7 Best Bass Octave Pedals (That Actually Track Well)

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  • Many bass octave pedals suffer from poor tracking and have loads of glitchy artefacts.
  • From BOSS to 3Leaf, we round up the best bass octave pedals that don’t mess up your tone.
  • Go from a touch of clean sub to all-out synthesized madness!

It was in some low-key movie theater in 1998. The opening credits rolled; I heard a bass groove that got under my skin.

It was ‘Deeper Underground’ by Jamiroquai and it sparked a lifelong love for bass octave pedals.

Being here, you clearly share some of that excitement. Brilliant! Now, the next best thing to A/Bing the top pedals yourself is to hear from others who can attest to their quality.

That, and to find an option that suits your style and budget. I’ve got you covered on both fronts.

Octave pedals have featured on my board since the turn of the millennium, back when the BOSS OC-2 was the bee’s knees.

In my quest for the leader of the pack, I tested every pedal that showed promise. That includes the OC-2, 3Leaf, COG T-16, and several others.

And now I present to you…a list of the best bass octave pedals you can buy in 2021!

What Are The Best Bass Octave Pedals In 2021?

My pick of the litter is the Aguilar Octamizer. There are three reasons I came to this conclusion a) it is modestly priced, b) it does well in every use case, and c) it is easily available.

For those who need a compact pedal, Markbass RAW Octaver is a killer choice. Lastly, I recommend the mighty Octabvre mkII if you value tone and versatility. Brace yourself for the hefty price, though.

  1. Aguilar Octamizer Analog Bass Octave Pedal (Our Pick)
  2. Octabvre mkII by 3Leaf Audio (Premium Choice)
  3. MXR M288 Bass Octave Deluxe
  4. BOSS OC-5 Octave Pedal
  5. Markbass RAW Octaver (Best Micro)
  6. TC Electronic Sub ‘n’ Up
  7. Source Audio C4 Synth Pedal

Typically, bass players have the following stresses – a) pedalboard space, b) functionality (simplicity vs. tweak heaven), c) style-specific sounds, and d) budget.

I’ve covered the best pedal for each of those scenarios so that you can leave with a definitive choice.

(Just how many different effects pedals are there? We run you through the most common effect types in All 19 Types of Guitar Pedals (And What They Do))

1. Aguilar Octamizer Analog Bass Octave Pedal

The Octamizer is a classic analog pedal with a full spectrum tilt EQ, multi-pole LPF, and independent controls for “clean” and “octave” sounds.

It has been the mainstay of my pedalboard for three solid years. I call it my ‘thickening agent’ – a forthright analog sub-octave with internal character.

OUR PICK
Aguilar Octamizer Analog Octave Pedal
$271.58

Whether you're looking to dive deeper or add some funk to your sound, you can do it with the Octamizer.

Why We Love It:
  • Versatile
  • Responsive
  • Radiates Aguilar quality
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12/06/2021 10:10 am GMT

Features

  • Top-Notch Aguilar Detector Circuit (Analog)
  • Multi-pole Low Pass Filter for one octave below sounds
  • Medium-sized pedal with a heavy-duty steel enclosure
  • Fat cleans with the Full Spectrum Tilt EQ
  • Power by battery or power supply

Review

The Octamizer is a medium-size pedal with a heavy-duty steel enclosure. The four knobs control Octave Level (wet signal volume), Clean Level, Octave Filter (tone color via LPF), and Clean Tone (tilt EQ).

The tilt EQ (Clean Tone) cuts the high and low frequencies simultaneously. Each control knob is responsive and contributes to a diverse and wide scope of sounds.

Analog octavers demand the right playing technique, pickup height, and various other factors that can alter the equation. I have used the Octamizer with a Custom Shop P-bass (with rounds and flats).

It tracks like glue and there are little to no glitches, especially with dub/neo-soul basslines and staccato playing. Plus, the gig-saver bypass is a thoughtful feature (it kicks in when the battery runs out).

Tone-wise, it is its own thing. Don’t expect the Octamizer to sound like an OC-2 or any other octave pedal on the market. It can do everything you expect from a sub-octave pedal.

But the real magic (IMO) is in using the clean channel and tilt-EQ as an ‘always on’ preamp. You can’t hear the octave but the tone sounds deep and clean (thickening agent!).

