9 Best Octave Pedals On The Market (Multiple Budgets)

Best Octave Pedal

Have you ever listened to guitarists like Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine), Jack White (White Stripes, The Raconteurs, Dead Weather) or Jimi Hendrix and wondered: how do they sound like two guitars playing at the same time?

Have you noticed that one of those guitar parts is an octave higher, or maybe even harmonized to another interval?

The answer is Octave pedals.

If you’re interested in making your guitar sound like an organ, or a choir, or a duet, the octave pedals are a fun effect for you to try out.

However, not all octave pedals work the same, and it’s important to pick out the right one for you.

In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the best octave pedals in 2020 to send your guitar up (or down) a few octaves.

Snapshot: Top 9 Octave Pedals

  1. EHX POG NanoBest Polyphonic
  2. Earthquaker Devices Bit Commander V2Best Monophonic
  3. Boss OC-3 Super OctaveBest for Acoustic
  4. JHS SupremeBest Octave Fuzz
  5. Earthquaker Devices TentacleBest with Overdrives
  6. MXR M288 Bass Octave DeluxeBest for Bass
  7. Donner Harmonic SquareBest Budget Option
  8. Digitech Whammy 5Best High End Option
  9. TC Electronic Sub ‘N’ UpBest Overall
Best Overall
TC Electronic Sub 'N' Up Octaver Pedal with TonePrint
Best Budget
Donner Digital Octave Guitar Effect Pedal Harmonic Square 7 modes
Best High-End
Digitech Whammy 5 Multi-Effects Pedal Bundle with 2 Cables and Power Supply
Best For Bass
MXR M288 Bass Octave Deluxe Effects Pedal Bundle with 4 MXR Right Angle Patch Cables
TC Electronic Sub 'N' Up Octaver Pedal with TonePrint
Donner Digital Octave Guitar Effect Pedal Harmonic Square 7 modes
Digitech Whammy 5 Multi-Effects Pedal Bundle with 2 Cables and Power Supply
MXR M288 Bass Octave Deluxe Effects Pedal Bundle with 4 MXR Right Angle Patch Cables
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Signal
Signal: Digital
Signal: Digital
Signal: Digital
Signal: Analog
Power Source
Power Source: 9V
Power Source: 9V
Power Source: 9V
Power Source: 9V
Features
Features: True Bypass, Optional Buffered Bypass, TonePrint Modulation, Poly or Monophonic
Features: True Bypass, 2 octaves up
Features: True Bypass, Polyphonic Mode, MIDI in
Features: True Bypass, two sub octave voices, mid boost
Best Overall
TC Electronic Sub 'N' Up Octaver Pedal with TonePrint
TC Electronic Sub 'N' Up Octaver Pedal with TonePrint
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Signal
Signal: Digital
Power Source
Power Source: 9V
Features
Features: True Bypass, Optional Buffered Bypass, TonePrint Modulation, Poly or Monophonic
Best Budget
Donner Digital Octave Guitar Effect Pedal Harmonic Square 7 modes
Donner Digital Octave Guitar Effect Pedal Harmonic Square 7 modes
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Signal
Signal: Digital
Power Source
Power Source: 9V
Features
Features: True Bypass, 2 octaves up
Best High-End
Digitech Whammy 5 Multi-Effects Pedal Bundle with 2 Cables and Power Supply
Digitech Whammy 5 Multi-Effects Pedal Bundle with 2 Cables and Power Supply
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Signal
Signal: Digital
Power Source
Power Source: 9V
Features
Features: True Bypass, Polyphonic Mode, MIDI in
Best For Bass
MXR M288 Bass Octave Deluxe Effects Pedal Bundle with 4 MXR Right Angle Patch Cables
MXR M288 Bass Octave Deluxe Effects Pedal Bundle with 4 MXR Right Angle Patch Cables
Signal
Signal: Analog
Power Source
Power Source: 9V
Features
Features: True Bypass, two sub octave voices, mid boost

Researching Octave Pedals

An octave pedal has never been on my board before.

