At the beginning of my musical adventure, I was very skeptical about wah pedals. I was convinced that there was nothing special about them and purchasing one would be a waste of money. Let me tell you that this attitude of mine had no real fundament and was based on mere misconception that I had come up with myself. After a while, I came across an article, which mentioned how legendary musicians used wah pedals for creating their unique sound. Suddenly I realized how silly it was of me to abstain from something totally different and utterly interesting. I rushed into the local store and got my first wah pedal. I discovered the world of Jimmy Page, Steve Vai and many renowned musicians. However, it took me some time to find a proper pedal. Finding the best wah pedal is not an easy task and can take a lot of time, but with proper research and all the needed information, this daunting process will seem like a piece of cake.
Table of Contents
- 1 Top 10 Best Wah Pedals
- 1.1 Xotic Effects Wah XW-1 Guitar Effects Pedal
- 1.2 MXR MC404 CAE Dual Inductor Wah Wah
- 1.3 Fulltone Clyde Deluxe Wah Pedal
- 1.4 Dunlop 535Q Cry Baby Multi-Wah
- 1.5 Boss AW-3 Dynamic Wah
- 1.6 Ibanez WD7 Weeping Demon Wah Pedal
- 1.7 Morley VAI-2 Steve Vai Bad Horsie 2 Contour Wah
- 1.8 Dunlop GCB95 Cry Baby Wah Guitar Effects Pedal
- 1.9 Vox V845 Classic Wah Wah Pedal
- 1.10 Rocktron Classic Wah Pedal
- 2 Conclusion
Top 10 Best Wah Pedals
|Xotic Effects Wah XW-1 Guitar Effects Pedal||(5 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|MXR MC404 CAE Dual Inductor Wah Wah||(5 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|Fulltone Clyde Deluxe Wah Pedal||(4.9 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|Dunlop 535Q Cry Baby Multi-Wah||(4.9 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|Boss AW-3 Dynamic Wah||(4.9 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|Ibanez WD7 Weeping Demon Wah Pedal||(4.8 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|Morley VAI-2 Steve Vai Bad Horsie 2 Contour Wah||(4.8 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|Dunlop GCB95 Cry Baby Wah Guitar Effects Pedal||(4.8 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|Vox V845 Classic Wah Wah Pedal||(4.8 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|Rocktron Classic Wah Pedal||(4.7 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
The Birth of the Legends: History of Wah Pedals
November 1966 marks a significant date, when the first wah pedal appeared on the market. It was created by Bradley J. Plunkett of Warwick Electronics Inc. (Thomas Organ Company). Shelled with a Vox Continental Organ volume pedal housing, it features the traditional mid-range circuit. Though it was the first wah pedal, the concept of the wah effect was not new. In the late 1950s Country guitar legend, Chet Atkins utilized similar device in the recordings “Hot Toddy” and “Slinkey”. He was not the only one though. Jazz guitarist Peter Van Wood had a revamped expression pedal that could produce a crying tone. Generally, usage of wah effect was becoming more and more ubiquitous at that time and musicians improvised in order to achieve desired sound effect.
You will notice that the creation of certain musical instruments and effects was related to fortuitous events and wah pedal was no exception. Warwick Electronics Inc. had agreements with multiple companies and was distributing Vox name and pedals in England as well. Due to the close cooperation with Thomas Organ Company, the majority of Vox products was produced by the latter. So the task of creating a new product line of solid state Vox amplifiers (a.k.a. Vox Amplifonic Orchestra) was assigned to them as well. During the process of creating this line, Thomas Organ Company made a decision to modify the British Vox amplifiers using the transistorized circuits (to save up some bucks). This led to the idea of utilizing transistoring solid state MRB (mid-range boost) circuits rather than pricy 3-position ones.
