Since the 1960’s the wah pedal sound has become an iconic feature of electric guitar playing. From voodoo blues to funk and expressive shredding, the wah pedal has been a central figure. This is a buyer’s guide that will help you find the best wah pedal out there.
There are so many different kinds of wah pedals available, each with its own unique set of strengths. The exact model of wah pedal that you would buy would depend on things like the genre of music you intend to play, the other pedals on your rig, as well as your budget.
This article is here to help you have an in depth look at some of the options you have available.
By focusing on some of the most important considerations, and doing some in depth analysis of all the top pedals, we have done all the hard work for you.
With our list, you are well on your way to getting the best wah pedal to compliment your rig!
Things To Consider When Buying The Best Wah Pedal
Choosing the right wah pedal is about much more than just taste. There is a range of things that you need to carefully consider when you go out to buy your wah pedal.
Often guys will just go out there and buy the first pedal that they think looks cool. While it is important to like the look, and feel of your wah pedal, there are some other, more important factors to keep in mind.
Some wah pedals have excellent expression while others are geared more to evenly change between dark and bright sounds. Some people even use their wah specifically to boost a specific register in their tone.
Here is a list of some of these considerations that might help to guide you in your search for your perfect wah pedal.
|Does is work with overdrive.||This concern cannot be understated. Wah pedals sound very different once you use them in tandem with a distorted or overdriven sound. You need to check that the expression of the wah is good enough in all the settings that you might be using it.|
|Multi-function||Sometimes a wah pedal is more than just a wah pedal. It is more and more common to find pedals that can be programmed to function as either wah, volume or pitch bend. This often means that the quality of the wah is not as good as a straight wah pedal. With the technology always improving, though, the sound of these multiple expression pedals also keeps getting better and better.|
|Analog vs Digital.||This ties in with the previous point we made. Most wah pedals are analog, but since it is more and more common for pedals to have multiple functions, you will also find that those pedals are all digital. At the end of the day it all comes down to the different sounds and which one you prefer.|
|Build||Wah pedals are probably the kind of pedals where the physical build of the pedal is most important. As it is being used, you will constantly be putting a lot of physical weight on the pedal and move that weight around as you use it. A wah needs to be sturdy. We recommend pedals built from metal over those built from plastic or other more breakable materials.|
|Power supply.||All wah-wah pedals need a power supply to function. People often overlook the importance of a good power supply. This goes for your pedal as well as for the rest of your rig. The power supply can cause a lot of problems if it is not the right one. Make sure it does not bring a lot of unwanted noise to your sound. Power supplies are one of the main causes of noise.|
|Position.||Since a wah pedal lets you constantly change between high and low frequencies, it is important that you need to be able to find a position on the foot pedal where the tone is balanced. With the pedal at either of the extremes, the sound will either be very bright or totally dark. A good pedal needs a sweet spot somewhere in-between.|
|Optical vs Mechanical||We would rather not make a bold claim and say which one is better, since everybody will have different criteria. Rather, we will tell you the difference, and you can decide for yourself. An optical wah works with a digital signal that gets manipulated electronically with the position of the pedal. A mechanical wah, on the other hand, physically changes the tone with a mechanism that rolls the tone up and down — much like what you would do with your hand on the tone knob of an electric guitar. The upside of a Mechanical wah is that you can replace a faulty part yourself. The downside is that you need to know how.|
Best Wah Pedal 2017 – Top 10
|Dunlop GCB95 Cry Baby Wah Guitar Effects Pedal||Medium-large (long) pedal||Yes|
|Dunlop 535Q Cry Baby Multi-Wah||Medium-large (long) pedal||Yes|
|Morley VAI-2 Steve Vai Bad Horsie||Pedal with base. Medium large||Yes, buffered|
|Behringer HB-01 Hell Babe Wah||Medium-large (long) pedal||No|
|Vox WAH845 Classic Wah Pedal||Medium-large (long) pedal||Yes|
|VOX WAH847 Classic||Medium-large (long) pedal||Yes|
|Moog ACCEP003 EP3 Expression Pedal||Chunky||Yes|
|Dunlop CBM95 Cry Baby Mini Wah||Small||Yes|
|Donner Wah Cry 2 in 1 Mini Guitar Wah Effect/Volume Pedal||Medium-small size||Yes|
|Electro-Harmonix WAILER WAH||Medium-large (long) pedal||Yes|
Our Pick For The Best Wah Pedal 2017
Of all the wah pedals that are out there, the one that would be our number one pick was always obvious.
