Pearl Jam is one of the original four bands that have turned grunge from a small niche genre into mainstream. None of that would have been possible without Eddie’s ingenuity, but also McCready’s out of the box thinking. His tone has shaped the image of Pearl Jam, so today we are going to check out one of the tools he used to do so.
Boss OC-3 octave pedal is one of the simplest and most effective stompboxes of its kind. Mike loved it and used to with a lot of success. Because of that, we have decided to do a brief review of the pedal and show you what kind of benefits it could bring to your tone. Let’s get started.
Boss OC-3 Octave Pedal Review
Octave pedals belong to a group of effects that aren’t used as much as say distortions or overdrives, but have a lot of potential. Just by using an octave pedal, you can completely alter the sound of a specific guitar riff. With that said, Boss was one of the first brands to offer a pedal of this type that was effective and attainable at the same time. The predecessor to OC-3, the OC-2, was a legendary model, however OC-3 brings some changes that give this platform even more character.
If there’s one thing Boss is known for aside from their quality, it’s their pedal bodies. A large majority of Boss pedals come in a simple but robust chassis that hasn’t changed much over the years. Same goes for Boss OC-3. The pedal features a dark bronze color, which is the only way you can tell what you’re looking at from a distance. As always, Boss has utilized a simple approach to designing the user interface, making it extremely easy to setup and dial in the pedal to your liking.
In terms of features, it is worth noting that Boss OC-3 is an octave pedal that can work with both electric guitars and electric bass guitars. There are separate inputs on the right side of the pedal, which are clearly labeled. Although this might not sound like much, finding a good effects pedal that works well with a bass guitar is not as easy as it seems. We have to give it to Boss for adding another level of versatility. The left side of the pedal is where your outputs are. You have a mono output and direct output.
Looking at the controls, there are a couple of interesting features that stand out. Going from left to right, we see a level knob and Oct 1 level knob. What comes next is where the real fun starts. On the far right side of the pedal you there is a mode select knob with three values. Those who loved the OC-2 will be pleased to know that there is an OC-2 mode which brings that same old performance, but there’s more. Boss has added a true poly octave mode on top of the standard one. Then, we have the Drive mode. Drive mode actually allows you to add some overdrive to the selected octaves, which is more than neat.
Performance is what makes this whole package worth it. In standard octave mode, you are looking at one of the best tracking octave pedals out there. It is simple, reliable and just works. Many had their doubts regarding the new modes Boss has chosen to implement. After all, Boss OC-2 was known for its rugged simplicity and compact size. None of that has really changed. Instead, those new modes only added a variety of flavors to the pre-existing platform. Not only that, but new modes also extended the range of this pedal. For example, if you wanted to play chords while using the original OC-2, chances are that the result wouldn’t be great at all. The new poly octave mode allows you to do exactly that. Chords sound fuller and more defined.
The pedal has shown to work great with bass guitars as well. You won’t run into issues with tracking or getting a noisy tone. On top of that, the drive mode really adds a lot of value when used with a bass guitar. What is most impressive is how Boss has managed to offer all of that in the very same compact format, at a price range that is more than affordable all things considered. Are there more powerful octave pedals out there? Sure, but expect to lay down a fairly big chunk of cash for one of those. Boss OC-3 represents an attainable solution that isn’t a compromise, but rather a really capable platform and a true force multiplier. For that reason alone, we have to say that OC-3 is a worthy successor to the now famous Boss OC-2. As far as simple octave pedals go, this is about as good as it gets right now.
Here’s a video demo showing how to get the best from your OC-3 Super Octave.
Octave pedals are a somewhat niche category of guitar effects. Not many people use them when compared to some other types of effects, but those who do know exactly how much of a value a good octave can bring. Boss OC-3 is one of the best, plain and simple. It offers a very reliable octave effect that is now more versatile than ever before, at a price that is hard to argue. Mike McCready recognized this back in the day with Boss OC-2, and probably loves the OC-3.
If you are trying to find a good octave pedal for your setup and you are on a budget, chances are that Boss OC-3 is your best bet. Same goes for those looking to replicate McCready’s tone. It is right in that sweet spot where you aren’t risking performance or reliability, but you’re not paying a boutique-type price for a single effect. Even though Boss has had some hit or miss attempts before, OC-3 is definitely a solid choice.