Problems with octavers

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Franco1, Mar 27, 2023.

  1. Franco1


    Mar 27, 2023
    Hey all
    I'm fairly new to octave pedals and have been experiencing some weird problems with them -
    I use a passive g&l p bass with seymour duncan quarter pounders and old rounwounds, nothing else. When playing through the Octavers, there are 3 repeated issues that make the octavers choke or jump:
    1) when I dig in / slap
    2) when playing open strings
    3) when playing the g and d strings around the 9th fret (+- 2 frets)
    Craziest thing is - when I lower the volume knob it gets WAY better. I've had this happen with an OC-2 (which also created a lot of distortion), aguilar octimizer and an mxr deluxe, all having roughly the same issues, so I guess that can't be the units themselves.
    Could it be that the SD quarterpounders are simply too hot, even with a passive signal path? Should I opt in for a mellower pick up or is this an inherent thing all octavers have and I should adapt my technique?
    HolmeBass likes this.
  2. Phe


    May 30, 2005
    Oulu, Finland
    At least OC-2 is notoriously finnicky with how you play it. It doesn't like slapping or open strings very much.
    For optimal OC-2 sound roll off your tone and play lightly and precisely and don't let other notes ring out.
    It works best if it's first in chain.
    Zbysek, HolmeBass, Dust2Dust and 3 others like this.
  3. jdjk7


    May 12, 2016
    Indiana, USA
    So, an octaver depends on a tracking circuit to generate the correct pitch. The tracking circuit likes notes with consistent dynamics that are strong in fundamental... digging in and slapping increases the dynamics and increases the ratio of harmonics to fundamental. Open strings have a more normal relationship between harmonic and fundamental, but for physics-y reasons, it's actually more effective to play fretted notes.

    As for the d and g string issue, it sounds like it could be a case of Fender-itis-- i.e., a dead spot on the G string which interferes with the tracking of the octaver. I didn't know dead spots were even a thing until I discovered that the P bass I played for years had one, because I tried to use i through an octaver.

    If lowing the volume gives you better results, that is an indicator that the issue is partly due to your dynamics. You could try using a buffer ahead of the octaver in your signal, or you could try a compressor as well.

    As far as your technique, all analog octavers will be fairly demanding compared to pretty much any other type of pedal. You have to be quite particular with your technique if a clean octave sound is your goal. Some people like the glitches, most don't. I wouldn't be doing any slap on one unless you had the tone control turned down a good bit.

    A digital polyphonic octaver might suit your needs better if what you need is something that requires less particular technique.
  4. Karlo.kc


    Dec 16, 2008
    You probably should adapt your technique. You have to sort of learn how to play with analog octavers. They usually won't work bellow 5th fret on the E string. Open strings won't sound good because they produce many overtones. You have a issue with notes around 9th fret probably because of the dead spot which many Fenders (and their copies) have on that position on the neck (for example I can't get a good tone on the 5th fret of the G string). Slapping doesn't produce very consistent tone, which is very important for octaver to work properly.

    Regarding the pickups - I also have SPB-3 in my P-bass. They are the reason why your OC-2 distorts (as does mine), but they are not the reason for your 3 issues. They are simply too hot for that pedal, which is one of the reasons why I prefer DOD Octoplus with my P-bass. I didn't try Octamizer and BOD so I can't comment on that.
  5. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    An octaver is a synthesizer. It’s not modulating, bending, repeating or distorting a signal like other pedals. All octave pedals have idiosyncrasies you need to learn.
    Ewo, Dust2Dust, bassbrad and 4 others like this.
  6. Franco1


    Mar 27, 2023
    Got it, thanks y'all!
    Makes sense to me with the technique. I might give a compressor a go (planed on getting one anyway) to see if that helps. I dig in as an effect which is crucial for the type of gigs I do, so if compression doesn't do it, I'll declare octavers as one of those "sound freaking amazing - On other people's gigs" type of thing :p
  7. Franco1


    Mar 27, 2023
    Actually, funny enough, the oc 2 (at least the example I had) tracked way better than both the Aguilar and mxr. If it wasn't for the buzzing I'd have kept it forever. Out the the three it was definitely the superior in terms of tracking, response and overall sound (imho)
  8. Franco1


    Mar 27, 2023
    Thanks bud! Sucks about the dead spot :/ never had issues in the studio playing that register, but it does make sense considering all octavers craped out when I played that areas
  9. primusfan1989


    Jan 17, 2005
    new jersey
    I believe all the octaves you're trying to use are analog which can be touchy. A lot of times with the analog octaves too much signal will make them glitch, multiple nots will make them glitch.

    If you absolutely need the analog octave sound, you need to adjust your technique, you could also try a digital octaves like a Electro harmonix POG (poly octave generator)
    scott sinner likes this.
  10. jdjk7


    May 12, 2016
    Indiana, USA
    Like I said, it can be easy to not notice. I didn't know mine had one until that point, because if you're just listening through an amp to the clean tone, it's not a significant difference. But it's enough to screw with the tracking.

