, +1 octaves and dry adjustment with footswitch.
For guitarists who seek polyphonic 12 string sounds and a sub octave option for bigger tones without all of the added cost, bells, and whistles of the POG 2, the Micro Pog, which sports a one octave up and one octave down control along with a dry and wet blend knob, is the solution.
While some organ type sounds can be had with the Micro POG, they lack the complexity of the POG 2’s additional detuning and filtering to create more believable simulations. Nevertheless, the Micro POG is very much a plug and play unit that will satisfy most guitarist and bassists.
The Micro POG is housed in a square type case similar to the ProCo RAT distortion. For a better pedal board fit, the Nano POG is the exact same circuitry in a rectangular case similar to most other pedals.
5. EarthQuaker Devices Organizer Polyphonic Organ Emulator Effects Pedal Review:
Headquartered in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s base of Akron, OH, Earthquaker Devices is a boutique effects pedal manufacturer with a loyal following and several unique catalog offerings.
6 knobs for +/- octave, choir, lag, tone, and direct, footswitch
While these attributes give the Earthquaker a less expensive alternative to the POG when it comes to organ recreation, the Earthquaker also can function as a straight ahead polyphonic octave up and octave down pedal with excellent results.
6. Hotone SOC-1 Octa Compact Digital Octave Pedal Review:
With some of the tiniest footprints commercially available, Hotone’s budget priced Skyline series of pedals pack tons of features into smartly designed zinc alloy cases. that measure roughly 1.5” x 3” x 1.5”. 3 knobs for +/- octave, dry signal and dirty/poly button. Footswitch and protective rail.
While the quality of tracking in polyphonic mode is not quite as precise as some of the more expensive units, the Octa does the job better than the vintage analog octave pedal models of the past and holds its own in dirty mode with other solo based octave pedals.
For the musician who only needs an octave effect on a few songs at most during a set, the Octa can be an excellent addition to one’s pedal board without requiring major re-arrangement of other units already in place.
7. Mooer Tender Octaver Electric Guitar Micro Precise Octave Effect Pedal True Bypass Review:
Based in Shenzhen, China, Mooer is a company that has followed in the footsteps of Ibanez: starting out as a company making knock offs of originals, and metamorphosing into an original design company with a loyal artist base that includes guitar heroes such as Devin Townshend, Tracii Guns, and Chen Lei.
3.5” X 1.4” x 1.3” aluminum case, +/- Octave and Dry knobs
The Mooer Tender Octaver is a small footprint octave pedal that rivals the Micro POG in sound quality and function at a fraction of the price, and less real estate.
8. Mooer MOC1 Pure Octave Guitar Single Effect Review:
1.8”x4.2”x2.2” case, +/- octave and dry signal knobs, 11 position mode knob
Taking the Mooer ethos to the next step towards original design, any guitarist or bassist in the market for an octave pedal will do themselves a disservice if they dismiss a Mooer Pure Octave review.
While playing dyads, triads and 4 note chords seem to track well, full 6 string chords may occasionally trigger the odd false note when all 4 additional octaves are engaged. Nevertheless, with a 5 octave musical span that can go toe to toe with the POG 2 on numerous, but not all levels, the Pure Octave is only about 20% the size of the POG 2 and one third of the street price.
Fuzz Octave Pedals Review
1. MXR SF01 Slash Octave Fuzz Review:
Saul Hudson (aka Slash) is a hugely popular guitarist whose work with Guns n’ Roses in the late 1980s was the primary force in bringing rock guitar out of synthesizer purgatory, and his Les Paul and Marshall combination led to a resurgence in classic blues rock guitar and its associated trademark tones.
Not one to lend his name to gear lightly unless he uses it himself, signature Slash equipment does indeed put one into his sonic ballpark and the MXR Slash Octave Fuzz maintains that track record.
3”x 5”x 4” case, fuzz and octave footswitches, vol, tone, sub, fuzz and octave up knobs, sub octave button.
Featured on Slash’s Apocalyptic Love record, the MXR Slash Octave Fuzz is a soloist’s delight, with sustain and grind for days and the girth to offset any thinning of tone inherent in fuzz boxes.
2. MXR Sub Machine Octave Fuzz Review:
MXR’s Sub Machine is another fuzz octave unit with both and up and down octave feature. Unlike the Slash Octave Fuzz, the Sub Machine combines the octave up fuzz circuitry of the La Machine fuzz pedal with an updated Blue Box circuit that drastically improved tracking.
Vol, Tone, Fuzz and Sub knobs, button for series or parallel, bypass and octave footswitches
If used in a cranked volume live setting, a 4 x 12 or cab with 15 inch speakers is advisable to prevent a blown out voice coil.
3. Catalinbread Perseus Sub-Octave Fuzz Guitar Pedal Review:
Portland, OR based Catalinbread is another boutique pedal maker that has found favor with Dweezil Zappa, Steve Berlin, and other sterling musicians.
