Best Auto-Wah Pedals Reviewed in Detail

5 Best Auto-Wah Pedals to Create Unique Sound Effects

18 Models Considered
51 Hours of Research
7 Experts Interviewed
148 Reviews Analyzed

The wah-wah effect is a hallmark of the electric guitar sound. This distorted sound is normally produced by a manual foot pedal, which puts the guitarist in complete control over when and to what degree the wah effect is applied. But when you want to apply distortion faster than the human foot can react to your guitar playing, the answer is to automate the distortion effect. That’s where having the best auto-wah pedal comes into play.

Auto-wah pedals work like automatic filters, cutting off different frequencies depending on how loudly you are playing. If you pick or strum lightly, the wah effect will be relatively light as well. On the other hand, if you pick more aggressively, an auto-wah pedal will apply a greater distortion to your sound. Some auto-wah pedals use a combination of envelope filters and cutoff filters to get rid of unwanted frequencies from your sound, while other pedals use a low-frequency oscillating filter to change the tone and distortion of your electric guitar constantly.

Auto-wah pedals are becoming an increasingly popular alternative to the standard wah-wah pedal thanks to how simple they are to use and the highly unique sounds they produce. These pedals – which are, in fact, control boards rather than true pedals – are easy to adjust to produce a particular sound effect and are highly effective at producing an ever-responsive distortion.

Not every auto-wah filters’ frequencies offer the same adjustment options, and this issue can make it difficult to choose the best auto-wah pedal for you. In looking for the best auto-wah pedals on the market today, we considered the style of automated frequency filter that each auto-wah pedal uses and the types of knobs available to more fully customize your sound. We also looked at what type of power supply each pedal uses, since this can be important for setting up your pedal during practice or gigs.

Best 5 Auto-Wah Pedal Reviews 2019

We spent tens of hours researching auto-wah pedals, combing through manufacturer’s information for technical specifications and unique components. We also read through hundreds of customer reviews to find out which auto-wah pedals guitarists are most excited about. The result is our picks of the five best auto-wah pedals, highlighted in the table below. Continue reading for detailed reviews of each pedal, complete with pros and cons. Our buying guide covers everything you need to know about choosing the right auto-wah pedal for your desired sound style. Finally, we sum up our three overall favorite auto-wah pedals.

Editor’s Choice

A budget-friendly and high-quality at the same time auto-wah pedal from Donner is an absolute satisfaction for a guitar player looking for a new sounding

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10
Best Sounding Auto-Wah Pedal

Thr best sounding auto-wah effect pedal on the market sensitivity, decay, resonance, and range (bias) controls to create inimitable auto-wah effects

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9.8
Best Auto-Wah for Blues

A descent auto-wah pedal from Moeer known for solid sound quality in the mid and low ranges which makes it the best pedal for blues

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9.6
Best Value Auto-Wah

A compact and lightweight auto-wah effect pedal with sensitivity, decay, resonance, and range (bias) controls to play with your guitar sounding

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9.5
Budget Pick

A budget-friendly auto-wah pedal for novice musicians or amateur guitar players to entertain yourself with new sounds

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9.3
1.

Donner Mini Auto-Wah PedalEditor’s Choice

Features
  • Knobs: sensitivity, resonance, decay, frequency range
  • Working state indicator: LED light
  • Power: 9V DC
  • Dimensions: 92 × 37 × 32 mm

 

VIEW ON AMAZON

Guitarists looking for their first auto-wah pedal and experienced distortion lovers alike can agree on this pedal from Donner. For a budget-friendly price, this compact pedal has almost all of the controls of more expensive competitors. The sensitivity knob is large enough to give you precision control over your sound effect, while an included resonance knob allows you to set the sharpness of the effect. There are also decay and range controls to further customization of your sound.

You might expect the sound to be a bit thin at this low price point, but that’s not the case with the Donner Mini Auto-Wah. The circuitry inside the unit is fully analog, so the sound effect is highly responsive, and there’s no artificial wash over your music. Better yet, when the bypass is activated, the analog circuitry directly connects the input and output ports, so you don’t have any electronic interference.

