The octave pedal is an often overlooked tool which can fill in the lower range while a funk or fusion bass player explores higher regions of the neck. It’s also a great way for rock and metal players to add some extended rumble and grind to their sound, or for R&B players to tap into some of the multi-octave vibe that their organ-playing bandmates enjoy. The EBS OctaBass offers a little more control for most, in a robust, reliable package.
There are two control pots on the OctaBass: Normal and Octave. This allows you to blend precise levels of both the octave and natural notes, from a little octave to nothing but, and anything in between. Sure, EBS could have gotten away with a single ‘blend’ pot, but this gives you finer control. There’s also a three-position Range switch which gives you three modes: High (synth), Mid (Classic divider) and Low (low, low low).
The pedal is True Bypass, and it runs off 9V DC (10 mA max). The noise level is incredibly low, even when you really crank those octaves.
The control layout is convenient and logical, but EBS’s design style means a lot of their pedals look similar, so you might want to pay extra close attention to what’s happening at your feet on stage.
One of the huge advantages of the OctaBass compared to most other octave pedals is that it has the ability to recognise two or three note chords and to focus on the root note. It also tracks incredibly fast, and unlike most other octave pedals you don’t have to focus on the front pickup or roll off your tone control to get the most vibrant note trigger. This means you get to maintain your usual tone, no matter what it is, while adding the octave effect to it. It feels like an absolute joy to be able to simply play bass and have the octave effect follow along, rather than feel like I have to adjust my technique and phrasing in order to accommodate the pedal. And it’s not just my four-string that digs what the OctaBass dishes out: it even tracks neatly on my 5-string when exploring the lower reaches of my inner prog metal demon.
Here are a few of my favourite OctaBass sounds:
Range switch set high and Octave control at around 12 o’clock while playing low rock basslines with a pick. This allows you to shit up into the range of the guitar while still holding down the low end, and puts the emphasis on the original note rather than the octave. You can flip this effect by selecting the Mid mode and playing around the middle of the neck, putting emphasis on the higher note will rounding out the low end with the pedal’s lower octave. This almost gives you the feel of two basses playing the same thing in separate octaves.
Range switch on high, Octave cranked, zero Normal sound. Feed this into a fuzz box or a bass distortion pedal like the MetalDrive and you’ve got a harmonically rich yet otherworldly lead tone. Throw a wah wah in there and things start to get really trippy.
Range switch on low, Octave at 2 o’clock, Normal on full. This gives you a low, loose rumble below your bassline, no matter where you’re playing on the neck.
Is there anything I’d change in the OctaBass? Well, it’d be great to be able to preset the Octave control level for each Range, which would make it easier to switch between various sounds live (without having to kneel down and tweak some controls). But if you were going to go that far, then I’d like to see at least a simple tone control for each setting as well. And that’s not exactly practical. But as it is, there’s nothing I can possibly fault the OctaBass for. It’s transparent when you want it to be, exaggerated and attention-grabbing when you need it to be, and adaptable to whatever gear you’re using, or style you’re playing. It’s not cheap, but well worth the spend. And as an added bonus, it’s also great for guitar!