For more rabid sonics, crank the octave for massive sounds all the way to funk synth territory.

Verdict

Aguilar Octamizer is uniquely poised due to its stellar circuit. The pedal does a great job at single-note lines, electronica sounds, fattening the tone, and plenty more.

All in all, the pedal’s superior tracking, dual filter architecture, and analog circuit exemplify the quality you’d expect from a brand like Aguilar.

2. Octabvre mkII by 3Leaf Audio

This oddly-spelt bass octave pedal owes its pedigree to 3Leaf Audio’s collab with bassist Time LeFebvre.

It features a dual-footswitch design in a large and robust enclosure. The pedal has a premium price but promises top-drawer components and functionality for bass players who want tones ranging from subtle fattening to synth-like grit.

PREMIUM CHOICE
Octabvre mkII by 3Leaf Audio

The Octabvre (pronounced "octave") is a dual-mode analog octaver that adds a harmonically rich sub-octave to your instrument.

Why We Love It:
  • Versatile
  • Exceptional in a band setting
View Price On Bass Direct

Features

  • Analog circuit with stellar sounds
  • Accurate response
  • On the fly cut with SUB footswitch
  • Robust Enclosure and components
  • TIM MODE Switch

Review

The Octabvre mkII is HUGE – both in terms of size and price. It sports 4 beefy knobs, a 2-way toggle, 2 LEDs, and two footswitches.

The knobs include Volume (master output), Mix (dry/octave blend), Tone (change the octave tone), and Sub Volume (adjust lower octave in isolation). It has a Bypass and dedicated SUB footswitch to kill the dry signal for sub-octave isolation.

The pedal has an amazing range and the tracking is exceptional. There are no glitches even when you venture deep into the lower octave.

Turn the Tone knob all the way clockwise to find Mutron flavor and counterclockwise for an OC-2 sound. Of course, there is a whole universe of octave mojo between the two extremes.

The TIM switch modifies the response of the TONE knob based on the sonic preferences of Tim LeFebvre.

The TIM mode ranges from subtle to OC-2-mania with a lot of fatness in the in-between settings. If you don’t need the TIM switch, the old Dual Mode Octabvre is cheaper.

Verdict

Octabvre mkII is versatile in every sense of the word. Between the isolated lower octave, the dedicated footswitch, and the Sub OCT knob, it gives you options no other pedal can.

The sounds work exceptionally well in a band setting and sit very well in the mix.

It’s pricey and hard to score, especially since they do limited runs with pre-orders. But for those who can afford it (money and time), it’s a ticket to analog greatness.

3. MXR M288 Bass Octave Deluxe

The MRX M288 Bass Octave Deluxe pedal is our top pick for this list. It is a dual-voice octave pedal that allows you wide options for tone shaping while offering analog sound and true bypass.

The MRX M288 Bass Octave Deluxe works with a 9 Volt battery or a Dunlop power adapter. It is very easy to operate (with only three knobs) and allows you the flexibility needed for just doubling lines to creating experimental sounds.

MXR M288 Bass Octave Deluxe Pedal

This dual-voice octave pedal is a tone shaper's dream and offers analog tones with true bypass.

Why We Love It:
  • Made for bass
  • Flexible
  • Great design
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Features

  • Dual-voice octave pedal
  • Analog tone
  • Girth controls low-frequency octave-below tone
  • Growl controls midrange octave-below control
  • Add up to 15 dB of mids

Review

The MRX M288 Bass Octave Deluxe offers two independent analog sub-octave voices with a Dry control and a Mid boost switch to optimize the sound of our parallel clean signal.

MRX’s 18-volt Constant Headroom Technology provides a good amount of headroom and great tracking.

To mix in your direct signal, you can use the Dry knob and if you wish, you can also add up to + 14 dB of internally adjustable mid frequencies (400 Hz or 850 Hz) by engaging the Mid+ switch.

All of these options come in a very durable enclosure and a well-planned design.

The Growl and Girth controls are where most of the action is in this pedal. The Growl knob is the mid-range, slightly edgy octave-below controls, while the Girth knob is for a smoother octave-below.

Since these controls are independent of each other, it opens up a great array of tonal possibilities. The Dry Knob helps you achieve the precise blend of effects to signal ratio.

