Auto-wah for active basses? Mooer?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by bassdood, Dec 27, 2020.

  1. bassdood


    Jun 15, 2009
    Wilmington, NC

    I am relatively new to pedals. Am experimenting some, and slowly accumulating several to go on a future pedal board.

    I just got a new Mooer Envelope Filter auto wah. It is billed as being both for guitar and bass. It got very high ratings, but most of those were from guitar players.

    I have tried it on three different active basses, and can hardly get any wah out of it. The only wah I seem to get is if I play some relatively high notes. If I play the exact same groove in a lower (middle) octave, without touching the settings, the wah disappears. I have tried just about every combination of settings possible.

    Is this possibly an issue with my basses being active? Or did I just make a poor choice for an autowah? Or could this one be defective?

    I have searched threads here, and most of them seem to be about wahs with expression pedals.

    What auto-wah would you recommend for active basses? I Would rather get something reasonably economical. Thanks!
  2. Teryup


    Oct 16, 2019
    Someone with more experience than me will need to help with the issue with the pedal, but I do have some advice for finding more information. Most threads in here discussing auto-wah type pedals refer to them as envelope filters. If you try searching for information that way you are more likely to find some threads you are looking for. The two terms are essentially interchangeable.
    westrock and bassdood like this.
  3. Vinny_G


    Dec 1, 2011
    The Mooer Envelope seems to work well with active basses.

    bassdood likes this.
  4. bassdood


    Jun 15, 2009
    Wilmington, NC
  5. bassdood


    Jun 15, 2009
    Wilmington, NC
    Wow. What a difference in these videos vs. what I have been able to produce. It seems like they get various wah sounds on virtually any combination of settings. I will go back and put some more time into mine. Hard to tell at this point if I just don’t know what I’m doing, or, I have a defective unit.

    Vinny_G likes this.
  6. bassdood


    Jun 15, 2009
    Wilmington, NC
    Well I have now put some more time into it, and have determined a few things.

    First, I don’t think it is an active vs. passive bass issue. I got out my passive US Fender Jazz, and I have the same issue with that one.

    Second, at least for the specific pedal I have in hand, this seems to be significantly tied to how hard the strings are attacked. I play finger-style, as many people do, and only the teeniest bit of slap (not well). Apparently I have a pretty light/soft touch (attack) as my normal playing style. If I really dig in, pulling the string much harder than what seems natural to me, I start to get wah sounds. Same if I do a bit of thumb slap on the A string.

    I reread the Mooer directions, and the Sensitivity knob needs to be turned most or all the way up for me. This makes me able to get wah sounds intermittently. But I still have to attack the strings harder than seems natural to me. Not very satisfying, and not very versatile in terms of what I personally seem to be able to get out of it at this point.

    So, any opinions? Is this issue primarily just me, or, possibly a defective unit, or, perhaps just not the best brand/model match for my style?

    Anybody out there with light touch who has an autowah that they love?

  7. I can say they are very personal and what works for someone else may not work well at all for another player — something you've already sussed out from your own light-touch playing style. So, it's unlikely you have a defective unit (don't rule that out 'til you try another one, though!). So, yeah, you've got to find the brand/model that matches your style.

    Go to a store and try out some different basses and filter pedals, explain your issue to the sales staff, they might have a recommendation for a more sensitive auto-wah/envelope filter.

    I vaguely recall that the DOD FX-25 is hyper-sensitive.
    Try a Mad Professor Snow White, or one of its many clones.
    Also try out an EHX BassBalls, and a Mooer Bass Sweeper which is a clone and is said to be more sensitive than the EHX by a TBer in this thread.

    Further reading for you:
    Auto Wah vs Envelope Filter
    Envelope Filter with Good Sensitivity?
    Here's a link to TB's own Compressor guru Bongomania, and his excellent explanation of these types of circuits, a sort of Filter/Wah 101:
    Envelope Filters, Auto-Wahs, and Wah-Wahs

    For some reason my brain is also telling me to suggest DOD 440 and EQD Spatial Delivery — but I've no recollection of what their sensitivity is like.
    Top 13 Best Envelope Filter Pedals For Guitar & Bass | My New Microphone

    MMmmm another one... came out recently ... look for a replica or clone of the Seamoon Funk Machine!

    Good luck quacking up ... or down.

    PS: Ooohhh graphs!
    An Introduction to Envelope Filters | Hochstrasser Electronics
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2020
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  8. a-37


    Apr 23, 2015
    In case you decide to look for a Snow White AutoWah please do note they now make a "GB" version which has a toggle for guitar or bass and is less expensive than the hand wired version mentioned in the review above. I am not affiliated with them in any way and can not yet offer personal opinions but that's something I've had on my radar for a while now. Manufacturer's page here: Snow White AutoWah (GB)
    bassdood likes this.
  9. mmbongo

    mmbongo I have too many basses. Supporting Member

    bassdood and fourstringdrums like this.
  10. THIS!

