Is there an "expander" pedal for note attack AND decay? Yes: Malekko Sneak Attack

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Ukiah Bass, Nov 26, 2017.

  1. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass

    May 10, 2006
    I want to find a pedal for live performance with my Taylor AB-1 acoustic bass guitar. It's strung with black nylon tapewounds. The goal is to make it sound more like an upright bass with gut strings ... strong attack of the note envelope, rapid decay. For alt country, folky, Americana, etc.

    I found one pedal that sort of addresses the attack (Steel Leather from Electro-Harmonix). But it doesn't address note decay. My biggest need is for decay control.

    I can easily add this effect in post production. Don't want rack gear for this, just a pedal to keep it simple for gigs and practice.

    Spent some time searching for this on TB and online retailers but that was focused strictly on the traditional expander concept. Should I be looking elsewhere? Thanks for any pointers
  2. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass

    May 10, 2006
    Ideally it would support these features that are in the expander plug-in included with the Studio One DAW.

  3. knumbskull


    Jul 28, 2007
    I thought the Malekko Sneak Attack did this, but not sure it works for what you're suggesting.
  4. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass

    May 10, 2006


    May 4, 2006
    Courtenay, BC, Canada
  6. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass

    May 10, 2006
    Thanks for the pointer. Can anyone share their experience with this pedal for bass? The technical description sounds exactly what I need but I'm wondering if there is any sonic degradation by passing the signal through this pedal. It's for acoustic bass guitar so coloration would not be good.

    Found the Sneak Attack's manual:
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2017
    CHILDISHGAMBINO likes this.
  7. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass

    May 10, 2006
  8. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Probably nowhere near as sophisticated -- nor as reliable -- as a new Malekko, but fwiw back in the 1970s Maestro used to make an ADSR pedal.

    I know OP said "no rack gear" but it sounds like an SPL Transient Designer would do exactly what you're looking for. Wonder if anyone's ever cloned one of those in a pedal form factor?
  9. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass

    May 10, 2006
    I ordered a used Malekko Sneak Attack. I hope it works and the quality is high. There's a lot to be said for hearing exactly how your bass should sound while you play it! I've usually resisted pedals but this one could be a winner if it works. I've also become addicted to the tube-based Noble preamp/DI. And a Sonic Research Turbo Tuner ST-300. There are a couple other unused pedals in the closet. If this keeps up I'll be dragging one of those da** pedal boards around. Yech! :smug:
    CHILDISHGAMBINO and knumbskull like this.
  10. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass

    May 10, 2006
    My needs for this effect are pretty defined. Not sure how much general applicability the effect has but this video shows a dramatic range of possibilities (even though it's demoed on a guitar). Several times he presents the fast attack/fast decay scenario. Sounds pretty good on the interwebz....

    CHILDISHGAMBINO likes this.
  11. Don't disparage the pedalboard, bud, even for three pedals a mini board beats a scattering of pedals on the floor in terms of set-up, ease of use, and tear-down.

    What about some of the "acoustic" simulators you find in MFX pedals, have you tried them?

    Also, what about ol' school foam under the strings near the bridge. Also the techniques from the many threads on how to make your slab sound more like an upright would be transferable to the ABG, too, no?

    Hopefully the Sneak Attack works for you, but if not then maybe the old EHX "Attack Decay" pedal would do the trick.

    Pic from 1980 Electro Harmonix Attack Decay | Chris Nelson

    If you can't find an old potentially unreliable EHX Attack Decay, Madbeanpedals has a PCB-clone of the EHX, here's the build PDF description of how it works:

    The EHX® Attack Decay™ ... creates an enveloped gate which opens and closes around a plucked note. ... the volume envelope on the Rustbucket will swell and decay similar to a tape reverse, the attack envelope is removed (almost) completely rather than being moved to the end of the note. So, the effect is very similar but not exactly the same thing.


    Sense: This control sets the sensitivity of the note envelope. Low settings have low sensitivity and vice-versa. This is also the most important knob adjustment to make to get the effect working well. You need to set it within the range that it responds to your guitar and your playing dynamics. Too low and it will not trigger the envelope. Too high and it will become so sensitive that minor pick or string scratches will trigger it into a sonic mess.