That is until I went in to record my band Lumet’s newest single, “The Gleam”.

I have a guitar part in the chorus of this song that felt complete in terms of its arrangement, but it needed an effect that would help it stand out more.

It wasn’t until I got into the studio and worked with our engineer that we landed on an octave effect (mine was a Line 6 original called the Simple Pitch). This immediately changed the feel of the part and gave it a more synth-like tone that matched the feel of the song as a whole.

For the most part octave pedals don’t faithfully recreate our guitar tone at another interval. Rather, they are activated by triggers, much like a synth, and as a result the effected signal has a more synth-like quality to it. One of the pedals I’ll review here, called the EQD Bit Commander, even labels itself as a Synth Octave effect.

I’ve heard octave pedals from many of my favorite guitarists, most notably Tom Morello and Jack White, but they are also used by Chick Corea (Synth/Piano), Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age), and many more musicians.

Despite hearing the effect from so many artists that I admire, I always disregarded it, thinking that it ruined your guitar tone (even though I loved what I was hearing) or that they were a one trick pony.

It goes to show that you should never disregard an effect until you’ve tried it, because after recording “The Gleam” I have been fascinated by octave pedals and how they can change the voice of the guitar.

While the Octave effect I used was a simple octave up effect (just two voices once you include my dry signal), there are many different kinds of octave pedals with different voices and harmonizing potential. The most notable aspect is whether an octave pedal is monophonic (able to track one note at a time), or polyphonic (able to track multiple notes at the same time).

I’ll get into the uses of both of these later on as I review each pedal. There are also octave pedals that can harmonize to any interval you can imagine, including 3rds, 5ths, etc., that create some pretty wild sounds. I’ll even address octave fuzz (though its own circuit entirely on its own) and how it can be used to achieve a doubling octave effect.

Whatever the case may be, an octave pedal essentially doubles, triples or quadruples your dry signal and re-pitches it to a note other than the one you are playing.

Sounds like fun, right?

Without further ado, let’s see what’s up (and down) with octave pedals!

The Best Octave Pedals In 2020

1. EHX POG Nano Review – Best Polyphonic

Electro-Harmonix Nano POG Polyphonic Octave Generator pedal
  • 3 knobs control your mix of dry sound, sub octave and octave up

When it comes to octave pedals, there’s no better place to start than with the POG (Polyphonic Octave Generator) series from Electro-Harmonix. The POG Nano is the newest design in the POG family and is a more streamlined and user friendly version of its older siblings, while also taking up less space on your pedalboard.

Build

While the original POG was the size of three normal pedals, and the Micro was the size of two, the Nano is basically the size of a normal pedal. There must be something to this circuit that takes up a lot of space. It is polyphonic, meaning that it can track multiple notes at the same time, and it offers both an octave-down and octave-up simultaneously. 

The pedal also has outputs for both your dry signal and an effect out for complete tonal control or for stereo effects. It’s definitely not a cheap pedal, as it comes in at almost $250, but the build quality is reliable.

Controls

There is a knob for each of the three voices that can come from this pedal. Sub-Octave controls the level of the octave-down. Octave-Up controls the level of the higher octave. Finally, the Dry control determines the amount of your original dry signal that will come through the mix.

This makes the POG Nano extremely streamlined compared to the original POG, which had two octaves in each direction and controls for attack, detune, and a low pass filter, as well as presets. If all of that is too much for you and you just want a great sounding octave up or down effect, then the control layout that the Nano offers is perfectly usable.

Sounds

Of all the octave pedals out there, I think the POG line of octave pedals has one of the most identifiable sounds. The words you’ll most often hear are “church organ”. Because the Nano is polyphonic and allows you to play chords, it seriously expands the range of your guitar.

