In addition to being a private violin teacher, Alecia started writing music-related articles 3 years ago and has been enjoying this experience greatly. Loves quilting and scrapbooking in her free time.
Marcus has a vast experience in digital audio and sound design. Thanks to his knowledge, he actively helps musicians with technical problems, improving their audio quality and even promoting their tracks so that thousands of listeners could enjoy some really good music.
Last updated: February 19, 2021
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Bass octave pedals, a type of guitar effect pedals, are designed to produce a tone that is one octave above or below the original tone. Many modern octave pedals give an even wider tone range, generating a tone that’s either two or three octaves higher or lower than the tone you’re playing. The best bass octave pedals are versatile and flexible, and allow you to control the settings so that you always have a wide variation of customizable tones.
Anyone who is new to pedals may feel confused by the variety of pedals available and the terminology used in the world of effects. Our job is to simplify all this for you. And we do this by explaining how pedals work, their impact, and the features that make a good octave pedal. The features we consider important, and which we looked at in this research, includes things like size, design, tracking, digital versus analog mechanism, and monophonic versus polyphonic operation.
After weeks of testing and comparing different bass octave pedals and listening to the feedback of other octave pedal users, we were able to classify the different pedals we used by how well they performed, their tone range and tracking ability. We present this research to you in an easy-to-follow manner, with a comparison table, in-detail reviews of each product, and a comprehensive buying guide. We believe that, by the end of the reviews, you’ll be in a position to identify the best octave pedal for the kind of tone variation you want to create.
For guitarists looking for a solid bass octave pedal that sounds terrific and tracks well, the MXR M288 Bass Octave Deluxe with an organic analog tone is a clear winner.
In addition to the footswitch and Mid+ switches, the pedal has three extra control knobs. The Dry knob controls the volume of the clean bass signal, the Growl knob, as the name would suggest, controls the volume of the midrange tone, which is gravelly, and the Girth knob controls the volume of the deep sub-octave tone. By twiddling the controls at different levels, you’ll be able to customize and generate the kind of sound you wish to create. In all knobs, rotating the knob clockwise increases the volume. Counterclockwise rotation decreases the volume.
The Mid+ switch adds up to +14dB of adjustable mid frequencies, widely expanding the mid range for an even greater tonal range. Depress the switch to turn it on. You can then adjust the frequency and level by moving the internal slider up and down for the frequency and clockwise/counterclockwise for the level (+4dB to +14dB). There’s a blue LED that lights up when the Mid+ is switched on, so you always know whether the switch is on or off.
This pedal will use a 9V battery, AC power via an adapter, or a DC Brick™ power supply. The bad news is you have to buy these separately as none is offered with the pedal. But for the above-par performance you get, this is a small price to pay.
An important thing you should know about the Boss OC-3 right off the bat is that, in addition to the newer, more versatile OC-3 build, it also comes with the original OC-2 (which was optimized to produce notes one and two octaves below the original note), in case you don’t want to say goodbye to the OC-2 magic just yet. For guitarists who are all about creating a unique sound, the OC-3 is a game changer. This is what will allow you to blend up to 3 different sounds, meaning the original note, the note that’s one octave below the original note, and one that’s two octaves below the original note. The OC-3 octave sounds are a lot more stable than in the OC-2, an advantage that makes a world of difference in the sound.
And thanks to the Polyphonic Octave mode, you can add these octave effects when playing chords. This isn’t common in compact pedals, but the BOSS OC-3 makes the exception. For an even more distinct sound, engage the Drive mode to give your sound a little bit of distortion.
This pedal uses a 9V battery or AC power. The battery drains fast so if you’re playing a long set, you may want to connect to a power outlet instead. It comes with all the cables you need, and once you connect the bass input, it automatically adapts to suit the range of your guitar. It also comes with a 5-year limited BOSS warranty.
The EBS Sweden AB OctaBass is a good choice for guitarists who appreciate a true analog sound. With a triggering threshold of -70dBv at 200Hz and a Dry noise level of -96 dBv, the pedal has excellent signal detection.
The pedal gives three levels of tone range. High range produces the most synthesized sound and is an apt choice when you want to change the tonal character of your sound. The mid range gives you all the classic octave effects, while the low range adds particularly smooth, low harmonics to the sound.
Extras that make this pedal a good buy include true bypass, which minimizes interference and preserves the tone. There’s also overvoltage protection, which not only protects the pedal from electricity-triggered damage, but also makes it safe for you to use the pedal in a connection with up to 18V. Ordinarily, you should power the pedal with 9-12V DC. It has a maximum current draw of 30mA.
