MXR Octavio: What is it?
Choosing a flavour of overdrive or distortion pedal that's just right for your sound can be a tortuous process. Over the course of your guitar-playing life, you might think that you've found the one, but give it time and your pedalboard will once more be under review.
Something else always catches your ear. It is the way of things. But if you think finding an every day dirt-box is difficult, hunting the perfect fuzz pedal might just do for the 21st-century guitarist what that sustained A note did to Schumann.
Is the MXR Octavio the one? Well, it has the pedigree. Formally a limited edition run that MXR commissioned in association with the Hendrix Estate, the Octavio arrives in familiar compact enclosure, finished in white with black text a la the Octavia octave fuzz units that Roger Mayer designed for Hendrix back in the day.
The Octavio does not make a big play on its octave-up harmonic overtones. Like many fuzz pedals, its circuit squeezes out those overtones as you dig in, filling out the mix on chords and adding a synth-esque quality to your solos.
The setup is simple: controls for Output and Fuzz, and a footswitch to engage or bypass the effect. It can be operated with a 9V DC power supply or battery.
MXR Octavio: Performance and verdict
Under the hood, there's a silicon diode-powered clipping circuit that feels natural and organic at lower levels. With the fuzz set low and output high, you can drive your tube amp and give it a little bit of retro dirt that works for dirty blues and garage rock alike.
But once you dial in a little more fuzz, once things get a little more heated, the Octavio really starts to show some teeth. Some pedals will have a toggle switch to turn the harmonic octave-up effect on and off, but here those overtones just appear. The more you turn it up, and the harder you hit the strings, the more pronounced it gets.
• Dunlop Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face Mini FFM3
Circuit-wise, the FFM3 Jimi Hendrix features the same circuit as the full-sized JHF1, which features matched BC108 silicon transistors, designed to cover a range of Jimi fuzz tones, and uses a modern, compact printed circuit board approach for its construction.
• Dunlop Siete Santos Octave Fuzz
The Siete Santos appears to take its styling cues from a late-60s Roger Mayer pedal with a wedge-of-cheese shape and weighty construction that could see it used as a doorstop if you retire from playing. Those EQ bands cover all the salient areas of guitar/amp tone with a range from 100Hz to 6.4kHz; each has up to 18dB of cut or boost.
Having the Octavio as part of the MXR Standard range makes sense. Certainly, it makes sense for us financially, but shorn of the custom Jimi Hendrix graphics, it really is what you make of it. No need to restrict yourself to the Electric Ladyland tab book, the Octavio is a versatile little fuzz that could be used for all kinds of sounds – stoner rock, metal, funk lines, adding some sitar-esque noise to indie rock.
That said, it does lose some note definition when you crank it up. You won't hear all the nuances of your chords. But isn't that part of the magic of fuzz? It obscures things and introduces a little chaos, and the Octavio's dynamic response will make it a fun addition to the pedalboard for experienced players.
MusicRadar verdict: The MXR Octavio is compact, powerful and playable. It's funny to say that about a pedal, but this reacts to your playing, capable of scuzzing up your signal with a generous amount of fuzz and unveiling some magic octave-up fairy dust.
MXR Octavio: The web says
"If you turn up the fuzz and try playing standard chords it can sound messy, but doublestops come out sounding really powerful and single-note playing can really take advantage of the singing quality of that upper harmonic overtone, especially in the upper reaches of the neck."
MXR Octavio: Hands-on demos
MXR Octavio: Specifications
- TYPE: Octave fuzz pedal
- CONTROLS: Output, fuzz, bypass
- SOCKETS: Input, output, power
- TRUE BYPASS: Yes
- POWER: 9v battery or PSU
- CONTACT: Jim Dunlop