Octave Pedals are a common tool for guitarists in many styles, particularly in rock and its many sub genres. These pedals add a pitch-shifted signal to your normal sound at the interval of an octave. This octave can be up or down, which can create interesting combinations that can alter your tone in a unique way.
Besides fattening up your tone, octave pedals can also be employed to replicate the sound of a twelve-string guitar, fill in for a bass player, or take you into synth-like and experimental territory.
There are many options for octave pedals in the market, especially as this effect has increased in popularity in the past years. Almost all major brand pedal companies have at least one model of octave pedal, and there are plenty of choices from boutique makers as well.
With so many options, how do you know what to get? We’re here to help! Read on.
Features: Octave up/down & Fifth up, Individual volume controls for pitch settings, Fast polyphonic tracking
Benefits: Highly focused pitch effects, Unparalleled build quality, Dry signal blend option
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Features: All metal housing, On/bypass indicator, Simple. knob design
Benefits: Easy to use, Super unique octave up fuzz, Incredible top end harmonics
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Features: Lightweight plastic housing, Dedicated volume for each octave control, 3 Mode range switch
Benefits: Excellent bottom end performance, Versatile power options, Fantastic price point
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- Our Top 3
- Individual Reviews
- How To Choose The Right Pedal For You
- Final Thoughts
Our Top 3
The MXR Octavio Octave-up Fuzz is our Top Pick. This pedal features a simple two-knob design, and a simple On/Bypass LED indicator, built with a durable all-metal chassis. The original Octavia became part of Jimi Hendrix’s sound and this unit builds on that tradition with modern features.
The Behringer UO300 Ultra Octaver Pedal is our Budget Choice. It gives the user three operation modes and comes with separate volume knobs for each octave. Loosely based on the Boss OC-3, this pedal gives you similar features at a more affordable price.
Finally, the T-Rex Quint Machine Four-tone Generator Pedal is a great choice for dedicated guitarists that are willing to pay for quality. With fast polyphonic tracking that delivers tight pitch effects, this pedal offers great tone as well as ease of use.
A fantastic modern fuzz that is rooted in the tone of yore.
This pedal brings a piece of history to your pedal board. It comes from the direct lineage of the Octavia octave fuzz units that were originally designed for Jimi Hendrix and that became part of his legendary sound. However, it is versatile and a great choice for the modern player.
The MXR Octavio Octave-up Fuzz Pedal features a straightforward two-knob design, with a simple On/Bypass LED indicator, and is built with a tough all-metal chassis. This unit employs a silicon diode-powered clipping circuit for producing a natural tone even at lower levels.
In our tests, we used our Fender Strat and our Fender Twin Reverb amplifier. From the get-go, we were able to drive our amp by setting the fuzz knob low and the output knob high. We got saturation with a retro touch that sounded great for gritty blues and some good ol’ rock.
By dialing in a bit more fuzz, the Octavio showed its true personality with tons of dirt that was rich in overtones. With even more fuzz we started to get into experimental territory with a vintage fuzzy touch to it. Despite only having two knobs, this pedal offers a nice array of fuzz tones for a variety of situations and contexts.
Although this pedal has that distinct Hendrix fuzz flavor, it is actually very versatile. You can use it in genres as diverse as rock, funk, metal, and more. It features fantastic MRX quality and is built like a tank to take on the rigors of live shows. In short, a fantastic pedal that offers simplicity and great tone in a durable unit.
Verdict: The MXR Octavio Octave-up Fuzz pedal comes with an uncomplicated two-knob design, and with on a compact housing that is quite durable. It offers true bypass and an On/Bypass LED indicator and relies on a silicon diode-powered clipping circuit that gives you organic tone even at low levels.
The functionality of an industry standard at a budget.
This pedal was inspired by the discontinued Boss OC-3, which became an industry standard. With this unit, Behringer offers tones and functionality similar to the OC-3 but at a very affordable price.
The Behringer UO300 Ultra Octaver Pedal provides an octave effect on 3-modes and comes with dedicated volume knobs. It operates via a standard 9 V battery or optional power supply.
Besides the three individual knobs, this pedal also features a 3-position switch for selecting the mode of operation. Each position controls the range in which this pedal operates with options labeled Lo, Mid, and Hi. Here is where you pick the most suitable frequency range for your instrument. For instance, on guitar, this switch should be set to either Mid or Hi.