Think about it, if you play a six string chord, with the mix of both octaves and your dry signal audible, you are going to hear 18 pitches. It balances this very well and the tracking ability to hands most chords you throw at it. It also sounds great with dirt pedals thrown in front of it for a really guttural lead tone effect.

Spec Summary

  • Effect Type: Polyphonic Octave
  • Signal: Digital
  • Power Source: 9V
  • Dimensions: 6.2 x 3.2 x 5.7”
  • Features: True Bypass, Dry Out

The classic polyphonic octave pedal in a small enclosure

Final Thoughts on the EHX POG Nano

If you’re brand new to the concept of Octave pedals, and you want a simple pedal that will last you forever, then the EHX POG is a great place to start. My only complaint is the price point, as there are more expansive and arguably equal sounding pedals for the money. However, it has a sound of its own that you’ve heard on tones of records. It’s a classic.

2. Earthquaker Devices Bit Commander V2 Review – Best Monophonic

EarthQuaker Devices Bit Commander V2 Analog Octave Synth Guitar Effects Pedal
  • A monophonic analog guitar synthesizer with four octaves of vintage square wave synth tones

Whereas the POG Nano was a polyphonic octave pedal, the EQD Bit Commander is monophonic and effectively turns your guitar into a vintage, analog synth. Who needs to play more than one note at a time when they sound this good?

Build

The Bit Commander is handmade in Akron Ohio and features all analog circuitry. The pedal was created to deliver 4 octaves of vintage square wave synth tones and is housed in a sturdy metal enclosure.

The inputs are placed across the top of the pedal to help combat cable clustering, and the knobs are white plastic with an easy to use grip, similar to the ones you would find on classic synthesizers. It is a traditional sized pedal, features true bypass, and runs on 9V power.

Controls

The Bit Commander has 6 knobs that function as follows:

Sub: Controls two octaves down level

Down: Controls one octave down level

Up 1: Controls one octave up level

Base: Controls squared input signal level

Level: Controls your overall master volume

Filter: Acts as a tone control with more highs as your turn clockwise and warmer low end counterclockwise.

Sounds

In the never ending debate of analog vs digital, Octave effects are one where digital are more often held in high esteem for their reliability in tracking. Such is the case with the Bit Commander, where if you want this analog octave effect to work as advertised, it helps if you play on the neck pickup and only one note at a time.

The tracking is very effective above the seventh fret, and below that can cause some occasional glitching. That being said, analog octave effects and all their quirkiness can give you unexpected surprises if you’re trying to make experimental noises.

The square waves of this pedal mean that no overdrive is necessary, as your original tone is completely changed. You could easily change your guitar into a synth bass with this bad boy.

Spec Summary

  • Effect Type: Monophonic Octave Synth
  • Signal: Analog
  • Power Source: 9V DC
  • Dimensions: 4.75 x 2.5 x 2.25”
  • Features: True Bypass, 4 Octaves, Filter Control

Change your guitar into a mono bass synth

Final Thoughts on the Earthquaker Devices Bit Commander V2

The Bit Commander is a stellar example of how drastically even a monophonic octave effect can change your guitar tone, to the point of sounding like a completely different instrument. It’s well made, satisfying to play, and worth every penny. If you’re looking for a bass synth in a pedal, look no further.

3. Boss OC-3 Super Octave Review – Best for Acoustic

One of the most effective ways for solo acoustic musicians to thicken up their sound on stage is by using an octave pedal. In conjunction with a looper pedal, you can track a bass part, twelve string effect, and more by using a great octave pedal, and I think the Boss OC-3 is the unit for such acoustic arrangements.

Build

The Boss OC-2 is a classic, but it had its limitations, primarily in that it was monophonic. The OC-3 improves upon the OC-2 by including both Monophonic and Polyphonic modes. It also has inputs for both bass and guitar, as well as a Mono and DI Output. The latter is why I think this pedal is best for acoustic guitar, for you could just use this pedal and go straight out to a board and have an expansive DI acoustic tone.

