Tel Me About Your Wah Pedals

May 4, 2011 12:35 PM

I've been playing with a couple of wah pedals owned by a friend, an old Dunlop Crybaby and a new Vox, and I think I'm ready to get one of my own. The Vox seemed a little too dark for me and didn't really cut through with the band very well, and the switch was very hard to engage. The Crybaby cut through really well, it actually was a little too bright for me. I wasn't really happy with the pedal movement on either one, they went from high to low frequencies really fast- I'd like to have some more room to play around in. Any suggestions?
posted by InfidelZombie (34 comments total)

Wahs are very personal. I had a Crybaby and it was too shrill for me too. They take a while to get used to -- each one has its own personality. They all feel kind of fast at first -- it takes a little while to get used to how they sing. Doesn't the CryBaby have a version with a Q control that allows you to tweak (tame or sharpen) the filter? That's probably the one you want.
posted by unSane at 1:45 PM on May 4, 2011

Justin Guitar posted several clips of different Wah pedals. He thought the Bud-Wah was the best of what he tested if that is worth anything. I had a Crybaby at one point and I thought the same thing, it was way to shrill. This is a timely question for me as well, as I am currently looking. I have been considering heading in someplace and trying a bunch of them but I haven't found the time. It will be great to hear what others have to say.
posted by Silvertree at 3:23 PM on May 4, 2011

Watch this!
posted by chillmost at 4:55 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ya I have a Crybaby as well; I've had it for years. About 8 or 9 years ago it started getting a bit crackly when I moved the pedal. I did some research and found that this usually means you need to replace the pots. I think they're about $20 or something but I never got around to it and I either just got used to the crackling or it went away...I don't use it enough that I notice.
I also found it a bit high-endy but I play a Gretsch Duojet and compensate by adjusting the tone and then it's fine and actually works pretty well with the twangy sound and the reverb on the Fender.
Sometimes the Crybaby receives a Korean radio station.
posted by chococat at 6:27 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

tell me about your wah pedals, babe
tell me about your strum
tell me about your chicken pickin' honey
how you make it sound like a drum
tell me about your barre chords
tell me 'bout how you pluck
cause i love how you work the fretboard babe
now let's jump into bed and...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:10 PM on May 4, 2011 [3 favorites]

That's funny, chococat, the only thing I can really add here is that I've had a Cry Baby for many years too and when the pot gets a little corroded and crackley, I just squirt it with some contact cleaner from radio shack. Good as new!

Also, I only really LOVE my Cry Baby with my Les Paul...won't even bother with my little Mustang.
posted by snsranch at 7:54 PM on May 4, 2011

chillmost, that was the video that got me wanting a wah in the first place- it's a great film!

Thanks for the link to Justin's reviews Silvertree, hearing how the adjustable Q changes the sound of that Vox makes me think unSane is right-- what I'm looking for is this Crybaby. Has the adjustable Q plus 6 variable ranges, so should be able to find something in there I really like. Thanks for the input guys!
posted by InfidelZombie at 9:10 PM on May 4, 2011

I rarely use effects (apart from reverb) but whatever you do AVOID the Boss PW-10. I got one off eBay a while back and it sucks the big one. Just can't seem to get enough of a frequency sweep on it. Which is very unusual because Boss/Roland is, in my experience, usually top-drawer gear.
posted by MajorDundee at 2:51 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

my crybaby broke years ago - it's not really a sound i use that often and i find auto or synth wahs can be as interesting

one thing i did like to do - and still simulate* - is to leave the wah cocked at a certain angle while i play

*i have a gt8 by boss and there are many that say the gt series suffers from "cocked wah syndrome" - they say it's a bug - i tend to use it as a feature
posted by pyramid termite at 9:41 AM on May 5, 2011

I was thinking about that too - my friend uses his that way a lot and it sounds really good. Seems like a good idea to have a hardwired switch instead of the ones where it comes on when you put your foot on it - that way you don't have to stand there the whole time you're using it that way.
posted by InfidelZombie at 12:10 PM on May 5, 2011

I went down to my local music consignment store today cos I saw that they had one of those CryBaby pedals with the adjustable voicing, Q and boost.

It is a vast improvement over the original. Being able to move the filter frequency makes a huge difference, especially for single coil guitars as you can dial out the shrillness and spread the Q a bit to tone the whole thing down.

