When I was a child, I was not spoiled with the entertainment kids have nowadays. It was the time when even the TV was a luxury item not to mention the computer. This turned to my advantage, because I would lock up in my room and play my guitar for hours. Something that started as mere time-passing activity quickly turned into a hobby (and into my profession in the final end). Apart from that, I would scavenge the local music stores in the hope of finding vinyl records of Jimi Hendrix and then practice his music at home. Imagine how happy I was when I first came across an octave pedal, so appreciated by my music idol. I immediately fell in love and started experimenting. It holds its place on my pedalboard till this day and remains my favorite of all effects. If you are anything like me, this article will help you find the best octave pedal and will try to pass on the love I carry for this little device.
Top 10 Best Octave Pedals
When you try to improve and experiment with tones there is always some space for new polyphonic octave generator. Nano POG is equipped with smaller design but with same functionality as the original. It can easily save up some space on your pedalboard. This smart, little creation has three different knobs and silent footswitch. Dry knob maintains the pristine qualities of your signal and sounds almost similar to your initial tones. If you tune up Sub Octave or Octave knob you will deliver completely different notes. Sub octave is more vintage and smooth while Octave is more rebel. You can use it with bass guitar as well. Resembling the sound of 12-string bass is extremely easy with this one. In short, Nano POG is compact, highly functional pedal that can deliver truly amazing sounds.
- Space-saving design
- 12 string sound
- Adjustable volume
- Not for every type of sound
- Some notes might be artificial
What we have here is real badass mix of Hoof and Tone Reaper pedals. Hoof Reaper pedal is whole bunch of various effects and features. It has three different switches: Octave, Reaper and Hoof. You can play them separately (Hoof alone, Reaper alone, Octave alone), combinations (Hoof + Reaper, Reaper + Octave, Hoof + Octave), or all together (Hoof + Reaper + Octave) and deliver optimum performance. Hoof is germanium/silicon fuzz with smooth, warm tones. It has 4 different modes: Fuzz, Tone, Level, Shift. Fuzz knob controls the fuzz level, Tone delivers treble/bass depending on how you set it, Level knob is responsible for the output and Shift is important key for Hoof, since it controls the mid frequencies. Vintage style Tone Reaper has 3 knobs: Tone, Fuzz, Level, that have similar functions as Hoof knobs. A lot more can be said about this pedal, but shortly, this is more than a pedal. Hoof Reaper gives you the opportunity to deliver 7 unique sounds and experiment as much as you want. Three great options and variety of tones – all in one Hoof Reaper.
- Great sound
- Multiple features
- Extremely versatile
- A bit expensive
- Can be noisy without a proper power supply
Walrus Audio has made history with this pedal. Descent has a bit of everything. At first glance, it might seem like an overly complicated device with mainstream features, but it will prove you wrong in several minutes. This pedal has three modes: Hall, Reverse and Shimmer. Additionally, it has multiple knobs that control different parameters of the sound. The first row is responsible for Reverb, while the lower one controls Octave. The knobs work differently depending on the mode you choose with a toggle switch. Dry Mix and Wet Mix do the same job in all of them. However, Diminish modifies the diffusion of the sound in hall mode and alters feedback in shimmer. Likewise, Tweak manages the scattering of your signal in shimmer, but it turns into frequency controller in hall. Descent offers +1, -1, higher and sub-octaves that can be layered onto the reverb sounds. As you can see, you have to mix and match with this one until you find your perfect settings. But once you do, your world will turn upside down.
- Extremely versatile
- Has three presets for storing your sound
- A lot of control on hand
- Knob names might be confusing at first
- Needs to be tweaked accurately for delivering the sound you need
MXR SF01 is a signature pedal, developed in collaboration with Slash. Even though octave effect is rarely associated with his music, he uses this one in several tracks in Apocalyptic Love. Reviewing signature pedals is always a tricky job, since they are often overhyped, but Octave Fuzz is not one of those. It is equipped with two individual sub-octave and high-octave circuits, that can be used together or independently. This pedal does not play games, folks, it has straight-up piercing sound that can get really wild if you do not tone it down. The fuzz and octave range from subtle to extreme and can be modified with the help of several knobs. Volume, Tone, Fuzz, Sub Octave and Octave Up contribute to tailoring your sound to your preferences. Octave Fuzz also has a Sub Into Fuzz button that activates a sub-octave circuit. All in all, this is the pedal you should be careful with, because it has no boundaries when it comes to searing leads and piercing tones.
