Quick Hit: Prescription Electronics C.O.B. Review
The boutique 1990s octave-fuzz is back, with mouthwatering tones and improved pedalboard friendliness.
Recorded using a 1976 Fender Vibrolux Reverb miked with a Royer R-121 and a Fender Rumble 200 1x15 combo miked with a Shure SM57, both feeding an Apogee Duet going into GarageBand with no EQ-ing, compression, or effects.
Clip 1: Squier Vintage Modified Telecaster Custom with Curtis Novak Tele-V bridge and JM-V neck pickups (also feeding an Ibanez Echo Shifter and an MXR Reverb), first in neck pickup position with COB bypassed, then in neck, then middle, then bridge position with COB engaged and volume control at noon, octave at 10 o’clock, and blend fully clockwise.
Clip 2: Eastwood Sidejack Baritone DLX with Curtis Novak Jazzmaster Widerange bridge pickup (and Ground Control Tsukuyomi booster at 9 o’clock), first with COB bypassed, then with COB engaged and volume at max, octave fully counterclockwise, and blend at 11:30.
Clip 3: Squier VM Tele Custom in middle pickup position, first with COB bypassed, then with COB engaged and volume at 10 o’clock and octave and blend fully counterclockwise.
Fantastic octave-fuzz tones for old-schoolers, headbangers, and everything in between. Switchable buffer adds signal-chain flexibility.
More affordable than originals, but still pricey. Large footprint. Documentation not very thorough.
Prescription Electronics C.O.B.
Ease of Use:
Clean Octave Blend might be a rather confusing (or at least strangely vague) name if you’re unfamiliar with Prescription Electronics’ original 1990s C.O.B.—which now goes for upwards of $900 used. It’s actually an octave-fuzz pedal that lets you independently vary each effect (unlike, say, the original 2-knob Octavias used by Hendrix) via octave and blend knobs, respectively. (There’s also a volume/gain control.) After nearly a decade of inactivity, Prescription is again making the C.O.B. (and other previous offerings). It uses the same octave and fuzz circuits and components as the original, but has PCB-mounted pots and adds power-supply filtering and protection, as well as an internally switchable buffer.
Somewhat counterintuitively, C.O.B.’s octave effect is most potent when that control is fully counterclockwise. But what really matters is that C.O.B. sounds glorious, availing everything from dead-on “Purple Haze” ring-modulation tones in the upper registers to subtler, Eric Johnson-approved cello tones as the octave knob is turned clockwise, and a host of mellow to snarling options in between. But to think of C.O.B. as just for the classic-rock crowd would be a huge mistake: Paired with a baritone guitar and another drive pedal, it can be a positively devastating tool for bludgeoning riffs, all while maintaining healthy clarity and note definition. Either way, using C.O.B. with adjacent boosts and/or dirt pedals is a must, as they help it blossom in ways that are beautifully, viscerally awesome to behold.
Test Gear: Squier Vintage Modified Tele Custom and Eastwood Sidejack Baritone DLX featuring Curtis Novak pickups (JM-V and Tele-V, and JM-WRs, respectively), 1976 Fender Vibrolux Reverb, Ground Control Tsukuyomi mid boost, SoundBrut DrVa MkII boost/drive