Given the advancement in technology today, it is exciting to see how much innovation and imagination has gone into making guitar pedals of all calibres. The evolution of pedals stems from the musician’s hunger to create sounds that haven’t been heard before, to expand on what already exists. To be honest, a lot of really great stuff has come out of that search, through means both carefully researched and by accident.
The first musician to use an octave pedal was Jimi Hendrix, and he quickly made the effect popular enough that it soon became a sensation among musicians of his calibre.
The octave pedal falls into a special category of modulation effects, in that it is employed for specific uses and not used every time. It requires some careful handling and expert usage, but with the right use it can transform a thin, one note sound into a full chorus with layered tones.
A typical pedal will let you add up to three or four different tones to the single one to make your own symphony. Octave pedals are pretty much in their infancy though, and so that perfect pedal that can give multiple tones over an unlimited range of octaves has not been produced yet. However, with the ones that we review below, you get the best of what is available, and that is saying a lot.
Here are the best octave pedal to buy.
1. ELECTRO-HARMONIX PITCH FORK – The Best Octave Pedal
Quality guitar pedals is right in the wheelhouse of Electro-Harmonix, and with the Pitchfork they have produced a versatile octave modulator that does a great work of keeping up with the user. This is one of the best octave pedal to buy.
Minimalistic design and a bare bones colour wraps up a device that is almost indestructible. It is the standard Electro-Harmonix no-frills design that seems too bare, but the fact that it can take a beating without complaint more than covers up for its looks.
The pitchfork comes with a mostly straightforward control setting. The Shift setting has up to 11 positions that range from D (detune, which gives a 17 cent shift in pitch), minor and major 2nd, major 3rd, perfect 4th and 5th, major 6th, minor 7, 1 octave, 2 octaves and 3 octaves.
There is a toggle switch which aims to shift the instrument’s pitch up, down, or up and down by three pitches. A Blend knob makes sure that the mix of the dry and effected signal is balanced, and an EXR jack gives the player control over pitch and glissando with an optional expression pedal (not included with the EHX pedal).
in addition to that, there are two mode options with Latch and Momentary modes which modulates the footswitch and EXP input.
The layered sounds and complex undertones you can get from the Pitchfork is almost unbeatable in devices of its nature. It keeps up with the player, switching between octaves seamlessly for that blended musical experience. Watch the pitch fork in action
Three octave range
Can be pushed without problems
The Pitchfork is a great investment for a music maker who wants a versatile but durable octave pedal to take his music to the next level.
2. Digitech Whammy V-01 Pedal
The Whammy is a staple of modern rock music, an effect pedal that cannot be separated from the evolution of the rock sound in the last few decades. Behind the greatest rock hits of the last two decades, more often than not you will find a Whammy effects pedal.
The pure fire engine red colour of this unit should be your first clue that they mean business. The Expression pedal is sturdy and road-worthy; you can stomp on it to your heart’s content with no fear of it breaking.
A small Classic/Chord switch gives you choices between two pitch-shifting modes: a classic whammy pitch that works best with a single note or a “new chords” pitch that gives you a polyphonic range to blend and play with.
The Mode select knob lets you bounce between modes effortlessly. There are ten whammy settings and nine harmony blend settings on the Digitech Whammy V. LED lights on the side let you know what mode you are on.
You can count on Whammy to bring the force and range to your octave effects; this is not a lightweight pedal. If there is any octave pedal that can handle just as much as you can push it, then this would be recommended above others. The polyphonic sounds are clear and crisp, and it can create more complex effects for your playing pleasure. Watch the whammy pedal in action :
High quality output
If there is a collector’s item in the world of pedals, it is the Whammy. This octave pedal will stay relevant through the ages.
3. Earthquaker Devices Tentacle Pedal :
Simplicity doesn’t have to mean poor quality.
This fuzz octave pedal is simple and one of the best octave pedal to spend the cash on. It might seem like it is limited in its functions to the less experiences, but more experienced users know how great it is to get a unit that has a specific function and carries out that function effectively. In lieu of a barrage of buttons you get one switch and an LED indicator light.
