Wah can be an incredibly expressive effect, but it’s hard to find a wah unit that is perfectly suited to bass. And it’s even harder to find one that’s suited to grooving bass. Oh sure, anything with a low enough frequency range can handle the intro to “For Whom The Bell Tolls” with a bunch of distortion, but what about if you need a phat, philthy, groovy pulse? Source Audio think they’ve found the answer: the Tri-Mod Wah, from the company’s Soundblox range, offers three flavours of (mostly) automatic wah wah effect – Low, Bandpass and Multipeak, through eleven distinct variations.
The unit sports four controls: Effect (which hosts Classic Wah, two Low Pass filters, two Band Pass filters and six Multipeak modes); Frequency (which adjusts the centre point of the filter); Depth (which controls the amount of effect applied to the signal) and Speed (which controls either the speed of the LFO and envelope, or the sensitivity of the Hot Hand controller if you’re using it. The Tri-Mod uses Source Audio’s proprietary 56-bit digital signal processor, the SA601, and crystal-clear 24-bit converters. It features active analog bypass which routes the signal around the DSP when the effect is not in use, while an active input ensures zero signal degradation. The pedal operates on a 9v power supply (not included) or four AA batteries, which fit into a battery compartment under the pedal. The compartment’s lid feels a little finicky to re-attach but once it’s on there it feels extremely secure. Like all Soundblox pedals, the Tri-Mod Wah is compatible with Source’s Hot Hand Motion Controller, a ring which lets you control various effect parameters (and even works with some other gear like the Line 6 Pod XT Live). I wish I could get my hands on the hardware to test this feature.
The Tri-Mod Wah can cover a lot of wah ground, from lonesome spacey sweeps to high-speed cartoonish wobbles and any point in between. Most settings can be coaxed into incredibly deep sweeps which give you that ‘just walked out of the club’ feeling you hear on a lot of techno tracks, while the envelope filter sounds added soupy, syrupy funk to my bass whether I was playing sharp and snappy funk through a clean tone or voice-of-doom metal through a mega-distorted fuzz pedal.
But by far my favourite setting was the Multipeak mode, which could be set for a subtle underlying tremor or a more violent elastic wobble. Run a Multipeak sound at about 10 o’clock on the Speed knob through a clean amp setting with some analog delay set at a high feedback level and around 240ms of delay time and you’ve got an amazing, stirring, almost vocal tone which you could sit with for hours. Speaking of vocal, the Low Pass and Band Pass settings add some great robot-like vowel sounds to your playing, and create all sorts of good havoc when feeding a distortion box.
The Tri-Mod Wah breaks new ground in the world of wah, and when you consider the three possible modulation options – envelope, LFO and Hot Hand – you effectively have 33 different wah types to play with. And when you combine those with other effects – especially delay and fuzz – whoa.