Bass Octave Pedal Comparison


This is my subjective bass octave pedal comparison; focusing on octave-down needs. Note that this comparison is based upon my rig and musical needs – yours might differ completely.

Let’s start with subjective pros / cons of octave pedals I have used before. They are ordered by my personal preference.

πŸ₯‡ Boss OC-2🟒 Unmatched synthy sound
🟒 Analog
🟒 Good tracking
🟒 Articulate
🟒 Industry benchmark
🟑 Discontinued
🟑 Volume drop w/o dry
🟑 Limited tone shaping
🟑 Peculiar power (12V)
🟑 Useless -2 octave
πŸ₯ˆ EBS Octabass
(Blue Label)
🟒 Analog
🟒 Blendable modes
🟒 Gets smooth or synthy
🟒 High / low range setting
🟒 Great tracking
🟒 Tracks low notes
🟒 Flexible power
🟑 A little boomy / muddy
πŸ₯‰ Boss OC-5🟒 Sounds close to OC-2
🟒 Multiple modes
🟒 Multiple in/outs
🟒 Has octave up too
🟑 Slight artifacts
🟑 Digital
🟑 Limited tone shaping
🟑 Meager octave up
πŸ₯‰Boss OC-3🟒 Sounds close to OC-2
🟒 Multiple modes
🟒 Multiple in/outs
🟑 Slight artifacts
🟑 Digital
🟑 Limited tone shaping
πŸŽ– MXR M288
(Bass Octave Deluxe)
🟒 Analog
🟒 Blendable modes
🟒 Adjustable mid boost
🟒 Tracks low notes
🟑 Lesser articulation
🟑 Needs a hot signal
🟑 Needs compressor
🟑 Otherwise: artifacts
πŸŽ– Aguilar Octamizer🟒 Analog
🟒 Good tracking
🟒 Octave / clean EQ
πŸ‘Ž MXR M280
(Vintage Bass Octave)
🟒 Analog
🟒 OC-2 clone
🟒 Mid boost
πŸ”΄ Artifacts on high notes
πŸ”΄ Noisy
🟑 Useless -2 octave
πŸ‘Ž EHX Pitch Fork🟒 Polyphonic tracking
🟒 Flexible pitch shift
πŸ”΄ Sounds artificial
πŸ”΄ Meager oct.down
🟑 Digital
🟑 Limited tone shaping
πŸ‘Ž EHX PoG🟒 Polyphonic tracking
🟒 Can octave-up too
πŸ”΄ Sounds artificial
πŸ”΄ Meager oct.down
🟑 Digital
🟑 Limited tone shaping
πŸ‘Ž MXR M287
(Sub Octave Bass Fuzz)
🟒 3 band EQ
🟒 Blend options
πŸ”΄ Meager dirt
🟑 Big
🟑 No fuzz-off switch
πŸ‘Ž TC Electronic Sub n Up🟒 Polyphonic tracking
🟒 Can octave-up too
🟒 Multiple modes
🟒 Editable via app
πŸ”΄ Sounds too artificial
πŸ”΄ Meager oct.down
🟑 Digital
πŸ‘Ž Fishman Fission🟒 Can add 4/5 too
🟒 Built-in drive
🟒 Built-in noise gate
πŸ”΄ Too big
πŸ”΄ No octave down
πŸ”΄ Only useful for rock
🟒 Great feature 🟑 Bad feature πŸ”΄ Deal breaker

Now, let’s get into the subjective reviews.

πŸ₯‡ Gold Medal

Boss OC-2 is the best choice if you are looking for a synth-like bass sound. Not much needs to be said about the pedal which is pretty much the industry standard. Sounds clean as a whistle, no significant artifacts, good tracking (until A). Don’t let OC-2 clones fool you, none that I tried sound as good as the real deal. One reminder though: Use it with a 12V power supply.

πŸ’‘ My favorite setting: Oct-2 off, Oct-1 dimed, Clean 14:00

πŸ₯ˆ Silver Medal

EBS Octabass is one of the best choices if you are looking for a natural bass sound one octave below yours. The tone control can get you from subby to synthy, but the synthy sound isn’t as natural as the Boss OC-2. Still usable, though. The range switch helps you switch between bass-focus or mid-focus.

πŸ’‘ My favorite setting: Normal dimed, Tone 12:00, Octave 10:00, Range high.

πŸ₯‰ Bronze Medal

Boss OC-5 / OC-3 are the predecessors of Boss OC-2. Although they bring more sound options to the table, they are unfortunately digital and don’t sound as natural as the original OC-2. The extra features seem to appeal to guitar players a little more. Those pedals also produce more artifacts. But hey, can anyone tell in a mix? I doubt it. But I can tell when I’m playing alone, which makes me prefer the OC-2.

πŸŽ– Honorable Mentions

MXR M-288 is a good octaver, actually – despite not being as articulate as OC-2. Growl / girth basically lets you blend subby / synthy modes. The mid boost of the clean signal is also a good plus. The only show-stopper to me is; it produces lots of artifacts on the G string below the 10th fret if you don’t have a hot signal and/or compressor before – which is a big problem on songs like Muse – Uprising.

Aguilar Octamizer is a pedal I used for a while; I love its natural sound. The filter setting on the octave side gets you from subby to “saw-y”; for lack of a better term. It won’t emulate the OC-2 synth thing. The most significant show-stopper to me is though; it is too boomy, no matter how I set the filter. Can’t use it without an EQ pedal or HPF afterwards. Therefore, EBS Octabass is my go-to pedal for a natural sub-octave.

πŸ‘Ž Eliminated

MXR M280 is basically a Boss OC-2 clone, but is simply too noisy. It produces weird crackles even when you are not using the bass. That’s probably the noise in the signal chain being picked up by the M280, but other pedals don’t do that so… It also has tracking / artifact problems on the G string, similar to MXR M-288.

EHX Pitch Fork / PoG: Those are digital pedals; which means that they track better than analog ones, but they don’t sound as good. If you need more pitch options than a simple octave-down, such as octave-up or polyphonic tracking; those may satisfy you though.

MXR M287: Basically has the same pros / cons like the other MXR octavers above. Plus, it has a built in fuzz – which may or may not appeal to you. I wish it had a fuzz-off switch, so I could octave in-out or fuzz in-out without having to turn knobs. Size is also a turn-off. I’d rather have a separate octave and fuzz so I can switch pedals if my taste changes.

TC Electronic Sub n Up: Digital, sounds artificial. Can be tweaked a little using the obvious app, but I couldn’t get a sound I like out of it. However, octave up is very useful for guitar emulation – especially if you low-cut below 800 Hz in the editor app.

Fishman Fission: Purpose of this pedal is to emulate a rock rhythm guitar sound. If you play simple root notes, this pedal will happily follow you around and fill the sonic space when your sole guitar player starts to solo. The wet output should preferably be sent to a real guitar amp to sound better. But, it won’t do the octave down thing; so it’s not your typical desert island octaver. This is more of a special purpose pedal.

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