Author Topic: Octavia Evolution courtesy of Roger Mayer  (Read 21630 times)


Octavia Evolution courtesy of Roger Mayer
« on: January 20, 2007, 12:50:10 PM »
In message
<>, Jasen
Emmons <> writes
>Hi Roger,
>Thank you for your voice message and this email. We appreciate you
>taking the time to set the record straight. My friend and colleague,
>Jacob McMurray, said he had a good conversation with you, and we'll work
>to see that Dunlop doesn't misrepresent their new pedal. It's very
>important to us that we present an accurate historical perspective.
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Roger Mayer []
>Sent: Friday, January 19, 2007 4:09 AM
>To: Jasen Emmons
>Subject: Roger Mayer Octavio/Octavia Pedal Exhibit
>Dear Jasen,
>This letter is in regards to an exhibit that you have at the EMP museum:
>the Octavio / Octavia Guitar Pedal built and designed by me. By the way
>I never wrote on any boxes myself hence the confusion between Octavio
>and Octavia.
>It has come to my notice that Dunlop manufacturing is now releasing a
>clone of the Octavio pedal in your collection and making false claims as
>to provenance and use on the "Purple Haze" and "Fire" recordings. Please
>follow this link:
>I would like to take this opportunity to set history straight.
>1.The Octavia / Octavio sound was first heard on record in the solo of
>"Purple Haze" and this solo was recorded on Feb 3rd 1967. I first met
>Jimi on Jan 11th 1967.
>2. The actual Octavia used did not have the same circuit, type of
>transformer or enclosure as your wedge shaped example, which was
>manufactured at least 20 months later. It did however use elements of an
>electronic configuration that could be considered pivotal. This first
>unit can be considered as Octavia Evo1.
>3. This Evo1 unit used germanium transistors and a ferrite transformer
>and also had limited drive capabilities. It was used in the recording of
>Purple Haze and Fire with another custom driver in a separate enclosure
>that also used germanium transistors. This driver was placed in front of
>Evo1 to give enough drive to satisfy Jimi.
>4. After the recordings Evo 1 was never used again in it's original form
>and consigned to the trash bin.
>5. It became obvious that both the driver section and the Octavia
>section should be combined into one box.
>6. The path of development and understanding through experimentation was
>continuous and fast like in motor racing and in the space of less than a
>year at least 15 variations and evolutions had been produced.
>7. These units were used by Jimi and not housed in a wedge shaped box.
>Some only had a life of a week or so as we both learned and experimented
>and moved on. It can be thought of as racecar development throughout a
>season. Maybe the same chassis configuration but lots of component
>8. Later that year we began recording "Axis Bold as Love" which used
>the latest evo of Octavia on several tracks and if you listen carefully
>the clarity and detail of the Octavia effect was much more defined. Of
>course at the same time I was updating, building and customising the
>distortion units to compliment the latest evo of Octavia.
>9. At the end of 1967 I designed the wedge shaped enclosure that was
>manufactured by my father's electronic company and only 5 or so examples
>were made.
>10. The latest evo of the Octavia were housed in these new enclosures
>and still used germanium transistors and ferrite transformers. They
>however had a DPDT foot switch which the previous versions did not have
>which were primarily designed for studio work and not suited for
>11. These first boxed used different knobs than the example you have and
>did not have a moulded in shoulder to cover the mounting nut. They were
>a tapered conical shape and made in silver plastic.
>12. I went on tour to the USA with Jimi from Jan 30th 1968 until April
>19th 1968 where the Octavia was used on a few special gigs. We did not
>use it everyday owing to fact they custom made and could not be replaced
>as I was on tour as well. Having gear stolen from the stage was a real
>problem every night. We never lost an Octavia though. Jimi and I kept
>the Octavias save with us at all times.
>13. After the winter 68 tour in the USA I returned to work at Olympic
>Studios having left the Admiralty Research Laboratories to start a new
>career designing and manufacturing recording studio consoles and
