This quest originally started with my considering various Octave Fuzz pedals - in fact if you look up ’Octave’ on a typical guitar store, the majority of pedals revealed are of the fuzz type. I spent long and hard considering exactly which pedal to get, and if it should be the Hendrix octave up, octave down or in both directions. Having considered everything on offer in that category, I decided that I would probably be better off getting a fully stand-alone octave pedal which I could then apply to various pedals in my chain.
Within the domain of Octaves and Pitch-Shifting, much like with synth pedals - Electro-Harmonix is king - with all manner of different offerings - some indeed overlapping with the synth category - including POG and HOG. It is very rare that I select two pedals from the same manufacture but I have done so here, as both are much loved and widely used - the full-fat POG 2, and the more streamlined Pitch Fork.
We can’t discount the first ever polyphonic octave pedal either - Boss’s Super Octave, which has a sort of mini-me in the form of the Mooer Pure Octave - albeit the latter smaller pedal has more octave options, but not the 3 modes of the Boss. Another company which is a relative recently arrived yet formidable competitor to EHX has several pedals of its own in this area, I have elected to go with the Organizer.
My preferred pedal in this assortment is the one I own - TC Electronic’s Sub ’n’ Up - which has 2 x Sub + 1 x Super and a 3-way mode toggle with Poly, Vintage and TonePrint options. As with all TCE pedals the Tone Print options is genius and gives you a lovely Hammond-style organ sound by default, but you can always switch it out for something more to your liking. You could conceivably improve this pedal by adding 2 further dials - one for an additional Super Octave, and another to act as a mode switch - to give you more direct and immediate access to more tones - in particular more Tone Prints. TCE could easily offer up a few more default flavours with the now standard 3 TonePrint slots too. Yet even without any of those, this is still the pedal to beat really - super versatile and flexible, and nothing else comes close in that form factor. If you want to go larger then POG, Great Divide and Luminary are all fine choices, but for me personally they are a little on the big side - and while some have presets, they don’t quite have the scope of what is truly capable with the Sub ’n’ Up.
The bottom row is a touch more specialist with the T-Rex Quint Machine uniquely offering a 5th tone up dial - to marry with sub and super octaves. Then we have the POG-esque TWA Great Divide with its many modes and Synth options, and lastly but far from the least is Walrus’s 2 x Sub + 2 x Supper Octave pedals. As before, a grand selection of what is available.
NOTE - Pedals are pictured and listed alphabetically by brand, prices are the lowest I could find online for new. I generally look for a range of pedals at different sizes, price ranges and varying degrees of functionality / ability - to suit most scenarios.
Now in its 3rd iteration - this industry-strength pedal still finds a home on many a pro's pedalboard, including that of John Mayer. It only offers 2 x Octaves - one up, one down, plus the dry signal of course. It does though have 3 modes - Poly, Oct 2 and Drive - which adds a little grit to your tone. It's still a great sounding pedal with excellent tracking, but I believe there are more innovative and versatile pedals for a similar price.
Another 2 Octave pedal - Up and Down, this one is obviously more of an organ simulator, but you have significant tone sculpting options here, and you can turn down the 'Choir' and use this with other pedals. An alternative here is EQD's Bit Commander - which does a similar thing, but within a bitcrusher modulation / environment - that can be tweaked to sound close to an Octave Fuzz, as well being used to trigger other drive pedals. A versatile pedal in some ways, limited in others.
This compact but clever pedal is appearing on several pro boards at the moment - a pretty neat regular-sized pedal with a toggle to select Up, Down or Dual modes, there's also a Latch/Momentary switch, and 11 different modes on the Shift dial - where you can define the tone interval quite precisely. Were there no TCE Sub 'n' Up, I would most likely have acquired this in its place.
Next is probably the best known octave pedal on this page - it certainly gets around - with 2 Up and 2 Down Octaves on top of the dry signal, and then 3 different effects - Attack, Low Pass Filter and Detune. A further bonus is that whatever tones you manage to create - you can save 8 of your favourites as presets. So a really versatile pedal, slightly synthetic sounding, and possibly a little too large for my liking.
The styling obviously hints at the Boss Super Octave above, but the Mooer quite fabulously gives you more range with two octaves up and two down available simultaneously - no 3-mode option toggle though. Three dials control Dry, Sub and Upper. For £54 you can't go wrong, and this little pedal is more versatile than many several times it size, although they may have better tone. Nothing wrong with the tracking on this pedal though - yet another cracker from Mooer, and another one that I will likely pick up along the way. These pedals are great for backup, or where you pedalboard available real estate is tight, or even just for when you want to experiment with types of modulation and effects to see if its something is for you. If you find you like this kind of effect, you can always then move on to bigger and better things. You may be surprised by just how many individual Mooer pedals are tucked away on pro players' boards here, there and everywhere.
Way back when, I initially used to frequently confuse this one with DigiTech's 'Drop' pedal - which is more of a tonal down-tuner. After a little research I soon discovered the strength of this relatively diminutive offering. I had intended to use it mostly as an Octaver - to drive fuzz sounds. Yet at least currently, I find myself stuck in TonePrint mode experimenting with more unusual sounds, and very little fuzz indeed. This is a really smart octave solution, which can only really be improved by baking in more tonal options / TonePrint slots into the pedal, and adding a 2nd octave up. This is definitely the stand out for me in this category - particularly on a feature to form-factor ratio.
T-Rex delivers an Octave Up and Down, as well as a fifth tone up - for superior harmonics and more ringing power chords. It's main point of difference is quite literally the '5th element'. Yet it remains somewhat in the shadow of its Sub 'n' Up Danish compatriot - which allows you to generate pretty much any kind of interval through the TonePrint app. I always look for uniqueness and versatility in my pedals, on top of great sound. This pedal hits most of the markers and stands out for its unique 5ths option, yet I'm not sure that alone is enough to make it fully competitive in this crowd.
Totally Wicked Audio and their distributor Godlyke were unknown to me a little over a month ago, but since then I have come across 3 of their pedals - which have been quite actively demo'd across YouTube, this one of course, the envelope-filtered Dynamorph drive pedal, and the recently released Hot Sake Overdrive. The Great Divide is a kind of sort of modern update of the POG - with various synth modes and clock (interval) settings to combine with 2 Octaves down, 1 Up, Dry signal, and Synth voicings. I would see this as a more modern voiced, modern update of the POG 2 - some will prefer the classic POG tones, others may well prefer this.
This 2 Octaves Up + 2 Octaves down pedal is another POG competitor - this time with dials really rather than sliders. There are some great demos of this online, and but for the size I would be sorely tempted - it is a slightly more streamline version of the POG with slightly fewer presets, less settings, though in a similar-sized enclosure. I've seen Nick Jaffe use this pedal to great effect, but for an Octave pedal (admittedly with bells on) it's still a touch large for me. I think when you compare feature sets, versatility etc, the Sub 'n' Up is a surprising but pleasantly appealing winner here - it already has a little brother with just one octave up and down, and I can see a family of these - just like the Ditto or Flashback. I can imagine just how much TCE could achieve with a Chase Bliss -style enclosure - two footswitches and all those dials, toggles and switches - with added 'Mash' and other specialist footswitch functions!