It has been around for decades and has graced the pedal boards of some of the greatest guitarists that have ever lived
You don’t get more authentic than the legendary Dunlop Cry Baby Wah Pedal.
In our detailed review that follows, you will see exactly why we picked this pedal to take our number one spot. Dunlop has developed Crybaby signature models for many, many different guitar heroes. Who knows, maybe you will be the next one!
In-depth Analysis & Reviews
Wah pedals are some of the pedals that are the most fun to fool around with. We went through all that pleasure of playing and researching a bunch of pedals and brought them down to a list of 10.
Every entry on our list will contain some helpful in depth details of the model. So, read through them carefully and decide which one would be just right for what you need in a wah pedal.
Best Wah Pedal #1: Dunlop GCB95 Cry Baby Wah Guitar Effects Pedal
If you listen to what is most probably the single most iconic use of a wah pedal, you will hear the Dunlop GCB95 in action. What is that, you may ask?
Well, it is Jimi Hendrix’ Voodoo Child (slight return). On that track you can hear why this is one of the greatest wah pedals ever made. It also explains why it is so incredibly popular.
The look and design is as classic as the sound. An all-black casing around a solid steal body. That means that the weight of the metal combined with the grip of the casing makes this one of the sturdiest wah pedals you could find. It allows you to really dig into the motion of the pedal, for that authentic “wah-wah” scratch action.
The high-end frequencies are very sharp and work in beautiful contrast with the mellow low ends. Together, they give you a range that brings out a very expressive “wah-wah” sound.
The pedal sounds great with Fuzz, as Jimi Hendrix has also often demonstrated. With the foot switch all the way to the front (treble) you get that high frequency soul sound that a lot of players are after. The switch rolled all the way back on the other hand gives you a beautiful round jazzy sound without getting too muddy.
It works with most pedal board setups. Just maybe not as great with very high gain pedals.
Best Wah Pedal #2: Dunlop 535Q Cry Baby Multi-Wah
This pedal is well known for its extreme versatility. It has that reputation for good reason. The amount of different tones that you can get out of it is amazing. This pedal is perfect if you are ready to buy a wah, but might still change how you use it. It is also perfect for all those guitarists out there who tend to play many different genres of music.
All the different kinds of knobs, switches, and settings you get with the Dunlop 535Q let you use the pedal for such a wide variety of sounds. The 535Q is one of the most customizable wah pedals you could hope to find. There are many great wah pedals out there, as you will see on our list. But they all tend to be good at one or two specific things, whereas this pedal can serve any number of musical situations equally well.
This wah has a built-in boost, to amplify your signal slightly. Switch on the side of the pedal lets you switch the boost on and off with the flick of the foot.
Best Wah Pedal #3: Morley VAI-2 Steve Vai Bad Horsie
This is another one of the most popular wah pedals around. It is also a continuously well rated pedal. Many enthusiasts like to compare it to the Dunlop 535Q Cry Baby Wah. It is hard to say which is objectively better, since a lot depends on what you consider to be your preferred wah application and tone tone. But, the Morley is better than the Dunlop with high gain tones.
Unlike the Crybaby, the Morley Bad Horsie is not activated by pushing all the way down on the foorswitch. It features what they call a “switchless design”, which means it turns on simply by moving the pedal with your foot. The pedal’s spring action automatically returns it to the start position when you take your foot off it, and it turns off automatically. This is obviously only good or bad depending on your application. If you want to seamlessly go back to your pre wah tone, it is amazing, but if you want to use the pedal to park on a specific tone, this pedal will not work.
The pedal has two modes that you can use. The Steve Vai, and the Contour modes. The contour mode can then also be further customized.
The build is as solid as you could hope for, and the traction on the foot pedal feels very good.
As we’ve mentioned before, this pedal is very good for high gain sounds. The effect blends well with distorted, high gain sounds. The effect itself is not as pronounced as it might be with the Crybaby.
Best Wah Pedal #4: Behringer HB-01 Hell Babe Wah
This is a pedal that is perfect for guitarists who want to have a little bit of everything without breaking the bank.
It might be one of the most perfect entry level wah pedals ever made. It is not something that you will buy as a professional musician, but if you are just getting into using wah sounds, this is the perfect place to start.
The tone is mostly digital, and can sometimes take a bit of strength from your signal, but that is quite rare. For the price that you pay this pedal has an impressive performance and a remarkable reliability.
