With a lot of effects pedals being introduced to the guitar community, it’s important to have a good grasp of what to look for and how to decide which one to pick up. We’re going to look at some of the best octave pedals in this feature!
Overview (Best Octave Pedal)
Paint a mental picture of this one.
Growing up, you’ve listened to a lot of tunes. You’ve developed a certain fondness for the tone of Jimi Hendrix, Jack White, or even Tom Morello!
Big names, right?
These esteemed gentlemen have established their reputation on the music scene, and for all the right reasons. They each wielded their guitars with a specific tone that makes them instantly recognizable.
Yep. We’re talking about the octave pedal! This specific stompbox is the one responsible for some of the iconic riffs and tones we’ve grown to love! But what is in it that makes it such a necessary tool for all of the big names mentioned above?
We’re about to find all of that out, as well as some of the best octave pedals out there today in this feature.
Let’s stomp right into it!
What are Octave Pedals?
If you’re new to the world of building a pedalboard, or to effects pedals in general, the octave pedal can seem fairly easy to use.
Most of these units come in a single enclosure, with certain knobs that serve their respective purpose.
Basically what it does is raises or lowers the current octave you’re playing, whichever you want it to go. This can be a perfect tool if you are a solo guitarist in a band. Octave pedals are also a popular option for guitarists looking to thicken or fatten up their tones during a live band setup. Octave pedals produce a certain tonal characteristic, giving the listener the impression of having two different guitars covering two different sounds. This makes the octave pedal a reliable tool to add to your board if you’re looking to spice up your guitar playing!
Since the octave pedal has garnered quite a reputation of being an extremely versatile effect, a lot of names and brands have come up with their own takes on this effect.
When looking for a new octave pedal, I aim for something that offers features that help me explore my creativity further.
We rounded up some of the best octave pedals on the market today.
Spearheading our list is from the brand that brought you pedals that have been a staple on many professional boards for decades!
The Electro Harmonix Polyphonic Octave Generator (or simply, POG) is a fairly simple pedal to use. It has three control knobs. Dry, Sub Octave, and Octave Up. Don’t let the basic configuration fool you though! The Micro POG can let you sound like a 12-string, or even an organ and bass!
The Dry control knob is responsible for the volume of the input signal. The Sub Octave controls the volume of the lower octave outputs, and the Octave Up has the higher register volume covered.
The Electro Harmonix Micro Pog octave pedal comes in a red finish, making it easily distinguishable for all pedal and gear geeks out there. The Electro Harmonix Micro Pog pedal can be the perfect option for the guitarist who will be relying on the octave effect a lot.
In terms of future-proofing, Electro Harmonix builds its effects in a solid enclosure. Stomp your way to your favorite tones without having to worry about your pedal breaking when you need it the most!
Another well-known name in the pedal and effects community, BOSS offers a different approach to octave pedals with the OC-3 Super Octave.
This unit is the first polyphonic octave pedal. What makes it special is that it allows two separate inputs for electric guitars and bass guitars – something you don’t commonly see in octave pedals at this price point. This makes it even more appealing to players looking to fatten or tighten up their low-end signals during live sessions.
But what probably sets the BOSS OC-3 apart from its competitors is its integrated Drive section, allowing you to add an overdriven signal to your dry sound. This makes it the choice for players who want to add some dirt and grit to their clean sounds to help them cut through a mix.
The octave pedal features also sports simple control knobs, making tone shaping and chasing easy. It has separate controls for octave up and octave down options.
Yep. Another one from Electro-Harmonix, and it incorporates a pitch-shifting function!
The Electro Harmonix Pitch Fork only comes with two control knobs, a toggle switch for dual option, and a latch button. All of this allows you to choose from 11 pitch shift intervals, making tone chasing a breeze.
To top it all off, the pedal features an expression input, allowing you to have the option to incorporate an expression pedal to the Pitch Fork. What this means is you can manipulate your octave tones and add swells and fades, depending on your preference.
If you’re looking for a digital option that offers quite a number of tone manipulations, then the Sub ‘N’ Up might just be the thing for you!
From the name that brought you the Hall of Fame Reverb and the Nova Delay system, TC Electronic brings the Polyphonic Sub ‘N’ Up to the octave pedal roundup.
Arguably the most iconic feature this pedal has is TC’s TonePrint technology. What this means is that you can connect this pedal to your computer and toggle or change specific octave tones from that device. Users also found this perfect for guitars, bass, and even keyboards.
The Sub ‘N’ Up also boasts simple control knobs, such as the Dry, Up, Sub, & Sub 2, to go along with a toggle switch that offers Poly, TonePrint, and Classic options.
Probably one of the most fun to play in this roundup! The Whammy DT from DigiTech offers quite a variety of tonal options. From whammy effects to octaves, it simply allows you to explore your creativity better!
This pedal offers you options to drop tune, and a true polyphonic pitch shifting feature. It also boasts a momentary footswitch for hammer-on and pull-off effects!
It’s also the ideal pedal for the gigging and touring musician, thanks to its metal enclosure.
Who said that the best needed to be expensive?
The Harmonic Square from Donner is the real pedalboard-friendly approach to digital octave pedals. It has almost everything you need from a reliable octave pedal, and it comes in a tiny footprint!
This unit has a dedicated wet and dry knob, with a true bypass system for an unaffected tone signal, and 24 semitones.
Completing our roundup is the Tentacle from EarthQuaker Devices!
For those of you looking for a specific analog tone, the Tentacle might be just the thing for you.
It’s as simple as it gets, as it has no control knobs. EarthQuaker incorporates 1/2 of their Hoof Reafer in one enclosure, making it possible for you to incorporate the octave-up effect into your signal.
It can be powered by a 9V battery or a standard adapter. It also comes with an eye-catching design to add more color to your board!
Digital vs Analog
Back in the day, all octave pedals used to be in an analog configuration. But thanks to the genius minds who continue to push the potential of effects pedals, octave units are now able to incorporate digital features into their build.
Digital pedals provide clearer tones and help with faster tracking. They are also sought after by musicians thanks to their audio reproduction. Analog pedals on the other hand provide more thump on the bass or low-end.
What do you think is good for you? Well, it all depends on your playing style and personal preference!
Assuming you’re going to be using an octave pedal for the first time, it’s important to consider your budget. While there’s nothing wrong with investing in the best with a fair price tag, all of the features and options on an expensive octave pedal can be a bit daunting, especially if you’re just starting out!
Another thing you would want to consider is your skill level and playing style. You can go completely insane and display guitar solos with all the best octave pedals like Jack White from the White Stripes, or you can also manipulate your tones enough like Tom Morello! But it’s important to identify first what sort of octave pedal you are aiming for.
Also, pedalboard space is crucial. If you’ve already got enough pedals in your arsenal, along with a power supply, l and you just want to add a new flavor to your tone, then invest in a much smaller pedal. There are some polyphonic octaves that come smaller than average sized octave pedals. Do make sure that you don’t sacrifice pedal features and sound when getting a new or a different octave pedal.
The Wrap Up
In a world full of endless options of gear such as overdrives, delays, and reverbs, the octave effect can often be overlooked. But if you imagine the rock and roll sounds from hundreds of big names, you know that it’s an octave pedal!
It can easily add a new characteristic to your playing, and with some of the best options already rounded up in our list, then you should fare well in looking for your new pedal.
At the end of the day, what’s important is that the gear lets you explore more and be creative! So go on and have fun with your next octave pedal!