Methods to improve analog octave/synth pedal tracking

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by jschulman, Aug 28, 2018.

  1. jschulman

    jschulman Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2018
    Long Island, NY
    I recently got an Iron Ether Subterranea. I love the pedal but it's having trouble tracking on the G string, particularly the first three frets.

    What can I do to help the pedal track better? I understand that there are a few things methods - rolling back the tone, setting up higher action, using a compressor at the beginning of my signal chain - what other tricks are there?

    My rig:

    Lange Custom 5-string PJ (flatwound strings) > Boss TU-2 > Keeley Compressor (2 knob) > Iron Ether Subterranea > Iron Ether Xerograph Deluxe > Two Notes Le Bass > Ashdown RM800 > Bag End 115
  2. GMC


    Jan 1, 2006
    Wiltshire, UK
    Playing technique is key...keeping the other strings muted and not allowing much fret noise. Keeping the notes a bit staccato and not prolonged helps too. Octavers sort have their own playing technique.
  3. RattleSnack


    Sep 22, 2011
    Play with tone pot and pickup balance. My octaver tracks best with tone half closed (roundwounds on Jazz) and one pickup favoured.
  4. As @GMC stated there are types of effects that have their preferred touch for optimum performance I find it all comes down to putting in the time with the unit to find how best to play it. It can get very frustrating when you have several of those persnickety beasts on your board that each have their own preferences and you have to adapt from moment to moment.
  5. Ba55Man1ac

    Ba55Man1ac Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    I find palm muting & playing with a pick gets me the best results. I try to channel Bobby Vega!
  6. Play the same notes on the D string. Octavers often have problems with the G string.
    lz4005 likes this.
  7. The Mouse

    The Mouse Guest

    Jun 2, 2009
    A passive bass, neck pickup and (surprisingly) flatwound strings work for me. Plus all the things you've mentioned there.
  8. Mosfed


    Apr 21, 2013
    Washington DC
    Partner - CCP Pedals
    Technique as mentioned can be huge. Try to mute sympathetic resonances as much as possible and try to play right over the pickup you are favoring.

    A HPF at the front of the chain can also improve tracking.
    sillyfabe likes this.
  9. Alien8


    Jan 29, 2014
    SubT is my fav pedal, and I've put a lot of effort into getting it to perform really well.

    When I try other Octavers, they respond really well to the same ideas:

    Bass setup is important as much as playing technique. The most important part of tracking is providing one note over the entire sustain for the pedal to track. Ideally the note is the one you intend to play, and not a harmonic of it. This is where technique and bass setup fit. Clean notes.

    To emphasize the clean note, or fundamental harmonic a bass heavy tone helps. Neck pickup, rolling tone back a bit, boosting bass frequencies with an EQ or onboard preamp all help enhance the fundamental.

    Compression helps mainly with keeping the same volume for the fundamental, but if your compressor is bring up the highs, then you have a less desired result. Best to use compression to help with sustain.

    A note on technique - how and where you pick also helps. Flatwounds help with this as well.
    The Mouse likes this.
  10. jschulman

    jschulman Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2018
    Long Island, NY
    This is all great advice. Thanks everyone!

    That's interesting. The Subterranea's tracking is overall excellent, except for some reason it glitches out almost immediately after playing the first three frets of the G string, regardless of my playing technique. I was thinking there was some kind of buzzing, maybe, that I wasn't hearing, but is there any particular reason why the G string is so problematic?

    I will try giving a different compressor a shot. Is it common for players who use octave pedals to use multi-band compression in order to avoid this issue?
  11. Sunset Shalom

    Sunset Shalom

    May 9, 2016
    Some sort of boost might help as analog octaves tend to track poorer with even a slight volume drop IME, an active bass might also work better if that is an option. Or even hotter pickups. But a boost/comp might do the trick.
  12. Alien8


    Jan 29, 2014
    You would likely be better off buying an EQ pedal to run in your chain, since compression doesn't really fix the important tracking detail.

    Your G string just doesn't have the oomph needed, and most basses are the same. The higher pitch strings start to have ghost notes, and natural reaonances take over that change a "simple" note into a more complex one.

    This is why technique, setup and low end power are important. You play a good clean round note and tracking works. It's not perfect with the SubT, but that's my favorite part, and what sets it apart from all others. You master its glitch, and you have a killer sound.
    The Mouse likes this.
  13. The Mouse

    The Mouse Guest

    Jun 2, 2009
    Yep, it's a great pedal. Not many can knock an OC-2 off my board. I've and Oxide and a Xero Dlx (on the way). The IE pedals seem to complement each other well.
  14. Alien8's suggestion as to how and where you pick/pluck hit the problem right on the node.

    Move your plucking hand closer to the neck, if not right above the heel of the neck/bass join; whatever note you fret, try plucking at the half-way point of the fretted string, so fretting the lowest A on the G string would be plucked above the 14th fret, right on the node.

    So you're constantly shifting where you pluck in relation to where you fret. Takes some practice to get co-ordinated (something I've not done), but even without an Octave pedal, you can get some cool dubby tones plucking on the nodes.
  15. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    May 24, 2006
    You might try the scruncie on the first fret trick. If there’s any weird vibrations happening low down on the G a fabric mute may fix it.

    I’ve found most times when an octaver is glitching it’s due to two competing frequencies of equal strength and it doesn’t know which to lock onto. So it grabs whichever one currently has the highest amplitude Some strings oscillate back and forth between two dominant frequencies as a note decays. So it might also just be that particular string.