Wah Pedals

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About Wah Pedals

Wah pedals, or ‘wah-wah’ pedals as they are sometimes called, are probably the most recognisable guitar effect of them all. Everyone knows either the theme tune to ‘Shaft’, Jimi Hendrix’s immortal wah intro to ‘Voodoo Child' (Slight Return) or Kirk Hammett’s lead playing on ‘Enter Sandman’. These are all sounds produced through judicious use of a wah pedal.

A wah pedal is essentially an over-pronounced EQ effect built into a treadle-style pedal that lets your foot take continuous control over the sweep of frequencies. With your toe down, the pedal gives a snarly trebly tone; with your heel down, you get a somewhat muffled, bassy sound. Moving your foot back and forth in increments gives you that distinct vocal-like sound that characterizes the wah effect.

As you may expect, lots of manufacturers offer their take (or takes!) on the wah. Perhaps the biggest and best loved is Dunlop, who make the famous Crybaby and innumerable variations thereof, including lots of artist signature models.

At guitarguitar, we keep a massive selection of wahs in each of our UK stores, including lots of Dunlop models alongside plenty of others including Morley, Fulltone, and Electro-Harmonix. Every wah has its own sound and personality so it pays to do some research or to come to our stores and try a few for yourself!

Frequently Asked Questions about Wah Pedals

For best results, definitely put your wah pedal at the beginning of your effects chain, right after the tuner and before anything else. Other positions can offer 'interesting' results but 'interesting' doesn't often translate in this case to 'good'. We recommend sticking with the front for the wah.
The 'Q' control is used to determine how wide the mid-range of the wah's sweep should be and roughly where its centre point lies on the frequency spectrum. Simple put, a bigger (hence wider) Q value gets you a very open and expressive wah sound that suits distorted tones particularly well. Narrower Q settings can help funky riffs take on a life of their own.
This famous sound is actually really straightforward and easy to recreate! Simply dial up a moderately distorted sound on your amp (or overdrive pedal) and click on your wah pedal. Now, rock the pedal back until it is half open and half closed. Try some notes: you should be pretty much there! Adjust the pedal's angle to taste and simply leave it there! Don't forget your headband!
Switchless wah wah pedals normally use electro-optical circuits that do not use moving parts to both sense the weight of your foot on the treadle pedal and influence the sweep of the sound itself. As soon as you step on the pedal, the circuit (which, in reductive terms could be described as a light meter) will operate and make the wah sound. Take your foot off and the pressure differential stops the wah sound and bypasses the pedal altogether.
Don't we all! Jimi used a Vox Clyde McCoy Wah pedal to get his immortal Voodoo Child tone. That pedal may be long gone but thankfully there are a number of new wahs that are more than up to the job. First off, Dunlop offer a Jimi Hendrix model Crybaby which is specially voiced to recreate those classic tones. Fulltone have a fantastic wah called the Clyde Deluxe, which has three different tone settings, one of which is not-so-mysteriously named 'Jimi'. We would recommend looking into getting a fuzz pedal to compliment and enhance your Hendrix experience, too. There are a huge amount available at guitarguitar so have fun trying them out and make sure you have a go of the Dunlop Fuzz Face reissue for complete Jimi-immersion.