Vol, Cut, Blend knobs, toggle switch for -1 or -2 octave, foot switch.
For players preferring heavy fuzz over squeal.
4. Catalinbread Octapussy Modern Octave Fuzz Guitar Pedal Review:
Going 180 degrees from the low end of the Perseus, Catalinbread’s Octapussy is an octave up pedals fuzz that is a tribute to, but not a clone of the Roger Mayer Octavia.
3 knobs: Gain, Attenuate and Body. Footswitch
Not your father’s Octavia.
5. Fulltone Octafuzz OF-2 Fuzz/Octave Review:
For those guitarists looking for an exact replica of the original Tychobrae Octavia, which was the commercial version of the fuzz octave up pedals Mayer design used by Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan, the Octafuzz OF-2 from Fulltone is the ticket.
Mike Fuller has created a panoply of distortion devices ranging from his top selling OCD drive, which is favored by Paul Gilbert, Al DiMeola, Don Felder, Keith Urban, Peter Frampton, and the Pixies, among others, to his Soul Bender (a recreation of the Tone Bender), Plimsoul (a pedal designed to recreate Jeff Beck’s sound from the “Truth” album”), and the 69 (a Fuzz Face tribute). The Octafuzz OF-2 has found its way onto the pedal boards of Gary Clark, Jr. and Joe Satriani, among others.
1 Volume, 1 Boost knob, toggle switch for modified fuzz circuit. Footswitch.
Fuller calls his Octafuzz a “reincarnation” and the Octafuzz lives up to that designation. It has the liquidy sustain and compressed, horn like voicing of the original as well as some ring modulation at high levels. For the vintage tone hound, the Octafuzz is as authentic sounding as one can get.
6. EarthQuaker Devices Hoof Reaper Octave Fuzz Effects Pedal Review:
Earthquaker Devices’ fuzz and distortion boxes also have its champions. The Hoof Reaper, which is one of its best sellers, is used extensively by J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr.
Double sized case, Tone, Shift, Level and Fuzz knobs for Hoof section, Tone, Fuzz, Level knobs for Reaper section, each footswitchable along with octave.
The Hoof can deliver the sonic clout of the Big Muff but without some of the muddiness that often obscures the lower mid range. The octave up can be used alone for clean lines, though not ideal for full chords, but really shines for solos when engaged with either or both fuzz signals.
7. Electro-Harmonix Octavix Octave Fuzz Pedal Review:
Vol, Boos and Octave knobs, foot switch, toggle for 9 or 24 volts.
Unlike their legendary Big Muff Pi fuzz, the Electro Harmonix Octavix has a much more aggressive sound that bears little resemblance to its famous cousin. The Octavix is an octave up fuzz, that is marketed as a vintage late 60s type Octavia circuit, and gets within range but doesn’t try to be a “reincarnation” of the Octavia, like the Fulltone Octafuzz.
Not a creamy type of fuzz sound like Hendrix, Ernie Isley or Eddie Hazel of P-Funk, but more wild buzzsaw type tones along the lines of grunge and industrial rock. Certainly an alternative to the other fuzz octave pedals on the market and with a street price of under $100, it can be another weapon in one’s sonic arsenal.
Monophonic Octave Pedal Review
1. MXR M288 Bass Octave Deluxe Review:
As bassists also enjoy expanding their sonic palettes, the MXR M288 Bass Octave is a sturdy pedal designed for 1 and/or 2 octaves down for truly subsonic rumble.
Growl, Dry, Girth knobs, Mid boost button, footswitch, internal DIP switch and trimpot.
For bassists looking to shake walls or to recreate some of the synth bass lines that are outside the range of even a 5 or 6 string bass guitar, the M288 will deliver.
2. Boss OC-3 Dual Super Octave Review:
While bassists often choose the Boss OC-3 for its ability to deliver -1 or -2 sub octave sounds with excellent Boss quality, the OC-3 also has adherents in the guitar world as it can also track in a polyphonic mode.
Level knobs for Direct, - 1 octave; level knob for poly, - 2 octave or drive (distortion) setting; 3 position knob for the latter, Boss footswitch with battery compartment
For guitarists seeking ultra low sounds for their chords with or without a fuzz, the Boss OC-3 is one of the few affordable choices in the market apart from the Mooer Pure Octave review (see above).
Pitch and Harmonic Shifters Review
1. Boss PS-6 Harmonist Pedal Review:
As guitarists have expanded their range of sounds with octaves, the ability to generate tones in harmony have also gained much interest.
4 knobs: Balance, Harmony Shift, Key, Mode (S-Bend, Detune, Pitch, Major or Minor key), Boss footswitch with battery compartment, expression pedal input.
