The octave effects is exactly what they sound like. You can pitch change your signal one octave at a time, so your guitar can play the role of a bass guitar or another instrument.
Many people don’t realize that the original signal can be recombined with an octave-shifted sound to create a richer tone. This can be done at the volume you prefer.
There are many more things you can do, and we’ll show you.
Some pedals include distortion and harmonizers. Contrary to pitch shifters and harmonizers, which can be more complicated and susceptible to error, such as playing notes out of key, octave pedals lock you in to the eight-note interval, so there are no mistakes.
Polyphonic detection is a new feature that allows you to drop frequencies of your lowest notes. This means that you can still produce legitimate bass lines, along with higher notes and more modes.
This and other topics will be covered in the discussion. We will discuss what effect options you have, how to use them and what you should look out for when deciding which pedal to buy.
We’ll be done by the end so you know everything. Then we’ll show you our top picks from the current lineup. Since these pedals have advanced a lot since their inception, we’ll also share our favorites. Let’s get to work quickly.
What is the Octave effect?
The octave effects is a simple pitch shift of an original sound. It can be up or down eight notes. This effect is essentially a doubling of or halving the frequency of the sound. It makes it lower or more pitch while still playing the same notes.
This is the effect, but modern pedals offer more options than older, simpler models. You can transpose your guitar lick by changing one or more of the octaves, or even intervals such as a harmonizer or pitch shifting pedal. You can also keep the original and combine it with a pitch-shifted version. Or you can modify the original and a duplicate in varying amounts.
These pedals also have a mix knob that allows you to adjust the volume of each audio track in the output. These classic options are sometimes called octaver or octaver pedals.
You can use an octave pedal to thicken your tone, create unison harmony or play bass on a guitarist if you have to replace a band member. You can also use an octave to feed into other effects pedals, creating richer and more wild sounds and tones.
It’s up to you to be as eccentric or not. Your imagination is your only limit.
What are the Top Octave Pedals?
Octaves are not the all-purpose instrument that people think they are. Many things have changed, and many octaves now look more like harmonizer pedals than the classic octaves.
You’re likely looking for classic styles if you’re reading this. One that attempts to be both an octave or a harmonizer is not one I would recommend. This is because the master of none is often the most dangerous.
You will find a few options you want among the best choices on the market and below. A’sub octave” and an “octave higher” will be useful. These allow you to control the volume by adding up to two additional octaves to your music instead of one.
A knob labeled mix, dry or volume will also be available. This allows you to control how loud each octave is in addition to their individual controls. This is the volume of your original pitch. You can either keep it or remove it.
Finally, I would choose one that has an ‘effect-out’ output and a dry out. This allows you to later treat your original pitch as well as your octave with different effects.
You can keep your pitch the same as normal and use a reverb to add distortion. These options open up a world of possibilities. The option to treat the dry signal and the octave with different effects opens up far more options
How to use an Octave Pedal
You can use octaves alone or with other pedals, such as the effects output. This creates amazing combinations. You can also distort the sub-octave to create metal or rock sounds, as mentioned previously.
You can adjust the volume with a volume pedal or reverb. Let’s take a step back and examine this effect separately.
WHERE DO YOU PLACE IT IN THE SIGNAL CHAIN
This effect would be added to your amp’s effects loop, and could even create its own. This is the typical effects chain.
- Filters, Dynamics, and Pitch Shifters
- Boost & Distortion
Technically, this is a pitchshifter. It would appear sequentially at the start of your signal chain before any flashy effects to allow it to be influenced. This can be done in a linear setup, or by using the pedal’s effects loop.
UNDERSTANDING KNOB SETTINGS
These pedals have the most common knobs, which are the Blend and Octave variable. Blend allows you to adjust the volume of the pitch-shifted signals relative to the original.
Depending on which pedal you have, there will be one or two Octave knobs. These are sometimes called Sub and/or Upper and allow you to control their inclusion and volume in the overall mix.
You can choose from options such as drive, polyphonic, or oct 2 on some models. The polyphonic option allows you to tell the pedal you want to play chords. While the ‘oct2’ option says that the pedal will engage the 2nd suboctave to allow you to play deep bass notes. Drive also offers distortion options if you don’t wish to use distortion pedals or an effects loop.