Although not essential, it doesn’t hurt that this incredible mini auto-wah pedal is compact and lightweight. You can set it easily out of the way and transport it with your amp without worrying about it. The casing is built entirely from aluminum, so you don’t have to worry about durability when pushing on the bypass.

Pros
  • Inexpensive
  • Includes resonance and range controls
  • Analog circuitry and true bypass
  • Compact and durable
Cons
  • No bass switch
2.

Mad Professor MAD-SWAW Guitar Wah Effects PedalBest Sounding Auto-Wah Pedal

Features
  • Knobs: sensitivity, resonance, bias, decay, GTR/Bass switch
  • Working state indicator: LED light
  • Power: 9V DC
  • Dimensions: 5.1 × 3.1 × 2.4 in

 

VIEW ON AMAZON

The Mad Professor Snow White is hands down the best sounding auto-wah pedal on the market today. But, that incredible sound quality comes at a high cost – this auto-wah pedal costs nearly $200, compared to less than $60 for most of its close competitors. That makes this pedal best suited for professional guitarists who plan on using it for gigs.

The reason that guitarists love the sound of the Mad Professor auto-wah is that it comes the closest to replicating the sound of a manual wah pedal. While the controls are nothing special – you’ll find sensitivity, decay, resonance, and range (bias) controls – the responsiveness is impressive, and it’s much easier to create unique wah effects without over-saturating your tones.

Another advantage of this auto-wah is that it works for bass as well as guitar. For bass players in search of an auto-wah, this is easily one of the best units available, and all it takes to activate for bass is the flip of a switch.

Of course, the pedal is built with analog circuitry so that you have a true bypass without electronic interference when the wah effect is deactivated. The circuitry and pedal as a whole are protected by Mad Professor’s two-year warranty.

Pros
  • Most responsive, natural wah sound
  • Works with bass guitars
  • Analog circuit with true bypass
  • Two-year warranty
Cons
  • Expensive
3.

Mooer EQ Effects PedalBest Auto-Wah for Blues

Features
  • Knobs: frequency range, resonance intensity (Q), rate, Hi/Mid/Low Peak switch
  • Working state indicator: LED light
  • Power: 9V DC
  • Dimensions: 1.75 × 4.25 × 2.25 in

 

VIEW ON AMAZON

The Funky Monkey auto-wah pedal from Mooer offers solid sound quality in the mid and low ranges, making it one of the best auto-wah pedals for blues music. However, rock guitarists may have a harder time with this auto-wah because it starts to develop an artificial whooshing sound at higher frequencies.

You’ll notice immediately that this wah pedal is missing a decay control – instead, it has a low, mid, and hi peak switch that stands in. This somewhat limits your control over the signal decay, which some guitarists, who like complete control over wah effects, will miss. In addition, the range and resonance knobs are very small, making it difficult to alter your settings for these aspects of the filter precisely. However, the large sensitivity knob makes it much easier to dial in when and to what extent the wah effect kicks in.

Like its competitors, the Mooer mini auto-wah pedal is built with a sturdy aluminum casing to stand up to years of stomping. Plus, the analog circuitry is designed to offer a true bypass when the wah effect is turned off.

Pros
  • Good sound quality in low and mid ranges
  • Large sensitivity knob
  • Analog circuit with true bypass
Cons
  • Three-setting decay switch rather than a control knob
  • Small resonance and range knobs
  • Whooshing sound at high frequencies
Features
  • Knobs: sensitivity, resonance, frequency range, decay
  • Working state indicator: LED light
  • Power: 9V DC
  • Dimensions: 9(D) × 50(W) × 46.5(H) mm

 

VIEW ON AMAZON

Guitarists rave in speeches about the value of this compact and quality-sounding mini auto-wah pedal from Valeton. The pedal control board is designed to mimic the much more expensive Mad Professor Snow White, which means you have much of the same ability to adapt your wah effect as with that high-end pedal. However, the Valeton is even smaller in build, which frees up space on your soundboard.

