9 Best Auto Wah Pedals 2023, Get The Perfect Distortion Effect Automatically
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Wah is a cool effect. Guitarists like Kirk Hammett and Jimi Hendrix have practically become synonymous with it.
The part that some guitarists don’t realize is that to use the wah pedal effectively, you’ve got to be able to play your guitar and control the pedal with your foot at the same time.
It sounds easy, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, you could easily end up tap dancing all over the place while performing.
That’s where auto wah comes in. This isn’t to suggest that auto wah pedals are only for beginners, because that’s not necessarily the case. But you can put your effect on autopilot at the tap of a button.
So, here are the best auto wah pedals.
Best Overall: Fender Pour Over Envelope Filter Electric Guitar Pedal
Fender’s new line of pedals certainly look good on the outside. But how do they sound? Here, we’ll look at this green box, Fender Pour Over envelope filter.
Right off the bat, we can see that the pedal features a lot of controls, which can be good or bad, depending on the pedal.
This pedal is unique in that it comes with onboard distortion, which kind of goes to explain why there are so many dials here. But distortion is a nice addition, especially if you need the feature and want to keep your pedalboard less cluttered.
This pedal comes with dials for TONE, GAIN, FREQ, Q, LEVEL and DRIVE, as well as switches for DIST, FILTER (HP, BP, LP) and UP-DOWN. Some of this is self-explanatory, but here’s an overview.
First, the filters. Low pass will filter out highs (so it’s kind of like the opposite of what it sounds like), the band pass acts a lot like a wah pedal, and the high pass decreases the lows.
The FREQ, Q and DRIVE knobs directly affect the filter. The frequency control is as it sounds, the Q control will affect the intensity of the filter and the drive control works with the UP-DOWN switch next to it, which tells the pedal whether to push the filter up or down as your picking dynamic changes.
The left side of the pedal comes with the tone, gain and level control, which should be familiar if you’ve used effects pedals before. The level dial affects the overall volume of the pedal, but the gain affects the intensity of the distortion while the tone affects its frequency.
The toggle switch, of course, either engages or bypasses the distortion.
So, the pedal is basically split into two parts. The left side controls the drive. The right side controls the filter. Knowing this makes it a lot easier to use.
I think the envelope filter on this pedal works great, and you’re able to do some whacky things with it too. The distortion also works great, and I could see it working well for bluesy jams.
Overall, you can do some cool things by mixing and matching the two effects, and customers found the Fender highly usable too.
Item weight: 1.1 lbs.
Package dimensions: 5.4 x 4.9 x 2.9 inches
EarthQuaker Devices Spatial Delivery V2 Envelope Filter Guitar Effects Pedal With Sample & Hold
Looking at the EarthQuaker Devices Spatial Delivery V2, you can immediately tell you’re dealing with something special.
Some thought was obviously put into the design of the pedal, and as with the SolidGold FX Funk Lite, you can tell it’s been designed to deliver high quality tone using a simplistic feature set. And, true to form, each EarthQuaker Devices pedal is meticulously handcrafted.
This envelope filter is voltage controlled. It comes with three knobs – Range, Filter and Resonance. It also features a toggle switch for Up, Sample & Hold and Down modes.
You can experiment with each to get a sense of what you like and how to use each, but I would say the Up mode works great for guitar and Down mode could be just as effective for bass. Sample & Hold mode is more of those moments when you need the randomness of a trippy, tremolo like effect.
The Range controls the sensitivity of the envelope while the Resonance adds feedback to the envelope. The unique Filter knob sweeps between low pass, band pass and high pass filter modes – a feature you would generally expect to be in toggle switch form, rather than as a dial.
I already hinted at this, but this pedal can work great for both guitar and bass, so if you’re planning to play with different guitars, you may find this to be an advantage as well.
This great looking pedal doesn’t come cheap, but it sure sounds great. I think it does a lot of things well, but of course greatness is in the ear of the listener. Check out some online demos and reviews before committing.
Item weight: 12 ounces
Package dimensions: 6 x 3 x 3 inches
Mad Professor Snow White AutoWah MAD-SWAW Guitar Wah Effects Pedal
Tuned to sound like a standard rocking wah pedal, the Mad Professor MAD-SWAW auto wah features a simple appearance and interface.
I can verify manufacturer claims. This auto wah honestly does have a genuine wah sound.
True to its name, the Snow White AutoWah is mostly white in appearance, emulating the look of a soap bar. Tell me that stand out on your pedalboard.