>associated outboard equipment. I of course still kept in close contact
>with Jimi and the Octavia development continued on. I was also meeting
>lots of other famous musicians and bands that came to the studio and
>also expressed a desire to have an Octavia example.
>14. It became obvious that a more rugged type of Octavia using silicon
>transistors and iron type audio transformer would be needed for rugged
>stage use. The use of low noise silicon transistors was an improvement
>in temperature stability over the germanium type. The iron laminations
>of the audio transformer did not have the detail of ferrite but overall
>was more rugged and not subject to breakage from dropping. Ferrite cores
>can be damaged more easily than iron laminations.
>15. At the end of 1968 I decided to build a limited run of 5 or so
>Octavias and 5 Distortion Pedals all housed in the wedge enclosure.
>16. The Octavia configuration used for the driver comprised of
>complimentary NPN PNP low noise silicon transistors driving a
>commercially obtained iron audio driver transformer. The biasing for
>these units were also varied to operate from 24V for studio work to an
>optimised version using an internal 9 Volt battery. This series of
>pedals used the type of knobs you have on your exhibit at EMP.
>17. These units were completed in early 1969 and went to guitar players
>like. Syd Barrett - Pink Floyd, Steve Marriot - Small Faces Peter
>Frampton - Small Faces. Jimi of course had some too.
>18. In May 1969 I went to live in New York City with my new married
>American wife and started Roger Mayer Electronics building and designing
>studio equipment. I also had taken a few of the remaining 10 pedals with
>me to New York. I of course was still in contact with Jimi and the
>development of the Octavia continued. The aim now was to get rid of the
>transformer altogether and Jimi and I got together at the Record Plant
>and Hit Factory to play with the latest evos.
>19. After Christmas 1969 I get a call from Jimi saying he needs an
>Octavia for his upcoming gig News Years eve at the Fillmore East as all
>his ones were gone missing. Luckily I had an Octavia and distortion left
>from the 10 I had made earlier that year and took these to rehearsal for
>the Band of Gypsys concert. The results can be heard on Machine Gun etc.
>20. 1970 saw Jimi real busy but I still caught up with him in the studio
>and showed him the latest version of the Octavia.
>21. In October whist working with Stevie Wonder at Media Studios I hear
>of Jimi's death. The session was called and everybody was very sad.
>22. The Rocket version of the Octavia is the latest version connected
>with Jimi and does not use a transformer but represents the last of the
>development directly inspired by Jimi.
>23. This is the reason I have never myself made a replica wedge box or
>indeed ever claimed that the Rocket Box was used was on "Purple Haze"
>or "Fire". The wedge box you have was never used on these records and
>was made at least 20 months after the fact. You indeed do have a piece
>of music history that may have been owned and used by Jimi but not on
>those tracks or "Axis Bold as Love".
>24. I could of course have lied years ago and made false claims about
>making the exact same box that was used on Purple Haze but I have not
>nor do I. I am totally against anybody else getting away with such lies.
>25. The spirit of the Octavia sound lives on and the latest version the
>Vision Octavia is an evolution Jimi would have loved.
>26. I would really appreciate your help in setting the facts straight as
>history should be correct and I don't feel that anyone at EMP can afford
>to be associated with helping pervert the truth. I contacted you as soon
>as I knew of this cynical attempt to commercialise your exhibit. Now you
>have the facts I feel confident you will take necessary, swift and
>appropriate action with the parties involved to set Jimi's history back
>on the correct path. My fortunate involvement with Jimi and being part
>of music history is payment enough and I know Paul Allen has a deep love
>of music too and an interest in keeping the spirit of music alive.
>27. Jacob McMurray your associate suggested that I take a look at your
>text surrounding this exhibit and offer my comments as to make it's
>place in history correct and I of course will be delighted to help EMP
>in any way I can.


