Bass octave pedals are not something you can find an abundance of, at least not the good ones. The main issue here is the fact that an octave pedal has trouble tracking low bass tones. MXR 288 Bass Octave is one of the rare octave pedals that was specifically designed to take on this daunting task, and it gets the job done with much success.
As a matter of fact, it’s one of the most capable octave pedals, period. Compared to other solutions which support bass guitars, MXR 288 comes across as a more optimized solution.
MXR is known for delivering rather decent pedals when it comes to durability and reliability of their cases. Same goes for this 288. The layout of controls is nothing out of the ordinary, making them very intuitive to use even when you need to make quick adjustments to your tone. MXR 288 is powered just like any other pedal, meaning that you can either use the 9V battery or a power adapter.
Controls that come with this pedal can be considered average in terms of knob positions. However, the function of these knobs is a bit different. The most important control knob is Dry. As you would expect, you use this knob to adjust the blend between your raw signal and the octave effect.
The Growl knob adds a bit of mid range juice to the tone, while Girth does the same only for the low-end response. There is also a Mid+ button in the upper right corner which adds even more mid punch to the signal. These knobs require a bit of trial and error before you find the best configuration for your specific bass guitar, but that usually doesn’t take long.
Compared to other octave pedals which claim they can be used with bass guitars, MXR 288 actually tracks well even when you start playing those deeper notes. The pedal alters the tone in some interesting ways aside from adding the octave effect.
The mid-range girth it introduces to your tone is easily controllable and rather practical in most cases. The best way to use it seems to be to place it as close to your guitar in the signal chain, as it might have issues with tracking if placed further down the chain. Is it the perfect solution? No, but it’s probably the best effect pedal of this type you can get for bass guitar without having to ruin your bank account.
The truth is that bass players don’t get to enjoy many effects pedals. There are some guitar pedals that can be used with bass guitar, but those are not that common. Having a dedicated solution like this MXR 288 is something every bass player can appreciate.
It comes packing great performance at a price that is more than reasonable. If you are looking for ways to spice up your tone with a subtle and nonintrusive effect, this MXR 288 might be exactly what you were looking for all along.