Of course, it’s the feature set and sound that truly matters. So, let’s look at what we’re dealing with.
The simple four knob interface gives you access to Sensitivity, Resonance, Bias and Decay knobs. Some of those names don’t sound familiar, do they? So, let’s look at what each does.
Sensitivity should be tuned to your guitar’s output as well as your playing style. This will basically set when the wah is triggered.
The Resonance knob should basically be thought of as the Q knob, which is basically the intensity or sharpness of the filter.
You would assume the Bias knob would be used for the intensity of the effect, but it’s closer to a frequency knob than anything. So, it can be used to alter what frequencies you want filtered out.
Finally, we have the Decay knob. This should be thought of as the rate knob, meaning you can set how fast you want the wah to occur.
This is a responsive, great sounding pedal with plenty of “quack”. It will respond to your picking dynamics, which I think is awesome.
For all your funk, blues and reggae needs, the Mad Professor nails it. Customers agree – the Mad Professor kills.
Item weight: 12 ounces
Package dimensions: 5.1 x 3.1 x 2.4 inches
Best Budget: Mooer Audio Funky Monkey Auto Wah
In the compact, mini pedal category (of which there are several on this list), we’ve got the Mooer Audio Funky Monkey Auto Wah.
What’s cool about this pedal is that you can adjust the sound using the various switches and knobs. There’s more here than you’d expect on a typical mini guitar pedal.
The three modes allow you to tweak between low peak, mid peak and hi peak. This is exactly as it sounds. Basically, you can accentuate your treble, mids or lows depending on how you like to set your effect. It’s like a built-in EQ.
The big Rate knob allows you to tweak the speed of the “sweep”. When it’s turned higher, you get wahs in rapid succession. At lower settings, you get the opposite. But every setting is usable – it’s just a matter of what type of effect you need for your riff or solo.
The Range and Q knobs allow for more fine tuning of the effect, with Range giving you control over the wetness of the effect and Q giving you access to the intensity of the resonance.
One of the coolest things about how the pedal looks is the light in the center, which turns on when the pedal is engaged.
In terms of cost, the Mooer Audio sits somewhere in the middle, and in terms of quality, I feel you can get a lot of different quality tones from it. It’s a versatile little effect.
I don’t have anything bad to say about it. It’s good for what it is, and the asking price is more than reasonable.
Item weight: Unknown
Package dimensions: Unknown
BOSS AW-3 Dynamic Wah Guitar Pedal
Now, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that BOSS has got its own dynamic wah pedal. The question everyone’s asking, of course, is whether it’s any good. Don’t worry – we’ll get into it.
So, right off the bat, the appearance and feature set of the BOSS AW-3 Dynamic Wah just looks different. There are four knobs, which is kind of standard, but the middle two aren’t named intuitively (MANUAL and SENS), and there seem to be many tweakable settings.
Setting DECAY aside, because I’m sure you’ve got a good idea of what that does now, let’s look at the “Humanizer” effect (kind of like a talk box).
Effectively, what the middle two knobs on the pedal allow you to do is choose from beginning and ending vowel sounds for your wah effect. So, you could start with an E and end with an O, for instance. You’d change these parameters using the MANUAL and SENSE knobs.
The effect can be controlled using an additional expression pedal (which kind of defeats the purpose of an auto wah, unless you particularly like the effect), or by tapping in the tempo using the pedal.
The AW-3 also has numerous modes, some of which you’ll probably be familiar with by now – UP, DOWN, SHARP, HUMANIZER and TEMPO. I probably don’t need to explain what all these modes mean, but it’s good to know what options the pedal makes available to you.
This pedal certainly delivers a raunchy, thick wah, and as you can probably guess, there are a lot of tones you can get out of it. I could be wrong, but it sounds to my ears like the pedal sucks a little bit of the thickness out of your tone, so putting it in your effects chain might not be ideal.
Plenty of customers loved the BOSS, however, with only a few saying it killed the bottom end of their tone a little bit.
Item weight: 10.6 ounces
Package dimensions: 0.3 x 5.8 x 3.6 inches
SONICAKE Cry-Bot Auto Wah Envelope Filter Funky Bass Guitar Effects Pedal
By now, many guitarists know that good things can come in small packages.
The SONICAKE Cry-Bot auto wah is a simple, popular mini pedal with a design that catches the eye. It comes with a True Bypass footswitch, is 100% analog and can work great for both bass guitar.
