Octave Fuzz: Love It or Hate It. Or Both.

They’re fuzzy eight balls, okay? Eight as in octave. Fuzzy as in fuzz. Get it? GET IT? Oh, never mind.

Anyone have any strong feelings about octave fuzz? I’m guessing so, because not many effects produce stronger feelings. It’s not a path for the faint-hearted. Or control freaks. Or frankly, most guitar players.

I rounded up all my octave fuzz pedals and made an amazing discovery: I have way too many of them! I’m putting together a video demo of some faves, and will post it in a couple of days. But I couldn’t wait to start talking about it this quirkiest of effects.

18 comments to Octave Fuzz: Love It or Hate It. Or Both.

  • bear

    Love them. Need more than my Super Fuzz clone.

    Gonna be interesting to hear more from you about which ones work in a mix. Some guitars/amps/anything seem to sound wrong soloed bur work in a mix, some vice versa. I can even imagine octave fuzzes really depending on what the rest of the mix is.

  • joe

    Well, a lot of them work in a mix — if by “work,” you mean burst from the speakers much like the baby monsters in Alien burst from the abdomen. ;)

  • mwseniff

    I love octave fuzz especially when I play in the improv trio I play with. The dissonant angularity of octave fuzz gives a combo of nomal and wrongness that works well for odd musical excursions. In other words it works for me but then I dig strange tones YMMV.

  • I’ve been meaning to get one for some time. I remember how baffled I was by some of the Hendrix stuff when I was younger; how the hell is he getting that sound? There’s a load of ‘em on the market, so I’m looking forward to a side by side comparison!

  • Thecoslar

    I honestly never tried them. Always seemed like too much of a hassle for some reason. I’m interested to see if there’s any out there I find myself wanting.

  • Oinkus

    Well distortion and any pitch shifter is the same thing right ? The Roger Mayer Octavia is sort of different beast in that it was a “Fuzz” that made octaves pop out semi randomly above the 12th fret.Current new ones like the MXR Slash one eh notsomuch.

  • joe

    No, I’m not talking about pitch-shifting at all. I mean Octavia-type devices that use transformers and diodes to minimize the fundamental, this emphasizing the octave overtone. So yeah, I refer only to those “different beasts.”

    • mwseniff

      Actually it is more like a full wave rectifier in a power supply but without the filtering caps that normally would yield a fairly clean DC current.The octavia actually creates a pulsating DC current with double the frequency of the input. The transformer ony passes the AC component to the output. This is very basic electronics and if you look for a tutorial on the web about full wave rectifier power supply it will probably be easier to understand than my post.The diodes “steer” both upper and lower peaks of the guitar signal to the same output causing the frequency to be double the input.

      http://www.electronics-tutorials.ws/diode/diode_6.html
      This page seems pretty straight forward and explains the full wave rectifier well. Notice the resultant output wave form below the circuit it is a somewhat distorted wave form but works fine for guitar. The main difference in the Octavia is that they extract the AC component rather than filtering it out to get a smooth DC current.

  • thomas4th

    I dig octave fuzz (at least the modeled octave fuzz in my Vox Tonelab LE because I can’t afford to build a real pedalboard yet) less for the “Purple Haze” lead kind of sounds and more for buzzy, snarling riffs on the 5th and 6th strings. I had a patch programmed with the octave fuzz and an octave down DigiTech Whammy-type effect which could do a particularly gnarly version of “Blue Blood Blues” by The Dead Weather and make Gary Numan’s “Cars” sound like it was being sung by a chorus of electric demons; when you can’t afford a synthesizer, you compensate with weird guitar noises. After all, if you can’t call up eldritch horrors with the right fuzz settings, what’s the point? :satansmoking:

  • Oinkus

    Well then , I played with an original issue of the octavia way back when. It was (at the time)the coolest effect I had ever laid my hands on and was magical.Now I think I need to find something cheap that revisits that sound? What would be good and affordable?

  • Oinkus

    You are just daring me to melt that poor circuit board aren’t you Joe ?I saw someone say the Danelectro French Toast is actually decent for like 30 bucks ?

  • jeremy

    Adrian Belew got some great sounds with his Foxx Tone!

  • Elliot

    I personally love the massive completely destroyed sound of octave fuzz and chords. its the rock version of a wolverine.
    I can confirm for Oinkus that (considering its only $30-$40) the French Toast is pretty good. not something to stomp heavily on, and its noisy as hell, but for the price its got great tone.

  • Oinkus

    I built the B.Y.O.C. Octave Fuzz for my first D.I.Y. Sounds pretty good and was 65 bucks with the starter kit. Funny how the hardest part of putting together an effect is actually the footswitch and PUTTING TOGETHER an effect box sheesh?Crazy world if I am allowed to touch a circuit board ?

  • Jimmy Havok

    I’m not so fond of what octave fuzz does to a guitar, but I love what it does to a trombone (via Silent Brass mute).

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