OC-3 Super Octave review by Boss

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Ease of Use: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.8 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.4 (27 votes)
Boss: OC-3 Super Octave

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.

7 comments sorted by best / new / date

    how is it people are so incredibly crappy at spelling? just everyday basics. B-a-s-i-c-a-l-l-y or m-a-n-u-a-l For "fksake" it isn't rocket science
    Hey. I play bass and have this in my chain. I use the drive setting with amp distortion and it sounds disgusting, in a good way. Although, 90% of the time, it struggles to sustain the Octave and flickers in and out. Which is fucking annoying. any ideas??
    Hypnot1st wrote: I tried this, and thought it sounded really fake, I mean it really doesn't sound like a bass, it sounds like a noise generated an octave lower...what are your thoughts on this?
    You can't make your guitar sound like bass because of strings. Bass has much thicker strings that have fatter sound. That's why you can't get a bass sound with your guitar. But I don't think this effect is designed to make your guitar sound like bass, that's why there are guitar synths.
    Oh, and if you can use this with guitar to make it sound like bass, why is it also designed for bass use? This is not meant to be a guitar->bass pedal. Try experimenting with it and find some cool sounds. I would buy a bass instead of this if I wanted bass sounds. A cheap bass will do better sounds than a this kind of guitar effect. Good example of use of octaver pedal: Van Halen - Drop Dead Legs rhythm guitar in the outro riff. Or then just watch some Boss channel Youtube videos, they have a demo of this pedal.
    MaggaraMarine wrote: A cheap bass will do better sounds than a this kind of guitar effect.
    And when I said this I meant that a cheap bass does better bass sounds than guitar + octave pedal.
    Does anyone have any experience w using the 1 octave down in poly mode on the OC-3 AND the sub-octave setting on an EHX Micro POG? If so, which one tracked better? Sounded more like a bass guitar?
    Not that specific and experience, but a sub harmonic setting on an amp is not a true octave function. You are literally getting a sub-harmonic; not an actual note. The octave pedal will reproduce an actual note one octave lower than your signal note. That being said, this will work closer to a bass guitar than a sub-harmonic function will.