The Canadian Guitar Forum banner

1 - 20 of 26 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
371 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I am curious how many use one instead of a normal Wah. Also the reason why? I have been playing around with my Vox 847 but I am getting a little old and I am using that as my excuse for lack of Co-ordination, LOL

I have watched a few Auto wah demos, but I think asking real users will help me with what it will actually do.

Thanks
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
24,680 Posts
I got my first one around 1977, and own or have owned a dozen or more; some commercial, some DIY clones. so I have extensive experience with them. Still worth reading this document: The Technology of Auto-Wahs / Envelope-Controlled Filters

Personally, I see them as different animals, and happily use both. The advantage of auto-wahs is that they can sweep faster than your foot can. They can also come in other filter types than the bandpass filter a typical wah has. The advantage a wah-wah has is that sweeps can be slower than most autowahs can achieve, which can be useful in some contexts. I imagine there are some auto-wahs whose controls permit the same sort of adjustment, but mimicking what is commonly referred to as "cocked wah" is often difficult to achieve in the standard 2-3 knob auto-wah. That's not anything that makes wah a winner over auto-wah, just simply a trick which is easier to do with one than with the other. Same thing goes for downward sweep. Auto-wahs can do downward sweep easily, but wahs are difficult to wire for reverse sweep, since it would demand a different pot taper, and those sorts of pots are not usually available.

For my part, the most useful aspect of autowahs is that they encourage the player to sync their picking with the rhythm of the tune. That may or may not be your particular style, so it may not be especially advantageous to you. But it's what I think benefits some players. That said, not all that many autowahs allow one to adjust the attack time (how quickly the filter begins its sweep, whether upward or downward) in a way that better matches the tempo of a tune. That's one of the reasons why I always liked the old MXR Envelope Filter (I've owned two of them, and built two or 3 clones as well). It was the only one for many years, that had variable attack time, permitting slower swells. These days, EHX makes units with variable attack time.

One of the caveats with such filters is that strings misbehave in their decay. Though we don't hear the fluctuations in volume (paying more attention to pitch, sustain, and any vibrato), those fluctuations result in what is called "envelope ripple". That ripple results in very quick "microsweeps" of the filter. Some hear this as distortion. The cure is generally to either make the decay time very long, or very short. Very long smooths out the fluctuations, while very short decay makes the filter complete its cycle before the ripple begins to become audible. Though I used to try and build in variable attack, I found that it was difficult to do in a way that didn't interact with sensitivity. However, variable decay time has no such interactions, or at least not enough to be audible. Fast decay time results in more synth-like sounds.

Here's one I made some years back and sold to a guy somewhere in California. You'll pardon the lousy playing and background noise. But it illustrates the role that variable decay can play.
And here's another more recent build that aims for a cleaner sound.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
5,218 Posts
I got my first one around 1977, and own or have owned a dozen or more; some commercial, some DIY clones. so I have extensive experience with them. Still worth reading this document: The Technology of Auto-Wahs / Envelope-Controlled Filters

Personally, I see them as different animals, and happily use both. The advantage of auto-wahs is that they can sweep faster than your foot can. They can also come in other filter types than the bandpass filter a typical wah has. The advantage a wah-wah has is that sweeps can be slower than most autowahs can achieve, which can be useful in some contexts. I imagine there are some auto-wahs whose controls permit the same sort of adjustment, but mimicking what is commonly referred to as "cocked wah" is often difficult to achieve in the standard 2-3 knob auto-wah. That's not anything that makes wah a winner over auto-wah, just simply a trick which is easier to do with one than with the other. Same thing goes for downward sweep. Auto-wahs can do downward sweep easily, but wahs are difficult to wire for reverse sweep, since it would demand a different pot taper, and those sorts of pots are not usually available.

For my part, the most useful aspect of autowahs is that they encourage the player to sync their picking with the rhythm of the tune. That may or may not be your particular style, so it may not be especially advantageous to you. But it's what I think benefits some players. That said, not all that many autowahs allow one to adjust the attack time (how quickly the filter begins its sweep, whether upward or downward) in a way that better matches the tempo of a tune. That's one of the reasons why I always liked the old MXR Envelope Filter (I've owned two of them, and built two or 3 clones as well). It was the only one for many years, that had variable attack time, permitting slower swells. These days, EHX makes units with variable attack time.