Regarding the knobs, the first one controls the level of the dry sound, so you can blend the original signal with the doubled signals. The second knob is labeled ‘Oct 1’ and controls the octave-down volume, while the ‘Oct 2’ knob controls the octave-up volume.
We started out tests by plugging our Strat into our Twin Reverb and setting the UO300 switch to Mid. We then turned the Direct to zero, while turning the Oct 1 knob way up. Here we got a full one-octave reduction and no blend. This was a great option for folks that like to lay down a bass line on their looper or a similar application.
We then started to blend tones and set the Direct knob at 2 o’clock, with Oct 1 and Oct 2 at 11 o’clock. Here we got a nice thickening up of our tone that can work in a variety of contexts. It was also here that we got the most out of this pedal, by blending both Oct 1 and Oct 2 knobs at different levels, for a variety of nice tones.
In short, a nice pedal for the price, great for beginners looking for an octaver to beef up their tone.
Verdict: The Behringer UO300 Ultra Octaver Pedal gives you 3-modes in order to select the frequency range in which your instrument operates the best. With two separate knobs for two different octaves and a blend knob, this pedal is a good choice for beginners looking for affordability.
A powerful yet simple octaver with great tone.
This pedal comes from the Danish company T-Rex and offers superb quality and features while adding great versatility to your pedalboard. Compact and well-built, this pedal is a fantastic choice for folks who value tone and quality.
The T-Rex Quint Machine Four-tone Generator Pedal features Octave Up, Octave Down, and Fifth Up functions, making it a versatile choice. With separate knobs for each pitch and a blend control labeled Mix, this pedal can offer a vast variety of tones.
One of the most impressive features of this T-Rex octave pedal is the fast polyphonic tracking that allows you to get tight pitch effects that do not produce glitches as a byproduct. This feature gives you even greater control and preserves the integrity of your tone.
We used our Strat into a Twin Reverb for our tests and added other pedals, mostly a Tube Screamer and EHX Big Muff Pi Fuzz, alternating between them. With our Big Muff giving us aggressive distortion, we loved what we got when dialing the -1 octave at 11 o’clock, the +1 octave at 3 o’clock, and the mix knob around 2 o’clock. This was a bitey and aggressive sound that reminded us of the White Stripes.
We kept playing with this pedal, and it proved to be very easy and logical to use. It has a bright sound that is never too harsh but penetrating enough to cut through a live band mix.
We then removed our dry tone altogether and got into some intense experimental territory. We loved the fact that here we were completely in our own world, and the T-Rex was able to take us into unique and even unexpected sonic territory. This was particularly true when combining this pedal with other fuzz and modulation stompboxes.
In short, a simple yet comprehensive octave pedal that even offers harmonization in fifths. Well-built and versatile, this octave pedal is a great choice for discerning guitarists that have quality as their top priority.
Verdict: The T-Rex Quint Machine Four-tone Generator Pedal features octave up and down knobs, as well as a fifth up knob for great versatility and a variety of tones. This pedal delivers great tone and pairs well with several distortion and fuzz stompboxes and is simple to use, making it a great choice for true professionals.
Fuzz unit designed with the last great guitar hero.
This unit features the very unique touch of guitar legend Slash and comes with superior MXR functionality, tone, and durability. With plenty of options to dial your tone, this pedal offers great sound and versatility.
The MXR Slash Octave Fuzz Pedal features three different fuzz voices labeled Main, Sub Octave, and Octave Up and comes with an all-analog circuitry along with true hardwire bypass switching.
At the top of the panel, you’ll find separate knobs for volume, tone, fuzz, sub-octave, and octave-up. On the bottom left corner of the control panel, you’ll find a footswitch that activates the pedal. On the right-hand side, there is a switch that activates/deactivates the octave-up function.
Besides giving you a great deal of control via its five knobs, this MXR pedal also features a Sub Into Fuzz switch that lets you alternate between your dry tone and the main fuzz voice.
We started our tests by pushing this unit with most knobs beyond the 12 o’clock point. We quickly found that this MRX fuzz is voiced with tons of bold midrange boost. This can be both a blessing and a curse, and it depends largely on your taste and needs. For the pros, this pedal will certainly help cut through a busy mix in a live situation. On the downside, it may be too piercing if you play on your own, particularly if the octave up is engaged.