Verdict

This pedal’s layout is simple enough to get a great tone right out of the box. With a little adjustment, the M288 Octave Deluxe is capable of pricing sounds for the most discerning players.

It’s the best octave pedal for bass because it strikes a perfect balance between tone, flexibility, options, and price.

4. BOSS OC-5 Octave Pedal

BOSS OC-2 is the OG – the 1982 coffee-colored classic everyone fawns over. It’s difficult to get it and get over it, and the OC-3 was an unflattering version to be polite.

In 2020, the forums were buzzing with news about the OC-5. A reiteration of a cult classic bass octave pedal.

So does it have the signature warm-meets-present tone and vintage iconic sound?

Boss OC-5 Octave Pedal

Whether it's thunderous mono sub-bass or strum-enriching root enhancement you're after, the OC-5 has you covered.

Why We Love It:
  • Noise-free
  • Vintage setting
  • Does-it-all
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Features

  • Accurate tracking without latency
  • -1 & -2 Octaves with dedicated level controls
  • Octave Up in isolation or blended with sub octaves
  • Vintage mode for OC-2 sound
  • Mode switch for tracking guitar and bass

Review

The OC-5 has the typical BOSS metal enclosure with controls for Level (direct signal volume), +1 OCT level, -1 OCT level, and -2OCT/RANGE tied to the mode switch.

A mini-switch acts as a mode selector to toggle between Vintage and Polyphonic modes. The footswitch is a high-quality buffered bypass and the pedal has a 9V DC operation (or 9V battery).

The OC-5 can handle all the bread and butter octave functions. It goes a step beyond thanks to the poly mode to whet your tone with synth-like textures.

It’s noise-free, accurate, and almost latency-free. The tracking is decidedly superior compared to the BOSS OC-2 and OC-3. Although to be honest, anything can track better than the OC-3. Bleh.

The OC-5’s Vintage Mode has the iconic magic of wet OC-2 tones. The addition of the Octave +1 modernizes and makes the OC-5 more versatile.

From organ plump to warbly chime and subsonic growl, the OC-5 is musically endearing to operate. The robust build, two modes, and low latency make it a stellar choice to take your tone deeper without breaking the bank.

Verdict

Bass players may be skeptical after the disappointment that was the OC-3. Don’t dwell on it.

The BOSS OC-5 has all the hallmarks of an exceptional bass octave pedal. It flat-out feels like yet another winner in the BOSS OC Series.

Of course, gear snobs will still crave the bragging rights of an OC-2. I concur. Go on, refresh eBay…again.

5. Markbass RAW Octaver

Markbass keeps it simple with the RAW Octaver pedal. There’s an input and output jack, an on/off footswitch, blue status LED, and two knobs.

The two-knob operation involves a Dry control and OCT that corresponds to the volume of the octave down signal. The Markbass RAW runs on an external 9-12V DC power supply – with no battery compartment.

BEST MICRO
Markbass MB Octaver Raw

The Markbass MB Octaver Raw adds beefy bottom-end and extra funkiness to your sound, still keeping a clear and perfectly tuned sound.

Why We Love It:
  • Simple to operate
  • Ultra-compact size
  • Inexpensive pricing
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Features

  • 1 Octave effect pedal for bass
  • Compact size and robust metal enclosure
  • Fast tracking two-knob operation – Dry & Oct
  • Operates with power supply only

Review

The MB RAW is a part of the RAW Series of ultra-compact pedals with top-notch components.

It’s a sub-octave pedal (no +1) famed for fast and clean tracking as you go low – REAL low. The petite dimensions (45 x 95 x 50 mm) and minuscule weight make it a pedalboard-friendly option.

There is no rocket science involved here. You get a no-frills pedal with a skillful circuit and a good octave below tone.

You can blend the original signal of your bass with the octave using the two control knobs. No switchable low cut, FX-Loop or expression pedal, or other battery operation either. Set it. Stomp it. Sub Out.

Fortunately, that’s all you need to add meaty, low-end oomph to your tone. It’s nowhere as “synthy” as the MB Octaver. Nor is it dirty or fat.

It adds a very pleasant analog-like thickness. The tracking is great and you can tweak it on the fly easily. No battery operation though, as is the norm with compact pedals.

Verdict

The MB Octaver RAW is our pick of the minis. Simple operation, a small footprint, and inexpensive pricing are the key selling points.

