[Harp-L] Octave Pedals for Harp

Will Jennings iowill@xxxxx
Sat Sep 26 16:54:32 EDT 2020

I’ve used a variety of ‘octave’ FX pedals or modelers within digital guitar modelers for well over a decade.

My experience is that most players abuse them rather than relay on the nuance they can provide, especially when combined in an FX chain clusterfrig
designed to impress with just how much you can make a harmonica NOT sound like a harmonica.  

I’ve played inboards where my role at times was to do just that: be the keyboard line, lay down a subtle and supporting carpet backdrop tone,
be the drone note in an ensemble, etc.—so I’m not opposed to this sort of use…but like the overdrive ‘Chicago Sound’, it just gets tedious and wearing on ears and patience.

If you want to really evaluate the processing power of an Octave Pedal or FX, play through it clean…with a clean mic, no reverb, no delay, no chorus, no ‘harp tone’ shapers. CLEAN.

I’ve used basic models that just add a single one octave minus tone, up to the full-blown Electro-Harmonix POG (Version 1) with master inputer, dry output, 1 sub-octave, 1+ above octave, 2+ above octave (and ‘de-tuning’ sliders for both above octaves),
and an LP Filter.   Of course this was designed for a guitar, not a harmonica, and the adjustable de-tunings of the two above octaves were meant to achieve a 12-string or 18-string guitar sound.  

But here’s the test no matter which unit or its ‘mini’ variation: latency.

It’s one thing to play chords and another to play single note runs, and yet another to mix the two.  When you are running through a chorus and compressor and other FX chains, they muddy the sound enough to hide dropped notes or lagging phrases.
And finding an Octave FX that can handle chording without becoming mushy and laggy is very difficult.  Again, less so for guitar than harp.  

It’s been my experience that nobody makes a better octave pedal than Electro-Harmonix, in all of their variations.  The Mini-POG (Polyphinic Octave Generator) is found on many pro player’s pedal boards.

You can hear the difference when playing as clean and direct as possible.  Put it through its paces.  Record it.  Listen back critically.  

Your mileage may vary.  I am not sponsored nor do I have any financial or personal relationship with EH.

Will Jennings

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