For pitch shifting clarity not only for guitars, but for woodwinds, electric violin, and other instruments, the PS-6 shines. The Octave functions are but one of its many versatile features.
2. Electro-Harmonix Pitch Fork Guitar Pitch Effect Pedal Review:
Electro Harmonix’s stompbox entry into the pitch shifter arena is their Pitch Fork.
Blend knob for dry/wet signal, 11 position shift knob, toggle switch for dual mode, latch button, expression pedal input
With superb tracking capability, the Pitch Fork can be used for a range of synthesizer like sounds as well as guitar harmonies and other effects.
3. DigiTech Whammydtv-01 DT Drop Tune Guitar Effects Pedal Review:
As the granddaddy of pitch shifters, the Digitech Whammy pioneered the effect, and guitarists like Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine owe much of their sound to the Whammy. The latest version of the Whammy is the DTV-01 Drop Tune model, which can serve as an artificial down or raised tuning up to a full octave with full polyphony.
Steel base with built in expression pedal. Selector knobs for harmony detune and shift up or down settings. Footswitches for Whammy, Drop Tune and Momentary modes.
Digitech still makes the industry standard for the pitch bend effect to the extent that any pitch bends effect is referred to as a Whammy, in the way that any internet search is called “Googling.”
4. Electro-Harmonix HOG2 Guitar Octave Effect Pedal Review:
16 slider controls for output, volume, varying octaves, envelope decay and attack, and filter frequency and resonance. Selector knob for Octave bend, step bend, Volume, freeze + glissando, freeze + volume, wah, and filter. Buttons for Spectral Gate and Expression reverse. MIDI in/out, expression pedal input, and separate direct recording output.
The HOG 2 is a polyphonic octave pedal that contains many studio type processing features and at least 5 other Electro Harmonix pedals’ capabilities and gives enormous flexibility for creating new sounds within a compact unit.
Types Of Octave Pedal
Octave pedals can be broken down into four (4) separate categories in accordance with their basic features.
1. Polyphonic Octave Pedal:
A polyphonic pedal is designed to track guitars playing chords as well as single note lines. Their algorithms have eliminated most of the latency in older analog pedals and can simulate the jangle of a strummed and picked 12 string guitar.
These pedals can concurrently generate both octave up and octave down tones, and usually have separate level controls for each. The polyphony inherent in these pedals allows for remarkable clean, acoustic guitar and Rickenbacker electric 12 string sounds as well as faux organ and other keyboard and string sounds.
2. Fuzz Octave Pedals:
The fused circuit of fuzz pedals and monophonic octave up pedals housed into a single unit, this classic combination is emblematic of 60’s psychedelic rock music, but has also proven very versatile in providing similar tones to R & B and funk guitarists Ernie Isley (Isley Brothers) and Eddie Hazel (Parliament Funkadelic), British rocker Robin Trower, roots rock revivalist Jack White, Les Paul icon Slash, and shoegaze pioneer Kevin Shields (My Bloody Valentine), among many others.
3. Monophonic Sub Octave Pedals:
Designed to deliver 1 and sometimes 2 octaves down, monophonic octave pedals are often used by bassists for re-creating the sub octave “phat” tone of synth basses and tend to work best on single lines vs. chords, which can get muddy with the extra low end signal created by the pedals’ circuitry. They also can add extra low end mass in the power trio format especially for metal players who tend to use flat picks. The added heft of the sub octaves offset the brighter pick attack on the strings.
3. Monophonic Sub Octave Pedals:
Designed to deliver 1 and sometimes 2 octaves down, monophonic octave pedals are often used by bassists for re-creating the sub octave “phat” tone of synth basses and tend to work best on single lines vs. chords, which can get muddy with the extra low end signal created by the pedal's’ circuitry. They also can add extra low end mass in the power trio format especially for metal players who tend to use flat picks. The added heft of the sub octaves offset the brighter pick attack on the strings.
4. Pitch Shifters:
Created to provide a fixed harmony interval to blend with a guitarist’s fundamental note, pitch shifters are a separate sound processor category with plenty of tonal variety at their disposal, of which playing octaves up or down is just one.
The following octave pedal reviews, in no particular order, represent a cross section of some of the best octave pedals from respected brand manufacturers encompassing the widest assortment of features within different price points, not including clones. Unless otherwise stated, they are all 9 volt powered and true bypass.
Choosing the best octave pedal is a very subjective decision, and it helps to read octave pedal reviews, such as this one, to determine the range of features required for the music to be played and the conditions and budget under which this is to be accomplished.
The Mooer Pure Octave review cited a small unit under $75.00 street price that can deliver a + or - 2 octaves in different combinations, but if one is seeking a classic Hendrix or SRV sound, the Fulltone Octafuzz might be the better purchase.
The breadth of choices in the market can only be a good thing, since every musician’s creativity inspiration is as different as the tools at hand and the imagination to implement them.