Basically it completely rocks -- I had a total WHOAH moment -- and I bought it on the spot.
posted by unSane at 4:23 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

You might want to be cautious about the 535Q Crybaby wah. I had one, and though I liked the variable Q and gain boost options, the fact that it took an 18V adapter SUCKED.

I power all of my pedals using a 1-spot adapter, and the fact that my Wah took 18V instead of 9 meant another power supply. I ended up going back to the classic Crybaby.

Ultimately an important part of playing with a Wah (of any type) is playing it enough that you get a sense of where to "ride" it. If it's too bright, you might not open it alll the way and use a bit less of the full range of the pedal -- and that's OK.
posted by chimaera at 8:33 PM on May 5, 2011

That's weird, chimaera - it didn't say anything about needing an 18V adapter in that link, and the photo that shows the bottom of the pedal says it takes a 9V. I've already ordered it, so I guess I'll find out when it gets here.
posted by InfidelZombie at 9:27 PM on May 5, 2011

I agree with the idea that you need time to practice your wah technique before you can say whether a pedal works for your or not. My impression is that when you opt for the adjustable Q you sacrifice in terms of resonance and harmonics. One of my favorite things to do with my crybaby is to tune the feedback of my guitar (thinline tele) so that I can play a single chord and then arpeggiate the harmonics by gliding thru the wah's various frequency responses. If you have too much control over the envelope you run the risk of dulling the sound, making it boredom.
posted by grog at 10:56 PM on May 5, 2011

It takes 2x9v batteries, so yeah 18v. Doesn't bother me as my pedal board consists of the wah and a distortion pedal and I don't use a multi adapter.
posted by unSane at 4:59 AM on May 6, 2011

Wah is all about rhythm. Rhythm guitar skill, to be precise.
Give a good rhythm player any of the above machinery, and it will sound good.
The examples are numerous.

Rhythm guitar is a sadly negected art.

Did I mention that it's all about rhythm?
posted by Zenabi at 6:35 AM on May 6, 2011

[and something about a lawn] ;-)
posted by Zenabi at 7:00 AM on May 6, 2011

Rhythm guitar is a sadly negected art.

Very true. I can fake a lead but my true love is rhythm.

I'm so bored of indie bands who play straight eighth notes. Get a fucking life.

Today on Facebook we have been mostly rocking to Wilko Johnson of Dr Feelgood, one of the greatest British rhythm players of all time.

Incidentally, anyone who wants to join me on facebook is welcome to... lots of music posted and discussed. Just post your mefi handle in the friend request.
posted by unSane at 7:36 PM on May 10, 2011

unSane, as you know, I am already your FB friend, but your recent SHOCKING defacement of the Canadian flag is making me reconsider. If I haven't unfriended you yet, it's only because I'm turning my computer upside down every time I go to your page, and pretending that you aren't the kind of radical who would do such a thing.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:41 PM on May 10, 2011

It's a metaphor, FJ, for what Harper has done to this country.
posted by unSane at 7:48 PM on May 10, 2011

Well, I say we round up a posse and go kick this Harper's ASS!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:50 PM on May 10, 2011

(I was thinking back to Major Dundee's idea of a sort of incubator for Mefi Music where premixes could be posted, and you know a Facebook group wouldn't be the worst environment for this, with the actual sounds hosted on Soundcloud, say. I'm the last person to want to divert traffic to FB but it has worked out very well for these kinds of ad hoc groupings recently, much as mailing lists did a decade ago)
posted by unSane at 7:51 PM on May 10, 2011

FJ, 60% of the country are WITH YOU.

FJ for PM of Canada. You heard it here first.
posted by unSane at 7:52 PM on May 10, 2011

D'oh. unSane, tried the friend request but never got a chance to slip my MeFi handle in. So the request from a guy named Keith Pille is me.

Also: I haven't tried it, but a friend of mine has this crazy pseudo-wah thing that isn't driven by a pedal, but by a ring he wears on his right hand while playing- a sensor just tracks the movement and wahs accordingly. Haven't actually heard it in action, so I don't know how it sounds...
posted by COBRA! at 11:01 AM on May 11, 2011

That sounds like fun COBRA! (!)

Auto-wah can be a hoot on digital pedals.
posted by Zenabi at 11:23 AM on May 11, 2011

Well I went ahead and created a Music Incubator group on Facebook. The idea behind this is that it's a venue where you can post work in progress that you are not comfortable sharing publicly yet (eg on music.metafilter), with a view to constructive comments, criticism and suggestions. Please feel free to join. It's a closed group which means that you have to be a member to see the contents, but membership does not require anyone's approval.

