Having a SWEET Wah…

Hey there boyz n gurlz, its been a tad bit of time, but a series of exams are over and I’m completely catonic with turkey right now. What better time to blog when all is right with the world?

I have several posts planned for the following weeks on my overdrive setup and ideas and tips for playing with ODs, but for now I want to discuss my current passion for the day- my wah pedal. If you have ever owned an original “Crybaby” wah, you know how special it is! Hendrix is perhaps most famous for his use of the Dunlop Crybaby, or the Dunlop is most famous for Hendrix’s use of it. You know that its basically a tone pot put into a footswitch- but with emphasis on certain components of tone. This gives a slight vocal quality to the sound processed through it, and when you move the footswitch foreward, pronounces a sharp “Wa-AH!.” Thus the name “Wah” pedal.

the "original" Cry Baby. Whoa, wait a second....

The "original" Crybaby... Whoa, wait a second...

Now, I did a previous post on the wah HERE (click for post). So I won’t repeat details I already wrote in this post. However, I have been amazed at how prominent the wah is in my music I listen to, but have never noticed before now. The reason? The artist is not using the wah in the classical “wahck ah- wah-wah” way.

So here is how I am using my wah now.

1) Mostly ambient stuff: I do a volume swell (with a quarter note delay), and give slow rock forward, then back on the wah. The string attack is not heard, but a beautiful, violin-y phaser sound is heard. I do this for soft songs when a volume swell is needed, but needs more distinction to stand out in the mix.

2) Fixed wah: I am amazed at how MUCH this is being used. I now play 1/2 of our spanish service (with those crazy minor keys) with my TS9 or Zendrive on and a fixed wah, at about halfway. Very nice rhythms that really stand out. I can get some great lead tones as well- think Satch, Vai, or other jam tones of that type- but they only work great on the middle strings: D, G. Still, works beautiful.

3) The slow tone phase wah: Think “Mighty to Save,” and how you hear the slow wah at the beginning and on the verses. Try using this technique on other songs that just seem to be missing that “something.” Has worked great for me.

The Original Crybaby

The Original Crybaby

Things I have done to my wah, and what led me to write this post:

True bypass– I love the original crybaby more than others I have  played, but you must get it modded to truebypass ($30-40 USD). You will definitely tell it is affecting your tone when off. You will lose a bunch of highs, and some lows. True bypass will take it completely out of your original tone when off, and leave you unaffected. Those who read my blog know I’m not HUGE on TB like some players are, but in the realm of wahs, it is a MUST!

Change your tone pot settings— For those who use a wah, you may notice that sometimes in the full “toe-down” position, its a bit of a trebly ice-pick on the ears. Just a touch too bright, and if you click on an overdrive with it in this point, everyone in the audience will now be deaf. This is not too hard to fix, and you can do it with little mechanical knowledge.
1) Open the back of the wah as though you were going to put a battery in it. 2) Find the axle on the tone pot with the grooved bar from the pedal part going through it, causing it to rotate. 3) With the pedal in the full UP position, move the bar off the axis (may need a screwdriver to remove the “glide” piece- i was was able to do this around it), and rotate the axle a semi turn up. 4) Replace bar. Thats it!
You may need to do this a couple of times to find the hot spot you like. I left the back off and moved it around while connected to my guitar and amp. Found the spot, and put the backing back on. No problems.

The reason I am writing this post today is because a couple of months ago I was not using the wah and thought about removing it from my board. I am amazed at how it is now an essential part of my sound. It has only become important to me since I realized these unclassical techniques. In fact, I have not used a wah traditionally since summer time.

Do you use a wah in a differing technique than I put down? How does it work for you, and when do you use that technique?

Join me next time for an overdrive discussion!

2 Responses

  1. hey larry! i use to have a wah (with the variable Q) but sold it not because i do not like it. its because i got too addicted with it. i felt like i need to use it for each and every song. well, that is what i hear in my head anyway. i find that wah has many many different usage. aside from what you already mentioned, i used my wah for things like

    – single-note muted-string rhythm. i sometimes add a little bit of delay
    – string-skipping riffs. i back-off a little on the low strings and try to emphasize the higher strings with the wah. this is more of a feel thing
    – eight/sixteenth-note rake/ghost-note rhythms reminiscent of a 70’s disco groove

    as you can see, i really can use the wah for everything that i would play! so there it went, although, i think i have recovered and been meaning to get another one. thanks for reminding me🙂

  2. Wah and trem are funny for me. I never think to use them but if you tell me to use it on a song I’ll find a place to fit it in. Maybe I’ll make it a point to play my wah🙂

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