    MYLOWFREQ Supporting Member

    May 13, 2011
    You need to adapt your technique when you play analog octavers. The glitches and "problems" associated with analog octavers is why I actually like them. I compared the Boss OC-2, MXR BOD, and the Aguilar Octamizer side by side, and have owned the EBS Octabass. They all sounded different but none of the pedals tracked better than the other IME. Those weak notes around the 9th fret sounds like dead spots.
    Chickenwheels likes this.
  12. ClusterFlux


    Apr 11, 2018
    FWIW, I've found that the octaver (poly mode) in the Boss GT series is very clean. I believe that effect is digital.

    Some digital multi-FX try to emulate analog octavers, and end up with the same glitches.
    neil|lien likes this.
  13. Felkara


    May 24, 2007
    Herts, UK
    You might find you have better luck with the polyphonic mode on a TC Electronic Sub’n’Up. I only really notice artifices when playing low down on my B string, but I do tend to use mine for Octave Up thickening with the tiniest hint of octave down in there.
    Auspuff and scott sinner like this.
  14. There are pros and cons to all this, but if you can't change your technique due to style of the songs, you might look into one that uses more of an FFT approach, like the EHX Pitchfork or POG series that allows them to be polyphonic. Even if you aren't overtly playing polyphonic parts, some of what you mention are techniques that make a lot of harmonics. So you are actually sorta playing multiple notes.
  15. kickysam49

    kickysam49 World Heavyweight Champion Supporting Member

    Feb 28, 2022
    Most of the things you have documented are "quirks" that you can only eliminate by playing to the strengths of the pedal.
    For me, the OC-2 sounds good enough that it's worth modifying my playing a bit when I use it.
    But yeah... strings ringing out, too many notes, too low a signal, too hot a signal, and seemingly random individual notes will all cause analog octaves to glitch, you just kinda have to figure out which spots to avoid and which spots to live in. For me it's mainly between frets 5-7 and above. I never feed it anything lower than a C#.
    You can get a little more headroom with some of the clones and obviously some of the digital circuits are more forgiving.
  16. Anyone have experience with TC Electronic's Sub N Up?
  17. eddododo

    eddododo Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2010
    Octavers like very clean technique, and they prefer you to play higher frets (play D on E10, not D0

    if you want to slap you’re gonna have a tougher time-

    the Aguilar Octamizer tracks a lot better in that context, compared to the OC2 and friends.

    I took certain steps to get more out of octavers, usually geared towards tweaking octave up, but it still applies. I would split my signal, dry and wet. The wet side would get filtered/eq before the octaver- generally removing highs and low-lows, trying to get mostly low mids IE a strong root fundamental. This will be tracked better, and will have less noise and zip to throw things off. The dry side is… dry.. iE your string noise / slap sounds. Blend them back together and you will probably have a much better result..

    With that if you’re still struggling, then you’ll have to address the technique a bit- even if you’re a clean technician, sometimes you have to play the pedal…

    In fact, that advice holds even if you don’t do the other stuff- spending some time slapping with your pedal, and focusing on the sound coming out, rather than the proprioceptive feedback (IE how your hands feel) is the route to getting the most out of a pedal… in the end, there will definitely be trade offs and difficulty slapping with an octaver, but certainly it’s a very doable sound, once you understand what the pedal wants to hear and what it wants to say.
  18. vvvmmm


    Dec 6, 2016
    I use octavers and envelope pedals a lot.

    I also switch basses, and other effects a lot.

    Sometimes amps (ex., recording vs. jamming).

    Doing those things can make the best solution - playing evenly - a more difficult thing to do.

    A compressor helps a lot. (A limiter should.)

    If you are using an effect like that, it can help to kinda use repeated patterns and "ride" on the filter as you play, ex. playing louder on the higher strings as you play across the fretboard, don't play too much up and down the neck.

    Also, depending on the compressor and its settings, you can use, say, octaver distortion as an effect. If the compressor is keeping the level solid and you pop every low "E" on the 1 and it distorts (try it with the compressor in front, and behind) ... This works well when you have a glitchy octaver and sustain a glitchy note, also; if you hit that note the same every time you can make the glitch into a pattern.

    FWIW, I like using octavers and envelopes like I'm playing an 80's synth-ish line, but I love using 'em to be more expressive.
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2023
  19. bobbybass85


    Dec 19, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    This covers your issues and what most people struggle with when it comes to octaves

  20. logdrum

    logdrum A person! Supporting Member

    I have one bass set for that a 6-string. GHS brite flats on a super long scale. Tight string feel allows me to play very clean. flats mean less overtones. Also a fast compressor

    I used source audio C4 and Spectrum for my octaver tones