A powerful pitch-shifter that offers both octaves and fifths.
While octave effects have been around since the late ’60s (see: “Purple Haze”), they seem to be enjoying a resurgence, often with the promise of faux-organ and 12-string simulations. One recent option is the Quint Machine from Denmark’s T-Rex, which provides not only octave-up and octave-down transpositions, but harmonized fifths as well, enabling crunch power chords via a single finger on the fretboard.
The Great Divider
T-Rex’s Quint Machine resides in a compact enclosure decorated in purple-on-purple Cheshire Cat stripes. There are separate level knobs for the three available transpositions, plus a global wet/dry mix control. Just one concern about the enclosure: Opening it requires a star wrench, which T-Rex provides in the package. You’d better remember to take it to the gig in case you need a fresh battery mid-show. The input and output jacks are top-mounted.
Doing the Splits
I auditioned the Quint Machine with a full band, playing a Fender Stratocaster through an Orange OR50. I found usable settings with just a few knob-twists, notably a nice faux-12-string sound with the -1 octave knob at 10 o’clock and +1 octave and mix around noon. Using the Strat’s bridge position heightened the effect.
With help from an upstream distortion pedal, the Quint Machine does the White Stripes thing fairly well. I happened to have a NYC Big Muff around, and combining its chunky crunch with the right Quint setting (-1 octave at noon, +1 octave maxed, and mix around 3 o’clock) conjured the sound of J. White’s “Blue Orchid” riffage. Listening to the Quint alongside another pitch-shift effect (an original EHX POG) I found the T-Rex pedal markedly quieter and brighter.
I set out to see if I could capture a more classic rock-style octave effect with the Quint. I got the best results with Quint running after the fuzz with mix at noon and +1 octave around 10 or 11 o’clock. But I wasn’t able to capture the sputtering sustain and magic that defines, say, Hendrix’s Octavia tone.
Playing root-fifth and root-fifth-octave power chords using single notes sounds less organic with the Quint than playing the individual notes yourself, but that’s true with most octave dividers, Still, I like the way the effect generates cool harmonies with a quasi-synth tone. This can sound absolutely massive in a single-guitar band, giving the impression of two axes in tandem. Playing a Les Paul, I found my favorite lead tone with +1 fifth pushed to 2 o’clock and mix at 11 o’clock. Coupled with a favorite fuzz, both single notes and complex chords had crushing presence that any caveman could love.
When considering choosing an octave divider, consider your needs. The Quint Machine might not provide the maximum number of pitches to twiddle with, but the ones it has sound excellent with all sorts of pickups. Another factor is the $249 price tag—for that kind of cash you can purchase something with more pitches to control. That said, the T-Rex tracks better than much of the competition, and the ability to blend the three pitches can help you discover new tones. The Quint Machine covers the basics and provides plenty of room to grow.
Watch the Review Demo: