Pedals and effects that allowed us to modulate pitch were easily one of the most significant advancements in music technology.
While octave pedals aren’t the most heavily used types of modulation pedals on the market, they do provide an incredibly powerful way to manipulate your signal into something you may have never imagined possible.
Maybe you're missing your bass player, and you want to fill in that low end?
Maybe you’re just trying to those crazy, upper-octave highs for an unreal guitar solo?
Whatever the case is, these octave pedals provide many fantastic ways to experiment with your guitar's sound. Let's check out some of our favorite octave pedals available on the market!
- 1 Top 8 Octave Pedals
- 2 What to Consider Before Buying a Guitar Octave Pedal?
- 3 The Down Low
Top 8 Octave Pedals
It's almost impossible to make a list of good octave pedals without including the Electro-Harmonix POG. POG stands for Polyphonic Octave Generator. The "polyphonic" part means that it can track pretty much anything number of notes that you play at once.
Compared to the larger POG2, you get the classic sound for a fraction of the price, along with a robust set of controls. Plus, the Micro POG has a unique, tank-like build and look that allows you to take it on tour and thrash it around without worry.
There are three knobs onboard the POG, the Dry knob, the Sub Octave, and the Octave Up. It’s incredibly simple for any guitarist who doesn’t know where to start. You can even use the two outputs to send both your dry signal and effected signal out to the rest of your pedals or amplifier.
We love how simple it is to dial in your +1/-1 octave sounds. The best part about it is, it tracks like a dream, giving you incredibly accurate results without much tweaking.
Bottom Line: Looking to get the crazy sounds of a 12-string guitar, bass guitar, or organ, all in one gorgeous, high-quality guitar pedal. The Micro POG is easily one of the most trusted and widely used octave pedals in the industry.
The Pitch Fork is one of the most versatile guitar octave pedals on the market, and it comes from the same people that brought you the legendary POG. It's much better than the POG for guitarists who don't have enough room on their pedalboard for anything larger than a standard size pedal.
While there may seem like a lot going on when you first look at the Pitch Fork, it's actually quite simple. The large shift knob allows you to switch between 11 different positions to get everything from a chorus-like effect to multiple in-between intervals, to three different octaves. You can use the Up, Down, or Dual Switches to toggle between higher or lower settings.
The unique thing about the Pitch Fork is the Latch mode, essentially giving you the ability to toggle the effect on and off just by holding down the footswitch. All of these different controls and you can get pretty much anything from huge guitar chords to deep-sub landscapes.
Bottom Line: The Electro-Harmonix Pitch Fork tracks exceptionally well, has a versatile control surface and can be used in almost any situation where an octave pedal or harmonizer is needed.
Earthquaker Devices has made a name for itself over the past decade with the many high-quality boutique pedals that they put out on the market.
The Earthquaker Devices Tentacle is a perfectly simple analog octave pedal for anyone looking to get an octave up effect. This is because this pedal is also meant to be used in conjunction with a fuzz pedal to bring out the full fidelity of it.
While there are no controls onboard the Tentacle except for the footswitch, you do get an unreal tone out of it that isn’t nearly as “digital” sounding as our other picks.
Many people seem to shy away from this pedal since it doesn't have the same number of controls that many modern guitar octave pedals have. You truly have to know how to use it or be okay with the one sound that it does come with, as it is a one-trick-pony.
Bottom Line: Looking to save some real estate and put a simple, yet powerful sounding octave up pedal onto your board? Look no further than the Earthquaker Devices, one of the best minimal-style pedals on the market!
If you’ve never used a Boss pedal before, you’re missing out. They excel in terms of providing high-quality and reliable pedals at a price that any guitarist can afford.
The Boss Super Octave OC-3 actually paved the way for polyphonic octave pedals, as it was the very first one to ever come into production. This means you’re able to manipulate multiple notes at once, harmonizing large chordal landscapes.
The OC-2 mode is there so that you can add notes up to two octaves below and the Drive mode is there to add a bit of distortion to your sound to beef it up.
One of the coolest things onboard is the dedicated bass input that allows you to get those sub octaves with different circuitry. There are four different knobs on the face of the pedal, though it is still incredibly compact, perfect for boards without a ton of real estate.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a high-quality and versatile polyphonic guitar octave pedal at half the price of the top ones on the market, the OC-3 is one of the best out there. It’s also nearly indestructible, making it perfect for bringing on tour.
The TC Electronic Sub N Up provides users with an octave up and octave down effect. Within seconds, you can turn your guitar into a funk bass.
The octave engine on the Sub N Up is near unparalleled, giving you polyphonic transposition, as well as monophonic modulation, easily toggled between with a switch on the face.
If you’re looking for unreal tracking, this is where the Sub N Up excels. No more annoying transient sounds or warbles!
Of course, you also get the TC Electronic TonePrint, which allows you to download presets that have been made by professional guitarists. Just plug in your pedal to the computer and download some sweet presets to add some sweet modulation to those octaves.