Of course, for just $50 the sound quality of the Valeton pedal can’t match the Mad Professor. But, users loved the funky sound effect and were quickly able to dial in reasonable effect settings in the mid tonal ranges. It’s only at very low or very high ranges that a slightly artificial sound becomes apparent as the wah effect becomes saturated.

In addition to being small and lightweight, users were generally impressed with the build quality of this pedal. The aluminum casing and stomp pedal are highly durable, and the pedal features an analog circuit construction. Like the other auto-wah pedals we reviewed, there is a true bypass when the wah effect is disabled so that you get a completely clean sound through the unit.

Pros
  • Inexpensive
  • Excellent effect controls
  • Funky sound at mid ranges
  • Durable, compact casing
  • Analog circuit with true bypass
Cons
  • Slightly artificial sound at low and high ranges
5.

Ex Auto-Wah PedalBudget Pick

Features
  • Knobs: Up/Down switch, peak, sensitivity
  • Working state indicator: LED light
  • Power: 9V DC
  • Dimensions: 3.5 × 1.4 × 1.4 inches

 

VIEW ON AMAZON

Guitarists rave in speeches about the value of this compact and quality-sounding mini auto-wah pedal from Valeton. The pedal control board is designed to mimic the much more expensive Mad Professor Snow White, which means you have much of the same ability to adapt your wah effect as with that high-end pedal. However, the Valeton is even smaller in build, which frees up space on your soundboard.

Of course, for just $50 the sound quality of the Valeton pedal can’t match the Mad Professor. But, users loved the funky sound effect and were quickly able to dial in reasonable effect settings in the mid tonal ranges. It’s only at very low or very high ranges that a slightly artificial sound becomes apparent as the wah effect becomes saturated.

In addition to being small and lightweight, users were generally impressed with the build quality of this pedal. The aluminum casing and stomp pedal are highly durable, and the pedal features an analog circuit construction. Like the other auto-wah pedals we reviewed, there is a true bypass when the wah effect is disabled so that you get a completely clean sound through the unit.

Pros
  • Inexpensive
  • Excellent effect controls
  • Funky sound at mid ranges
  • Durable, compact casing
  • Analog circuit with true bypass
Cons
  • Slightly artificial sound at low and high ranges

Buying Guide

Now that you’ve learned more about our five favorite auto-wah pedals, how do you choose between them to find the one that’s right for you? In our Buying Guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about auto-wah pedals and the features that differentiate them.

Features to consider while choosing an auto-wah pedal

5 Best Auto-Wah Pedals to Create Unique Sound Effects

When it comes to choosing an auto-wah guitar pedal, appearances can be deceiving. Auto-wah pedals all look similar, but they differ widely in how easily you can manipulate the sound quality from your electric guitar and how the filtering process works to produce distortion.

Sound features to manipulate

The first thing you need to look at when choosing an auto-wah pedal is what knobs are on the pedal for you to manipulate. These knobs are essential to modifying the underlying frequency filter effects, and thus allow you to customize the tone and distortion effect that the auto-wah pedal produces.

The first knob, which is found on almost every auto-wah pedal, controls the pedal’s sensitivity. In essence, this knob controls how much distortion effect is created based on the volume of your playing. Essentially, the sensitivity knob controls the attack portion of the auto-wah pedal’s envelope filter. When the sensitivity is turned all the way up, even lightly strummed or picked strings will produce a lot of distortion. Whereas when sensitivity is turned down, the difference in distortion between light and heavy picking will be much greater.

The sensitivity knob works in concert with the decay knob, which controls how quickly or slowly the frequency filter fades after it is activated. When the decay is low, you’ll get a more reverberating distortion that sounds closer to what you could achieve with a foot-controlled wah pedal. When the decay is turned up, the distortion effect will last longer, and more high frequencies will pass through the filter. Whenever you are trying to achieve a particular sound effect, altering the sensitivity and decay knobs in tandem is a good place to start experimenting.

The range knob, found on the Donner, Mooer, Mad Professor, and Valeton auto-wah pedals, controls how wide the envelope filter is. In fact, that controls what range of tones will be allowed through your auto-wah pedal. A wider range will enable a fuller, more complex sound, while a narrower range will limit the frequencies to produce a narrower sound.