The pedal also has a built in drive section, so you could add some overdrive to your acoustic guitar for lead tones without having to buy a separate pedal. It is housed in a standard Boss pedal enclosure, features buffered bypass to fight long cable runs, and runs on 9V power.

Controls

The Super Octave OC-3’s controls look confusing at first glance, but they are actually very powerful in their design. There are Volume controls for both the Direct level, as well as the first Octave level. The third control over works in conjunction with the Mode control on the far right. With the Mode set to Poly, the third control functions as a Range control.

With this, you can set the polyphonic octave effect just to your higher strings, creating a bass and acoustic duo sound. With Mode set to Oct 2, you get the traditional OC-2 sound with two sub octaves. Finally, the drive mode gives you a more aggressive sound and can be blended in with the third knob.

Sounds

The OC-3 is a massive improvement on the OC-2 in terms of usability and tracking. The pedal does a great job of covering multiple strings and can really make your acoustic guitar sound huge. It has settings for every imaginable solo acoustic guitar situation, from bass, to overdrive, to synth.

It isn’t as organ-like as some of the other pedals on this list too, making it a bit more transparent and appropriate for acoustic playing.

Spec Summary

  • Effect Type: Polyphonic/Monophonic Octave
  • Signal: Digital
  • Power Source: 9V
  • Dimensions: 3 x 5 x 2.5”
  • Features: Buffered Bypass, Built in Drive, 3 octaves, Mono or Polyphonic, Selective range

Compact, transparent, and cost effective octave pedal

Final Thoughts on the Boss OC-3 Super Octave

The Boss OC-3 is the first ever compact polyphonic octave pedal and it continues to be a great option for acoustic, electric and bass players alike. It also comes in at a price that is hard to beat. You really can’t go wrong with this one if you’re a gigging acoustic player.

4. JHS Supreme Fuzz Review – Best Octave Fuzz

Sale
JHS Pedals Supreme Fuzz Guitar Effects Pedal (JHSSUPREME)
  • Volume control makes the effect louder as you turn it

While octave fuzz is a completely different circuit, it is still closely tied to the octave pedal world based on the effect it produces. In my list of best fuzz pedals, I listed  the Orange Fur Coat as the best octave pedal, but I wanted to review something different. The JHS Supreme has just come out since I wrote that last article and it is well deserving of all the praise its getting.

Build

Of all the octave fuzz pedals out there, perhaps the most legendary is the 1972 Univox Super-Fuzz made in Japan. These pedals are extremely rare and expensive now, but JHS has your back. They’ve created a faithful replica of this circuit to give you some of the most intense octave fuzz imaginable.

The pedal is big, about the size of a foot, and the black metal enclosure has a slight slant to it for easing access to the single on/off switch on the face. The controls for Volume and Expand are located at the top of the pedal and it has two buttons on the side for mode/tone.

Controls

The location of the knobs may not be for everyone, but I think it makes the pedal more of a set/forget kind of pedal and ensures that you won’t kick your settings on stage. I also think it makes the pedal look cool too. Volume controls the overall output of the pedal and Expand controls the overall fuzz or distortion of the pedal.

The Mode button on the side lets you choose between the 1972 voicing, or a JHS modded version that is a bit louder and more aggressive. The Tone switch activates a mid-cut to make the effect sit further back in the mix.

Sounds

This is a wild fuzz pedal to say the least. Fuzz is divisive on its own, but octave fuzz is even more intense, and this is the pinnacle of aggressive octave fuzz tones. Its magical to say the least. The only way to really tame it down is with your volume control on your guitar, or by cutting the mids. 

Unlike other octave effects, this will be heavily distorted at all times and is perfect for leads or heavy garage rock blues music. You could easily sound like the Black Keys, the Who, or the White Stripes using this pedal right here.

