The history of wah-wah pedals dates back to the good ol’ 1960s, when the very first commercially manufactured units hit the market. It was around that time when Italian Clyde McCoy pedals started to appear on the shelves and Vox was the company in charge of the production. This line of effects devices quickly became rather ubiquitous and after some time gained the name of legendary. Today many musicians strive to get their hands on Clyde McCoy wah pedals, but the price of vintage models leaves them disappointed. But some brands are kind enough to recreate that aspired sound at a more affordable price. Xotic is one of those and its XW-1 is entirely based on Clyde McCoy wah. Though it is a high-end unit and it definitely cannot be called affordable, it still costs way less than the originals. Its features will make your jaw drop since that is not exactly what you get with the majority of other pedals. If you want to access the vintage wah via luxurious treat, then keep on reading and check out the capabilities of XW-1.
I have already mentioned that the feature set of XW-1 is not the typical deal you get with wah pedals. What I mean is that this unit is extremely versatile and precise. It has certain qualities that will blow your mind and I am not exaggerating even a bit. The build material is of premium quality – exactly what you would expect from Xotic. Bushing pivot is made of self-lubricating nylon, which guarantees noiseless and smooth operation. The pedal tension is fully adjustable so that you can modify it according to your preferred feel.
XW-1 has a smaller footprint compared to its contenders, which makes it even more convenient to use. What is more, it has gold contact relay true bypassing, meaning that it can transfer your tone without altering anything in it. This way the good qualities of your sound will not be sucked. The circuit gets on with fuzz like a house on fire, allowing you to incorporate your favorite fuzz boxes into the rig and enter the realm of distorted wahs. XW-1 has an extensive control set, featuring tiny pots on the side of the unit, as well as internal switches for further modifications. The abundance of tweakable parameters makes this pedal really stand out. Since it is so amazing, you will probably want to play with it all the time. Luckily, it can be powered with a battery or an adapter, which means you will not have any problems with that. Now you can see that I was not kidding when I said this fella was versatile.
XW-1 is really unique in terms of the controls. I would say the same if it had only external knobs. But Xotic decided to take it to a whole new level and included internal switches. The combination of all these controls creates a unit that can basically shape every single thing in your sound. I am going to tell you what each of them does, so that you understand fully just how much you can tweak here.
On the surface
On the side of the pedal, you will find four tiny encoders that shape the basic properties of your sound. Bias slightly changes the character of XW-1. As you rotate it clockwise, it increases the output, accentuates the basses a bit more and creates more pronounced wah. Next we have Wah Q, which modifies the intensity of the effect by messing around with the width of the filter peak. Then comes the two band EQ with Bass and Treble knobs. They have +/-15 center-detent potentiometers that allow you to change the color of your tone easily.
Under the hood
Things are quite interesting inside the pedal as well. We have four trim pots and a single knob here. The first pot is a Toe Down Range, which pushes the higher frequency response to the fullest. The second is Input Gain, which activates the Input Gain Trimmer (a.k.a. the knob I mentioned, which activates +6dB wah boost). The third one – Presence Cut – gives you smoother trebles, and the fourth – Wah Q Frequency – deepens the vowel frequency response.
Xotic Wah Sound
If you are thinking that all those features and controls make slight differences, you are utterly wrong my friend. The modification to each switch or knob makes drastic changes in your sound, thus providing you with all the characters and flavors of versatile wahs. If you are on the quest of nailing Clyde McCoy sounds, then you should start off with sample settings in the manual.
Unless you make mistakes, you should be able to nail them just right. But stopping there would limit XW-1 a great deal. The most dramatic alterations will happen as you start messing around with Bias and Wah Q. The former changes the tone completely and allows you to go from a smooth, clean sound to dirtier and louder wahs. The latter contributes to creating the effect which resembles the vocals unimaginably. Increasing it fully will leave you with extreme but defined wahs.
The internal pots are great for matching the output of XW-1 to that of your guitar. With some instruments, you will have to utilize the Presence Cut in order to tame those higher frequencies. If you notice the drop in volume, Input Gain Trimmer will make up for the loss and allow you to achieve desired levels. This pedal can create any type of wah you can think of, be it clean, subtle or completely crazy.
Even if Xotic did not try to replicate the sounds of Clyde McCoy pedals, XW-1 would still be one of the best wahs out there. But when you add those sonic possibilities to the diversity of this unit, you are left with a magnificent beast that can do it all. If wah is the effect of your choice and you want to create wonderful pieces, XW-1 will be a perfect match for you. Good luck!
Click here to view more from 10 Best Wah Pedals.