MXR Slash Octave Fuzz Pedal Review
Slash is hardly the first player you think of when octave pedals come to mind—the only Guns N’ Roses tune you’d think might have one, “Paradise City,” is actually overdubbed octaves. Even so, the latest Slash signature pedal from Dunlop is the Slash Octave Fuzz, and the top-hatted guitar hero uses it on two tracks from his latest record, Apocalyptic Love. With suboctave and high-octave circuits that can be mixed independently, it’s a flexible pedal with a wide range of fuzz tones—from funky to furious—for everything from low-end riffs to searing leads. Hardcore fans are probably more interested in a pedal that gets the overdrive from "Sweet Child o’ Mine,’” but the Octave Fuzz’s incendiary tones reflect his more recent playbook, while paying homage to the Tycobrahe Octavia and Boss OC-3 Super Octave pedals he’s been using for the last couple of years. Slash had also expressed a desire for something similar to the MXR Blue Box, only more stable and predictable.
It’s so Easy
The all-analog Octave Fuzz features a rugged steel housing and Slash’s signature skull-and-crossbones graphic. It’s built like a tank, and the underside battery compartment, made of tough plastic, is both roadworthy and easy to use (you can also use an optional 9V DC adapter). The top panel features volume, tone, fuzz, sub octave, and octave up functions. The leftmost footswitch activates the pedal (and yes, it’s true-bypass switching), while the right kicks the octave up function in or out. Additionally, there’s a push button for sending the sub octave sound into the fuzz circuit—a nice touch that allows you to run subs either clean or dirty (though the tracking on cleaner tones isn’t quite as tight as with fuzz-assisted parts).
Brash ’n’ Slashin’
Closest in spirit to, say, a Fuzz Face and Octavia in tandem, the silicon-based Slash Octave Fuzz is voiced with plenty of brash midrange boost—which is how Slash tends to set his own EQs. It’s a sound made to cut through a live band, which means it can be fairly piercing when playing on your own, especially with octave up engaged—you’ll quickly dial the tone control down to the 9 o’clock range, even on your neck pickup. That brashness cools off quite a bit when you dial down the Fuzz control, and what you lose in singing sustain you make up for in a pleasing, amp-style overdrive that’s not dissimilar to the useful crunch tones in a Fulltone OCD. Of course, this is a fuzz pedal. It’s not nearly as creamy or hairy as a Big Muff, but there’s a good dose of thick ’70s shag in the fuzz control’s higher throw—and it’s awesome at delivering sub octave girth to E- and A-string power riffs: Play “Moby Dick” with this sucker, and you’ll think you’ve got JPJ himself doubling your lines!
The Slash Octave Fuzz can sound monstrous, though it’s not always easy to control in less wide-open applications: When using the sub octave function without fuzz, the volume needed to be at 4 o’clock to be at unity with my bypassed signal. I’d rather set volume at noon and not be surprised with sudden spikes. The fuzz tones can also lack a certain natural compression that might have warmed them up a bit and made faster notes sound more distinct when the octave is more pronounced. Nevertheless, like the man himself, this pedal is chock-full of attitude, defiantly edgy, and entirely capable of making any amp scream like you haven’t heard before.