Seppuku Octave Drone
Australia-based Seppuku Effects is known for their other-worldly contributions to the guitar gear world. Both the Digital Pitch Modulator and Sub-Octave Synthesizer have been big hits amongst experimental guitarists, and the new Octave Drone Filter/Fuzz aims to have the same success.
The Octave Drone is an octave-up fuzz pedal with adjustments for input gain, volume and an input filter (which drastically alters the amount of gain and thickness). Using a Gibson Flying V with a Bareknuckle Warpig pickup in the bridge through a 1973 Marshall Super Bass, I was able to coax some absolutely wild tones from the Octave Drone. Unfortunately, the quality was rather thin, even with the natural thickness and heft that the Super Bass usually provides. With the Input Filter engaged to provide a boost, the tone smoothed out a bit, with a considerable increase in distortion. For traditionalists, the Octave Drone might be a little overbearing. The highs have a grainy quality and the tone of the distortion is more Ministry than Jimi Hendrix.
That being said, I absolutely loved it. I’m a big fan of conventional, great sounding fuzz pedals, but I’m always game for something that pushes my tolerances with guitar tone. Rolling back the volume knob and playing double-stops gave an impressive ring modulation tone, one that just begged for more experimentation. Remembering an old “fake sitar” trick that I learned in high school, I took a paper clip and threaded it between each string at the bridge, and ran the Octave Drone through a Boss SD-1 for some added grit. After running through some of my favorite Indian scales with the ring modulation setting, I realized that the tone had become much more smooth and natural with the SD-1 processing it. Not only that, but the little Boss pedal had much more cut and definition than ever before with the guitar’s volume knob maxed. Taking the paper clip out and setting the Super Bass for a mild power amp overdrive, I maxed out the Input Gain control and set the Input Filter to the thickest setting. The result was a devastating rhythm tone with incredible body, a la The Smashing Pumpkins classic “Rocket.” The Octave Drone is a unique, sputtering beast of a distortion with utilized alone, but combined with a slight overdrive it’s a tonal monster.
you’re after a unique, powerful octave-generating machine with an industrial-toned edge.
you need a warm, traditional octave effect.
In four straightforward knobs, Aguilar Amplification’s new Octamizer provides separate control over its clean and octave sounds, offering a useful palette of useful funky and grindy tones for the gigging bassist. This analog device is housed in a rock-solid metal box with a convenient slide-out tray for its single 9v battery.
The Clean Tone isn’t just a simple treble roll-off like might be expected. Aguilar calls it a “Full Spectrum Tilt EQ.” Straight up, the control has a neutral effect on the tonal spectrum. But roll it to the left and Clean becomes all beef. Go the other way and Clean is nearly all defining edge instead.
The Octave Filter control generates sounds an octave below the original notes, taking things in a few different directions. Aguilar describes it as a “multi-pole low-pass filter” that lets more of the octave’s harmonic range through as it proceeds further clockwise. All the way down, only the thump and rumble get through. At the other end, a grindy growl begins to surface.
The sonic possibilities begin with the separate level settings for Clean and Octave portions, allowing easy mixing of the two. If you’re after a traditional octave sound to add a little fatness, leave the Clean Tone straight up and blend the Octave Filter set somewhere in the middle. Turn the Clean Tone knob clockwise and you get a big separation of fat lows and well-defined note edges. Yet another cool variation is to head the Octave Filter clockwise to let some of the grindy harmonics through while leaving the Clean Tone slightly left of center, creating a very solid and aggressive bass sound.
In all, Aguilar has created a quality pedal that tracks well down to the low E string, an important aspect of creating a useful octave pedal. – DB
Guyatone Svm5 Slow Volume
you're looking for a quality analog octave pedal with several useful sounds.
you're content with your bass sound as-is, or you like to make weird noises.
Also in Guyatone's Mighty Micro Series is the SVm5 Slow Volume, best described as an auto eBow or violin effect that provides slow to fast volume swells. Features include Level, Threshold, Rising, Attenuator 3-way switch and Release. Threshold adjusts the sensitivity of the input signal—counter-clockwise for softer picking, clockwise for harder picking. I found my best results with the Threshold wavering between 10 and 12 o'clock, allowing hard and soft picking. Rising sets the pace of the swell from a faster rise (counter clockwise) to a slower rise (clockwise). The attenuator has 3 settings for adjusting the proper input setting, 1 is -14db, 2 is -6db and 3 is 0db. When running the Slow Volume in front of my pedal chain 1 (which is the normal mode) worked the best. Behind other pedals, setting three accepted the distortion well. Release seemed to adjusted the saturation of the effect when counter clockwise and all the way clockwise the effects signal went dry.
The Guyatone Slow Volume does exactly what it says it does, providing violin-like swells. The effect is very transparent and doesn't color your tone. My qualm with the Slow Volume is that it is difficult to play, and I had to constantly adjust the controls to achieve the sound I was looking for. This can be a pain when trying to change settings by reaching under or over the bar that's in place to protect your settings from stomping. This makes the Slow Volume not a very interactive pedal in a live setting, with the only advantage over an eBow being that you don't have to hold it. – BB
you're looking for an eBow effect, but don't want to mess with it live
you want a more interactive effect