- An abundance of tone options
- Powerful sound
- Super durable
- A bit confusing at the beginning
- A bit harsh mids and highs
Digitech DROP is a simple solution to the lingering problem of tuning your guitars. The reason why this pedal made to this list is its octave features, which we will discuss in a bit. But before that, let’s take a minute to appreciate the amazing capabilities of its tuning character. Drop is very easy to operate, since a single knob and a toggle switch are all it needs to produce a great tone. The main knob lets you switch between the number of mid-tones you want your sound to be dropped by. You simply turn it and the LED lights will show you what setting you are at. The toggle switch allows you to choose from Momentary and Latching options. This means that when the former is activated, you have to press and hold the footswitch in order to produce the effect (it will stop once released). The latter allows you to tap the footswitch once and the effect will linger on until you press it again. Back to the octave itself: this pedal gives you the option to drop your notes down an octave or mix it with dry signal. This takes this pitch-shifter to a whole new level. Even though this is not your typical octave, it deserves its place on this list.
- Very easy to use
- Intuitive usability
- Natural and organic sound
- No battery option
- It will not be able to pick up your sound unless you are well-tuned
T-Rex has always been known for its outstanding quality and popularity among a lot of guitarists. Octavius Tri-Tone Generator is no exception. It is very simple to use – producing the effect is a piece of cake with the help of several controls and double footswitches. Lo Oct and High Oct set the volume of lower and higher octaves, allowing you to find the perfect tone. Master Mix blends your dry signal with both high and low octaves, creating multi-layered unique piece. Boost knob modifies the level of the divided octaves. Now, the first footswitch activates/stops the effect, while the other can act as a clean boost for your sound as well as boost the affected signal. Octavius Tri-Tone delivers clear tones that range from subtle to high-pitched. It has everything you would look for in an octave pedal.
- Excellent octave sounds
- Lightweight yet solid body
- Interesting sonic possibilities
- Does not respond to certain notes
If you have spent a minute in music industry, you have probably already heard about the quality of BOSS. Just like all their pedals, OC-3 is built like a tank and will not break even if you drop it from a three-storey building. Its classic and simple design makes it easy to dial in any desired sound. You might want to pass on this one if you are a fan of high octave. This pedal offers two octaves, but both of them are low. The first knob you will see is the Direct Level. It blends your original signal with the affected one. OCT-1 Level sets the volume of the first octave. The third knob is also a Level control and it can modify the volume of each and every mode. Speaking of which, there is a fourth knob that lets you choose between Polly, OCT-2 and Drive modes. What is more, this pedal has additional bass input and a mono output. The tracking of this bad boy is quite decent but it might have some problems with difficult chords. All things considered, OC-3 delivers a clear and organic sound that will take your performance to a whole new level.
- Extremely durable
- Transparent sound
- Natural tones
- Might not pick up difficult chords or arpeggios
- Does not have a high octave option
If you are a fan of Jimmy Hendrix and his octave up techniques, you should definitely check out Voodoo Lab’s Proctavia. Nailing Purple Haze will be a child’s play with the help of this pedal. It can deliver octave doubling effect that will quickly become your go-to sound. This pedal replicates the circuit of Tycobrahe Sound Company Octavia and, thus, delivers the vintage tones most of you are looking for. Proctavia has two knobs: Volume modifies the level of the overall output, while Boost intensifies the effect and makes it more audible. This pedal will take you back in time and turn you into a guitar virtuoso. Just listen to “Are You Experienced” and “Wired” once more and you will figure out what I am talking about!
- Vintage tones
- Powerful octave effect
- Jimi Hendrix’s sound at your feet
- Is not applicable in daisy chains
- Not the most powerful fuzz
Fulltone Octafuzz is yet another (or maybe one of the firsts) replica of Tycobrahe circuit, which makes it similar to Proctavia. Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix will play with you once you plug this bad boy in. This hand-built pedal can deliver everything from modulation to powerful octave ups. The effect is produced with the help of two main controls: Volume knob adjusts the output level, while Boost adds extra touch to your sound. A tiny toggle switch allows you to go from fuzz to octave in a blink of an eye. It’s solid body and amazing build quality as well as transparent tones will make OF-2 worth every penny. This pedal will definitely be a statement on your pedal board.
