Finally getting somewhere with envelope filter!

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by JimmyM, Jul 12, 2017.

  1. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    My struggles with envelope filter have been a long road, and my successes have been few and far between. Quite honestly, the only envelope filter I've used that I ever truly liked was the original EHX Zipper from the 70's. I have seen people call it a Mu-Tron III clone on the internet, but as a kid, I sat for an hour in the music store with both and heard no similarities at all. I greatly preferred the Zipper, and to this day I still don't care for the Mu-Tron.

    But it got stolen in 1979, and since it was gigantic, I tried to find smaller pedals to replace it. Tried a whole bunch over the years. Certainly haven't tried them all, but I tried out quite a few and have owned and rejected a few, too. Either they cost more than I was willing to pay, or they sucked. It seemed that either I'd get duck quack, wobbly aluminum sheet sound, or such a faint envelope that you couldn't hear it in the mix.

    And yet, I still wanted to have one on my board. Even contemplated another Zipper from Ebay, but the ridonkulous prices, giant size, and lack of any bypass at all in those old pedals finally discouraged me, and I gave up on the idea.

    Then a few years ago, I bought a Boss SYB-3 and a Digitech Bass Synth Wah on the cheap just to see what they were all about. And wouldn't you know it? They both had envelope filters as a preset! So once a year, I'd bust them out at home, try to find a good sound on one, and when I'd think I nailed it, I'd take it to the gig and it sucked. For at least the past 5 years, I've tried to make it work once a year, and I'd always give up after a few gigs.

    But I still wanted one on the board. Didn't want to devote much board space to it, though, so a couple months ago, after much research, I picked up one of those little Mooer Envelope pedals for like $55 hoping I'd luck out. Nope, it sucked worse than any of them. Contemplated forgetting about envelope and just getting a wah wah pedal, too.

    Then one night at home, I picked up the Bass Synth Wah again and plugged it in and tried the envelope with the knobs as they were set when I last left it...all the knobs were at 9:00 or close to it. Don't think I ever tried that setting with envelope. I used those settings for a synth patch I was trying to write a song around for my instrumental prog-jam band, but I got a better song idea the next day and postponed working on that one. And son of a gun, it wasn't bad at all. It gave me this kind of guttural "roar" sound that I hadn't been able to dial in before. Noticeable but not quacky or wobbly. So I took it to a gig with my regular band doing 50's, 60's and 70's oldies and tried it, and what do you know? It killed! It especially killed when I added dirt to it. Really upped the roar factor when I kicked in the MXR Bass Distortion. That's my new sound for when I do my one and only solo in "Dance To The Music" :D

    So now that I've found that sound, it seems I am finally done looking for an envelope filter that doesn't suck. That's all I ever wanted...that roar sound. Was hoping the Mooer worked out just because of its small size, but not like the BSW is gigantic, I guess. And it was a pedal I've had for a few years that only cost me like $45, so that makes me extremely happy! Only took me 38 years to find that sound again after getting my Zipper stolen. Not bad.

    EDIT: Now with a sound clip! Bass is my Hammersmith PJ4 with EMG Geezer Butler PJ's both on full and Dunlop Super Bright Nickels that are pretty dead. Signal chain is Bass > Boss OC-2 > Bass Synth Wah > MXR Bass Distortion > Ampeg Scrambler > Broughton Low and High Pass Filters set to simulate the frequency response of an SVT 810e > A-Designs REDDI > Fast Track interface. Exact settings on the BSW are Sens 8:30, Control and Range both 9:15, Sound type 1. First I play clean, then add the BSW, then the Scrambler (a freaking amazing pedal, BTW :D ), then the MXR Bass D, and last but not least the OC-2. HPF and LPF were on the whole time.

    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017
  2. dannybuoy


    Aug 3, 2005
    Plus the BSW has the added benefit of being able to sound like Mechagodzilla eating Tokyo.
  3. Bass4LifeRS


    Oct 18, 2005
    kap'n kro, JimmyM and Zermelo like this.
  4. Bassmike62

    Bassmike62 Punch'n Ooomph Supporting Member

    The BSW is my favorite filter as well, I used mostly a sub octave filter setting. Cuts through the mix, sounds musical and funky... just love what it brings.

