Not all envelope pedals are created equal. Like many effects, each brand has its own subtle version and tonal color. The best way to know which one will fulfill your needs for the effect is to listen to a variety of pedals in action—live, in a music shop, or, next best thing, via Youtube videos.
The 4 pedals listed below are worth checking out if you’re in the market for the best bass envelope filter. So let’s get to them!
MXR M82 Bass Envelope Filter
For a classic version of the envelope filter sound, check out the M82 pedal from MXR. It uses all-analog circuitry inside a compact, durable, and lightweight aluminum casing. The only potential complaint against this filter is that the plethora of tone shaping options that you’re given makes the interface feel a bit crowded.
The M82 gives you five different control knobs, along with a footswitch to a true signal bypass. The flip side of this, of course, is that you get complete control over your tone, with options designed specifically for the bass. It has a separate dry knob to let you tweak the mix of dry and effected signals, while the effect control determines the effect level. Decay and Q knobs give you even more ways to hone your sound. The full effect of all these options is to make this one of the most versatile and best bass envelope filter pedals period.
Source Audio SA143 Soundblox Pro Bass Envelope Filter
Some players like spending the quality time with their pedals that it takes to manually hone in on your perfect sound. If you’re in the camp that would rather just be playing and finds this process tedious—but you still want a pedal that gives you a lot of different options—check out the Soundblox Filter from Source Audio.
It comes with 22 different pre-set filter effects, like low pass, single peak, triple peak, pole, and phaser settings. You can play with these settings as much as you want, too—this pedal gives you an impressive array of control options, including frequency, sweep range, and speed. Six customizable pre-sets let you save your perfect settings once you find them. The only potential downside is the size, but though it takes up more space on your pedal rack, most find the wealth of options makes it well worth it.
Pigtronix BEP Bass Envelope Phaser
If you’re looking for a straight-ahead, no frills, envelope pedal to deliver that classic ‘70s funk sound, the BEP pedal from Pigtronix is right up your alley. It packs a punch for such a compact filter, giving your low end a huge boost while it gives your mids and highs a unique, rounded articulation.
This pedal should especially be on the radar of players who like using a slap technique. It uses a staccato envelope circuit that really makes these articulations pop. The interface is streamlined, with knobs to adjust the sensitivity and resonance and an up or down toggle to control the direction of the sweep. The end result is pure old-school funk tone in a compact and easy to use package.
The apparent simplicity of the BassBalls from Electro-Harmonix is deceiving. This compact, die-cast aluminum pedal gives you two great effects in one package. The interface features a toggle to switch between effects a knob to control the response, and a footswitch for easy switching between your dry signal and the envelope or sweep effect—and that’s it, the perfect simple pedal for someone who just wants a straightforward envelope effect.
The pedal gives your tone a bit of extra presence, as well, letting your sound be heard through your band’s drummer and lead players. Perhaps most impressive, the BassBalls delivers this sound for less than $100, giving you great tone at an excellent value. This is one of the best bass envelope filters for the money.
Choosing the Right Pedal
As with many effects pedals, the main difference between different brands of envelope filter from a player perspective comes down to two factors: The breadth of tone-shaping capabilities it offers and the tonal characteristics of the effect itself. These traits are obviously very closely linked. Listening to videos of the pedal in use is the best way to determine the general tonal characteristics. Determining which tone shaping capabilities you’re looking for can often take a bit more thought.
Generally speaking, the more tone shaping options the pedal offers you, the more versatile it will be in terms of adapting to different styles and genres. Pedals like the MXR (see full specs) and Source Audio (see full specs) above give you the most options—but they also don’t come cheap. While many bassists consider the extra expense well worth it considering all the different soundscapes you can achieve on these pedals, if you’re on a budget, a slightly more streamlined pedal may be the answer for you.
More tone shaping options also means you need a more complicated interface, which either translates to a larger pedal or a more crowded layout. If you have limited space on your pedal rack it might be better to get a simpler envelope pedal for the sake of convenience. Even if you don’t have budget or size constraints, if the sound you’re looking for is a straightforward envelope effect, a smaller, more affordable pedal could give you everything you’re looking for.
Having the ability to fine-tune your tone is all well and good, but for some players they’d rather make those modifications at the guitar and amp level. Finding your ideal setting will be easier the less you have to adjust to get there, in this situation; a simpler pedal will give you a better user experience in the long run, for this reason.
Whichever one is right for you, the four above are among the most popular and best bass envelope filter pedals. All four are made specifically for bass, rather than being multi-purpose bass and guitar pedals—meaning they give the attention and emphasis to your low end that you’ll be looking for. They’re all also built to last, and to produce the same sound throughout the pedal’s life. Once you find that ideal tone, you’ll be able to get it as long as you own the pedal. Exactly which one gives you that perfect tone is for you to find out. Good luck!