Kindest regards,
Roger Mayer
"experience the difference"


Re: Octavia Evolution courtesy of Roger Mayer
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2007, 01:42:53 PM »


Re: Octavia Evolution courtesy of Roger Mayer
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2007, 05:00:39 PM »
This was a very nice read!
Am learning something new every day here

SquareLight | MySpace account


Re: Octavia Evolution courtesy of Roger Mayer
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2007, 06:42:45 PM »
that new octavio is VERY cool...I've always wanted to emulate that "piece of cheese" look
Breadboards are as invaluable as underwear - and also need changed... -R.G.


Re: Octavia Evolution courtesy of Roger Mayer
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2007, 07:02:13 PM »
Very, very cool.


Re: Octavia Evolution courtesy of Roger Mayer
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2007, 07:03:03 PM »
I can´t believe my eyes when i read this:

13. After the winter 68 tour in the USA I returned to work at Olympic
having left the Admiralty Research Laboratories to start a new
>career designing and manufacturing recording studio consoles and
>associated outboard equipment.

Business competition seems to be the best truth-finder....

in this thread:

I presented the theory, that the driver of the octavia was nothing else than the amplifier used in the Helios-console....

yes, and the Helios-console, what i was talking about was located in:  ....the olympic studio....
and the first amplifier-cards even used Germanium-transistors.

astonishing....and sadly that I am not able to recognize "at least 15 changes".....

The rest you can read in the thread mentioned above...

« Last Edit: January 20, 2007, 07:04:45 PM by analogguru »

Pedal love

Re: Octavia Evolution courtesy of Roger Mayer
« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2007, 09:09:09 PM »
Come on everybody. I was saying years ago the transistors in the original were germanium. It was obvious. I have already built a circuit with this in mind for maybe 5 years going for myself. That was obvious to me. The thing here is-nobody is afraid of copy this copy that. The point is Dunlop, don't copy the EMP pedal and say it was the exact one used in certain recordings, unless it was. Roger states its the effect, Dunlop states its the same pedal copied. Why don't you go down here and look, everything is explained simply.

Well all of you can make up your own minds. I have sold pedals under Tom Lanik in the early 1990's when he had Roger Mayer's distribution and I always felt great respect for Roger.  As of today I am totally disgusted with Dunlop and will do no more business with that company of totally blatant
« Last Edit: January 20, 2007, 09:42:11 PM by Pedal love »


Re: Octavia Evolution courtesy of Roger Mayer
« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2007, 10:36:06 PM »
Interesting link, interesting statement:


(Greek) "Olympic" games ... Helios, Helios, Helios...


you can see, that in 1968 RM was a young student, ready to

start a new career designing and manufacturing


P.S.: I also don´t like cloning-companies...for this reason I stopped working for B***inger in 1988 or so.  The black-faced Studio-Compressor was a 100% 1:1 copy of the Audio Innovations RCL-50 in a different case - Audio Innovations doesn´t exist anymore....

« Last Edit: January 20, 2007, 10:47:24 PM by analogguru »


Re: Octavia Evolution courtesy of Roger Mayer
« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2007, 10:56:56 PM »
Is it possible that RM designed that part of the Helios console?


Re: Octavia Evolution courtesy of Roger Mayer
« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2007, 11:19:46 PM »
Hmmm.... I dont know....two people claim this:
RM and Dirk Swettenham....

The "Olympic"-modules shown in the thread mentioned above, were pre-"Helios" design, about 1966/67.
The Helios was produced beginning 1969....

By the way:

RM claims:

...Electronically the Octavia is an analog circuit with the properties of a .....envelope generator and amplitude modulator.....

here are two inside pictures of the Octavia:

and here is the schematic of the octavia:

I am not such a good technician, maybe somebody could be so kind and help me, where I can find the "properties" of an envelope generator and an amplitude modulator ?

« Last Edit: January 20, 2007, 11:27:52 PM by analogguru »

Pedal love

Re: Octavia Evolution courtesy of Roger Mayer
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2007, 01:48:14 AM »
Your schematic has errors :icon_lol:


Re: Octavia Evolution courtesy of Roger Mayer
« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2007, 05:09:33 AM »
Your schematic has errors

1.) It´s not MY schematic, Justin Philpot drew it.....

