The Boss FT-2 Dynamic Filter was only made for a few years in the 1980’s. Why Boss decided to pull it from the market is beyond me, because it’s an absolute killer pedal.
The industry never seemed to be able to actually agree on a term for this type of pedal. Envelope filter, envelope follower, touch wah, auto wah, dynamic filter, etc. Nonetheless, they all belong to the same effect category – the one Bootsy Collins made famous decades ago. I like to refer to them as Touch Wah pedals as that describes the effect quite well. In any case, these types of pedals are all about the Funk!
The FT-2 has four knobs: SENS, CUTOFF FREQ, Q and a Mode selector with three different steps/modes. The SENS button sets the sensitivity – or how hard you have to play to trigger the effect.
The CUTOFF FREQ knob sets the frequency to be used for the wah effect, and the Q knob determines the width of the frequency range.
The 3-way selector can be set to UP, DOWN or EXP/MANUAL. UP and DOWN options are pretty much self-explanatory and use the EXP/MANUAL in conjunction with an external expression pedal for manual control of the filter.
The FT-2 sounds great. That’s it, and the review could end right here. Obviously that’s not going to happen and no matter how great or poor a pedal is, there are always details to dig into. To me, the only really functional setting for the 3-way selector is the UP option. The DOWN (naturally) drags your sound ‘underwater’ when the effect kicks in, and while I am sure some may be able to apply this in a useful and musical way, it’s not for me. Or maybe if works better on guitar for which this pedal was intended. It’s great to have the EXP/MANUAL option, but I have never really been a fan of manually control filters with an external expression pedal. Again, I know many do prefer this kind of control, so having the option is definitely a plus.
For the sound examples, I chose three basic settings. The potential variety of settings is virtually infinite, so I decided on one basic sound and a couple of variations based on that.
However boring it may sound, the basic sound I chose is simply all knobs set at 50% and the filter set to UP. Variation 1 is the same CUTOFF FREQ, but with the SENS and Q knobs set at 75%, and variation 2 is a step further in that direction with the SENS and Q cranked all the way up. You can definitely play with the CUTOFF FREQ knob as well, but it’s quite sensitive as it easily takes out too much of the low end when pushed much above the 12 o’clock position, and pulling it further down may compromise the definition and clarity in the tone. This is less pronounced the tighter a Q you set, but to me at least, the 50% setting is perfect and all I really need is one great setting for the cutoff.
In total, there are seven sound clips: three demonstrating the settings with fingerstyle playing and three with slapping – plus one with a 5-string bass jamming on some really low notes
NOTE! Please use headphones or ‘real’ speakers. You simply can’t judge low-end material on laptop, tablet or phone speakers…!
NOTE! If you are on a mobile device, please turn it to landscape mode to see the knob settings of the pedal for each audio clip.
While the FT-2 is indeed much more versatile than what the audio examples suggest, it is primarily for that one sound and setting that I dig the FT-2. Though I claimed the DOWN setting for the filter was not usable to me that was when using the FT-2 on its own. In combination with other effect pedals the ‘drowning’ and warbling effect could easily be a great asset. Or to save definition and attack, it might work out well in a parallel effect loop where it is blended in with the dry signal.
One other way to use FT-2 is to use the EXP/MANUAL setting, but without connecting an expression pedal. Now you can use the filter in a fixed and permanent position, making the FT-2 more of an EQ or alternative tone-shaping pedal. It is similar to using a classic Cry Baby pedal and leave it at some position while turned on – it tends to get a little ‘boxy’ and I feel the main tone looses definition, but I guess if you use the pedal to create your main tone together with other pedals or the amp, it’s a different scenario.
It’s a classic Boss pedal. Rock solid. What seems to stun me quite often is that my Boss pedals that have never had any issues are actually becoming very old – almost 20 years by now – and they never let me down or start introducing noise or other mishaps.
As for design and usability, I don’t miss anything. Sure, other pedals may have more controls to fine-tune the filter, but when the core sound is as good as this, I don’t have any need for further knobs or settings.
You can pick up an FT-2 for around $80 on ebay. Considering how many other Boss pedals with the vintage ‘Made in Japan’ mark have spun totally out of control in terms of price, this is a steal. Since they were only produced for a few years there are not that many out there, but it seems you can find one on ebay most of the time. I am strongly considering getting myself a backup unit – just in case…
If you read all of the above, you already know that I really, really like this pedal. It’s an all-time favorite of mine – no question about that. I think that no matter how hard the fight over pedal board real estate may become, I will always manage to find a spot for this pedal.
Solid as a rock
Great value for money