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Analogue octavepedals and tracking...

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by cnltb, Oct 25, 2013.

  1. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    What components/technical factors determine how well/how far down an analogue octave down pedal will track?
    ima talking about the pedal itself and not it's position in the signal chain, the bass or the playing thereof.

  2. Phagor


    Mar 26, 2002
    London, UK
    All analogue octavers work basically the same way, although there are minor differences between them in tracking performance.

    They all need a strong fundamental frequency that is louder than any harmonics within your bass's sound. Even with this, the volume of the second harmonic goes up and down as you sustain a note, which is why octavers often jump octave or warble between two octaves.

    The tricks that have been used to achieve this strong fundamental are: turn your tone or treble knob down on your bass, play high up on the neck, pluck or pick near the end of the fingerboard, and avoid playing open strings.

    I've got reasonable results from an EBS Octabass and a Boss OC-2 like this even on the E and B strings. I find it helps not to rely on an octaver for long notes - if the harmonics change, or if the note decays below a certain level, the octaver will stop suddenly and unpredictably. I kick the octaver off for long notes and back on for grooves.

    Also, I don't think octavers sound good too low. The frequencies were talking about don't work with most amps and speakers. For instance, the E string frequency is 41 Hz. An octave below is 20.5 Hz. Most speakers don't reproduce that very well, and many amps roll off frequencies below 30 Hz to remove rumble. 20.5 Hz has a wavelength of 16 metres, so you won't hear the frequency properly if you're standing 50 cm away from your amp.

    For me, I like to figure out where a bass line sounds good without the octaver, then play it an octave higher with the octaver on. That way the octave down takes the bass line and my bass fills the sound an octave above.

    Most of my favourite songs that use an octaver are done this way - Sledgehammer, Uprising, Tear Your Playhouse Down.

    What sort of music / tunes are you playing with your octaver, and which one have you got / thinking about buying?
  3. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    But...what components in an octaver make one track better than another.
    I am aware of the other stuff :)

    I have none and no specific songs in mind.
    I am considering getting one, possibly getting one built(or going for something second hand) and was wondering what makes such a thing a good tracker.

    I used to have the ebs but as all the pedals i've had of theirs, it broke, so I wont get the octbass.
    That's where I am on this at the moment.
  4. Phagor


    Mar 26, 2002
    London, UK
    Do you mean electronic components? Or just design principles...

    I think they all work the same way: a low pass filter (to focus on the fundamental) into a flip flop (to make a square wave) into another flip flop (to divide by two) into a multiplier (to use the octave down square wave to flip the polarity of the input signal) into a low pass filter (to remove high harmonics from the multiplied square wave). That's ignoring the 2nd octave down on some pedals.

    You would think that bass specific octave pedals would track better than general purpose ones, but I haven't found that - my favourite octave is the OC-2 which was probably designed with guitars in mind.

    Fair enough about the Octabass. Mine is loose rattling around in my gig bag and works fine, but I've had other EBS pedals break.

    You'll find other threads listing octavers, but here's a list of the ones on my radar:

    Boss OC-2
    EBS Octabass
    MXR Bass Octave Deluxe
    Foxrox Octron 2
    Gojira Octaver
    Aguilar Octamizer

    Ampeg Sub-Blaster
    Mutron Octave Divider
    Pearl OC-07

    Iron Ether Subterranea
    TWA Great Divide 2

    Any others?
  5. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    It is components and principles, both, that I am interested to find out about-I guess that is what makes the tracking and overall reliability/quality.(?)
    Tone and taste are subjective and irrelevant to what I am after finding out about.

    Thanks a lot for your rather educational post! :)

    The copilot cubic and gojira octaver might go into the "any others" box :)
    In terms of layout I like the octron., just haven't had a chance to hear it yet.

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