One of the caveats with such filters is that strings misbehave in their decay. Though we don't hear the fluctuations in volume (paying more attention to pitch, sustain, and any vibrato), those fluctuations result in what is called "envelope ripple". That ripple results in very quick "microsweeps" of the filter. Some hear this as distortion. The cure is generally to either make the decay time very long, or very short. Very long smooths out the fluctuations, while very short decay makes the filter complete its cycle before the ripple begins to become audible. Though I used to try and build in variable attack, I found that it was difficult to do in a way that didn't interact with sensitivity. However, variable decay time has no such interactions, or at least not enough to be audible. Fast decay time results in more synth-like sounds.

Here's one I made some years back and sold to a guy somewhere in California. You'll pardon the lousy playing and background noise. But it illustrates the role that variable decay can play.
And here's another more recent build that aims for a cleaner sound.
I'm a little high right now and that pedal has me fascinated.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
12,209 Posts
I've never been enough of a wah user to justify one. But now, with the Kemper, everything is available, so why not? I'll probably set one up somewhere along the way.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,377 Posts
Give the Mad Professor Snow White Auto Wah a try. It is very responsive to picking attack. BTW, I use both. I have this Auto Wah and also have a Plutonium Chi Wah Wah in my pedalboard.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
882 Posts
Yeah, I should have mentioned: even when I have an autowah, I never drop the real wah. Good to have both. I grabbed a Roger Mayer Vision Wah Special off this forum (and for a great price!) a few years back and haven't looked back; love it. I honestly just got it for a lark, as I'd never tried one, but was surprised by how much I liked it, so it became a keeper.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
24,680 Posts
I've never been enough of a wah user to justify one. But now, with the Kemper, everything is available, so why not? I'll probably set one up somewhere along the way.
Much like wah-wah pedals, autowahs can be used ahead of distortion, OR after it. Both are valid. I used to like to compress my signal a bit to restrict the dynamic range, and feed a hot signal from that to my autowah, set to very slow attack. That would get me a reliable sweep on every note picked, but it wouldn't sweep very far, and the slow gain recovery on the compressor would make it settle back down slowly. I'd then feed the autowah to something that distorted, and "ride the threshold" of the autowah. The outcome may well have depended on the quirks of that compressor.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
12,209 Posts
Much like wah-wah pedals, autowahs can be used ahead of distortion, OR after it. Both are valid. I used to like to compress my signal a bit to restrict the dynamic range, and feed a hot signal from that to my autowah, set to very slow attack. That would get me a reliable sweep on every note picked, but it wouldn't sweep very far, and the slow gain recovery on the compressor would make it settle back down slowly. I'd then feed the autowah to something that distorted, and "ride the threshold" of the autowah. The outcome may well have depended on the quirks of that compressor.
Good idea. Thanks, Mark. I can toggle both a compressor and autowah to come with with the same button, so less tapdancing. I'll try that.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
345 Posts
I have a Mu-FX Tru Tron 3X on my bass board. I like the way it reacts to picking dynamics.

I wouldn't mind trying another autowah pedal for my guitar board. I like the autowah solo tone of Edie Brickell & New Bohemians' "What I Am":


This is a live version on the David Letterman show, with backing from The World's Most Dangerous Band. The solo starts at 2:08, played by Kenny Withrow. Anton Fig on drums and Will Lee on cowbell (!). Now that's worth a watch.

I think the studio version has a much more pronounced autowah effect. Never cared much for the lyrics on this one.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,109 Posts
@mhammer,

Have you ever entertained the thought of marketing an auto wah pedal and calling it "The Ottawa" or perhaps "The Ottawa Auto-Wah"?

Give it a simple and intuitive interface and perhaps a mode switch that would approximate an EHX BassBalls.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
24,680 Posts
Can't. There is already a place in town called Auto-Wa Upholstery & Glass that does automotive stuff. Besides, I couldn't come up with anything that EHX and Source Audio haven't already done.

Mark
 
P

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
Much like wah-wah pedals, autowahs can be used ahead of distortion, OR after it. Both are valid. I used to like to compress my signal a bit to restrict the dynamic range, and feed a hot signal from that to my autowah, set to very slow attack. That would get me a reliable sweep on every note picked, but it wouldn't sweep very far, and the slow gain recovery on the compressor would make it settle back down slowly. I'd then feed the autowah to something that distorted, and "ride the threshold" of the autowah. The outcome may well have depended on the quirks of that compressor.
Thanks for the advice. I put the Snow White Auto Wah after my compressor and it works amazingly well. Yah!
 
1 - 20 of 26 Posts
Top