2.) Yes, I know...:
the 470p at the input is only 47p.
the 2k2 resistor at the collector of the first transistor is only 220E.
and the 2 resistors at the phase splitter are not 20k, they are only 10k.

But this doesn´t explain, where I can find the "Mojo" envelope-generator and amplitude-modulator which are responsible for Jimi´s ultimative sound - what he liked so much, shortly before he died.... sorry, that tears are coming now in my eyes....

And it doesn´t explain:
1.) If this what RM is selling, is the ultimative Jimi Hendrix Octavia, and I (a kid, or a cloning factory) buy this unit, make an exact copy of it (not so complicated) why this copy shouldn´t be able to produce also the ultimative Jimi-sound ?

2.) Maybe there is another secret  packed in this unit ... maybe this heavy-case ist an urn, and some ash of Jimi packed inside ?

3.) What role Jimi played in this matter....If I buy a RM-Octavia instead of any clone, is this in reality a sample-player and I don´t need anymore a guitarist to get Jimi´s sound ?

4.) If I would have been a "groupie" in 1969, and I would have been allowed to kiss Jimi´s shoes (or Frank Zappa´s Bobby-Brown-"Heini") what influence could this have had on Jimi`s sound ?



Re: Octavia Evolution courtesy of Roger Mayer
« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2007, 06:00:14 AM »
There is one simple thing to be realised - most of your final sound depends on your "fingers" and that's sadly something we cannot clone yet. Playing Jimmy's guitar through his stompbox connected to his Marshall set doesn't have to bring the same sound at all. We call it "the touch" - there goes the magic  ;).
I don't believe anything i haven't measured with my RoHS friendly Chinese multimeter.


Re: Octavia Evolution courtesy of Roger Mayer
« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2007, 06:24:04 AM »
hi analog,
I can't seem to find it also!

but one thing I always wondered about:
is the first pnp transistor really in that direction on the rocket octavia?
shouldn't the emitter and collector be sweept like on the axis fuzz?

this seems to be the old mistake from the helios schematic dosen't it?



Re: Octavia Evolution courtesy of Roger Mayer
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2007, 12:12:31 PM »


Re: Octavia Evolution courtesy of Roger Mayer
« Reply #15 on: January 22, 2007, 01:43:44 PM »
Hey, Hey, Hey, don´t be so expertise takes time, and I have to do also other things...
And first I had to improve the quality of some pictures...

So lets start:

What do we have ?

We have here a picture of the track-side from what is claimed to be an original Tyco-unit:

This makes sense to me, when I look at the corrosion of the tracks, the pertinax-material used for the pcb, fairly common that this is from the beginnings of the 70´s.  When i look at the component side:

The size and color of the electrolytic capacitors used are typically for this time also the gold-plated legs of the transistors.  For comparision we have this picture:

and it looks very similar instead of this one:

As you can see, this one uses an epoxy-photo-print, the 500k and the 16mm poti are not from this time, so I assume this picture is from a "chicaco iron" reissue, so we can ignore it.  But this underlines, that the first two pictures seem to be authentic.

Nobody seems to have fiddled around with the transistors, when I look at the solder joints.

So when you trace this unit you will come to schematic which you can find here:
(It´s to big to fit in here)

Way Huge came independently to the same results as I mentioned in the threads above.

Conclusion: The Tyco-copy of RM´s Octavia has the first transistor the wrong way....
In the Helios schematic there are three trannys of the same type.  Mostly every technician would immediatly recognize this and nearly automatically change emitter and collector. So this can be the reason why the Tyco-copy has a wrong configuration.

The transistor orientation of the Roger Mayer Octavia as shown in the schematic is authentical (and correct).

Recently there was an article about flipped trannys and their effect - by amz-fx (use the search button).


