1981 Ibanez AF 201 Auto Filter

Model Description:

The Ibanez AF 201 Auto Filter is a relatively scarce effect pedal from Japanese giant Ibanez and manufactured by their business partner, Maxon. The AF 201 falls into ‘well-kept secret’ territory and is relatively hard to find on the vintage market. Its design belongs to the same relatively short‑lived ‘0’ series pedals as Ibanez’s most famous pedal, the TS‑808 Tube Screamer, characterised by the distinctive square footswitch. The AF 201 is an envelope filter producing various auto‑wah sounds loosely based on the pioneering Musitronics Mu‑Tron III. The auto‑generated wah‑type effects were popular in the late 1970s and early 1980s, particularly with funk and rhythm‑centric beats – it certainly produces very evocative sounds that are very much of its time. The AF 201 is probably less familiar than competing models from Boss (Touch Wah/T Wah), Electro-Harmonix (Zipper/Doctor Q) and MXR (Envelope Filter). Other than the company’s Graphic Equaliser pedals (GE 601/GE9), the AF 201 is unusual in the Ibanez line up in that there are no control knobs to play with, only sliders and switches. The AF 201 was superseded by the Ibanez AF9 from c.1982 alongside a Maxon‑branded, AF‑9 version. To‑date, Ibanez has not sought to reissue the Auto Filter, making them quite pricey on the vintage market.

Pedal Description:

Wowee! Or should that be, whawee! Now this is one rare and highly collectable little beast and, take my word, it is well worth that expensive exclamation mark! This is a 1981 Ibanez AF 201 Auto Filter in a funky cool orange hue. The analogue AF 201 provides guitarists and bass players alike with 5 controls comprising 2 sliders and 3 switches to fine tune the Auto Filter’s signature sounds and to access an almost unlimited range of convincing auto‑wah sounds. The downside of such flexibility is the need to familiarise oneself with the interdependent possibilities in order to be able dial in just that right tone to recreate a specific situation again and again. Some combinations of settings are knockout while some permutations are subtle and much less effective. It is worth making an investment in time to explore the permutations available, as there are some great funky vowel‑like sounds to be discovered. This particular 1981 vintage pedal with the black ‘Made in Japan’ label is in very impressive all‑original condition for its age and all the controls work perfectly. Sadly, there is no box or manual with this one. Like all Ibanez ‘0’ series pedals, the AF 201 is very robust with its solid, heavy die cast zinc casing. The typographic font used for the model name is pretty groovy too. Good luck trying to find one of these in good working condition at a reasonable price. If the whole auto‑wah effect appeals to you, the AF 201 is certainly worth checking out. I think it is a pretty cool pedal to have and use too. Gotta getcha some fabulous funk on friend! Say wah?


  • Made in Japan by Maxon in 1981
  • The ‘Sens.’ slider controls the sensitivity of the filter to input signal
  • The ‘Peak’ slider controls the depth of the filter sweep
  • The ‘Mode HP/BP/LP’ 3‑way switch controls whether low (high pass), both (band pass) or high frequencies (low pass) are cut
  • The ‘Mode Up/Down’ 2‑way switch controls whether the filter sweep is from low to high frequencies or vice versa
  • The ‘Range High/Low’ 2‑way switch controls the operational frequency range over which the filter sweeps
  • Red LED indicator light to show when the effect is in use
  • Ibanez square FET ‘Q1’ footswitch turns the effect on and off
  • Standard ¼” mono input and output jack sockets
  • External 9V DC power supply or 9V battery
  • Black ‘Made in Japan’ label on the base of the pedal
  • Original ‘Maxon’ battery compartment cover
  • Dimensions: 70mm (w) x 125mm (d) x 56mm (h)
  • Weight: 550g
  • No box or instruction manual

Detail Gallery:

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