Noise Boyz Review
The TC Electronics Sub N Up can basically turn your guitar into a bass or an organ.
While not usable in every musical situation, an octavizer pedal can make your tone truly stand out. While we’re big fans of the DigiTech Whammy for harmonization, it is a bit big and takes up tons of space on your pedalboard. Enter the sub n up, which gives you a compact form factor for your board and 3 additional octaves to give you a wide array of sounds. Let’s dive in with some samples. Like in most of our reviews, I’ll start with every thing at the noon position. If you listen carefully to the sample below you can hear all 3 additional octaves added to the tone (one high octave and 2 sub octaves), which basically turns your guitar into a mini-organ (with maybe some slight synth vibes):
This next sample has the octaves still all set to noon with the dry turned all the way down, so you’re only getting the output post-octavization (not sure that’s a word). This to me has sort of a jazzy-ish sound and a tone pretty much unlike anything else.
But the reason most guitarists buy an octavizer pedal is 1) to get a deeper low frequency in their tone or 2) to make their guitar sound like a bass or cover for the fact that they don’t have a bass player in their band. Speaking of bands without a bass player, octavizers naturally always remind me of The White Stripes. To me there are 2 standout tracks where Jack White’s octave pedal is clearly on display, which are ‘Seven Nation Army’ and ‘Blue Orchid’ (both outstanding tracks, the first of which you’ve definitely heard and the second of which you should really check out if you haven’t). So let’s give some White Stripes riffs a shot and turn our guitar into a bass. Below are 2 recorded samples playing ‘Seven Nation Army,’ the first with the first low octave turned all the way up and the second octave turned all the way down, and the second with both octaves turned all the way up (in both samples dry is still left at the noon position)
I actually somewhat prefer the first sample since to me both low octaves together on a clean tone can be a little bit too much. One thing you need to be careful with this much low frequency is that your tone can start to get too ‘boomy’ if you play with too much attack and things just start to sound really muddy in the low end which can clash with your bass player and drummer (although if that’s the sound you’re going for, that’s cool too). The sub n up also takes distortion pedals really well. Below is the riff to ‘blue orchid’ played with a light distortion (the Suhr Riot) on it and both octaves at 10, which to me actually just brings out the pedal a lot more and gives some grit to the additional octaves.
Since we’ve focused more on the low octaves thus far, it’s time to do our Noise Boyz favorite of turning everything on the pedal to 10 to start making things weird. All the octaves are all the way up in the below sample with the dry turned all the way down so you’re only getting the octaves coming through (this one too has the Suhr Riot distortion on it). I always think of the higher octaves on octavizer pedals as the way to make your guitar sound sort of like a circus organ, and it is great to mix in a fuzz pedal (for that we recommend the Swollen Pickle) if you’re going for a psychedelic rock kind of vibe.
Toneprint: one feature I find really cool about the sub n up and other TC electronics pedals is the toneprint feature, which basically lets you download preset sound templates put together by other guitarists. There are lots of cool sounds in the toneprint settings to get you on your way to the sound you’re looking for. After trying about 20 different ones I did start to find a lot of those presets to get a bit ‘samey’ because, well, there’s only so many permutations when the pedal is playing the same notes but just in different octaves. But it’s a great place to start if you’re having trouble dialing in the tone you want or you just want to hear what the pedal is capable of/get some creative ideas you might not have thought about before. To sum things up, the sub n up can take your guitar tone in many different directions, from getting that Jack White bass tone to some truly weird and trippy high octave sounds. I’ve always found octavizers a bit underappreciated and I do understand that in a lot of situations they don’t sound very ‘musical,’ but if you’re looking for something to make your sound stand out, you can’t go wrong with the sub n up.
1 x 1/4"
1 x 1/4"
How It Works
Choose a Plan
Pick how many pedals you want to try a month, from one to three.
Play Them All
Try every signal-chain you can imagine until you find the tone that’s right for you.
Keep, Swap, or Buy
Keep the pedals you rent for as long as you want. Love them? Buy them. Hate them? Swap them.