Price paid: $ 100
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Sound — 9
I use a Godin LG with Seymour Duncan P90 pickups, a Fryette Valvulator to keep my signal clear, several other effects, and a Fender Mustang I amp set like a '65 Twin Reverb. The OC-3 benefits a lot from the use of a Compressor ahead of it in the chain, and I use a Pigtronix Philosopher's Tone, my current favorite pedal, for this purpose. Setting the "level" knob at 3:00 provides unity volume. I NEVER use the "drive" mode, which provides a very hard to handle, ugly and unpleasant variety of distortion and a lot of unintentional noise. When playing jam/jazz/rock type stuff, I usually have it set on "poly" mode, which is not as finicky a setting as "oct 2" in terms of accepting polyphonic signal. You still have to be a little careful: you CAN play chords, but I typically don't when using this pedal. Also, this setting only gives an octave sound part-way up the fretboard and down the strings, depending on where you have the "range" knob set. "Oct 2", of course, provides a much more evident octave sound and the option of a second octave down as well as the first. You can't play any chords or double ANY notes on this setting or you get noise, so take care to muffle all strings but the one you're playing. I only find this setting useful when doing improv free-form jazz fusion type stuff myself, but I'm glad it's there to use when I want a little extra weirdness. I usual have the "oct1" and "range/oct 2" knobs both at 2:00 for the rock I usually play, but this pedal comes in useful in a different format that I'd like to mention. I also play solo fingerstyle country blues, and for this I use the OC-3 on "poly" mode with "oct 1" and "range" set at about 10:30, giving me just a slight low octave on the lower notes only. It sounds like I have a partner playing washtub bass! Preceding the OC-3 in this case is the compressor, on a subtle setting.
Overall Impression — 8
This isn't one of my absolute favorite pedals, but I do like very much to use it for certain things. It's most useful in funky music, where my Crybaby Wah makes a good pairing. I have enough other distortion and Overdrive options that I don't have to touch the OC-3's horrible-sounding "drive" mode, the only feature on the pedal I find useless. I love the washtub bass sound I can get out of it, which I mentioned above. And I like that it makes me pay attention to how I'm playing, which helps me be a better musician. Still, I will never replace it with another of its kind. It was the cheapest octave pedal I felt comfortable buying, and I got it used. Many higher-end pedals combine higher quality octave generation with lots of other functions, and at some point I intend to upgrade to the Electro-Harmonix POG2 Polyphonic Octave Generator or the Electro-Harmonix HOG Octave Generator/Synthesizer. But for an entry-level octave generator, the Boss pedal is great. It will definitely always have a home on my country blues effects board.
Reliability & Durability — 10
My OC-3 seems very sturdy, as all Boss pedals are.
Ease of Use — 8
It's not hard to use, but it IS easy to misuse! Tweaking any knob too far can result in absolutely horrible noises, and on certain settings a lot will depend on your dynamics. The instructions offer setting recommendations, very helpful in giving the musician a place to start. They suggest using the neck pickup alone when using the OC-3, and rolling back the guitar's tone knob if you get noise or incorrect signal processing. I have found that using the neck pickup is indeed usually a good idea, but following these recommendations will not substitute for attention to your dynamics (what your hands are doing on the strings in terms of sound control). This is not a pedal that does what you want all by itself once you set it: you have to constantly interact with it, as with your guitar.