An envelope filter goes by many names, including an Auto wah or perhaps a Q wah pedal, and is a typical effect for both bassists and guitarists. It is best known as the pedal that gave disco and funk guitar players of the’ 70s their choppy, electronic vibe. In the bass world, it remains particularly popular with funk players.
SET IT AND FORGET IT
As discussed, they’re a set-it-and-forget-it option as opposed to a traditional wah pedal (which you need to control via the rocking switch with your foot).
Another massive benefit is speed. The circuits within envelope pedals react at a faster rate than we can physically move our feet, making a rapid wah sound possible. This effect is pervasive in funk music.
It’s a bit like driving a manual (stick shift car) versus an automatic. Driving a stick shift gives you more ‘control,’ but do you need that control? Perhaps your attention is better placed elsewhere (i.e., on your guitar playing or singing). Don’t think for a minute that they’ll ‘dumb down’ your sound – the range control makes them very responsive, so the harder you pick, the more wah you get.
The range control adjusts the frequencies affected by the ‘sweep’ effect, meaning you have more of the effect when you’re playing high notes than when you’re playing low notes or vice versa. It can be convenient: you might not want wah on every single note you pick hard.
Sometimes just called ‘filter,’ this lets you choose between a low-pass, high-pass or band-pass. Closely related, the resonance control lets you adjust the feedback of the filter. This allows you to set certain frequencies to amplify more than other frequencies. It can be the control that helps you to achieve a sharp, almost distorted tone, or a mellow, laid back sound.
ATTACK/RESPONSE AND DECAY CONTROLS
Some pedals include an attack control (some models call this response), which controls how quickly sweep peaks. The decay control determines how soon it cuts out. A fast attack and a slower decay will provide a clear, rhythmic sound. Slower attacks can make your playing sound out of time, and decays which are too fast can also detract from the rhythm of your playing.
MXR M82 Bass Envelope Filter (Editor’s Choice)
For a traditional version of the envelope filter sound, check out the M82 pedal from MXR. It uses all analog circuitry inside a compact, durable, and lightweight aluminum casing.
The M82 gives you 5 different control knobs, along with a footswitch to a true signal bypass. The flip side of this, of course, is actually total control over the tone, with options designed particularly for the bass. It’s its own dry knob to let the mix of dried out and effected signals are tweaked while the effect control determines the effect level. Decay and Q knobs give you a lot more ways to hone the sound of yours. The full impact of all these choices would be to make this one of the best and versatile most bass envelope filter pedals.
- Includes a 9V Power Supply and (2) 6″ Patch Cables!
- Bypass footswitch with LED
- Dry control
- FX control
- Decay control
Source Audio SA143 Soundblox Pro Bass Envelope Filter
Some players like spending the quality time with the pedals of theirs that it takes to manually hone in on the perfect sound of yours.
It is packaged with twenty two different pre set filter effects, like low pass, pole, triple peak, single peak, and phaser settings. This pedal provides you with an amazing array of control options, sweep range, including frequency, and speed. The one possible drawback is the size, but though it takes up far more room on your pedal rack, many find the wealth of choices causes it to be really worth it.
- 22 Filter Sounds including 2 Pole Low Pass, 4 Pole Low Pass, Single Peak, Triple Peak, Peak and Notch, and Phasers.
- Wet/Dry Mix knob featuring our signature low-end preserving algorithm ‘Lo-Retain’.
- 4 modulation sources including envelope, LFO, expression pedal and Hot Hand.
Mooer Audio Micro Envelope Analog
The circuitry in the Mooer Envelope is totally analog, which translates to an effect that is full and warm. The variety of effects is remarkable, as well, giving you everything from a subtle swell to a funky slap. Because you are able to set the sensitivity, it is going to work equally well for all playing styles, and can be utilized by both bassists and guitarists. Whether you love a vintage’ 70s wah or perhaps a far more modern effect, it is not hard to obtain it with the Mooer Envelope.
- [Auto wah effect pedal], ideal for using with guitar or bass.Micro size and full metal shell, portable and durable. With true bypass footswitch and LED indicator light.
- Fruency band with a higher peak; Counterclockwise will lower the Q value, providing a wider frequency band with a lower peak
- [DECAY]– adjusts the release and closing of the filter
- [TONE]– adjusts the overall tone and frequency range of the pedal
The apparent simplicity of the BassBalls from Electro Harmonix is deceiving. This compact, die cast aluminum pedal provides you with two effects for an easy envelope effect.
The pedal gives the tone of yours a bit of extra presence, too, letting your sound be heard through your band’s drummer and lead players. Perhaps most remarkable, the BassBalls delivers this sound for hardly any cash, providing you with great tone at a great value. This’s among the very best bass envelope filters for the investment.
- Twin-tuned filters sweep your instrument’s signal giving a unique vocal tone
- Gives bass a strong presence under leads or a commanding quality when out front
- Sweep is widely variable and harmonic enrichment is available with the Fuzz option
- Great on bass and guitar
Deciding on the best bass envelope filters
Paying attention to movies of the pedal in use may be the simplest way to figure out the general tonal characteristics. Determining which tone shaping capabilities you are searching for could bring a little more thought.
In most cases, the more tone shaping options the pedal offers you, the more flexible it is going to be in terms of adapting to different genres and styles. Pedals like the MXR (see full specs) and Source Audio (see full specs) above provide you with the best options – they also do not come cheap.
More tone shaping options also means a far more complicated interface, which either translates to a larger pedal. If you’ve limited space on your pedal rack it might be safer to find a simpler envelope pedal for the benefit of convenience.