To switch the pedal on and off, simply press the footswitch. An indicator LED lights up to confirm that the pedal is indeed switched on so that you’re always sure the pedal is on when you need it to be.
Use DC power supply to connect the pedal (you’ll need a 2.1mm pin center negative connector) or a 9V battery. You’ll need to buy the battery separately as it’s not included in the package.
The Mooer MOC, a tiny digital pedal, is what you go for when you want something to bump up your guitar octaves without having to spend too much. Thanks to its compact size and design, it won’t clutter your pedalboard and is perfect when you have multiple other pedals to work with. It comes in a metal casing for guaranteed durability and, because of this hardy shell, you don’t have to worry about handling it with care during transportation.
The pedal processes precise polyphonic effects, making it a good option for guitarists interested in applying effects to multiple frequencies at a go. The sound output is crisp and of great quality; you’ll find this pedal a valuable addition for both home studio use and professional use/performances. True bypass helps in keeping the sound clean and free of distortion. It also has 11 octave modes, meaning you get to enjoy more customization options for your sound output.
To use, connect to a 9V DC output AC adapter and a center negative plug. You naturally expect such a small pedal to have minimal power consumption, but at 128 mA, it has a higher load than average, considering that most digital pedals draw 50 mA or less. Note that this draw is only high when compared to similar pedals, but overall, it is still low by device size and purpose.
The digital Electro-Harmonix POG2 delivers four mixable polyphonic voices: one (+1) octave above the original note, one (-1) octave below the original note, two (+2) octaves above the original note, and two (-2) octaves below the original notes. These give you the customization you need to get a wide range of tones. Some of the controls you get are a Low Pass filter with selectable Q and adjustable filter cutoff, and a Detune fader to control the rate and depth of detune to the +1 and +2 octave signals. To ensure smooth sound, an attack delay slider helps control the fade-in speed of the effects and ensures that the octaves blend in well with the original tone.
In addition to the four octave controls, there’s also a Dry Output Slider, which you use to control the volume of the original dry signal before it exits the pedal. Push the slider up to increase the volume and push it down to decrease volume.
Among the most exciting features in this pedal are the memory settings. You get up to 8 preset configurations, which means once you find the magic controls that produce a specific sound output, you can save up to 8 such settings. Anytime you want to apply any of these configurations, simply select and load the autosaved custom sound using either the white PRESET Button or the PRESET Footswitch. Such a timesaver.
It comes with a 1-year limited warranty covering materials and workmanship.
What we liked:
Preset memory settings
1-year limited warranty
What could be better:
High current draw
Things to Consider
Now that you have an idea of some specific bass octave pedals you can buy, let’s dig deeper into what determines a good pedal and how to go about identifying one.
Why you should choose a bass octave pedal?
Whether you’re a seasoned guitarist or a new guitar player, and whether you only play for fun or professionally or in performances, a bass octave pedal will enhance the sound output of your guitar, producing a sound that feels much bigger and fuller than it really is. It generates a pitch that is one or two octaves above or below the original signal. This synthesized signal and the original are then mixed to produce a unique, synthetic sound.
By using a bass octave pedal, you can boost the mid-frequency range for a tone that’s higher than you’d get without the pedal, or fill up the sub-bass range for a deeper, lower sound.
The sound of money
The cheapest bass octave pedals are in the $50-$60 range. Mid-price models fall within the $150-$200 range, and the more expensive ones cost upwards of $300. Given the difference in pricing, it’s natural to question the performance of the low-priced pedals. But you’ll be surprised to know that some of the pedals with low price tags perform nearly as well as some of the costlier ones. Likewise, some expensive pedals don’t live up to expectations.
To ensure that your choice of a bass octave pedal won’t be a letdown, look at the specific features it has and be sure to read the feedback from those who’ve used the pedals. With these two, you’re unlikely to end up with a poor quality bass octave pedal.
Features to consider when buying the best bass octave pedal
Let’s now look at the specific features you should consider when you decide to buy a bass octave pedal.
Size and design
It’s likely that the bass octave pedal isn’t the only pedal you’ll be using when playing instruments. It therefore shouldn’t take up so much space on the pedalboard that you have little room left for other effects pedals. The best bass octave pedal is small enough and allows you to plug in all your other pedals without having to forgo using any of them.
It should also be designed such that all the controls are within reach and easy to operate. If they’re too small, squeezed together, or in hard-to-reach places, adjusting them becomes a challenge. The placement of the controls on the pedal should also be well thought out. When you press the footswitch to switch on the pedal, for example, your foot shouldn’t accidentally press any neighboring knobs as this could alter the configurations.