Spec Summary

  • Effect Type: Super-Octave fuzz
  • Signal: Analog
  • Power Source: 9V
  • Dimensions: 5.68 x 3.62 x 2.0”
  • Features: True Bypass, Mid Cut, JHS mod

An aggressive, monstrous octave fuzz pedal

Final Thoughts on the JHS Supreme Fuzz

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, JHS makes some of the best fuzz pedals and the JHS Supreme might be their best yet. I love the design of the pedal itself. It just looks clean and pedal board ready.

If you think you’re brave enough to take on this much chaotic gain, then its absolutely a must have for any fuzz lover. And at roughly $179 new, it’s a pretty accessible price point for a highly sought after circuit. Check out the rest of the JHS Legends of Fuzz Series if octave fuzz isn’t your thing.

5. Earthquaker Devices Tentacle Review – Best with Overdrive

EarthQuaker Devices Tentacle V2 Analog Octave Up Guitar Effects Pedal
  • A classic analog octave up effect that features the very same octave from the beloved Hoof Reaper pedal but in a stand-alone unit

Ever wish you could turn your favorite overdrive into an octa-fuzz? The Tentacle from Earthquaker devices is a straightforward, no non-sense pedal that lets you do just that. This is by far the simplest, and possibly one of the most effective, octave style effects around.

Build

The Tentacle’s circuitry originally showed up on the Earthquaker Devices (EQD) Hoof Reaper fuzz pedal as an optional Octavia setting. Some enjoyed the octave sound so much that they would buy the Hoof Reaper specifically for the octave circuit and then pair it with their favorite overdrives.

EQD listened to their customers and made the circuit its own standalone unit as the Tentacle. This pedal has relatively low gain, just enough to make your overdrives feel more like a fuzz and does so using a DC rectifier to give you that awesome analog octave-up sound.

Controls

It literally can’t get any simpler than this: no knobs, just an on/off switch. The activation switch comes with EQD’s Flexi-Switch technology that makes the switch somewhat more flexible. This true bypass switching lets you use latching or momentary switching.

Simply tap the pedal as normal for latching or hold your foot down on the pedal for as long as you want it on to engage momentary switching. The Tentacle also reacts to your guitar’s controls, especially the tone control, so make sure to do some experimenting with that to unlock this octave circuit’s full potential.

Sounds

Like most analog octave circuits, the Tentacle is most pronounced when you use the neck pickup of your guitar, and it becomes more pronounced above the twelfth fret. The Tentacle sounds more like an octave fuzz than a digital, organ-like octave pedal, and it rings one octave above the note you play.

Whenever you play chords, the Tentacle produces an almost ring-modulation style sound that is very wild and fun. Most importantly, the Tentacle is meant to be paired with different overdrive boxes and will sound different with each one.

Spec Summary

  • Effect Type: Octave Up
  • Signal: Analog
  • Power Source: 9V
  • Dimensions: 4.75 x 2.5 x 2.0”
  • Features: True Bypass, Flexiswitch

One switch. Endless combinations.

Final Thoughts on the Earthquaker Devices Tentacle

Doesn’t get much simpler than this one does it? Either you want an octave sound, or you don’t. One switch lets you decide. There’s something really freeing about this pedal’s simple design though, as it sets up a platform for endless pedal combinations and for you to explore its potential through your own playing dynamics and guitar control settings. Sometimes simple pedals are the best pedals.

6. MXR M288 Bass Octave Deluxe Review – Best for Bass

MXR M288 Bass Octave Deluxe Effects Pedal Bundle with 4 MXR Right Angle Patch Cables
4 Reviews
MXR M288 Bass Octave Deluxe Effects Pedal Bundle with 4 MXR Right Angle Patch Cables
  • Constant headroom Technology (CHT) for exceptional headroom and tracking

Octave pedals often need certain parameters set in order for them to work well with bass, as the low frequencies get more and more difficult to track the lower you go. That being said, bass players have been some of the earliest adopters to octave pedals for their ability to smoothly thicken up their sound.