    EDIT: settings are usually, left to right: 10 oc, 11, 11 and type 2 (filter and octave).
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2017
    JimmyM likes this.
  5. What setting jimmy? I've done the same thing... tried it a few times thinking it sounded ok but then sucked at band practice...
    JimmyM likes this.
  6. I just bought a BSW off the classifieds to start playing with envelope/synth sounds on the cheap. Gonna check out this setting for sure. :)
    JimmyM likes this.
  7. Driven Crane

    Driven Crane

    May 30, 2014
    After i have got Tru Tron x3, i was trying a lot of good envelope filters, unfortunately i haven't found anything that is better than TT...
    HolmeBass and JimmyM like this.
  8. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    May 24, 2006
    You're a better bassman than I am Jim. ;) I can't stand the sound of those things, which is probably why I could never get one to work for me. I like listening anybody who can lay down the funk and really knows how to use a wah pedal. But that envelope thing…for some reason I was just never able to relate to it.

    Does the BSW work slightly differently - or on a different principle than the digital AD/VCA/VCF type things these pedals are today? My memory of your pedal is sketchy. I remember reading about them when they first came out. But I don't think I've ever actually heard one.

    Maybe having the pedal for expression control is the key to the kingdom?
    JimmyM likes this.
  9. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Everything at 9:00 or close to it.

    Got no idea if it works, got no idea about the expression pedal. But if a pedal doesn't work for you, that's cool.
    40Hz likes this.
  10. Swimming Bird

    Swimming Bird

    Apr 18, 2006
    Wheaton MD
    Possible you were just doing it wrong this whole time?
  11. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    May 24, 2006
    You betcha! Only a poor craftsman blames his or her tools. I've tried to like envelope effects. I just can't get them to work for me. But that's me - not the device. :thumbsup:
    FilterFunk and JimmyM like this.
  12. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Anything is possible. But I don't know of any way of figuring out how to work a pedal other than reading the manual and turning knobs until you get a sound that's pleasing to the ears. If you know some amazing great secret to working a pedal that I don't after about 40 years of being a pro musician, I am all ears.
  13. azfatboy


    May 11, 2016
    I am also intrigued to hear the sound that rocked Jimmy's world... :)

    So the SENS, CONTROL, and RANGE controls all near 9. Got it. Which TYPE setting are you using (1-7) ? And dirt before or after???

    Or, like others have said, SOUNDCLIP!!! :D
    JimmyM likes this.
  14. garmenteros

    garmenteros Bass Enthusiast

    Aug 24, 2008
    Dominican Republic
    Man I love my EHX Bassballs with the fuzz engaged, even more with another dirt pedal in front of it. Its a one trick pony, but oh what a trick.
    Rich Fiscus, Basshappi and JimmyM like this.
  15. Dirt before the filter is very useful for getting it to speak out. Even very light dirt that adds just some highs and harmonics will really help.

    Glad you got something that works now!
    JimmyM likes this.
  16. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    I think the envelope filter setting is 1. Will try to get a soundclip sometime in the near future, but I have my grandson over and have to work tonight and tomorrow.
    azfatboy likes this.
  17. NKBassman

    NKBassman Lvl 10 Nerd

    Jun 16, 2009
    Winnipeg, MB, Canada
    I have literally zero experience with envelope filters, but the Digitech BSW is on my list.
    One of my bands wants to start playing Pony as a goof, so I may pick one up if I can find it at a good price. :)
  18. And I

    And I

    Feb 19, 2009
    Witchtown, MA
    I have a BSW and like the tones it produces a lot! I stopped using it and moved on to MXR because everything except the straight up envelope filter (setting 1, yes) adds a great deal of overall loudness. someone told me it's because it's not true bypass. it's not true bypass, but that doesn't seem like it should matter as far as the other settings adding loudness... setting 3 is absolutely beastly when you get it dialed in... despite the loudness thing i would say it's a good bang for the buck pedal.
  19. john_g

    john_g Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2007
    I have a BSW and used it for several songs in my old cover band, but on mine, the increase in volume when switching it on was too much. I put a compressor after it to contain the spike. Anyone else have that experience?
  20. Yes, it does get loud when you kick it on, it needs a level knob. Running it through an LS2 or something can fix that.

    But aside from that I love the BSW. It has a lot of really cool sounds, including that glorious filter sweep like the beginning of Tom Sawyer. And I only paid like 75 bucks for it bran new.

    I think the Dirty Robot has replaced it in the Digitech stable; not sure how that stacks up. I already know I prefer the cool green paint on the BSW, for what looks are worth.