Korg OCT-1 Octaver2

Korg OCT-1 Octaver

Korg OCT-1 Octaver

The Korg OCT-1 is a simple monophonic, analogue, octave down pedal. It is essentially identical to the Yamaha OC-01 pedal which debuted around 1980. (The earliest reference I have found to the Korg Series 1 effects - all of which are the same as the Yamaha PSE Series - is from a 1985 Korg product catalogue.)

The main difference between the Yamaha and Korg, is that the Yamaha pedals were designed to fit into one of the modular PSE pedal board systems*. While they could still be used as standalone stompboxes, the Korg counterparts are a better choice these days as they have the convenience of a ‘standard’ 2.1mm barrel type DC input.

* For details of the Yamaha PSE series pedals and modular board systems see HERE.

The OCT-1 has self explanatory ‘Direct Level’ and ‘Effect Level’ controls but also a ‘Polarity’ toggle switch. This doesn’t seem to make any audible difference despite my best efforts to hear one!

To be honest, I wouldn’t use this with an ordinary guitar to replace a proper bass. The effect glitches too readily in my opinion. Although, once in a band mix, you could probably fool a lot of people with it.

In most situations, I think this effect sounds best if you keep the direct level at unity (retaining more note attack), and then mix in some of the lower octave (to add weight).

With this type of effect, it is important for the pedal to receive a clear signal from your guitar in order to perform at its best. I find that using the neck pickup and/or rolling off some treble with the guitar’s tone control helps a great deal with tracking. These measures so some way to reducing the harmonic overtones in the signal and sending a truer pitch to the effect.

You also have to be very precise when playing (vibrato, pitch bends, string noise etc. can all interfere with the Octaver and cause a glitching effect… some people may like that of course!

Combined with other effects such as distortion, the Octaver gets a bit more useful in my opinion. At subtle levels, it adds weight and body to single note lines but can also add a synth-like quality. It even sounds OK to me with power chords and octave riffs; it does get a bit too messy with anything more complex than that though - even a straightforward major or minor triad.

I’m not completely sold on the OCT-1. It lacks punch and is just a bit too glitchy and ultimately unsatisfying for me.


Both the Boss OC-2 Octave and Danelectro DJ-12 Chili Dog Octave go beyond what the Korg OCT-1 offers by adding an extra signal - two octaves down - to the mix. While they do require a similar amount of care and precision (when playing) to get the best out of them, the effects they produce are more consistent and much punchier than the Korg.

Hung on the line like a poison spider

Hung on the line like a poison spider
If you’ve ever read any of the effects pedal related forums, you’ll no doubt have seen numerous threads along these lines…

I’m putting together a pedal board and don’t know in which order the pedals should go.

Please help!

While there is a general consensus which says that your effects should go in a certain order (see below), there are no set-in-stone rules to follow and you should feel free to experiment, using your ears to decide what sounds and works best. Placing effects in the ‘wrong’ order can often produce new, unexpected results which may well prove to be inspirational when it comes to making music.

Convention tells us that our effects pedals should go in this sort of order:
  1. Filters - e.g. wah
  2. Compression
  3. Gain - overdrive/distortion/fuzz
  4. EQ/Tone - e.g. graphic equaliser
  5. Modulation - e.g. chorus or tremolo
  6. Delay
  7. Reverb
That covers the most common and widely used effect groups, but others are not so easy to place… pitch shifters for example…

A hailstorm brought you back to me…

If it’s a straightforward octave up/down effect (e.g. Boss OC-2), then putting it near the start of your chain is often a good idea - this way it will usually track the guitar’s signal better, and produce a better effect. (Although, modern polyphonic octavers such as the Electro-Harmonix POG line of effects track so well, that they can go pretty much anywhere in your chain.)

If it’s a harmonising effect (e.g. Boss HR-2), then it will usually work best after your distortion pedals - a harmonised guitar line would ‘confuse’ the distortion pedal and probably come out sounding a real mess.

There can sometimes be doubts when it comes to classifying your effects… a phaser for example, is often regarded as a modulation effect (so would be near the end of your chain), but can also be considered as a filter effect (meaning it would go at the start of your chain). But… it really depends on the other effects you’re using… if I’m using a phaser with distortion, I like the phaser first; if I’m playing clean, I like the phaser to be after my delays.

Free-fall, motorcycle, hang-glider…

A departure from conventional pedal order, as I said earlier, can often produce new, unexpected sounds… the side effects of running different pedal combinations in different orders, can sometimes be more usable (in a musical context) than the effect itself. In other instances, running effects in the ‘wrong’ order may maintain clarity and just sound ‘better’.

Running modulation (particularly tremolo, chorus and phasing) after your delay pedals will more often that not sound more pleasing and clearer, rather than the jumbled mess that may occur from doing things the 'right’ way.