Bottom Line: The Sub N Up is great in that it provides guitarists with a number of ways to create and customize their own sounds without tons of controls to deal with. It’s great for tracking and gives you righteous versatility in the monophonic vs. polyphonic realm.
At this point, we've gone through most of the high-quality octave pedals on the market. With the Mooer MOC1 Pure Octave, we're beginning to move into the budget realm.
For starters, the sleek build of the MOC1 makes it perfect for guitarists who don't have a lot of room on their board to sacrifice for an octave pedal.
Secondly, you get an insane amount of functionality for the small size. There are 11 different octave modes that can be toggled between with the large knob, as well as two small knobs for mixing in the sub and upper octave levels.
The tracking is pretty solid surprisingly enough, though many people note that it can get a little finicky when you start getting to extremely low notes. The layout is simple, and the sounds are powerful, making it a perfect introductory octave pedal.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking to add some beef to your guitar riffs or give your chords a thicker sonic quality, the Mooer MOC1 is a great octave pedal. It’s also perfect for the touring musicians who are trying to save some pedalboard real estate for other effects.
If you’re on a serious budget, the Joyo JF-12 might be the perfect octave pedal selection for you! Joyo has been known for making incredible ripoffs of high-quality pedals for many years, and their JF-12 is no different.
Not only does it work as an awesome octave up pedal, but it also gives you a fuzz/distortion effect, perfect for that classic fuzz-octave pairing.
The tone on the Joyo is pretty solid, though we love that they added a mid-cut switch to allow you a bit more control over your overall tone.
There are three knobs onboard including a volume, tone, and fuzz knob, allowing you to control the amounts of each, as well as an octave-activating footswitch.
While it’s not the best at tracking by any means, nor the cleanest distortion that we’ve ever heard, it does provide a gritty effect that is perfect for experimenting with to get sounds all your own.
Bottom Line: If you’re on a serious budget, the Joyo JF-12 Voodoo is a great choice for an octave pedal. We loved that they’ve combined octave and fuzz, allowing you to get all you need for the classic octave up sound without having to combine two pedals.
The Digitech Whammy is great in that it provides not only incredible sounding octaves but also the ability to harmonize with different pitch settings.
The 5th generation comes with true bypass and 9v power, unlike its younger brother.
The layout of the pedal makes it unique, as you have your giant whammy foot pedal on the left and all of your other controls in the right-hand corner.
With the whammy settings, you can change the pitch anywhere from three octaves down to two octaves up with ease.
The Harmony settings allow you to add in harmonies so that you can blend your dry signal with the harmony.
Lastly, you get a cool detune, which gives you somewhat of a chorus effect. The Classic to Chords switch allows you to toggle between the classic whammy sound and the ability to get clean, octave chords.
Bottom Line: While you may need some serious real estate to fit this thing on your pedalboard, it is worth it when you realize the insane capabilities that the Digitech Whammy has. From blending octaves and harmonies to getting cool modulation effects, to using the expression pedal in real time, this pedal offers up sounds like no other.
What to Consider Before Buying a Guitar Octave Pedal?
Analog Vs. Digital
The argument of “analog vs. digital” is wasted breath in many situations, though when it comes to octave pedals, it honestly does matter.
When you engage your octave pedal, you’ll want it to be able to accurately pinpoint every incoming signal so that it can track it and affect the signal cleanly.
Analog octave pedals aren’t the most accurate when it comes to tracking, meaning you'll most likely get a bit of a warbly or fuzzy sound at a point where the tracking isn't exact. This can be kind of cool depending on the sound you are going for, but it's just something to note.
On the other hand, digital octave pedals are very accurate and flexible when it comes to tracking. You’d be hard pressed to get any sort of warble or fuzz out of these pedals. If you’re going for a clean octave sound, look no further than a digital pedal.
Monophonic Vs. Polyphonic
You also have to consider that when it comes to tracking, you have to deal with two different types of tracking: monophonic and polyphonic.
Polyphonic octave pedals can track pretty much anything and everything that is played, including full chords. You’ll typically find that only digital pedals are polyphonic.
Monophonic pedals are only able to track one string at a time and typically get a little shaky when more than one string is played at a time. Analog pedals are mostly monophonic with a few exceptions here and there.
Octave Down Vs. Octave Up
Some pedals are octave up, some are octave down, and some include both! While we feel it's best to get a versatile one that can do both, we figured we'd give a quick explanation of the difference between the two.
Octave up pedals fold the negative part of the waveform to bring the signal up in pitch while octave down pedals divide the signal frequencies by two so that you get more of a synth-like, low octave.
The Down Low
Octave pedals are certainly not an “essential” piece of any pedalboard, though they do provide cool ways to help your music reach new heights by manipulating pitch in unreal ways.
Once you’ve heard the ripping lows or high of your guitar plugged into a high-quality octave pedal, there is no going back.
If we had to choose one to rule them all, it would certainly be the Electro-Harmonix Micro POG. It’s incredibly versatile, great at tracking, and easy to use with only a few controls on the interface.
We hope that we went deep enough in our best octave pedals article to help you understand what makes a great octave pedal. Good luck and make some beastly riffs for us!