The Best Octave Pedals
Note: Every image and text link takes you to Amazon.com, where you can read additional reviews, view technical details, and see additional product sizes and options. You can also make your purchase.
We now have a good understanding of octave and what features to look out for. Let’s take an aerial view of the market, focusing on the best choices. These were not ordered in any other way than to highlight our favorite pick.
Our opinion is shared at the top of this article about two other “best-in-class” options. We recommend that you carefully consider each one as they all exceed our expectations. They may appeal to you more than us, but they are all qualified.
BOSS OC-3 SUPER OCTAVE
Boss is known for its reliability and high-quality products at affordable prices. That’s why our “Best Budget Pick” award goes to the Boss O-3 Dual Super Octave. This was the first octave tombox to feature a PolyphonicOctave mode. This model also features a Drive mode, which includes distortion and the original OC-2 mode.
Polyphonic Octave can handle multiple notes and harmonize entire chords, if desired. You can also set the note range that you wish it to activate. You can add notes to the OC-2 mode one or two octaves below the OC-2 mode. The Drive mode, however, can do the exact same thing with distortion.
You will notice the separate inputs for guitar and bass. A dedicated bass input uses a different circuit, which can produce deep, stable bass octaves.
The knobs allow you to adjust your direct level (the volume that your original signal is) independently of the first and second levels. The mode selector is the fourth knob. It controls the function of the third knob. This knob can be used to control the range for the POLY’ or ‘Oct 2 octave volume buttons. It is very fast to track and accurate for transposing.
Boss pedals are virtually indestructible under normal use. This one offers plenty of options for guitarists and bassists at the most affordable price for this level of quality. Give it a chance!
With Killer Modes, it’s fast and accurate
- LedgerNote Favorite
ELECTRO-HARMONIX MICRO POG
It was the original POG that smashed it. The original POG won all the accolades and praise but had one problem. It was too large. The ElectroHarmonix Micro POG offers all the same quality, but in a more simple design. This makes it our “Best Of the Best”.
This is far simpler to use, but retains the exact polyphonic tracking and high-quality algorithm and tone. Although there is a smaller “Nano POG”, it does not stray too far from the original. It uses a different algorithm, which isn’t nearly as appealing.
The Micro POG works just as well as the original. Its die-cast chassis fits perfectly on your pedalboard and offers a simpler user interface. The Boss does not give you two octaves, but this one gives you an octave upward and an octave downward, with separate volume controls. The Dry knob can be used to adjust your original pitch volume.
The best part is that you receive both a Dry Out AND an Effect Out, so you can each give your own treatment. You’ll be in heavy metal heaven if you add some distortion to your sub-octave. You can get the organ sound by adding a flanger or reverb to your up-octave. The Micro POG makes it all possible.
The acronym POG stands to Polyphonic Octave generator, which means it can handle single chords and single notes with ease. It tracks so fast that you can choose the fastest arpeggios and it will track them all perfectly. If you don’t mind sacrificing quality, this is the one for you. It’s also not that much more expensive than any other one, either price-wise.
ELECTRO-HARMONIX PITC FORK
Another excellent option is the Micro POG from EHX. The ElectroHarmonix Pitch Fork offers more harmonization options. This is cool, but it’s not an octave solely. Many of you may prefer the additional options.
This is our “Best Bang for the Buck”, pick for all these additional options. Let’s begin with the switch at the middle. You can have either an octave or sub-octave at once.
You’ll then move to the knob at the top right. The three numbers are in black circles. These numbers are used to transpose 1, 2, or three octaves. That is why we’re here. You can also use the D mode to ‘Detune’, which will add 17 cents per pitch.
A minor and major 2nd and 3rd, major 3rd and major 4th, perfect 4th and perfect 5th, major 6th and minor 7th are also included. You get all the octaves and all the intervals you need. Dual mode allows you to mix and match intervals with octaves. This is not a joke.
It’s a nice touch to have the Latch button, which puts it in Latch mode and switches the main footswitch into Momentary. It will be in buffered bypass mode until you press it down. Then it will remain engaged until your foot releases it.
