Bass octave pedals are excellent for adding a bit of color and depth to your bass tone, as well as helping your bass stand out in the mix.
Essentially, they add a bit of distortion and saturation to your sound, emphasizing certain bass lines that you want to stick out. This is why you’ll see many rock and metal bassists using them for soloing.
The thing is, with the vast number of quality pedal manufacturers out there, trying to find the best bass octave pedal can be a difficult task.
Luckily, we know a thing or two about getting that iconic bass tone. That’s why we’ve created a list of some of our favorite pedals on the market.
Top 5 Bass Octave Pedals Compared
Boss must have known that they were doing something bold when they decided to create the very first polyphonic stompbox that the world had ever seen.
This bass guitar octave pedal is unique, as it can produce notes one and two octaves down. The best part about the pedal is that the octaves sound punchy and high-quality.
There are three pre-programmed modes for players to choose from. You have the polyphonic octave mode, the drive mode (basically adds a bit of distortion), and the original C-2 mode which is a monophonic octave.
Thanks to the polyphonic octave mode, you can get some pretty wild, synthesized sounding tones when playing bass chords, or decide on what note range you want to play your bass in.
When in drive mode, you get that added layer of topside distortion. If you’ve ever listened to Chris Wolstenholme, the bassist for Muse, you know what we’re talking about.
As for the build, you get something that is Boss-tough, as most Boss pedals are known to last just about forever.
Bottom Line: The Boss OC-3 is perfect for any bassist who wants a pedal with tons of versatility. Put the polyphonic mode alongside the distortion mode, and you truly have the perfect, all-in-one octave pedal for bass.
We love MXR’s M288, as it pretty much made to be solely a bass pedal. The features and sound make the M288 seriously effective for altering bass tones and making them sound FAT.
When you first look at the pedal, you may be surprised by its simplicity, as it only has three easy-to-use knob controls. The best part is, no matter how you choose to dial this bad boy in, you get a ridiculously nice sounding, high-quality tone. A little experimentation goes a long way.
The control knobs include Dry, Growl, and Girth. The dry knob allows you to mix in the octave tone with the original tone, girth allows you to control the low-end frequencies, and growl enables you to control those dirty mids.
The great thing about the MXR M288 is that it can be used very subtly compared to most. Essentially, it acts as more of an addition to your dry tone.
Beyond all that, you get a shimmering blue casing that looks smooth as butter.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for an analog pedal that gives you more of a subtle and natural sound, look no further than the MXR M288. It’s got a warm tone, and it’s easy to use, perfect for those who like to keep things organic.
One of the most compact and affordable bass guitar octave pedals on the market is the MOC1 Pure Octave Pedal from Mooer. Don’t be fooled by its tiny size though, as this baby packs a serious punch.
While it may be fun having a giant pedal with tons of different knobs and switches, we’re moving into a smaller, more convenient future where pedals like this will inevitably become more and more popular.
Beyond the size, you get a whopping 11 different octave modes on this pedal, each of which delivers a clear and rich sound without adding any distortion on the way out.
That being said, it feels more on the synthetic or digital side like the boss pedal. This makes it perfect to experiment with or make heavy, driving alternative rock with. Beyond that, you get some tiny knobs at the top including sub, dry, and upper, allowing you to dial in the perfect tone.
Bottom Line: If you’re on a bit of a budget, or need a bass pedal that is more suitable for smaller and more compact rigs, the Mooer MOC1 might be right up your alley!
The EBS Octobass is another tremendous and easy-to-use analog pedal that helps to create a single note below the pitch of the note you’re playing, effectively adding a bit of dimension to your bass sound.
Beyond that, the pedal can recognize up to two or three-note chords and then triggers the lowest note. It comes with a few onboard controls to adjust the level of the original tone in the mix, as well as choose between high, mid, or low range to get the right sub note.
It’s best used as a clean effect to help add a nice touch as you play higher notes up on your bass. This is why EBS recommends using it before any drive pedals if they are in your chain.