    How the ... how could I forget this?
    [self-flogging commences]

    Thanks! Wasn't aware of the new toggle version. Makes me wonder whether that toggle is adjusting the sound, the triggering, or both... the web page doesn't say.
    bassdood likes this.
  11. mmbongo

    mmbongo I have too many basses. Supporting Member

    There's also a JoshWah in the classifieds that will save you quite a bit of coin!
    bassdood likes this.
  12. Driven Crane

    Driven Crane

    May 30, 2014
    Dusk is good!
  13. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    Seconded on the JoshWah. Extremely versatile too.
    bassdood likes this.
  14. bassdood


    Jun 15, 2009
    Wilmington, NC
    Wow, awesome reply! Thank you! This gives me lots of resources to pursue.
    The route of trying a bunch out will be difficult, as there are very few brick and mortar shops with bass wahs anywhere near me; closest would probably be about two hours each way. But from all that you have so generously laid out, I can certainly get to the bottom of this. Thanks again!
  15. Bassiclees

    Bassiclees Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2020
    I have a Line6 Pod Go in lieu of a full pedalboard (trying to avoid shoegazing) and there are some stock and added auto-wah’s that are amazing. Dialing in depth, sensitivity, tone and frequency is a cinch. Bonus, it has a pedal that can double as a manual wah or as foot triggered variable wah assigned to any parameter. Extra bonus, I’ve dialed in a compressor and HPF default I stack most sounds on top of and nearly every pedal I want has some variant available in the Line6 lineup and Helix processing is awesome. Just another option...
    bassdood likes this.
  16. Zbysek


    Mar 23, 2017
    Czech Republic
    Try raising your signal level before the pedal….either by:
    • inserting booster pedal or the like
    • raising pick ups.
    If it doesn't help, claim warranty.
  17. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011

    The sensitivity control should be able to compensate for basses with different levels of output. Are you plugging the bass straight into the Mooer? If you are plugging straight into the pedal and cannot adjust the sensitivity so the wah opens and closes, it sounds like you may have a bad pedal.

    Notice in the two videos linked above, the Sensitivity is set relatively low at about 10:00 and there is plenty of wah happening. Around 1:00 in the first video from post #3, he turns the sensitivity all the way CW and the filter pretty much stays there is no wah sound. Could this be your problem? If the sound is bright and clear like there is no effect, you have the sensitivity up to high. If the sound is dark and murky, the sensitivity is too low. The setting of the Tone control appears to have some impact on whether the sound is dark or bright as well.

    A couple of things to consider:
    1. If you have a compressor before the Mooer, it may limit your dynamic range so much that the wah does not open all of the way.
    2. If you get the sensitivity dialed in, you will still need to modulate your dynamics to keep them in the sweet spot of the sweep. That's actually the hole use dynamics to control when the wah opens and when it stays shut.

    The position of the other settings must be tailored to the tempo and style of the particular line you are playing especially Decay. Decay determines how quickly the filter closes when your dynamics drop below the threshold.

    I believe Q affects both the width and intensity of the wah effect. If you set the Q for a narrow frequency range, the intensity will increased. If you set the Q for a wider frequency range the instensity is decreased.

    I believe Tone sets the frequency range where the wah sweep occurs. In other words, it determines if the wah occurs at a low frequency range or a high frequency range.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2020
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  18. bassdood


    Jun 15, 2009
    Wilmington, NC
    At present, I am plugging directly in to the Mooer Envelope Filter. I have tried three different active basses: G&L, Lakland, and Music Man StingRay (and have also tried a passive US Fender Jazz). So it would seem to me that the output level of the bass into the pedal should not be the problem. Or am I missing something? Thanks!
  19. bassdood


    Jun 15, 2009
    Wilmington, NC
    Excellent info; thank you! Gives me a lot to think about. I will have time to go plug in later, and will check out some of these points.

    At present, I am plugging directly into the Mooer, so no compression involved.

    I had not considered the scenario of the Sensitivity being set too far, such that the filter stays open and thus no wah. Nor had I thought of the Tone control as determining where the wah happens (high vs low frequency). I have noticed some dark, murky sound, as you described. I don’t yet quite get it, in terms of understanding the description of the impact of adjusting the Q.

    thanks for your time in giving me this input to consider and digest!
  20. a-37


    Apr 23, 2015
    I got the impression it is the sound. One of my local stores describes the bass setting as "drops the filter one octave down and is good for guitar as well if you want a darker sound".