Tracking basically means that the pedal can follow the notes you’re playing and create effects for only those notes, and in this way, ensure that the output doesn’t get muddy. Decide whether you want single note tracking or polyphonic tracking and then choose a pedal that does that. Single note tracking is not much of a challenge for a good pedal, and there are many that do it well, even modern analog pedals. MXR M288 Bass Octave Deluxe is a good example. Multiple-note tracking is challenging for many pedals, though, so you want to be sure the pedal you choose can track these well if you’re aiming for polyphonic tracking. Digital pedals like the Boss OC-3 are generally the best choice for this.
Monophonic or polyphonic?
The difference here is that the monophonic bass octave pedal can only generate the effect for one frequency at a time, while the polyphonic bass octave pedal creates effects for multiple frequencies at a time. It goes without saying that a polyphonic pedal offers greater sound variety and is your ticket to creating an even more unique and synthesized sound.
Digital or analog?
Analog bass octave pedals are designed to synthesize one frequency at a time and produce a warm, more natural-sounding output. They are best for guitarists who only want a subtle alteration to the sound.
Digital bass octave pedals are designed to create polyphonic effects, meaning they can synthesize multiple frequencies at a go. As a result, they produce a sound that is far more artificial. They are the best choice if you’re going for a dramatic sound, the kind that’s favored in music genres like metal.
This refers to the changes a pedal is capable of making in your tone. Traditionally, bass octave pedals are typically designed to take your tone one octave up or one octave down. But a greater variety of pedals is now designed to create a tone that’s two octaves above or two octaves below the dry signal. Others make changes at the semitone level. Decide how much variation you’d like to create in your music and then choose a pedal that offers the corresponding tone range. Pedals like the EBS Sweden AB OctaBass, which gives a 3-level tone range, or the Electro-Harmonix POG2, which generates up to 2 octaves above or below your note, offer greater variation, for example.
If you have to spend too much time tinkering with your pedal settings and getting the pedal to work the way you want, you’re likely to become frustrated with it. And if you don’t get accustomed to the pedal with time and find some buttons still irritably unreachable after six months of use, you may want to consider getting another pedal.
The best bass pedal is well designed, such that all buttons are visible and easy to operate. It’s also highly responsive and appropriately sized to take up just the right amount of space on the pedalboard.
Many bass octave pedals come with a 1-year limited warranty. However, some, like the EBS Sweden AB OctaBass have a 2-year warranty, which is more reasonable, given that you’re spending close to $200 on the pedal. Some manufacturers like BOSS go all out to give a 5-year warranty, as is the case with the Boss OC-3. With such a warranty, you’re adequately covered and feel confident in the manufacturer’s ability to deliver a quality product.
Tips on using an octave pedal for bass
A bass octave pedal can turn your guitar into a bass guitar.
It can make your tone deeper or higher and brighter.
It can make it sound like there are more instruments playing than just your guitar.
It can add girth or growl to your sound.
It can make your tone smooth, aggressive, or distorted.
This here is an example of the many tone variations you can get with a bass octave pedal:
While you’ll want (and we encourage you) to experiment with different effects as you curate your pedalboard, there are some effects that rhyme well with a bass octave pedal. They include fuzz effect, dry/wet signal blending, envelope filters, reverbs, delays, and distortion. You can’t go wrong with any of these.
We’d say you should be knowledgeable and experienced enough in guitar playing to know what an octave pedal is, when you’d want to apply it, and why before considering using one. If you don’t, it’ll be just another gadget you can’t make full use of or even use to enhance your music. That means you need to be confident in your guitar playing ability before adding a bass octave pedal to your pedalboard.
Yes, they can. The whole point in adding a bass octave pedal to your array of pedals is to change the output of your regular electric guitar so that it sounds like you’re playing the bass guitar and the regular guitar, and to give your audio output more of a personality.
Our nominee for number one is the MXR M288 Bass Octave Deluxe. We like its warm, organic analog sound, wide tone range, the variety of control knobs, and the LED indicator that lets you know whether the pedal is switched on. We also like that you can power it three different ways.
For number two, we nominate the Boss OC-3. We like how seamlessly it blends 3 voices and the stability of its effects. We also like the fact that you can use it with a battery or connect to a power supply. Plus it comes with all the cables so you can plug and play. The 5-year warranty is a big win too.
Our third choice in the best bass octave pedals category is the Mooer MOC1. Other than its low price, its compact size and design, which make it pedalboard-friendly, stands out. We also like its solid build, the hard-wearing metal shell, and the polyphonic effects.