Beyond that, we’ve seen most of what this pedal has got to offer. It comes with a large SENS knob, and three smaller knobs – FREQ, DECAY and PRES.
The PRES knob is perhaps the only unique feature here, and it controls the brightness of the filter. So, you can use it to crank up the high-end spank, should you need it.
The effect sounds decent to my ears. It doesn’t sound like you can do anything crazy or weird with it, and it’s relatively subtle. If you’re looking for a more intense wah, choose from some of the products introduced earlier – BOSS AW3 Dynamic Wah, Mad Professor Snow White AutoWah, EarthQuaker Devices Spatial Delivery V2 or otherwise.
So, overall, it does what it does well. And, it’s easy on the wallet, so for some instant gratification, you would be hard pressed to find a better solution.
Unsurprisingly, customers are a little split on the SONICAKE, with many loving it and some saying the pedal isn’t overly responsive. That’s probably not its main selling point, but as I said, if you’re looking for something with more responsiveness, hit rewind and go higher up on this list.
Item weight: 9.1 ounces
Package dimensions: 3.9 x 3 x 2.4 inches
Donner Mini Auto Wah Pedal Dynamic Wah Guitar Effect Pedal
Donner is known for its low-cost musical products, and their mini pedals are certainly popular.
There are other companies competing in the same space now, but for the most part I can’t think of a better instant gratification solution than Donner. And, honest to god, some of their effects are better than good.
The Donner mini auto wah is basically everything you’d expect. First, it’s pink and shiny – that part you may not have expected.
The controls should be familiar by now. This pedal has SENS, RES, DECAY and a large RANGE dial to help you achieve your desired tone.
It features an analog circuit, True Bypass design, and in that sense, it’s basically a direct competitor to the SONICAKE pedal just introduced.
About the only other thing we can talk about here is its sound. And, overall, I think it sounds great. Totally usable, even for recording sessions. I don’t find that the tone thins out, and I don’t find that the effect is too subtle – surprising, especially at this price point.
Plenty of customers were thrilled with their purchase. Apparently, for some users, the pedal stopped working after a few months. That might be something to be mindful of.
Otherwise, we find the Donner a sweet deal.
Item weight: 9.1 ounces
Package dimensions: 3.9 x 2.4 x 2.4 inches
Mooer Audio @Wah Digital Auto Wah
Mooer Audio sure packs a lot of controls in a small retail space with the @Wah Digital Auto Wah.
What separates this pedal from Mooer Audio’s Funky Monkey, first and foremost, is that it comes with two modes – AUTO and TOUCH. This basically replaces the EQ control you get on the Funky Monkey.
AUTO is a time-based filter, and as you can guess from the name, you can basically set your auto wah effect on autopilot. The TOUCH mode is dynamically triggered, so your pick attack will determine the wetness of the effect overall.
Overall, however, I think AUTO mode is more usable than TOUCH mode.
The center dial allows you to choose from five filter types. I guess you could say this is where you get to affect the EQ somewhat, but you also set the pedal to TALK mode, which emulates a voice box.
So, in total you get low pass (LP), bandpass (BP), high pass (HP) and standard (SP) modes, each which will affect the tone of your auto wah, and the TALK mode I’ve already explained.
Again, the RANGE knob works like a wetness knob, while the SPEED/GAIN knob gives you control over the rate/speed of the auto wah in AUTO mode, and input response in TOUCH mode.
This is a trippy sounding pedal overall, and for those who love outlandish sounds and intense effects, this is a perfect match.
Customers also speak highly of this reasonably priced pedal.
Item weight: 6.2 ounces
Package dimensions: 5.3 x 4.2 x 1.8 inches
SolidGoldFX Funk Lite Envelope Filter
The difference between an envelope filter and an auto wah is explained a little later in this guide, but just in case, it’s worth pointing out that they are relatively similar when it comes right down to it.
The SolidGold FX Funk Lite Envelope Filter is striking. I don’t know about you, but I love the color scheme and design, which is instantly grabs my attention.
I can also see, immediately, that this is a simple pedal, because it only comes with three dials. Again, this is just a personal assertion, but I love simplicity.
The pedal also offers an analog signal path, which can help produce organic sounding tones. The analog vs. digital debate is something that probably won’t ever die when it comes to guitar gear, but for my money, it just depends on what the effect does and how it sounds.