The big focus with this pedal is tracking, meaning you won’t have to worry as much about the slight delay that you typically get with octave bass pedals.
Beyond the tone, it’s a small-sized pedal that will fit well on any pedalboard, regardless of your amount of real estate.
Bottom Line: In the market for an octave pedal that is warm and natural sounding and can be used for polyphonic playing? You gotta get your hands on an Octobass!
Aguilar knows a few things about bass because they produce some of the most widely used bass amps in the world.
The Aguilar Octamizer pedal is easily one of the warmest and most organic sounding pedals on our list, perfect for softer, more natural genres of music.
The four knobs onboard include octave level, clean level, clean tone, and octave filter. The first three are pretty self-explanatory, while the octave filter works to give you a bit of additional control so that you can shape the sound of your octave to your liking.
The casing on this pedal is tough-as-nails and may even stand up to the toughness of Boss pedals. The small, rubber knobs feel great as well, and may even feel the most natural of all.
Furthermore, it's pretty small, meaning you won’t have trouble finding room for it on your packed pedalboard.
Bottom Line: What the Aguilar might lack in distortion or cool effects, it makes up for in smooth, sexy tone. If you’re in the market for a bass octave pedal that is subtle with a warm analog sound, you can stop your search now, as the Aguilar Octamizer will provide.
What Makes a Great Octave Pedal for Bass?
Tracking is something that people tend to overlook when it comes to bass pedals, though it’s critical. A pedal with robust tracking functions will be able to follow the correct notes that you are playing to create octaves for only those notes.
Many analog pedals are known to struggle with tracking, so your best bet is to go digital. That being said, many new analog manufacturers like MXR are really stepping up the game with tracking, so it’s not totally black and white.
Many newer pedals, such as the EBS Octabass, allow tracking for multiple-note chords. They’re able to recognize the lowest note in the chord and make that the sub-octave.
Pedals vary significantly in terms of tracking, so it’s necessary to look at reviews to make sure you know what you’re getting into.
Analog Vs. Digital
Up until just recently, bass pedals were pretty much all analog. Thanks to new tech in the pedal industry, bass players can get that same warm, analog tone with the advanced options that are only available in digital form. Digital pedals are also far easier to make, meaning you’ll typically find them at lower costs.
Analog pedals are great if you’re looking for something that is more subtle. For many bass players, octave effects are those that should rest just under the dry tone.
On the other hand, bassists who play in more bass-prominent genres, such as rock or metal, using an octave effect to cut through a mix can create wonders. That’s where digital pedals come in handy.
Digital pedals can process multiple frequencies at once allowing for polyphonic tracking, unlike most analog pedals which only use single frequencies.
Digital effects are able to monitor notes faster and much more accurately, giving you a more precise representation of the note that you want to be synthesized. That being said, you are going to get a bit more of a synthetic sound with digital pedals, which could be cool depending on the sound you are going for.
Monophonic Vs. Polyphonic
If you look back to traditional bass octave pedals, you’ll find that they were monophonic for a very long time. This makes sense, as the bass isn’t much of a chordal instrument.
These monophonic pedals were only able to produce an octave effect for one frequency at a time.
Thanks to Boss, who paved the way for polyphonic bass octave pedals, we finally have those that can recognize multiple notes at once and process full 2 to 3-note chords. Just look at bass players like Thundercat, who uses octave pedals to create wildly creative and sweet sounding bass chords.
We’ve Reached The Bottom
An octave pedal for bass may not necessarily be an essential part of a bass player’s setup, although you can use one to create many cool sounds that would otherwise be impossible.
You might be surprised how many experienced bass players have octave pedals in their setups, as they have an understanding of how it enhances their tone.
Octave pedals can be used to intensify certain points in a song, and when used correctly, can create a pretty unreal sensation.
While all the bass octave pedals on our list are excellent in their own rights, we have to go with the Boss OC-3 as our absolute favorite. This is because it’s easily one of the most versatile pedals out there that can be used to create almost any sound that you could ever want.
Whatever you get, remember to consider the things we discussed so that you can the right job done, for the sound you need.