A soundcloud account is the nicest way I've found of posting music to Facebook but if there are better vectors I'd love to hear about them.

Would it be off to announce this either here or on MeTa?
posted by unSane at 4:49 PM on May 11, 2011

Thanks for adding me to the FB group, unSane.

Would it be off to announce this either here or on MeTa?

I don't think it'd be "off" to post to MeTa, exactly, but it might be too narrow an interest-range thing for over there... just my opinion. How 'bout a post to MusicTalk, though, right here at Music? Seems entirely appropriate to me.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:56 PM on May 11, 2011

Eh, why not post it to MeTa? What's the worst that can happen, apart from a public pillorying?
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 6:48 PM on May 11, 2011

heh heh! Indeed! the pillory-ers can be fun to mess with, anyway, if you're in such a mood! So, yeah, Karlos has a point!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:56 PM on May 11, 2011

Snarling dogs; ‘The Super Bawl Whine-O-Wah “addicted to wah”’ Wah Wah.
admittedly, I have the old version, with less selectables, knowledge of construction is for that one which was nicely put together, and served several use cases.

3 options wah (with modifiers), and smooth mechanical pedal tone control action, one for the high end, one for mids, and one for low-wahs.
" WHITE ROOM (thick and Creamy), VOODOO (Midrange growl) or SHAFT (sharp and funky)."
the pedal has a dog, and when the wah is activated, the eyes light up, signifying information on which type of tone is selected, good for dimly lit situations
heavy construction, metal, and weighs enough that it doesn't go slipping around, also aided by rubber 'feet'.
"A true mechanical hard bypass switch to make sure that your signal remains untouched when you don’t need the Wah"
the pedal is shaped like a foot, this is neat.
not too hard/or easy to activate, so no accidental activation/deactivations
works well as a 'tone modifier', it can be set to one 'level' (like several people noted they use it for), and can build some nice tonal qualities.
sounds sweet with many instruments

Did not turn me into hendrix.note, try harder.
manufacturers website seems to be down, used are available many places.

It is bizarrely massively-mixed in the "metaphor"(s) that it goes with; snarling "dogs", yet shaped like a foot, but has a dog, with light up eyes, "whine-oh", as in addicted to the whine, and the new models have "hormone controls"... testosterone and estrogen levels, modifiable by the twinductor beef mode options, it is like a mixed salad of a metaphor was on a train that derailed and crashed into a highway which was unsafe at any speed, being caught out in the rain, by which I mean if you play with fire you will get burned. Offensive to everyone. Snap? Solid wah pedal.
posted by infinite intimation at 11:51 PM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've had a chance to play with the 535Q Crybaby using my good amp a few times now, and I'm really loving it. I like the midrange sounds the best, but as I work with it more I think I'll find places to use most of the tones it gives. They must have redesigned it, because the new one I got is 9V and works great off the One Spot I use for everything else. Only drawback I can see is it slides around on the concrete floor when I try to enagage the boost, but I have a clean boost I use for solos anyway so it's no big deal.

Thanks to everybody for the help on this!
posted by InfidelZombie at 12:38 PM on May 31, 2011

My version is the one without the boost switch, so the boost comes in automatically when you turn it on. I find the low Q and mid-to-high range settings the most useful, or at least the easiest to use. The one thing I would REALLY like on it is an LED and I'm thinking about retrofitting one.
posted by unSane at 2:30 PM on May 31, 2011

I hear ya- don't understand why an LED isn't standard on these things, it can't add much to the price.
posted by InfidelZombie at 4:40 PM on May 31, 2011

The World Famous, I hear ya on not having "cool" pedals--that wah of yours, that's the one that looks like an old car, right? Sheesh.

I had only just begun to consider adding a wah to my setup (that Dunlop-produced doc had a lot to do with it, but also because I really like how J Robbins uses the effect) when I won one from a Premier Guitar online drawing. It's that hideous looking Kirk Hammett Crybaby with the footbones on it. The green color is nice, but that thing looks like a fifteen year old designed it and it's definitely the eyesore of my pedalboard.

BUT it is throaty and as I get more used to using it and not tripping over it, I'm liking the sound of it more and more.

+1 on the want for an LED, though often enough the blast of high freq squeal I tend to get upon engaging it is enough to let me know. I'd need the LED more to reassure me that yeah, I did turn it off.
posted by Maaik at 10:54 AM on July 3, 2011

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