While testing this renovated circuits, the engineers noticed that some sort of sound effect was created. Technical consultant Bill Page wanted to try out the capabilities of the circuit by playing his saxophone via amplifier. In order to install the transistorized MRB potentiometer bread-boarded circuit, the engineer John Glennon used a volume pedal housing and place the circuit inside. After these modifications, Page took his saxophone and started playing it, operating the pedal simultaneously. The CEO of Warwick Electronics Inc. listened to his music and observed the change in the sound caused by the pedal. The guitarist Del Casher thought that the prototype wah pedal would work better when used with an electric guitar. He revealed this idea to Joe Banaron. Nevertheless, the initial idea of propagating the product for wind instruments lingered for a long time. Banaron made a decision to promulgate the pedal with the name of Clyde McCoy (this decision was related to the Banaron’s view of the connection between the pedal and wind instruments) in order to increase the sales.
Casher and Plunkett continued to adjust different features of wah pedal in order to make it more suitable for electric guitar. Despite their effort, Vox did not want to propagate the product for electric guitars, giving the prototype wah pedal to Del Casher in order to perform at Vox conferences and record film soundtracks for Universal Pictures. In February 1967 the initial version of the wah pedal came out on the market, featuring Clyde McCoy as a cover.
Shortly after releasing the first Clyde McCoys, Thomas Organ received the patent for the pedal, but decided to change its name before releasing on the American Market. That was when McCoy was transformed into first Cry Baby, however Thomas Organ did not consider the risk related to selling the product without the trademark. This inadvertent behavior caused the abundance of Cry Baby copies on the market, which were delivered from all over the world (including Italy, where Vox was manufactured). What is more, wah pedals were rebranded for other companies as well. In the final end, the production of wah pedals was moved to certain states, while Italian versions still remained in the production and are considered as collectibles nowadays.
Something that was invented as a result of an accident, quickly became popular among famous musicians and guitarists. Using wah-wah pedals for various styles and sounds became more and more widespread. These pedals saw the light of recordings in “Tales of Brave Ulysses” (1967) by Cream, featuring Eric Clapton on guitar. The pedal became Jimi Hendrix’s best friend, appearing in the record of “Burning of the Midnight Lamp”. But the song that screams wah pedal’s name is his “Voodoo Child”. Eric Clapton did not stop on “Tales of Brave Ulysses” and utilized the wah pedal multiple times, particularly in the albums Disraeli Gears (1967) and Wheels of Fire (1968) by Cream. In late 1968, Tommy James and the Shondells recorded “Crimson and Clover”, where they unleashed the true power of wah pedals. Other guitarists, such as Terry Kath of Chicago, Martin Barre of Jethro Tull were dedicated users of the effect as well. Of course we cannot skip Jimmy Page, who employed the wah pedal in Little Games by Yardbirds, and continued using it with Led Zeppelin as well, in particular in the songs such as “Custard Pie” and “Trampled Under Foot”. Songs by Black Sabbath also feature wah pedals, with Tony Lommi using it in “Black Sabbath”, “The Wizard” and “N.I.B.”, as well as “Electric Funeral” and “Supernaut”.
The history of wah pedals has always been inspiring to me. The creation of these unique sounding pedal was a result of fortuitous event, which always makes me think about the unlimited possibilities that music offers. All you have to do is try, experiment and dive into this spectacular world of creativity. For me, discovering new sounds is the equivalent of discovering myself over and over again. This interminable process motivates me to create more, learn more and never stop trying. If you are anything like me, do not hesitate to risk, go out there, purchase a wah pedal, play with it as much as your soul will dictate and give way to the innovative spirit.
Now you have all the information about the best wah pedals on the market and have a general idea of how it all started. One last thing I would like to add is that the confusion accompanying the process of choosing the most suitable sound for you, fades away when you play the first chords with your favorite pedal. All that is left is the art of music, freedom of playing whatever soothes your soul. Your existence transforms into living a meaningful life from the moment you start creating. And wah pedal will be there for you whenever you decide to step up your game.