What about if you have a ‘touch sensitive’ low-gain overdrive pedal… and then put your compressor before it? You’ll lose a lot of the dynamic feel of the overdrive. Try it the other way around and you’ll get all the best parts from both; the dynamic responsiveness from the overdrive and the extra sustain and level control from the compressor.

There's so much that I can't do…

Another factor in deciding upon your effect order can be the actual pedals in question. Some fuzzes for example have to be the very first pedal after your guitar to work properly.

Many people will have multiple overdrives, distortions and fuzzes on their pedal board, which opens up a whole other area of confusion: which order should they go in? This is down to personal taste and will depend largely upon which combos of pedal you use… if you only ever use one of your gain pedals at a time, then it obviously doesn’t matter which order they go in. If you stack you drive pedals, then there are a few things to consider…

Some people like to run their drive pedals in order of lowest to highest gain - boosting the amount of drive from the higher-gain pedal.

Some people like to run their drive pedals in order of highest to lowest gain - the lower gain pedal acting more as a level boost and equaliser.

My own ‘logic’ is more concerned with frequencies; the pedal which allows the widest range of frequencies through (therefore colouring the tone the least) goes last, the one which allows the narrowest range of frequencies through goes first. This seems to sound the most natural to me when stacking pedals.


If you have a tubescreamer-type overdrive (which outputs a fairly narrow range of frequencies) running in to a Big Muff-type fuzz pedal (wide frequency), the Big Muff will get a gain and mid-frequency boost, but won’t sound that different.

If you run the Big Muff in to the tubescreamer, there will be a huge change in sound. It will likely sound ‘strangled’ and nasal.

I've come a long way since the whatever…

Hopefully this article will help you when arranging your pedals. At the very least I hope you will ignore conventional thought, experiment and try things out for yourself.

EXAMPLE 1: Here, I have placed the tremolo pedal (Boss PN-2) post-delay (Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man).

This arrangement is good where the delay is used to add ambience rather than for distinct, audible repeats, and especially where the tremolo is set to mimic 'amplifier-style tremolo'. This method also works extremely well with a reverb pedal feeding a tremolo too - some of the classic Fender amps placed their tremolo circuits post-reverb after all.

EXAMPLE 2: If you prefer a choppier, more prominent tremolo, then you may well want to place your delay or reverb after the modulation - as I have done in the example below, with a Boss DM-3 sandwiched between two PN-2s.

EXAMPLE 3: Drive-stacking.

I have the first three in order of low to high gain (Subdecay Liquid Sunshine, MI Audio Crunch Box and Skreddy Mayo), which coincidentally also follows what I mentioned about frequencies in the main article. Following them, I have a Paul Cochrane Timmy - the Timmy can be set tonally neutral which makes it good as a post-dirt volume boost, or it also works well in this position as a 'master EQ'.

Note also that the EHX Small Stone phaser is the first effect in the chain.

Echoes nobody hears…

Echoes nobody hears…

The two delay pedals I'm looking at here, the Guyatone PS-014 and Pearl AD-08, are both ‘vintage’ 1980s, Japanese-made, analogue delays of a high quality. Both are built to last; similar in build quality to Boss pedals and, in my opinion at least, they should be held in the same regard as the more sought after (and wildly over-priced) Boss DM-2 and DM-3.

Guyatone PS-014 Dual Time Delay

The Guyatone PS-014 (which was also sold under the Nady brand name in some countries) is similar in sound to a Boss DM-3; it has the same kind of quality to the repeats, but is - dare I say it, more ‘organic’ sounding to my ears - and is cleaner sounding than a DM-2. However, it lacks the direct output of a DM-3 and has less delay time - mine has 220ms (although it is possible to get a bit more at the expense of audio fidelity by adjusting an internal trimpot).

It does have a unique extra feature though… there are two delay time controls. Only one (‘Main’) is functional as standard, the other (‘Sub’) becomes active when you plug a footswitch* into the ‘Foot Sw’ socket. You can then use the external footswitch to switch between two different delay times set by the ‘Main’ and ‘Sub’ controls.

* Most 'tap tempo' or generic channel changing footswitches should do the job.

Pearl AD-08 Analog Delay

The Pearl AD-08 is closer to the softer sound of a Boss DM-2, but is much cleaner - especially so on longer settings where the DM-2 turns to mush. The AD-08 has some other features that make it worth seeking out: it has more delay time available than most similarly-aged analogue delays - I measured mine to have 370ms, whereas most of its rivals have 200-300ms; it has two outputs and has independent level controls for both the effect and direct signals - very useful!

We’re faithful, we all believe…

I prefer both the PS-014 and AD-08 to the two Boss compact analogue delays: the Guyatone has a sweeter tone than the DM-3 and the bonus Dual Time feature; the Pearl has a wider range of uses over the DM-2 due to the longer delay time and higher fidelity.

