Envelope Filter Wars: Fernandes, Mu-Tron, SolidGold FX, Keeley

Pedals And Effects coming at you with yet another war series! We got the fuzz wars covered, we’ve only just begun the reverb wars, and now we’re starting up another war on the sonic battlefield, the envelope wars! Envelope filters are one of those effects that are primarily used by bass players and keyboardists. It’s a very distinct sound that a lot of 70’s funk players used back in the day and on all of your favorite funk records. Joined by Nick Reinhart, we check out the FR-3F Funky Filter by Fernandes, the Micro V by Mutron, the Funkzilla by SolidGoldFX and the Neutrino by Keeley as they go head-to-head in the first ever envelope filter wars!

A little history to a couple of these pedals, I bought this Mutron Micro V after hearing Tim Commerford’s back in the early Big Sir days. I had my trustworthy original Mutron III (which I still own but thought it would be unfair to put it in this War series because it is the best envelope filter ever) but Tim wanted the compact version. I found this one on eBay and have used it on a couple of Mars Volta tours.

The Fernandes was really a great tour find. I was in Australia with Deltron 3030 earlier this year and I played one at a music store there. They wanted a lot of money for it and Taka Tozawa, the guitarist in Deltron 3030, opened up his phone and found one on a Japanese gear website for a lot cheaper. He asked his mom buy it and ship it to me and I saved hundreds! Arigato Taka-san!

The Keeley was a gift from the great builder Robert Keeley! He knows I love envelopes and he wanted my take on his. I have to say, his is spot on and for a guy who is known for his legendary guitar pedals, his concepts for bass are spot on. This pedal rules!

The Funkzilla is the multi-knobbed envelope filter and I feel in a more studio recording environment, the strong attributes of this pedal would gain more enthusiasm. I feel we just scraped the possibilities of this pedal. Please feel free to send me your videos of the SolidGoldFX pedal and I will retweet it!

Photo credit: mu-fx

Photo credit: mu-fx

Envelope filters are very sensitive to dynamics, the effect is different based on how hard or soft you play your instrument, as you will see what we mean! As seen in the video, some pedals you really have to dig into your instrument to get that sweet spot envelope sound. Some players use the Low Pass Filters on envelope filters to effectively get a big low end sound and forgo the envelope effect. Really pay attention to the severity of the attack while we’re playing through each pedal, because of their varying sensitivities two people playing through the same pedal can get two completely different sounds through identical settings!

Photo credit: premierguitar

Photo credit: premierguitar

All’s fair in love and effects pedals, and there’s never a clear winner in these war series as everyone as different tastes. There are so many different effects out there and so many pedal makers doing the same thing but differently. Chime in and let us know which envelope filter you liked, which one you didn’t or what would be in your ideal envelope filter! Your suggestions might even make it into an effects pedal! Let us know in the comments below! And of course, stay tuned to Pedals And Effects for premium effects pedal content on the web!

-Juan