Sculpt the Perfect Tone

Buying Guide: Filter and EQ Effects

To truly master your sound, you need to control what it's made of. As any audio engineer will tell you, a complex sound is made up of its component frequencies -- from the lowest fundamental, to the highest harmonics.

An equalizer -- or EQ for short -- can cut or boost the level of specific frequency bands within your signal, resulting in a mellower or brighter sound. EQ pedals are useful for setting the overall shape of your sound.

Filter pedals use specialized EQ circuits that let you continuously vary which frequency bands your signal passes through. Some filter pedals let you change the level of cut/boost over time, or adjust the filter's envelope -- attack, sustain, decay, and release -- resulting in a sound that no longer resembles a pick on strings. One famous example of a filter pedal is the ubiquitous wah-wah pedal.

If you're ready to dive deep into the sound of your instrument and amplifier to find tonal perfection, filter and EQ pedals are a must for your pedalboard. Build a new vocabulary of sonic expression with any of these filter and EQ effects.

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Wah Pedals
Wah pedals are a classic effect in pop music, with an unmistakable vocal-like sound. When your foot rocks the pedal back and forth, a peak filter sweeps up and down across a range of frequencies -- just as human vocal cords vibrate at different frequencies to create different vowel sounds. Plugged into a wah-wah pedal, your instrument can sound like a human voice wailing or laughing! This effect has been the backbone of innumerable guitar solos and riffs since the wah's creation in the 1960s, and is still an essential part of any pedalboard.


Auto-Wah and Envelope Filter Pedals
Do you want your sound to kick in suddenly, or sneak in slowly? Some filters let you control the attack, sustain, decay, and release of your signal. These "envelope filters" add seemingly impossible dynamics to your playing, adding layers of sound for texture, or creating the sensation of movement.

Auto-wah envelope filters respond to the dynamics of your attack to make extremely fast or slow wah sounds -- beyond what a human foot and rocking pedal can do. Envelope filters and auto-wah effects have formed the backbone of many funk and R&B rhythms, and rock guitarists frequently use them to add punctuation to heavy riffs and solos.

EQ Pedals
Much like the treble, midrange, and bass knobs you might find on your amp, EQ pedals isolate specific frequency bands and boost or cut them. With some time and experimenting, EQ pedals can unlock the true sonic range of your instrument and amplification.

Use an EQ pedal for a clean (but obvious) boost when you launch into your earth-shattering guitar solo and need to cut through your band's dense live mix, or add some meat to the cleanest of tones.