Neo Soul Guitar Pedals: The Envelope Filter (auto-wah)

Neo Soul Guitar Pedals:The Envelope Filter

The Envelope Filter sound is one of the more modern sound concepts of groove music, including, of course, Neo-soul.

It is also used in pop music and will definitely sound familiar to the average western ear.

 neo soul guitar pedals

The Envelope Filter is the younger and more sophisticated brother of the Wah pedal. This automated wah sound is super funky, It has this rude but smooth attitude that will fit many modern styles.

Fortunately, you don’t need to pump any pedals with this one, and you can rest your leg now. Just tune it to the sweet spot, and you’re ready to groove.

You will probably find one of these in a Neo-Soul guitarist’s pedalboard (or at least at his home studio), as this one is definitely a MUST HAVE pedal when you want to truly groove.

So What is an Envelope Filter Pedal?

The Envelope Filter is, of course, a filter! It filters out some parts of our signal and leaves the other parts in. The Envelope Filter effect is (usually) a low pass filter. It cuts the high frequencies of our signal according to where we locate the frequency knob.

It opens just like a Wah pedal, but instead of a manual pedal that needs to be operated by your foot, the Envelope  Filter opens and closes automatically. It does that by listening to your signal’s amplitude, or in other words - the harder you hit the strings, the more the filter is going to open!

How to Use an Envelope Filter Pedal? (on electric guitar)

In comparison to other pedals, this is not a really stable pedal, meaning that you most likely won’t be able to travel too much up and down the fretboard without feeling like you need to adjust the sound in some areas.

Disclaimer: This paragraph points towards the “simple and traditional” Envelope Filter sound. It is worth mentioning that there is a wide variety of Envelope-Filters, some are simple, and some are filled with knobs with endless filtering and modulating options.

In the next video, I will explore a few cool setups you can do with the Envelope Filter while focusing on Neo-Soul!


This pedal can be groovy on one hand but also dreamy and spacey on the other, definitely, a MUST HAVE pedal in every guitarist's pedalboard.


Here are my top 3 Envelope Filter pedals:

Electro Harmonix Q-Tron Plus

Exploring the Envelope Filter Sound

There is a lot of groove in an automated wah that works on every tiny nuance you play.

This pedal is a serious hip-shaker, creating warm and bouncy riffs and awesome musical "ornaments"!

The first Envelope Filter came out in the early 70s and was used in many recordings and live performances ever since. Here are a few notable Envelope Filter users:

Funky Shakedown Street by Grateful Dead:

Larry Coryell (was an American fusion jazz player):

Edie Brickell & New Bohemians - "What I Am" - It was a big hit in the 90's and had a full Envelope Filter guitar solo:

The Envelope Filter is loved not only by guitar players but also by many famous bass players and even keyboard players who can find fair use for that funky pedal.

It was famously used by the great Stevie Wonder (“Higher Ground”) and by the unique Flea (check out “Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magic album) 

That's all for now fellas!

If you just love Neo-Soul music be sure to check out the other Neo-Soul articles on our website!

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