Getting back to the controls, the pedal features three knobs – Depth, Frequency and Attack. Collectively, you can use these to shape the sound of the effect. Depth would basically be your wetness knobs, Frequency your EQ knob, and you can use the Attack to shape how the effect responds to your picking dynamics.
You certainly wouldn’t be embarrassed using this pedal for all your funk-oriented gigs. If you like intense sounding effects, don’t worry, this one will knock your socks off depending on how you set it up.
Customers are equally thrilled about this pedal. It isn’t the cheapest, but it isn’t the most expensive either. You may want to pair it with a high quality 9v cable though.
Item weight: 9.9 ounces
Package dimensions: 5 x 4.8 x 2.6 inches
What Should I Look For In An Auto Wah Pedal?
We’ve done a relatively in-depth comparison of a variety of auto wah and envelope filter pedals already.
But if you’re still undecided, we’ll be looking at a few key factors that might help you make up your mind.
The main points examined here are:
Let’s get into each.
Tone preferences tend to be highly individual. There is certainly a difference between each pedal, and let’s face it – all of them are going to sound quite different depending on who’s playing, what guitar they’re playing, and what amp their effects are going through.
I’ve offered my personal observations in this guide, but the bottom line is that you’re going to need to go out and test it out for yourself.
You can certainly go and watch online demos and reviews (which I recommend doing), but if possible, you should also go to the guitar store and try them out. If renting is an option, that can be helpful too.
There are a lot of criteria to consider, so I’m not even going to pretend to name them all here, but some of the things you’ll likely be evaluating are responsiveness,
All pedals come with dials, knobs and toggle switches. The question is, what do these dials and switches do?
In the case of a pedal like the BOSS AW-3 Dynamic Wah, you get the “Humanizer” effect, which is relatively unique. Similar “talk” style effects can be found on a couple of the other pedals introduced, but as you’ve probably seen, you don’t get this with every pedal.
The point is that auto wah and envelope filter pedals aren’t all created equal. Sure, they’ve been designed to handle the same basic task, but some pedals offer more options than others. Some sound better than others. Some are more versatile than others.
So, make sure you’re getting a pedal that does everything you need it to.
The size of the pedal isn’t going to be much of a concern for some guitarists, especially those who just like to hook up a few pedals at home and jam out.
It’s a different matter entirely for gigging and recording guitarist, who may find themselves hauling their effects arsenal from venue to venue.
Space is always a concern on a pedalboard, mostly because us guitarists usually find a way to fill every nook and cranny available.
So, mini pedals are always an option on a busy board. Typically, though, you don’t get the same quality you would from a standard sized compact pedal. This isn’t always the case (some mini pedals are ridiculous), but it’s not a bad thing to keep in mind.
Overall, size is only a concern to the extent that you already have gear to haul around. Of course, if you find yourself an auto wah pedal, you’ll probably find a way anyway.
Auto wah pedals can cost anywhere from $40 to $200. All things considered, that’s not a wide range.
Of course, we still recommend spending responsibly. Don’t go into debt to buy your pedal. If you don’t have the money right now, make sure to save up.
Otherwise, narrow down your options based on the resources available to you right now.
We know how easy it can be to get carried away with gear, so don’t go overboard!
Is There A Difference Between An Auto Wah & Envelope Filter?
Yes. An auto wah is a specific type of envelope filter, while an envelope filter is also known as a touch wah. But from that description, you can probably already tell that they are quite similar in nature.
A filter, regardless of its design, will filter out certain frequencies. This alone doesn’t create the “wah” sound, however, as you need the frequency sweep to oscillate. So, this feature is built right into auto wahs.
So, an auto wah has a set cycle based on how you set the speed (rate) control. Once you’ve dialed in the desired speed, it will “sweep” at a constant, consistent rhythm.
An envelope filter responds more dynamically to your pick attack, which can be great for players who want more hands-on control over the effect.
To that extent, you could say that auto wahs are more suited to beginners, while envelope filters are more suited to players who’ve been at it for a while. After all, an envelop filter will respond to your picking dynamics and playing style.
Top Auto Wah Pedals, Final Thoughts
We looked at some of the best auto wah and envelope filters on the market.
We looked at the specific qualities you should consider when buying one or the other.
We looked at the difference between an auto wah and envelope filter, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each. Now that you’ve got a better idea of what to expect, choosing a pedal should prove relatively easy. As always, we’d like to wish you happy shopping!
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