All of the auto-wah guitar pedals we reviewed except the Ex pedal also have a resonance knob. This allows you to control how much dominant frequencies in your guitar’s sound amplify themselves, which is a way of giving higher volume to the middle range of the distortion effect.

Design

All of the mini auto-wah pedals we reviewed feature highly similar designs. Each pedal has a small, boxy design that can fit on top of your amplifier, with jacks for inputting your guitar and outputting sound to the amplifier or an additional filter. The sensitivity knob may be prominent to allow precise adjustments, as on the Ex, Donner, and Mooer pedals, or mixed in with the rest of the adjustment knobs.

Most importantly, all of the auto-wah pedals feature a foot-activated bypass button. This button ensures that you can turn off the distortion effects when needed without having to reach away from your guitar. All of the pedals we reviewed feature true bypass, meaning that the input and output jacks are directly connected via analog circuitry when the bypass is engaged.

Price

One of the best things about mini auto-wah pedals is that they are relatively inexpensive. That means that even if you only have a few songs that might benefit from an auto-wah pedal, it can be well worth adding one to your guitar. Cheap auto-wah pedals like the model from Ex start at just $30, while there are numerous pedals available for under $60. Of course, the highest-end auto-wah pedals do come with a heftier price tag – the Mad Professor auto-wah pedal costs almost $200.

FAQ

Auto-wah guitar pedals are generally reserved for rock and similar to rock genres. These types of pedals were first popularized by bands like The Who and Dire Straits in the 1970s and 1980s, and today are used by similarly hard-rocking bands and garage-style musicians. That’s not to say that auto-wah pedals can’t offer something for other types of music – if you’re working on a song that can benefit from distortion, the customizability and ease of use of auto-wah pedals makes them a great option to try out.

Since there is a nearly limitless set of options when it comes to creating a sound with your auto-wah filter, guitarists routinely make and share presets for their auto-wah filters. Many presets are available through auto-wah pedal manufacturers, and amp-maker Kemper also has a library of presets. It’s also possible to find auto-wah presets in guitarist forums online such as the Kemper Profiler forum and the Fractal Audio Systems forum.

No! Auto-wah pedals are easy for any guitarist to use, especially if you are working off a library of preset effects to get you started. Auto-wah pedals can be connected in-line to your home amplifier, so there’s also no need for a professional PA system to use your auto-wah pedal. All of this simplicity combines with the low price of a cheap auto-wah pedal to make these distortion devices extremely accessible to non-professional guitar players.

An auto-wah pedal is essentially an envelope filter, meaning that it shaves frequencies off the high and low end of the sound coming from your guitar. This envelope filter is oscillating, which produces the wah effect, and the strength of the filter relates directly to the volume and sharpness of your picking and strumming. The control knobs on every auto-wah pedal allow you to control how aggressive the frequency filter is and how long the filter effect lasts for after it is initially activated.

Our Verdict

Our three overall favorite auto-wah pedals on the market today are the Donner Mini Auto-Wah Pedal, the Mad Professor Snow White, and the Mooer Funky Monkey. All three of these pedals provide control over the resonance and range of the built-in frequency filter so you can better control your wah effects. The Mooer pedal has some issues at the high end of the tonal range but is ideal for blues and dark-sounding rock since it provides excellent sound quality and precision control at low and mid ranges. The Mad Professor auto-wah pedal boasts the best sound quality of any pedal we reviewed, making it the perfect choice for gig-playing guitarists who can dedicate the budget to investing in a high-quality auto-wah pedal. We feel the Donner Mini Auto-Wah Pedal is the overall best auto-wah pedal for most guitarists because it blends value with sound quality. The Donner pedal offers clear sound effects and simple controls in a small and durable body that doesn’t take up much space on your soundboard – all for a price that any guitarist can afford.

5 Best Auto-Wah Pedals to Create Unique Sound Effects

10/10 Total Score
Donner Mini Auto-Wah Pedal - Editor's Choice
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