« Last Edit: January 22, 2007, 02:03:11 PM by analogguru »


Re: Octavia Evolution courtesy of Roger Mayer
« Reply #16 on: January 22, 2007, 03:14:33 PM »
hey hey my my,
hey analog,
thanks for the answer.
I wasn't really nervous, just thought you would've looked over my post cos this forum is so fast now a days that the post was on the second page just after a day.

so roger mayer made it electronically correct and had a pnp Q1 with it's collector connected to the base of Q2
(negativ ground version).

but than the axis fuzz seems too have Q1 connected in the wrong way?

oh, and what I find interesting is that there are silicon insead of germanium diodes in the tyco!?!

ps: war das verständlich? sonst schreib ich's dir nochmal auf deutsch! ;D



Re: Octavia Evolution courtesy of Roger Mayer
« Reply #17 on: January 22, 2007, 05:02:10 PM »

Hi Gandhi,

Don´t panic on the titanic....
(Nur ka PaniK auf der Titanic)

So I don´t understand your question, and the reason is not the german language...
(Ich versteh Deine Frage nicht, das liegt aber nicht an der deutschen Sprache)

To avoid further confusion, I corrected the Octavia schematic above.
(Damit das ganze nicht zum totalen Chaos ausartet, habe ich einmal den obigen Octavia-Schaltplan korrigiert.)

Maybe I missed something, but as far as I know, the RM Axis-Fuzz schematic should look approximately like this:
(Vielleicht ist da was an mir vorbeigegangen, aber soweit ich weiß, sollte der RM Axis-Fuzz Schaltplan ungefähr so auschauen:

For this reason, I can´t really understand your question. Maybe you could be so kind, and make it more concrete...
(Deshalb kann ich Deiner Frage nicht so ganz folgen.  Vielleicht hättest Du die Güte, sie etwas konreter zu formulieren).

German language is a nice language, but a little bit complicated language.
(Deitsche Schbrache scheene Schbrache, aba schwäre Schbrache).

So, that we don´t annoy our american friends, I would suggest, if you like to write in german, we should continue our talk at
(Damit uns die aus dem Ami-forum nicht den Arsch aufreißen, wär´s vielleicht besser, wenn wir uns für deutsches Gelabbere auf verdrücken würden.)



Re: Octavia Evolution courtesy of Roger Mayer
« Reply #18 on: January 22, 2007, 06:15:28 PM »
This matter really gets funny - not to say "obsessive":

Let´s summarize:

If you want to have Jimi´s sound, the holy secret only knows Roger Mayer.

The holy sound Jimi loved so much is without transformers, and it is not a tychobrahe.

EMP has confirmed to me over the telephone that nobody has been ever been allowed to remove the breadboard circuit card from their Octavio unit to examine the underside of the card. This would be necessary to confirm the circuit layout.

Hmmmmm ???? ever heard of a DMM with beep ?

let´s go on:

Only Roger Mayer knows the secret, component values etc. and he is so gracious to sell this secret to the community in his own octavia... or is HIS Octavia only a big betrayal and has nothing to do with jimi´s sound ? - I never would assume and say this...

So for what I need to measure transformers and old electrolytics ?

I only need to buy a fresh "Jimi´s-secret"-Roger-Mayer-Octavia and dissect THIS one, with fresh electrolytics and without transformers.  The result you can see in the pictures and the schematic above...

If the components would not be accurate the same, RM Octavia never could produce "Jimi´s loved" sound - In this case, why I should then buy a RM Octavia ? 

... and infringed on my intellectual property and copyright.

Hmmmm ?  I thought the Tyco has nothing to do with "Jimi´s sound" ? So it must be something completely different to RM´s "intellectual property and copyright" ? How can something different be infringing ?

Let´s stay on the floor:
even a patent expires restless after 20 or 25 years and is for the rest of the life something like "freeware".

(Greek) Olympic ...Helios, Helios, Helios....I hope Dick Swettenham can rest in peace in his grave.

« Last Edit: January 22, 2007, 06:42:37 PM by analogguru »


Re: Octavia Evolution courtesy of Roger Mayer
« Reply #19 on: January 22, 2007, 07:21:53 PM »
The pivotal circuit was developed a couple of years before it's implementaion into olympic studios gear.