ProGuitarShop

Pedal Review: Dunlop JHM2 Octavio

March 7, 2013

Review By Ian Garrett

The Pedal:       Dunlop JHM2 Octavio
The Point:        Octavio fuzz replica
The Cost:         $129.99
Find the Dunlop Octavio at Pro Guitar Shop

Last time I reviewed the Dunlop JHM1 Fuzz Face, a part of the 70th Anniversary series to Jimi Hendrix.  And this time is another in the Tribute series - the JHM2 Octavio.  Dunlop keeps it simple again with just a fuzz and volume control.  And like the Fuzz Face, it has the modern updates too, including an LED indicator, a 9v adapter, true bypass, and the smaller enclosure. The exterior is a limited edition finish done by legendary rock artist John Van Hamersveld, this time in an eye popping green and orange color scheme.

True to the Original?

The original Octavia, designed for Jimi by Roger Mayer, takes the guitar’s input signal one octave higher (and sometimes lower) in pitch, and mixes it back in with the distortion tone.   I haven’t used this sort of fuzz much before, being more of a Muff guy.  But I found the Octavio oddly satisfying.  It isn’t what I would want for my “core” fuzz tone, and it isn’t what I would call an every-day type of fuzz sound for me, but it has something unique – those bell-like upper octaves that I found quite enticing.

With just two controls, I still found I had a wide array of fuzz tones. Like the fuzz face, I tend to set the fuzz control up fairly high. Not all the way, but between 1 o’clock and a touch before max, being the sweet spot.  Perhaps one of the most unique aspects of this pedal is your picking touch.  It is extremely touch sensitive.  You can compensate for the light touch by turning the pedal’s volume up.  Maybe even try putting that pick down for a bit.  That’s when those upper octaves seem to jump out of nowhere. And I found playing between the 7th and 15th frets is where the octaves stand out more, especially on the neck pickup.

One Trick Pony or More?

I commented in my last review that the Fuzz Face sounds best turned up all the way and that’s its core tone. But I do like the mildly overdriven tones you get by backing off your guitar’s volume control. So how does the Octavio do in this case? Well, it doesn’t react the same – it tends to keep its distorted character and doesn’t clean up as well.  But backing off the guitar’s volume just a little bit does enhance those upper octave notes.

Perhaps my least favorite aspect of this pedal – which is sort of good news/bad news, is the lack of low end. The Octavio has a very specific audio band, with a lot of upper-end mids to higher- end sizzle, and the octave-up tones will accentuate that as well. This does work well in a band mix – let your bassist and drummer keep the lower end intact while you run around filling in the upper octaves. It can be more challenging for home/recording use, but with some additional EQ, you can adjust for that. I also found that because of the added octaves, the Octavio can be challenging with chords.

Overall I found the JHM2 Octavio to be a very cool, fun fuzz. If you’re wanting to move outside your normal comfort zone of overdrives, or maybe the muff or fuzz face type pedals, give the Octavio a try.  It’s hard not to hear Hendrix when you plug in, but it can pull off a White Stripes or a SRV type of vibe too. In the end, it’s really up to your imagination. 

Rating:  3.5

5 – Tremendous product; among the very best
4 – Great value overall; exceeds expectations
3 – Definite contender, but look closely at the competition too
2 – Average at best; probably better choices exist
1 – Not ready for prime time

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    Owning original Dunlop reissue Octavio, and constantly looking at this upgraded version, I believe this is one of the greatest and highly unique pedal.  Playing with Fuzz and Volume knob you can find at least 3 distinctive sounds, all highly inspiring, even for those outside of Jim Hendrix fan base.  It may be lacking all appointments found in other, new to market fuzz and octave fuzz pedals, but overall if you’re looking for “to die for” fuzz pedal I would highly recommend this one.

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