Pedals that make your attack a "wah"

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by BUSTER_B, Apr 8, 2017.



    Aug 21, 2015
    I am wondering about if there is a particular name for the effect that makes the attack of each note played into a quick "wah" sound.

    I am also wondering about any suggestions out there for a pedal that does that, and that has reliable tracking, minimal tone suck, and perhaps even polyphonic capabilities. Any help is appreciated.
  2. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Washington, Utah
    John K Custom Basses
    sounds like you're describing an envelope filter pedal. there are lots of nice ones available. they're sometimes also called an auto wah.
  3. nshuman


    Sep 4, 2012
    Like an envelope filter? A cocked wah? Some sort of filter-y swell?
  4. DDXdesign

    DDXdesign formerly 'jammadave' Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 15, 2003
    So yeah, envelope filter, touch wah, or autowah, is what you mean. "Autowah" can also mean a pedal that has a steady cycle of wah wah wah happening, instead of responding to your note.

    The even better news is that 'tracking' and 'polyphony' mean nothing with this sort of pedal, because it's not creating anything like a synth would - it's just filtering the signal it receives. You can put a whole orchestra through one and it'll hit everything it hears. No problem.

    Lots of different flavors out there, so watch some youtube videos. Start with Bassballs (twin filters, very peaky sounding and unique), DOD 440 (one classic sound), Mu-Tron (probably the most classic sound) - it seems most envelope filters out there have a similar sound to one of these.
  5. Chicory Blue

    Chicory Blue Secretly Queen of the Moon

    The Q-Tron is pretty nice too.

    If you're not sure what sort you want, I'd advise picking up a Zoom multieffects pedal, which will give you several different kinds of envelopes and auto-wahs for far less than you'd pay for any individual pedal. Once you've spotted one you like, you can either stick with it, or find yourself a dedicated pedal that makes that sort of sound.

  6. Sunset Shalom

    Sunset Shalom

    May 9, 2016
    Phasers can also nail a similiar sound sometimes but yeah envelope filters/ auto wahs are what you seek no doubt.
  7. TheMightyEight


    Mar 23, 2017
    I miss my old big box Q tron+ with the fx loop. AWESOME down sweep! AND great 'quack' !
    Can pick them up used at a snip too.
    Would DEFINITELY be my suggestion for a first envelope filter.
    It may even be your last!
  8. Yes it sounds very much like an envelope filter that you are describing. If you can provide more information about your budget, form factor, is the size of the pedal important, amount of options/flexibility required (for example is downsweep (more of an "ow" sound also needed?), etc, then I'm sure you'll get lots of great recommendations from the knowledgeable folks on this forum.
  9. Sunset Shalom

    Sunset Shalom

    May 9, 2016
    Here are my 2 recommendations:

    Boss AW-3:


    Fairly cheap used, has a few modes but simple controls. Can do a few kinds of auto wah sounds.

    This one cost a lot more but has way more versatility being a 3 mode envelope filter with solid controls. This is the one I use for guitar and bass, they also make a bass version called the Enigma but with the blend I can get plenty of low end on all 3 modes but especially LP and BP. Works great on guitar/ bass/ keys or anything really.
    FilterFunk likes this.
  10. spufman

    spufman Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Central CT
    Yeah, envelope following resonant filters are fun to play. My favorites (I've tried many but not all) are The Xerograph Deluxe, the Prometheus and the Maxon.
    HolmeBass likes this.
  11. There's a couple different names. Envelope filter is the most common. For example the mxr bass envelope filter is a good one. Boss makes a pedal called the "auto wah" if I remember right. Some bass synth pedals like the digitech bass synth wah and digitech dirty robot can do this type of effect also.
    HolmeBass likes this.
  12. And I

    And I

    Feb 19, 2009
    Witchtown, MA
    I'm a fan of the mxr bass envelope filter. The wet and dry knobs let you get as much wah as you need without losing the original tone and sustaon.
  13. What difference does the effects loop make on those? How would you use it? That confuses me
  14. BUSTER_B


    Aug 21, 2015
    Nice! Yeah, I'd heard the terms autowah and envelope filter before, and thought those might be applicable, but I also kinda thought that those might just refer to stuff that makes steady cycles of wah. Thanks for clarifying!

    I will indeed check out your suggestions.
  15. BUSTER_B


    Aug 21, 2015
    Yes, more information: I'd go up to about $300 if it's good quality, maybe a bit more even. I hadn't thought of a downsweep before, that sounds like it'd be cool. I typically prefer pedals that can do just one thing really well, which means I probably don't need anything too gargantuan. I wouldn't shy away from a moderately-sized stomp box if it was high quality.
  16. the pedal you seek

  17. Chicory Blue

    Chicory Blue Secretly Queen of the Moon

    Mm.. yeah, at OP's budget, this'll probably do the trick and then some.

    tattooSAM likes this.
  18. FilterFunk

    FilterFunk Everything is on the ONE!

    Mar 31, 2010
    "Attack Wah" - that would actually be a pretty good name for an envelope filter!

    My first choice is the EHX Riddle/Enigma, but if you're looking for a smaller, easier-to-dial-in pedal, the EMMA DiscumBOBulator, 3Leaf Audio Groove Regulator or GR2, Maxon/Ibanez AF9, and Jacques Trinity Wah are all solid choices.

    A much rarer, but so worth it, choice is the Multivox Big Jam Spit Wah.
    Matt Dean, tattooSAM and Bo0tsy like this.
  19. Andy westwood

    Andy westwood

    Nov 30, 2014
    PedalBoard Solutions
    i love this filter! also has an lfo inside so can be a dynamic or auto wah, but also has a 3 settings high pass, low pass and band pass so its super versatile.

    Primer by Lateral Sound
  20. TheMaynorD

    TheMaynorD Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 28, 2013
    Oklahoma City
    I use the mxr bass envelope.filter because of its blend knob. The Keeley neutrino is also great as is the EBS bass IQ. If you want something with a little extra or different sounds than the ubiquitous wah try the keeley bubbletron. Its like an envelope filter and a phaser got drunk and had a lovechild.
    tattooSAM and btmpancake like this.