The Boss OC-3 has an input for bass, but this entire pedal is dedicated to the low end instrument.

Build

The MXT M288 Bass Octave Deluxe is an all analog octave pedal with two distinct sub-octave voicings, as well as an extremely useful mid boost. The mid boost frequency range (400hz or 850hz) and gain (+4db – 14db) can be adjusted under the hood by an internal pot.

It utilizes MXR’s Constant Headroom Technology (CHT) to enhance the tracking and to eliminate unwanted clipping. The traditional, compact enclosure is finished in an attractive, sparkling blue paint and has a blue LED when activated.

Controls

The controls on this pedal are quite simple once you understand how each knob sounds. The M288 essentially has three, blendable voices for you to dial in. The Dry knob controls your original, dry bass signal.

The Growl knob has a more throaty, aggressive midrange octave voice to it, and the Girth knob has a smoother, deep octave sound that is great for synth bass tones. This pedal could even be used on its own for the mid boost if all other controls are set to zero.

Sounds

The Growl setting has a mid-focused voice to it that would work well in a rock setting or even in pop music. The Girth setting has a much more subby sound to it and has a smooth EQ that really rounds out your bass tone. I think either could work well at 100% (no dry signal) and they blend together surprisingly well too.

This pedal can definitely get you all the synth bass sounds you’ll want and would pair well with overdrives. When playing higher up on the neck this pedal really helps thicken up your sound without getting muddy. The mid boost is a hidden gem that will help you stand out in a full band or during your bass solo.

Spec Summary

  • Effect Type: Bass Synth
  • Signal: Analog
  • Power Source: 9V
  • Dimensions: 2.6 x 5.5 x 4.4”
  • Features: True Bypass, two sub octave voices, mid boost

Two sub octave voices in one bass pedal

Final Thoughts on the MXR M288 Bass Octave Deluxe

The MXR M288 Bass Octave Deluxe is a simple, yet effective and versatile octave pedal made specifically for the bass. If you’re looking to emulate a bass keyboard, this is an awesome pedal to use for that effect.

It has thoughtful extras features like the mid boost that can keep you from having to buy a boost pedal as well. It tracks extremely well for an analog octave pedal and could even become an “always on” pedal for the right style of bass player.

7. Donner Harmonic Square Review – Best Budget Option

Donner Digital Octave Guitar Effect Pedal Harmonic Square 7 modes
  • 7 modes effect and 3 way toggle switch select between different modes.

If you’re needing to keep to a tight budget, or just looking for a versatile harmonizer pedal that takes up minimal pedalboard real-estate, look no further than the Harmonic Square from Donner. This pedal can get you just about any harmonization you can imagine for under $50.

Build

This is the only octave pedal on this list that comes in a true mini-pedal, aluminum alloy enclosure, making it a great option for anyone who says they don’t have room on their board for an octave pedal. The Harmonic Square has 7 tuning effects and 3 modes that combine for 21 harmonizing options, with an expansive range going up to 2 octaves in either direction. The pedal is digitally voiced and is powered by a 9V adaptor.

Controls

It took me a second to fully understand the controls for this pedal, so I will try my best to explain it in an easy to understand way. The pedal blends your dry signal, with a wet (slightly delayed) harmonized pitch.

The interval to which you want the harmonized note to be is set with the large, center knob that ranges from a 2nd, all the way up to 2 octaves. The three way toggle switch at the top has three modes: Flat (tunes down), Sharp (Tunes Up) and Detune (See Chart).

Detune Chart

You can also blend the amount of wet signal and dry signal using the two small black knobs at the top of the pedal.

Sounds

The Donner Harmonic Square is best used as a monophonic octave pedal, as the delay/latency makes for odd sounds when chords are played. That being said, the pedal does its job quite well and is very expansive for being the cheapest pedal on this list.