I recommend it as a compact sub-octave pedal with a musical tone for quick-recall. It won’t appease Sir-Tweak-A-Lot, but it sounds really good for the price.

6. TC Electronic Sub ‘n’ Up

Sub ‘n’ Up Octaver is a polyphonic (digital) bass octave pedal by TC Electronic. It can be paired with their flagship Tone Print Technology and mobile app.

It has an edge with clean shimmer and lightning-fast tracking, but it does lack the depth/warmth of analog pedals.

TC Electronic Sub 'N' Up Octaver Pedal
$109.00

The Sub 'N' Up is set to deliver flawless octave tones whether you’re playing complex chords or groovy single-note lines.

Why We Love It:
  • Lightning-fast tracking
  • True to tone
  • Great monophonic octaver
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12/06/2021 01:30 am GMT

Features

  • Excellent polyphonic tracking
  • Poly TonePrint for classic mono octaver
  • Mid-sized pedal with rock-solid enclosure
  • Compatible with TC TonePrint App
  • Customizable tones with community sharing

Review

The Sub ‘n’ Up Octaver features four knobs: one for dry blend, and three for the octaves (one up and two down).

It also features a toggle switch, a red status LED, and a true bypass footswitch. The Poly Toneprint Classic has an on/off toggle to activate monophonic octave sounds.

The Sub ‘n Up brings a bazooka to a gunfight. The note tracking is reasonably good, as is the polyphonic pitch technology.

This octave pedal excels at subsonic mayhem and glassy octave-up swells. From polyphony to complex chords, you can find usable sounds with knob-tweaking.

It’s a notch above the competition in terms of versatility. However, there is a decent amount of effort that goes into setting up TonePrint and making ‘patches’ for easy recall.

This is clearly for the pitch-shifter enthusiast rather than bass players who want a set-and-forget pedal.

Verdict

The Sub ‘n’ Up lands somewhere between an EHX POG and SA C4. Go for it if you like octave up and don’t want the EHX POG.

Team up with the TC App (TonePrint) to create some high-toned modulation and ambient sounds. If you want a compact version, TC does offer a Sub n’ Up mini version as well.

7. Source Audio C4 Synth Pedal

Despite my strong affinity for analog sounds, I’m always impressed by the stuff Source Audio brings to the market. The C4 is yet another digital effects tool with exceptional customization possibilities thanks to the Neuro app.

It’s not really an octave pedal. But hot damn, load up the OC2 patches and you know why I had to add it to this roundup.

Source Audio C4 Synth Guitar Effect Pedal
$239.00

The C4 is remarkably easy to use and it boasts wicked-fast response, incredible tracking capability, and limitless sonic potential. 

Why We Love It:
  • Versatile
  • Easy-to-use
  • Great response time
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Features

  • Choose Analog buffered or relay based true bypass
  • Lightning-fast tracking
  • Neuro Desktop or Mobile App
  • 128 Factory Presets + Community presets
  • Class-compliant USB-MIDI
  • ​External Expression Control

Review

Let’s see, what do we get –  a) mobile/PC editing to shape and store sounds for easy recall, b) MIDI/Hub ports, c) 128 presets with 6 on the pedal, and d) online preset sharing with the community.

I’m just getting warmed up.

To cut a long story short, you effectively have an envelope filter, synth, and one of the most versatile octavers rolled into one modestly sized pedal.

The C4 enclosure is not huge, especially when you consider it will replace at least two other pedals. The power requirements are not odd either.

It can be powered by a 1Spot. And, you don’t need to sell an organ on the dark web as it’s under $250, making it a killer deal all said and done. Did I mention that it does MuTron, Meatball, and OC-2 tones like a boss?

Hold up, it’s not a silver bullet. There are some downsides to it.

For one, the tweaking has to be done from the app, so you will have to do the legwork in the editing phase. Secondly, it’s kinda meh with polyphonic octave and classic synth sounds.

Lastly, it has a learning curve and you run the risk of getting lost in the infinite possibilities, but to many this is not really a downside.

Verdict

Octave pedals are imps. They do that one “thing” really well but make you chase them around the forest for everything else. Consider Source Audio C4 if you want less chasing and more versatility.

It can handle your needs for a lot of sounds. The main downside is the poor performance of the polyphonic octaver, which is the only reason I refrain from calling it a one-box solution.