REVIEW: Aguilar Octamizer octave pedal
I’m a bit of an octave pedal geek. One octave down, two octaves down, one octave up. Analog, digital… my pedalboard always has at least some manner of octave-tweaking gadget. Sometimes it’s been a Whammy Pedal, sometimes a Boss OC-2, sometimes a Dunlop Jimi Hendrix Octave Fuzz, sometimes a Boss HS-2 Harmonist, sometimes a Boss GT-8… point being, I loves me some octave action. So I was psyched when the Aguilar Octamizer drifted across my desk. Aguilar best known for their bass amplification, but they produce a pedal range consisting of three models: the Tone Hammer preamp/direct box; the TLC Compressor, and the Octamizer Analog Octave.
Housed in a distinctive metal oblong case (a little longer than you’d expect such a narrow pedal to be), the Octamizer features include a clever sliding battery door which pops out at the bottom of the pedal; the standard ins, outs and power adapter jack; and controls for Clean Level, Clean Tone, Octave Level and Octave Filter. The latter is a multipole low-pass filter, and it’s one of two key features that set the Octamizer aside from other octave pedals. The other is the Clean Tone control.
I started with with the Clean and Octave levels both on 10, then reeling one or the other back to find just the right ratio. The Clean Tone control is a full spectrum tilt EQ, which boosts treble while cutting bass, or boosts bass while cutting treble. You can get a great idea of what this control does by turning the octave all the way down for a minute and experimenting, and it’s tempting to use the pedal just as a preamp for this feature alone. Turn up the Octave Level again though and you’ll remember what it’s all about. The Octave Filter gives you control over how smooth or furry the octave sound is. By the way, turn the clean level all the way down and you’ll hear just the pure octave tone, which is great for weird synth sounds and Muse-like fuzzy drones.
Using my Fernandes Jazz Bass copy with DiMarzio Area J pickups, I really dug the range of detail afforded by the Clean Tone control. It allows the original note to either rise above the octave signal, or to step back and let the synthy octave sound take the lead. You can also increase the bass frequencies, very handy on my Jazz Bass which is voiced more towards the midrange. The Octave Filter control usually works best when you set it to roughly the mirror image of whatever the Clean Tone is doing. This way you can increase the fuzziness of the octave while taming the clean tone’s treble, or boost the deepness of the octave while cutting through on the top end. Of course you can also max out both controls for wild electronic textures, or turn them both down for a molar-rattling rumble.
I also couldn’t help trying it out with guitar, plugging in my Ibanez Jem and having at it with the main riff to Vai’s ‘Blowfish.’ The tone was huge, and the added control provided by the Octave Filter and Clean Tone pots allowed me to dial in the perfect overweight yet defined octave voicing. If guitarists discover this little monster they’re probably going to be fighting bass players over who gets dibs on it. Next I plugged in my Ibanez UV777BK Universe 7-string and laid on some fat octave madness on top of a low B string riff. I was pretty freaking amazed not only by how good the pedal sounded, but also how well it tracked, even when using the bridge pickup. That’s a rarity for octave pedals, in my experience. Usually, whether they’re octave-up or octave-down, they prefer to receive a neck pickup signal, sometimes even with the tone control rolled back, before they’ll track accurately. Not so with the Octamizer. In fact, I dare say that it’ll be as popular with guitarists as with bass players once people hear it.
This is a great pedal for funk and jazz players who want to explore higher ranges on the neck while still holding down the low end, as well as for rock and metal players who want to add a subsonic rumble to their tone – be they bassis or guitarist. It’s super tough, super quiet, and sounds incredible.