Some of the settings are more musical than others, but even the detune setting can be set to give chorus tones and ring mod style effects. The tracking is surprisingly good as well with single notes and would work well just about anywhere on the neck.

Spec Summary

  • Effect Type: Mini Harmonizer
  • Signal: Digital
  • Power Source: 9V
  • Dimensions: 2.4 x 2.5 x 4.0
  • Features: True Bypass, 2 octaves up

Small pedal, large harmonic range

Final Thoughts on the Donner Harmonic Square

The Donner Harmonic Square offers the widest range of monophonic harmony at the lowest price point, making it a real bargain pedal worth having. With some experimental tweaking it can even be set to sound like other modulation effects and the fact that this is all happening under a mini pedal enclosure is pretty wild.

8. Digitech Whammy 5 Review – Best High End Option

Digitech Whammy 5 Multi-Effects Pedal Bundle with 2 Cables and Power Supply
  • Brings hair-raising dive bomb effects, gripping pitch bends, and lightning harmony shifts

The next pedal on this list is one of the most identifiable effects. You know it when you hear it. It’s made multiple appearances on Rage Against the Machine records, Buckethead, and even Jack White. The Digitech Whammy is the original expression pedal base octave effect and is the best high end option available.

Build

I’m specifically reviewing the fifth version of this iconic pedal, as it is the most readily available at this time, but all of them are great. What separates the Whammy from other octave pedals is that this gives you the ability to sweep the frequency range that you want to harmonize, as opposed to having a doubled, static tracking.

The pedal can be set to either Monophonic (Classic) or Polyphonic (Chords) and has true bypass switching. It also has a MIDI in for remote whammy effects. A common complaint that I hear about this pedal is that they break easily, but this is common for most expression pedals, even most wah pedals. Just be nice to it and it’ll last you a while.

Controls

The most obvious control is the expression pedal, which allows you to sweep the chosen harmony range and everywhere in between. The Whammy has two sides to it, the first of which is labeled Harmony. The Harmony side has your dry signal added to the effect signal, whereas the Whammy side only has the wet signal.

There is also a switch for Classic or Chord modes, with the classic being ideal for single note playing and the Chord mode best for more than one note due to Digitech’s new Whammy DT algorithm. There is also the option to mix in a detuned effect.

Sounds

Because of this pedal’s ability to sweep the harmony range, the Whammy creates some seriously cool effects that can range from DJ-esque runs to crazy dive bombs. The harmonized note has a very digital, almost robotic tone to it that defines its sound.

This is not a transparent pedal; it’s not meant to be. The tracking of the Whammy has gotten better over the years, but if you like a little more chaotic nature to your octave effect, the Classic mode can still give you some of those little artifacts and cut-offs that come when playing more than one note at a time.

Spec Summary

  • Effect Type: Expression Pedal Octave
  • Signal: Digital
  • Power Source: 9V
  • Dimensions: 8 x 6.3 x 2.5
  • Features: True Bypass, Polyphonic Mode, MIDI in,

The best expression pedal octave effect

Final Thoughts on the Digitech Whammy 5

I’ve always loved this effect, as it is one of the craziest and most expressive octave pedals on the market. It really sits in a class of its own. This is not an effect for the faint of heart. Because it is so in your face, it often defines players and once it’s on your board, it’s hard to take it off. Parts that have this effect on it can’t be played without it.

9. TC Electronic Sub ‘N’ Up Review – Best Overall

TC Electronic Sub 'N' Up Octaver Pedal with TonePrint
  • Next generation octave-engine - for flawless polyphonic tracking

The TC Electronic Sub ‘N’ Up truly is the next generation of octave pedals. Monophonic, Polyphonic, and even Modulation galore, all at a price that is simply unbeatable. If you only want to buy one octave pedal in your life, you can’t go wrong with the Sub ‘N’ Up. Plus, it has the best name.

