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Electro Harmonix Pico Attack Decay

Electro Harmonix Pico Attack Decay Envelope Pedal

For those who want to add a slow attack to guitar sounds, there is, of course, the option of doing so manually by manipulating the guitar volume control or using a volume pedal, but several decades ago Boss came up with the analogue Slow Gear pedal that did the job for you automatically — as long as you played single‑note lines that would allow the analogue circuitry to identify individual notes. Move ahead a few decades, and Electro Harmonix took the idea further in their digital Attack Decay pedal, which we reviewed back in SOS July 2019. Billed by EHX as a ‘tape reverse simulator’, not only can this do the slow‑attack thing but it can also shorten the natural decay of the sound, and is able to cover everything from bowed guitar effects, via reverse‑like envelopes, to turning a guitar into a faux banjo. Unlike the old Slow Gear and its many emulators, the Attack Decay also has a poly mode that can follow the individual notes in chord arpeggios and the like.

Essential Features

This new Pico Attack Decay version drops the second footswitch, the effects loop and the harmonic distortion capability of the original Attack Decay, but it retains all of the essential envelope controls, including a poly mode activated using a button at the top of the panel. The attack and decay times have separate controls for adjustment plus there’s a control for overall volume and another for sensitivity, making it easy to match the triggering to your playing style. There’s even a secondary blend function that gives you the option of mixing wet and dry signals for when you don’t want to start a fade from complete silence. The pedal, which has a buffered bypass, comes with its own PSU and there’s no battery power option.

Like the original, the pedal identifies individual notes extremely well and it has plenty of attack range, from just softening the attack transient to a slow bowing type of fade‑in. If you also want to make use of the decay control, then the standard mode of operation gives the most natural‑sounding results. But if you’re happy to leave the sound decaying naturally, poly mode is very effective at tracking arpeggios: rake across a chord, and each note will trigger its own attack — this is very impressive stuff! (The decay control does still work in poly mode, it’s just that the results can become a bit unpredictable at shorter decay times.)

Putting a shimmer reverb after the Pico Attack Decay produces a fairly convincing analogue string sound.

The Pico Attack Decay perhaps won’t be considered a pedalboard essential by every player, but it has lots to offer the more experimentally minded — especially those who have an appetite for making electric guitars sound like something else (like me). So it’s also worth highlighting that this pedal can work particularly well in tandem with others. For example, putting a shimmer reverb after the Pico Attack Decay produces a fairly convincing analogue string sound, or put an octave pedal up front and you have a pseudo‑cello.

Of the more affordable envelope pedals out there, I think it’s fair to say that this one probably has the most to offer in the way of flexibility, especially if you’re interested in changing the decay time of the sound, as well as adding a slower attack.


£129 including VAT.