The Wah Wah Pedal has become a standard tool for guitar players for its ability to add and expressive voice to the guitar tone. Originally thought to mimic the crying sound of a muted trumpet, the first Wah Wah Pedal, invented by Warwick Electronics Inc./Thomas Organ Company (which was the maker of Vox amplifiers), was known as the Cry Baby. The pedal is essentially a tone control circuit the sweeps the tone control filter through a range of peak frequencies.
Songs Featuring Wah Wah Effects
Notable guitar uses of the Wah Wah pedal can be found in Cream’s “White Room,” Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” Guns n’ Roses’ “Sweet Child o’ Mine,” Metallica’s “Enter the Sandman,” U2’s “The Fly.” However, use of the Wah Wah Pedal is not for guitarists only (in fact, its early marketing was for anything but guitar). The effect has been used with bass guitars, steel guitars, electric violins, keyboards, trumpets, and saxophones. David Sanborn used a Wah Wah Pedal for his sax part on David Bowie’s “Young Americans,” Garth Hudson used a Wah Wah Pedal with a Clavinet keyboard in the Band’s “Up On Cripple Creek,” Boyd Tinsley of Dave Mathews Band uses the Wah Wah pedal extensively with his electric violin.
Top Wah Wah Pedals
So clearly, you need a Wah Wah Pedal. There are many different Wah Wah pedals, top names are Dunlop, Morley, and Vox, but there are many great Wah pedal makers. The pedals are mostly distinguished by their filter contours – that is the way they filter the frequencies along the sonic spectrum and along the travel of the pedal. Here are some pedals you should consider (and since they all have distinctive sounds, you may want to experiment with a few):
The Dunlop GCB95 Crybaby Wah Pedal is probably the most popular Wah Pedal for sound, durability, and price. Although this is a very inexpensive unit, it has been relied on by Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, and David Gilmour among many other famous players.
The Vox V847A is a reissue of the classic Vox Wah Wah pedal. If you love the Wah Wah sound on the original recordings from the ‘60s and ‘70s, the Vox V847A is for you. However, if you’re looking for your first Wah pedal and don’t want to spend much, consider the Vox V845 Classic Wah-Wah Pedal.
One of the hottest pedals on the market today is the Morley Steve Vai Bad Horsie 2 Contour Wah Pedal. With 2 quickly switchable contour settings, you have both a choice of Wah sound contours and an easy way to switch between them on stage. The Morley Steve Vai Bad Horsie 2 Contour Wah Pedal has a number of other convenient features. The design is electro optical so there are no pots to become scratchy or worn. You can just step on the pedal to engage the Wah and step off to engage the exclusive “True Tone” bypass mode designed to maintain the same signal level in both Wah and bypass modes.
If you want to access a wide variety of Wah Wah Pedal effects, then consider the Dunlop 535Q Crybaby Multi Wah Pedal. The 535Q lets you control the pedal’s contour by selecting the center frequency of the effect and adjusting the frequency range of the pedal’s sweep. The 535Q also offers a variable boost from 0 to +16dB.
If you’re looking for a sound to match the Wah Wah sound of your guitar heroes, then consider one of the many signature pedals available, including the Dunlop EVH95 Eddie Van Halen Pedal, the Dunlop JB95 Joe Bonamassa Pedal, the KH95 Kirk Hammett Pedal, among others.