Build

The Sub ‘N’ Up is a digital octave circuit housed in a traditional sized pedal enclosure. It has the ability to harmonize one octave up, and two octaves down, as well as control your dry signal. This is just if you use the pedal on its own. What takes this pedal to another level is when you integrate it with TC Electronic’s TonePrint app. If you read my list of the best cheap guitar pedals then you already know how expansive this app is.

With TonePrint you can customize your own presets, use famous guitarists’ presets, and add all kinds of modulation to your octave signal to make the effect stand out from the rest.

Controls

TC Electronic’s Sub ‘N’ Up has four knobs that control each of the octaves. These include Dry (your original signal), Up (One octave up), Sub (One Octave Down), and Sub 2 (Two Octaves Down).

There is also a switch that allows you to choose between Polyphonic octaves (Poly), Monophonic (Classic), and a setting that allows you to access the TonePrint app. This makes the pedal really user friendly if the app doesn’t interest you. But for real, check out the app.

Sounds

Compared to other octave effects, I would say that the Sub ‘N’ Up has a smoother quality to its octave voices. Its capable of getting the church organ sounds of the classic POGs, but it does so in a way that is lighter on its feet.

It’s a very Hi-Fi sounding pedal that would work well with bass, guitar, and even violin. Once you tap into the TonePrint offerings, you can add chorus, ring mod, and phaser effects to the octave signals. My favorite is the addition of Vibrato, which adds some really great movement to your octave sound.

Spec Summary

  • Effect Type: Polyphonic 
  • Signal: Digital
  • Power Source: 9V
  • Dimensions: 5 x 3.3 x 2.9”
  • Features: True Bypass, Optional Buffered Bypass, TonePrint Modulation, Poly or Monophonic

The most expansive octave pedal available

Final Thoughts on the TC Electronic Sub ‘N’ Up

One of my complaints with octave effects is that they can start to sound the same after a little while. The main reason that the Sub ‘N’ Up is my favorite octave pedal is because it expands upon what octave pedals are capable of doing, without compromising ease of use.

It is an expertly crafted/programmed pedal that can be used in a wide variety of genres. Finally, I’m currently seeing the pedal at roughly $130, which is unbeatable for what you get with this pedal.

Octave Pedals Are Like Onions

blue octave pedal

Just like Shrek (and all ogres), Octave pedals are like Onions. They have layers. Or maybe I should say that they add layers to your sound.

Octave pedals are one of the most effective ways to make your guitar sound bigger than it actually is. They make it seem like there are two, three, even four voices coming from one instrument. While Delay does this by making your signal echo itself. Chorus does it by detuning a slightly delayed copy of your signal. However, Octave pedals are the only effect that clearly make your guitar sound like multiple voices going on at the same time, in different harmonies. I think this is the merit of the octave pedal that I overlooked for so long.

Octave pedals are also an effect that, at least these days, translates across multiple instruments, especially bass. It’s also a great way to make your guitar sound like a bass, synthesizer, organ, turntables, or even something completely out of this world. It’s an effect that, when explored thoroughly, can leave a long lasting imprint on “your sound”. I suggest embracing this consequence.

Whether you go for a Polyphonic sound to play chords with, a monophonic octave effect to make riffs sound even bigger, or even a whammy pedal that takes you across rarely heard semitones, octave pedals expand your guitar’s frequency range. Not to mention, they are a ton of fun. I found this effect type to be really inspiring. For long I ignored octave pedals because they made my guitar sound less like a guitar. Now I am embracing the effect for that exact reason. Octave pedals help the guitar become a more prevalent force in a wider range of musical genres and supports the idea that the guitar can be one of the most expansive sounding instruments ever.

The next time you need to thicken up a guitar part, consider reaching for an octave pedal. It worked for me in the studio and has since completely changed the way I look at the effect. I think it might do the same for you.

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