The build is based on the classic Vox and Dunlop wah pedals. This model is like a more affordable remake of the Crybaby. If you want a taste of the Crybaby without breaking the bank, this is your pedal.
Best Wah Pedal #5: Vox WAH845 Classic Wah Pedal
This is the very first wah pedal ever made. Vox made this pedal in the 1960. The idea was to emulate the sound of the plunger moving in front of a brass instrument like a trumpet or trombone. No one knew it would become one of the most influential pedals ever made.
This original VOX wah, is like stripping down to the basics in a very real sense. This is an all analog pedal that works by all mechanical means. This is as close to a tone switch being outsourced from the guitar to the feet as you will ever get.
The build is very strong, with the steel frame surrounded by a rubber covering for optimal grip.
Best Wah Pedal #6: VOX WAH847 Classic
After the success of their original wah in the 60’s, the 847 has really become Vox’ flagship wah pedal. It is still based on the specifications of the original pedal but the new Wah-Wah offers guitarists a couple of modern tweaks and turns to just keep with the times while still preserving that classic sound.
The AC power capability and a buffered input jack helps to preserve the unprocessed guitar tone when the pedal is not engaged. The pedal’s inductor has undergone a redesign to be closer in specification to the original VOX wah inductors, for improved dynamics and tone. These changes make the pedal more modern and compatible with other current gear that many guitarists use.
Best Wah Pedal #7: Moog ACCEP003 EP3 Expression Pedal
This might surprise some of you. The Moog is considered by many to be a keyboard or synth expression pedal. It is true that it is mostly used in this way, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be used by guitarists. It can, and it is!
This is an exceptional pedal, and is particularly useful if you intend on using it along with digital plugins. It is easy to use and even easier to modify to fit another purpose.
This pedal can be used as a volume or expression pedal, not just a wah. It is, however, important to note that you will need the correct synths or plug ins to use with the pedal for it to “wah”.
The design is better than most other guitar pedals in that it is so easy to use and comfortable and sturdy under the foot.
Best Wah Pedal #8: Dunlop CBM95 Cry Baby Mini Wah
One of the most underrated pedals out there. Many might think that the mini thing is just a gimmick, but it’s not. This pedal does an excellent job of standing up to its big brother.
Space is often one of the biggest concerns for touring musicians. I am referring to space on the pedal board. I am always looking for small pedals that can do a big job. The CBM95 is exactly that.
All the best Crybaby features rolled into a compact easy to use little pedal. The crybaby’s original size is not out of mechanic necessity, so very little if anything gets lost with this smaller version.
Best Wah Pedal #9: Donner Wah Cry 2 in 1 Mini Guitar Wah Effect/Volume Pedal
This is one of the only pedals on our list that is 2 in 1. The Donner Wah Cry 2 in 1 is a wah as well as a volume pedal. With the switch of a button you can change the function and switch seamlessly from the one function to the other.
The volume pedal is very useful and often overlooked. If you can have access to a volume pedal included in your wah pedal, it is a good thing.
The Donner wah is also another small sized wah. This is an impressive achievement considering the pedal is a two in one with a footswitch.
The bottom value of the wah/volume can be adjusted to accommodate any resting value in volume or tone that suits your needs.
Best Wah Pedal #10: Electro-Harmonix WAILER WAH
The first thing that you will notice when you pick up the Wailer is that it is very light. You might even be tempted to think that it is a cheap pedal. Don’t be fooled, this is not a junk pedal. Electro Harmonix fully live up to their excellent reputation with this wah pedal of theirs.
It may be made of a type of synthetic polymer plastic, which makes it light, but it is a very durable material and the pedal is durable enough. The Electro Harmonix Wailer wah is built to last.
The Wailer also has a very pleasant tone. It sounds very rich and vocal-like sound. It has a very throaty almost human vocal like sound and works so well with single coil guitars like Fender Stratocasters or Telecasters.
It is also by far one of the more affordable pedals you can buy.
The Final Thoughts
And that is it, our top 10 wah pedals. Each one with its own personality to help you craft your tone.
The hope is that our 10 reviews and list of considerations will assist you in making an informed choice for your next wah pedal purchase.
Did we include your favorite wah-wah pedal? Were our reviews helpful? Let us know in the comments. If you like the article, please share it with all your guitarist friends.
Until next time, keep practicing and keep rocking