    Harm: This sets the harmonics of the plucked note. Low settings are fairly clean. As it is turned up the note distorts. The Harm control will allow you to “smooth out” the subsequent envelope according to your playing dynamics.
    Edge: This switch simply increases the distortion generated by the Harm setting into more fuzzy territory.

    Attack: This control determines whether the initial note envelope has a fast (full down) or slow (full up) attack. Think of it in terms of a
    bowed instrument where the speed of the bow across the strings determines how quickly the note volume swells to its maximum.

    Decay: Similar to the Attack control but in reverse. The Decay knob determines how quickly the note dies out. Fast decay is full down and slow decay is full up.

    Blend: This control allows you to blend the dry vs. effected signal. Full down is dry only, full up is wet only.​

    Looking forward to hearing how the Sneak Attack works for you.
  12. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass

    May 10, 2006

    Thanks for the pointers! I was kidding, not disparaging the pedal board. Just friendly ribbing!

    Several years ago I posted a thread on a variety of foam/cloth/tissue mutes I tried with electric bass.
    Techniques for damping strings

    My biggest complaint with those physical tricks is they deaden the life out of tone. It becomes just a thud, mostly. I tried a few of these with acoustic bass guitar and the result is worse because they eliminate the wonderful harmonics and air from that instrument.

    I plan to do some recordings with the Sneak Attack. I hope this works too!
  13. And I was teasing right back! :)

    Thanks for the link to your thread.

    As an aside, how badly did the fires in NorCal's wine country affect your gigs? If I recall correctly you used to do quite a lot of winery gigs, I've watched a few of your vids.
  14. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass

    May 10, 2006
    I just plugged it in for a quick whirl. Unless it's not functioning properly, I am surprised at how subtle this effect box is. With the knobs turned for the quickest attack and the quickest decay slop and time, it sounds like the natural sustain of my acoustic bass guitar is slightly tempered. But it's VERY subtle. I was expecting a more dramatic result. Has anyone used this pedal and can comment on my experience? I haven't done recording tests so can't comment on its impact in that format.
  15. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass

    May 10, 2006
    The dealer says Sneak Attack only works with electric and acoustic guitars. For some reason the deep notes of a bass don't work. So back to square one. And I wonder if that Electro Harmonix pedal would have the same issue with bass?
  16. Alien8


    Jan 29, 2014
    It works great with bass, mine does long swells in and fades out. It's an awesome box. Short blips, and hard trem chopping.

    How are you setting it up?
    CHILDISHGAMBINO likes this.


    May 4, 2006
    Courtenay, BC, Canada
    It seems like a really fun pedal. I haven't watched that demo because as good as his demos are that guy talks way, way too much but I did watch the Tone Report vid about 100 times. I'm going to get one eventually. Malekko make really nice pedals.
    Alien8 likes this.


    May 4, 2006
    Courtenay, BC, Canada
    I have no experience using the Sneak Attack but it seems to me that whoever told you it won't work on bass doesn't know what they're talking about. The guy that owns Malekko is a bassist. I doubt he would make a pedal that doesn't work on bass.
  19. +1

    What the feckinell does the dealer know over the MANUFACTURER ?

    Not to mention a bunch of disembodied voices from an online BASS forum who have the SA firmly on their boards occupying much-contested board space.
    So many cool pedals, only so much space, not everything can make the cut, yet there they are occupying precious bass-board space.

    As for the EHX Attack Delay... I've no idea...

    It's an older pedal, and rare, so it will be difficult to find any musician who has one and still uses it, let alone a bass player. Hence my suggestion for getting the Madbean Rust Bucket.

    The OP in this thread — Madbean Rustbucket (EHX Attack Delay workalike) — says it's one of his favourite builds, but does that liking the build process, or the resultant sounds the pedal makes. Anyway, click on the link, there's a vid in that very short thread. About 1/4 the way in he starts messing with the decay and attack knobs.

    I'll say after watching the vid, it has sent the Rust Bucket back up a few notches towards the top of the to-build list.
  20. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass

    May 10, 2006
    Here's a photo of my settings. For extremely fast attack and decay, using the manual trigger mode.

    Chain is: Taylor AB-1 acoustic bass guitar --> Sonic Research Turbo Tuner ST-300 --> Sneak Attack --> Noble tube preamp/DI --> Phil Jones Flightcase BG-150 combo

    CHILDISHGAMBINO likes this.
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