The fact that there is minimal fiddling with several controls means that when you plug in, you know exactly what sound you are expecting to create.
The performance is predictable and constant, but not in a bad way. You get a pure sound with excellent fuzz that will take your guitar playing to the next level. Watch this pedal in action :
Simple and easy to use
No versatility of sound
Simple, practical, and effective, but not in a bad way. What you see is what you get.
4. Mxr M288 Deluxe :
This M288 is the only bass octave pedal on this list, but it holds its own.
Just looking at the M288 and at its features, you know that you are getting a dependable product. The controls come in the form of the Dry, Growl and Girth knobs in addition to a Mid+ button.
The Dry knob gives you the ability to throw your direct signal into the sound mix, and with the Mid+ button you can add up too +14dB of frequencies that can adjust between 400Hz to 850Hz.
The Growl knob brings a full, real growl to the sound effect while the Girth control modulates the depth of the sound to suit the user.
This is a true blue bass octave pedal; it will not fall short of your expectations. There is tight control of the tonnage and depth of the bass effect you need, and even though it is not perfect, it is the best bass effect pedal you can get at an affordable price. Watch the Deluxe in action :
Easy to use
Controls are a bit complicated to use
Tracking of the guitar lags under pressure.
Nailing a bass-oriented effect pedal is not easy, or common. That is why this particular unit is something to be reckoned with; it does a good enough job for a reasonable price.
5. TC Electronics Sub N’ Up :
This is the least pricey octave pedal on this list, but it is also packed with features.
At first sight, this unit is quite attractive with its red and blue exterior. However, it is the inside that makes it stand out. There are our knobs for Dry, Upper octave control and Sub octave controls. With the added TonePrint technology, you can edit your sound and transfer it to the pedal for a customised effect. This is truly unique.
The versatility and style of the Sun n’ Play is what makes it stand out. There is an almost endless array of mixes that you can achieve with this, and you are liable to spend hours just experimenting with the sound.
Watch this octave pedal in action :
True bypass and TonePrint technology
May take time to master
Innovation is always good, and we love the lengths this unit has gone with their guitar effect technology.
Buyers Guide – What To Be On The Lookout For
Musical instruments and their accessories are usually expensive and specialised, and so they should not be bought on a whim. Some considerations should be ticked off your list before you make a choice.
Can you afford it? What type in particular falls within your affordability range? These are questions you should ask yourself. You should always have a budget of the amount of spendable money you are willing to expend on the effect pedal, and then you can make choices of pedals that fall within that range with your desired specifications. Going the other way around is how you buy an overly expensive unit that you might regret later.
Type Of Music :
Is your style bluesy or rock? Retro or modern? Simple and classic or complicated grunge? There are several applications to the octave pedal and it fits into most musical genres, but you have to know whether the unit you are considering is genre-specific.
Experience Level :
Like it was noted above, octave pedals are pretty specific instruments. A beginner cannot just walk into a store and start asking for an octave pedal, it is a serious modulation effect that one should only employ after they have had significant experience with the guitars of different types and with guitar effects. Else, it is just a waste to the user.
Categories Of Octave Pedal
Polyphonic octave pedals can usually create both up and down octaves and simulate the organ, keyboard and string instruments. They are multi-functional.
Monophonic sub octave pedals create sub octaves one or two octaves lower than the original, and are supposed to simulate synth bass instruments.
Fuzz octave pedals try to recreate the classic rock sounds of the 60s with the gritty sound it was known for.
Pitch shifters have more tonal variety and are not just for changing octaves, they also function to alter pitch.
Every true musician knows that the pedal board space is prime real estate. Buying a guitar effect is one thing, but finding a space for it on your pedal board is another. It is prudent to buy an octave pedal that is minimal in size and design so that it can fit.
Hope you found this list of the best octave pedal very helpful.