As expected, this harshness came down once we dialed the Fuzz control back below 9 o clock. Here we got an amp-style overdrive that can be very useful in a variety of circumstances and genres.
In short, a nice pedal if you play harder rock styles, or you prefer a very penetrating fuzz tone. As with most MRX units, this pedal is built like a tank and will likely last you a lifetime.
Verdict: The MXR Slash Octave Fuzz Pedal comes with three different fuzz voices on a five-knob design for greater tonal manipulation. This pedal features all-analog circuitry and true hardwire bypass switching, and is a great choice for folks looking for an abrasive fuzz unit.
A modern pedal inspired on an illustrious past.
This pedal builds on the famous lineage of Boss octave pedals and improves performance with an enhanced tracking engine. Well-built and in the legendary Boss stompbox form factor, the OC-5 gives you variety and quality.
The Boss OC-5 Polyphonic Guitar/Bass Octave Pedal is a polyphonic unit that comes with two modes as well as -2/-1/+1 octave controls, and a dry direct output. This gives the user great flexibility and a variety of options to get creative with this pedal.
The first mode is labeled “Vintage” and features that classic Boss OC-2 pedal functionality in mono but with an improved tracking engine. In this mode, you can get sub-bass with synth-like quality, as well as punchy octave leads without any artifacts.
The second mode is labeled “Poly” and builds on what the Boss OC-3 octave pedal provides. In essence, it’s a smart polyphonic sub-tracker that takes care of the low end by providing a variety of bass notes for different situations. The OC-5 also features a Range knob so you can control your octaves exactly how you want them.
One of the great features of this pedal is the isolated direct output.
This allows you to send a clean bass signal to the main console or FOH while keeping the character and tone of your dry instrument.
We started our tests on Vintage mode and got a deep layer of bottom end that sat nicely with power chords. We played around with the -1 octave knob while keeping the +1 at low settings, and found here it paired well with our Tube Screamer.
We then switched to Poly mode and were able to stack octave bass tones for a powerful yet well-defined rumble. We also used the +1 octave control for adding some chime to the upper registers. We pushed it further to get sort of a 12-string sound and feel.
In short, a good pedal that builds on the legacy of the OC-2 and OC-3, providing flexibility and options for guitarists in any style or genre.
Verdict: The Boss OC-5 Polyphonic Guitar/Bass Octave offers mono and polyphonic functions as well as two octaves down, one down, and one up. and a dry direct output. This pedal is a good option for a variety of guitarists as it is simple to use and offers great versatility.
A well-built unit with the potential for unlimited sounds.
TC Electronic is known for providing quality tools for musicians, and this octave pedal is no exception. Besides featuring a clever yet simple design, and flexible tonal shaping on the pedal itself, the user can access a massive amount of sounds via the app.
The TC Electronic Sub ‘N’ Up Octaver Dual Octave Pedal gives you three octaves with dry control with the ability to blend them. With two modes labeled Poly and Classic modes, this octave pedal offers vintage and modern.
This pedal gives you good control options via its four knobs and three-way switch for selecting the modes. This gives you plenty of options and ways to use the octave to your liking. Additionally, you can download artist Sub ‘N’ Up patches for further tonal options.
For players that like even greater control over their sound, this pedal allows you to create your own presets via TC Electronic’s TonePrint smartphone app and software. TonePrint also gives you access to a vast array of pre-programmed sounds.
In use, this pedal proved to be easy to use, and gave us everything from fat power chords with the octave down, to killer lines when we paired it with our EHX Big Muff Pi Fuzz. On Poly mode, we were able to go into the experimental territory by dialing all octaves over halfway and pairing them with a few time and modulation pedals.
In short, a very versatile and well-built octave pedal that provides flexibility and good tone. However, some users may feel burdened by so many features and sounds and may want to opt for a more straightforward octave pedal.
Verdict: The TC Electronic Sub ‘N’ Up Octaver Dual Octave Pedal features three blendable octaves and a dry control. Its two modes can handle anything from vintage to modern octaver use, with ease and flexibility. A great choice for folks that want plenty of features on an octave pedal.
A vintage-voiced option with simplicity in mind.
The Nether Octaver is a strong choice for folks that seek a vintage voiced octave pedal for an unequivocal analog feel and flavor. This pedal offers great ease of use and the ability to take you into synth territory, as well as fantastic build quality.
