REVIEW: Boss OC-5 Octave Pedal

Boss pedals generally set the standard, right from the get-go, of that particular effect device, until they re-set and raise the bar. Their OC-2 octave pedal is a classic. Now they’ve updated things quite a bit with their OC-5, taking things to a new high, in the low ranges.

Boss’ indestructible enclosure/footswitch design is still standard here, with Direct level, +1 Octave level, -1 Octave Level, a -2 Octave range controls, and a vintage/polyphonic selector switch residing on the control panel. There’s standard 1/4” in and output, along with a 1/4” direct out, which is a dry signal only.

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Our reviewer has had a couple of Boss OC-2 pedals on his board in the past, so the vintage mode brought flashbacks of the original, with the inconsistencies and glitching that made using it a talent unto itself. It’s not a negative aspect but knowing where (and how) to adjust a normal playing style to get the most out of the pedal really enhances its use. Add in the octave up function, and now it provides a gritty, faux-organ (forgan?) type effect. Simple two-note chords do work OK in this mode, but as notes ring and resonate, they tend to get a bit glitchy, but in a good kind of way.

Switching into polyphonic mode things clean up quite a bit, and the tracking is far more refined. No surprise that chordal work tends to be far superior, and in this mode, the -2 range control now flips to control the level of the -1 octave control. At the 9:00 position it only engages when lower frequencies are played. What this means is, playing Prince-esque funk bits on the high E and B strings come through un-affected, but shift to a low end run on the Low E, and the octaves (both up and down) kick in. No extra footswitch or controls needed.

It works equally well on bass and acoustic guitars, with again, excellent tracking results. So, users who might want to do some looping, this is great way to put down a bass track, or even lower frequency, to layer or play over. It’s a great application considering its size, and ease of use. Players who like the original style effect but can’t commit to a spot on their board might find space for this one, as it brings a lot more modern functionality to the table (or board) that’s practical, and musical to dig into the low ranges while maintaining clarity.


Highly flexible octave shifting, excellent tracking





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