- Clear and transparent sound
- Shining fuzz and octave ups
- Exact copy of Tycobrahe
If you want a great bang for the buck, look no further, because Joyo Voodoo Octave will deliver quality sound at a very affordable price. It replicates the circuits of fancy, high-end pedals and gives you the opportunity to have your desired effect without breaking the bank. This pedal has multiple knobs (Volume, Tone and Fuzz) which are quite self-explanatory and a couple of footswitches. A toggle switch allows you to go from Normal to Mid Cut mode and change the performance up a bit. Octave is activated with the first footswitch, while the other turns this pedal into a true bypass. The tracking of this one is not that great, but it still produces the effects that stand out in the mix. Joyo Voodoo Octave is a great choice for all those budget-players, because it knows how to get the job done.
- Very affordable
- Lower octave
- Versatile fuzz
- A lot of sound options
- Is not very responsive compared to others
- Does not clean up your sound
What is octave and how does it change your tone?
I have always thought that in order to perform as a professional you have to understand what you are doing. Every single effect in your signal chain alters your tone in a unique way and you have to know what exactly happens when tapping that footswitch. Therefore, it is quite important to define octave effect itself and underline the ways in which it can be utilized.
So, octave effect is delivered through the combination of dry and wet signals. What I mean by this is that your initial sound will be mixed up with its higher/lower octave version. This is made possible by the alterations made in frequency: some of them are divided in half, some of them are doubled (depending on the settings you choose). We have mentioned Jimi Hendrix couple of times in the list above, since he was one of the first guitarists who employed octave during their performances. Hendrix was known to utilize Octavia – the unit designed specifically for him by Roger Mayer. It became the foundation for developing Tycobrahe Sound Company Octavia – a little device that literally defined a huge part of music history.
At first glance, octave is quite similar to pitch-shifters and harmonizers, but there is a big difference between them both technically and musically. As I have already mentioned, octave relies on creating the tone that is an octave higher or lower than the original signal. It produces the sound which is reminiscent of synthesizers. In contrast, pitch-shifters are not limited to octaves. They alter the pitch of the original signal, which can be note/sub-note higher or lower compared to the initial tone. Basically, they can detune or tune up more detailed notes and parameters than an octave. Now, the harmonizers shift the pitch of your tones even more deliberately. While pitch-shifters go up and down by semi-tones, harmonizers are smarter and combine different notes that are in harmony (this sounds as if you are playing in duet). I hope you will never mix up these three magical effects, because they are unique in their own ways.
A small guide to using an octave pedal
If you have played with an octave pedal before, you probably already know that it is very dependent on how you play your guitars. The process of performing is very interactive in this case. The instrument you work with, the pickups you use, the techniques you bring into play will make an impact on your sound. Activating the effect is a time consuming process and relies on your equipment. Just keep in mind that an octave pedal is not your typical effect, which will do the job no matter what. It takes practice and some skills to achieve the desired sound. This also means that the pedal itself should have really good tracking capabilities, so that you do not waste time blaming yourself for inaudible effect.
You should also note that there are polyphonic and monophonic pedals. The former will pick up complex chords and multiple notes, while the latter will only work with single notes. Choosing the pedal according to your playing techniques will save you from additional fuss and headache.
Last but not least, an octave pedal can be employed when you want to thicken up your sound. Octave-up will add shimmer and texture to your tones, that resemble or even replicate 12-string acoustics. Due to extensive sonic possibilities that octave pedals are equipped with, you can use them however you want.
Now you have all the information you need for finding the best octave pedal. I know how hard it can be to make a final decision and commit to a musical device, but my job here is to make it all easier for you. Hopefully, I have successfully fulfilled that mission. I innocently believe that you love octave pedals as much I do and truly appreciate their magic. If not, that is okay too. One way or another, this is an effect everybody should try at least once in a lifetime. Do not waste any more time, pick THE ONE and if you do, I will consider my life complete. Good luck my friend on your way to musical adventures!