The Latch button changes how the expression pedal behaves. It is now in control of pitch shift but becomes a controller for the glissando rate in Momentary mode. You can adjust the default rate from 60 milliseconds to up to 2 seconds with an expression pedal.
This pedal is a worthy choice for our list of the top octave pedals. We ranked it higher than our top pick and best value option.
The Harmonizer of the Future with Octave Options
TC ELECTORNIC SUB ‘N UP OCTAVER
The TC Electronic Sub ’N’ Up Octaver is another strong contender. You get everything you would expect from the pedals, plus a lot more. You get one octave higher and two lower (one at one and one at two).
This bad boy can make the guitarist the bassist! TC Electronic has created what they call their next-generation octave motor that can handle both polyphonic transposition as well as the classic monophonic style. All of this is selectable via the switch at the middle.
The new engine is extremely fast and can be tuned up or down with perfect tones. This engine will not produce any strange transients or slips. If you don’t mind tone loss during long cable runs, you can get true bypass or an optional buffered bypass.
TonePrint mode is available on all TC pedals. This allows you to download presets created by professional musicians. The pedal can be connected to your computer via the pickup or you can beam presets directly to the pedal using your smart phone.
You can access the huge library or create your presets. You can also add modulation to your octaves by doing this (although the circuitry is already ready, it’s not possible to control the knobs).
You’ve just found the right pedal if you are a player who likes to make their own sounds and has fewer pedals than they need.
CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON Amazing Next-Gen Octave Engine from TC
MXR M288 OCTAVE DELUXE
At least one of these entries must be dedicated to bassists. The MXR bass Octave Deluxe has all the answers.
The Mid+ button can EQ boost middle frequencies up to 14 dB. It also features two analog sub-octave channel with separate dry volume controls. The internal tuning of the Mid+ can be adjusted to 400 Hz and 850 Hz. MXR has also added their “Constant Headroom Technology”, which helps to maintain high headroom and ensures superior tracking.
This pedal does not have two knobs for octaves. Instead, you have one sub-octave as well as two octaves below. These are both one octave lower than the other, but they have distinct characters that can be mixed and matched to your taste.
The Growl knob is described as a deep, throaty voice with a sub-octave midrange voice. Girth, on the other hand, is smoother and emphasizes the depth of the notes. Jim Dunlop is keeping MXR alive. I love the analog pedals with so much character.
This one is the most important for bassists. Unless you are looking for a harmonizer you will have to switch to a digital pedal.
Girth & Growl, or Clean Sub-Octaves…
DIGITECH WHAMMY 5THGEN
It is obvious that a pedal has reached its fifth generation because it is doing something right. Otherwise, it would not be able to survive in such a competitive market. This is the DigiTechWhammy 5th Gen. This is more of an octaver pedal than an harmonizer. However, many people don’t realise they need it until they actually see it.
The beast can handle one to two octaves in monophonic or polyphonic modes for chords. You can’t stack octaves however. It’s not possible to pitch-bend into them, and only one at a. There are many other features, such as true bypass and the MIDI input for controlling the expression pedal.
DigiTech doesn’t hide its enthusiasm for this pedal. This pedal is used by many top guitarists, including Jack White, The Edge and Billy Corgan. They have all won over 60 Grammys, and been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame using this pedal.
The Whammy can be used in three modes. The first is the traditional shallow or deep tune, which is what a whammy bars are for. However, you can control this here using the built-in expression pedal. You can also choose to be in the Whammy column, where you can pitch shift your signal up or down up to nine times or use the super fun 10th dive bomb setting. You can also choose to be on the Harmony side, which has some delicious intervals that you can switch between using the expression pedal or stay locked in.
This is not the place for you if you’re looking to stack octaves. If you are interested in pitch shifting abilities, this is a great choice.
These are the best Octave Pedals available
There are many reasons you might want to stack octaves, or transpose your signal. It doesn’t matter what reason you have for doing it.
I want you to have the best tool possible for your job. That’s why I present you with the top of the best. We have the best octave pedals, whether you are looking for an octaver or pitch shifter.