It goes, it goes, it goes like this…

Putting either of these on your pedal board won’t give you the same cred as having a Boss DM-2/3, but I bet you’ll still get as many (or more!) people commenting on the great sounds you’re making.

Yamaha MBD-20M Multi-Band Distortion

Yamaha MBD-20M
Multi-Band Distortion

This pedal is from the Yamaha 10 series range of pedals, which were made in Japan in the mid-late 1980s I believe. Given the time period, it was probably intended as a heavy metal distortion pedal… but don’t let that put you off!

It’s not your run of the mill distortion pedal, it has a little trick up its sleeve that sets it apart from the pack - namely that it is in fact two distortions rolled into one; more about that later.

There are four controls; the usual power trio of ‘Out Level’ (volume), ‘Distortion’ (gain) and ‘Tone’ are joined by a mysterious fourth member called ’Balance’. ‘Balance’ is a control allowing you to blend the two distortion circuits.

Distort the truth The MBD-20M splits the incoming signal in to two at a certain frequency, and processes these signals independently - much the same as happens with a studio multi-band compressor or limiter - hence the name Multi-Band Distortion.

The ‘Balance’ control then allows you to mix the two signals however you want…
  • ‘Balance’ control to the left is just the bass - on it’s own, this sounds quite fuzzy, muddy and indistinct…
  • ‘Balance’ control to the right is just the treble and mids - so can be harsh and honky but is really clear and defined…
Start blending the two bands, and there are loads of usable sounds you can achieve with the MBD-20M; from jagged, garage rock tones, through classic rock, to loose, fuzzy distortion perfect for 90s alt-rock and more.

Also, for a moderately high gain distortion pedal - and one that most people would dismiss as being cheap and not worth trying - it is amazingly quiet (even with my P90-equipped Epiphone Casino). I've used plenty of higher-priced/'boutique' pedals which the Yamaha would put to shame.

Mix and match

The MBD-20M works really well in recording and band situations; for rhythm tones, edge the ‘Balance’ control towards the bass side and you'll blend in nicely; for leads and other overdubs, move it to the right and you’ll have no trouble cutting through even the busiest of mixes.

The Yamaha MBD-20M is a workhorse of a distortion pedal. It is very versatile but has nothing too special about it; it won't let you down but it probably won't be your first choice either.

Guyatone PS-003 Compressor

Guyatone PS-003 Compressor
Ground Control to Major Tom…

There are three controls on this pedal, Level, Sustain and Brilliance. The former two being pretty much the standard controls you expect to find on a compressor pedal, the latter is more unexpected and needs a little explaining…

What the Brilliance control does, is actually enhance your guitar playing. With the control all the way anti-clockwise (minimum), you’ll be hearing lots of fret buzz, bum notes and poor timing in your playing - kind of like the very first time you picked up a guitar. As you turn the control clockwise, your playing gets better and better until at the maximum setting, you’ll be ready to go on your world tour… as soon as you can get rid of all the record company A&R men queued up at your door waving multi-million pound contracts under your nose.

Good, eh?

It would be if it were true but, in reality, it’s even better than that! The Brilliance control is actually a tone control; more precisely, it seems to work as a hi-cut filter. At maximum you get a slightly enhanced tone (compared to the bypassed tone) which is great for jangly, clean rhythms; as you turn the control down you lose treble and the tone gets softer and ‘rounder’. It’s really useful actually.

Lastly, there is a (bias?) trimpot inside but I wouldn’t advise messing around with it.

Commencing countdown, engines on…

Compressors are not going to be very high up the list of the most popular effects pedals; most people get more excited over things that mess up their sound (overdrive, distortion etc.) or add to it in an obvious way (delay, reverb etc.).

Used ‘properly’, compression is an effect that quite often, you won’t even notice is there until you turn it off. By ‘properly’, I mean using sensible levels of compression for a little dynamics control… it just so happens that most compressor pedals will go way beyond those sensible levels, into the realms of completely squashed ‘sustain for days™’.

Like most compressor pedals I’ve used, you don’t need to turn the Sustain on the PS-003 up very much for normal applications; around 9:00 on the dial works fine for me - evening out the signal nicely and already adding an extra dose of sustain.

Turning the sustain up further quickly shows this pedal in a very good light; it doesn’t appear to add any extra noise (other than the by-product of compression, which is raising of the noise floor) and there is plenty of compression on tap. Letting an open A chord ring out for example, I had to physically mute the strings as I got bored while waiting for it to fade out on its own!

Check ignition and may God's love be with you...

This is very, very good and on the same level as some of the other Guyatone pedals I love so much. If you are in need of a compressor pedal and can find one for sale - these have been discontinued for a long time - it’s certainly worth checking out.