The TC Electronic Nether Octaver Pedal is a sub-octave effects unit with a vintage voice. This pedal gives you one and two octaves down below dry tone and features dedicated octave level controls for greater ease when dialing in your settings.
With a robust and durable chassis and top-mounted jacks for greater pedalboard convenience, the Nether Octaver is made for withstanding the rigors of the road. Additionally, this unit also gives you true bypass circuitry and a dry knob for controlling how the affected signal passes through to the output.
We tried this pedal with our Gibson Les Paul and Twin Reverb. We liked how easy to use it is, and it gave us an analog sound and feel that reminded us a bit of the Boss OC2 octaver. The Nether Octaver is good for doubling some distorted lines and going into a more synthy territory. Although it did give us a good tone and functionality, it may feel a bit limited for some users.
In short, this is a nice choice for folks that are on the market for a vintage voiced octave pedal. Those that want more flexibility or a polyphonic octave should look elsewhere.
Verdict: The TC Electronic Nether Octaver Pedal is an octave pedal that offers a vintage voice. With one and two octaves down below dry tone, true bypass and fantastic built quality, this is a great choice for those looking for a classic-inspired octave pedal with a bit of the sound of yore.
How To Choose The Right Pedal For You
Having an octave pedal on your pedalboard can give you another color palette to use in a variety of situations and contexts. As we know, octave pedals dramatically change your tone in a number of ways.
You can use them for basic needs like adding a layer of fatness to your power chords, creating spacey synth-like runs, or even imitating the sound of a 12-string guitar.
Octave pedals tend to pair well with distortion and fuzz units and can help give you that edge for killer saturated solos. There are some things to look for when buying an octave pedal, and we’ve organized them below.
Monophonic Octave Pedals
This type of pedal appeals to folks that want an analog octave sound. They became popular around the late 1960s, particularly when used with a good dose of fuzz.
However, monophonic octave pedals are more limited and some are even prone to noise. Additionally, they cannot accurately track more than one note (tracking tends to become sluggish and unstable) and can be glitchy at times. That said, some models do offer loads of personality.
Polyphonic Octave pedals
All the limitations of monophonic octave pedals started to disappear once digital processing made its appearance. This is especially true now, as technology developed and evolved by leaps and bounds.
As a result, there are seemingly endless offerings of digital polyphonic octave effects that can track fast and reliably. You can now expand the voice of your guitar in surprising ways.
Whether you want to recreate the sound of a 12-string guitar, or come up with massive organ-like sounds, polyphonic octave pedals can deliver. On top of that, there is a lot of potential for unique and novel sounds. This is especially true when you combine them with other effects like fuzz, distortion, modulation, delay, etc.
Typical controls for octave pedals include octave up and octave down. Some offer two octaves down, and even harmonization in fifths. Some of the more desired pedals also feature a blend control which allows you to dial exactly how much of the effect you want.
Many octave pedals also include a switch, where you are able to choose if you want to operate them in monophonic or polyphonic mode. These models tend to offer great variety as you can essentially choose to have a more analog sound or a modern one that can track more than one string at a time.
Some pedals may have even more comprehensive features than the ones mentioned above. It is up to you to decide how much control over your tone you need, and how many features as well. As always, auditioning a few pedals and knowing what you need them for will be key in your final selection.
Octave pedals are versatile tools that can be used in a variety of ways. Whether you play solo or in a band, an octave pedal can be of great help to fatten your sound as well as provide other sounds for a variety of uses.
Naturally, you need to try as many as possible and develop your own criteria. Knowing what you need it for is vital. From doubling a low octave to having a very versatile pedal that can do it all, your needs are key to your choice of octave pedal.
To recap our choices, the MXR Octavio Octave-up Fuzz is our Top Pick. It comes in a simple two-knob design and is inspired by the original Octavia which became part of Jimi Hendrix’s sound.
The Behringer UO300 Ultra Octaver Pedal is our Budget Choice. With three operation modes and separate volume knobs for each octave, this pedal gets the job done. Loosely based on the Boss OC-3, this pedal comes at an affordable price.
Finally, the T-Rex Quint Machine Four-tone Generator Pedal is for dedicated professional guitarists. With fast polyphonic tracking and Danish quality, this pedal offers great tone as well as ease of use.