In addition to being a private violin teacher and having a degree in music from USC, Alecia started writing music-related articles and product reviews six years ago and has enjoyed this experience greatly. She likes to learn new instruments and write new compositions in her free time.
Marcus has a vast experience in digital audio and sound design. Thanks to his knowledge, he actively helps musicians with technical problems, improving their audio quality and promoting their tracks so that thousands of listeners can enjoy really good music.
Last updated: October 15, 2023
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Once you get good at playing the electric guitar, it’s only right that you explore different sounds, and a wah pedal can help you do that. The tool in question can be used to change the tone and or frequency of a particular song.
Our team has already reviewed more than 20 products, and in the spirit of bringing you the best wah pedals to choose from, we only mention 8 in the table below. The Xotic Wah Pedal features as our editor’s choice exhibiting more quality than the rest. It features a true bypass and allows you to adjust how far down the pedal will go as well as bass control. The device also features BIAS distortion hence allowing you a couple of different sounds when you play. There are more features to the device, as well. The other seven products will no doubt impress you as well.
It is important to note that our team’s research into various wah pedals was comprehensive and involved a couple of manufacturer websites in addition to the experience of previous users. As such, we were able to verify the type of wah pedal whether mechanical or optical. These are unlikely to affect the sound but influence the construction of the device. The type of bypass is also essential as it could have a tremendous impact on sound output. Device modes, size, and weight also come into play in gauging how suitable such a device is for various music scenarios. Below you will see all the information gathered in an easy to understand format. A table comes first, followed by in-detail product reviews, and a buying guide is also included at the end. As such, the best wah pedal for you should be within reach.
As mentioned before, you get true bypass capabilities with the purchase of this tool. Consequently, the music you are playing suffers no buffering or interference from the pedal. However, there are many more positive attributes exhibited by the device. An adjustable rubber stopper has also been incorporated. This is in conjunction with the quality potentiometer used in the construction of the pedal. You will thus find it easy to understand why this tool has been classified as mechanical.
The manufacturer also seems to have considered that people don’t have the same capabilities in their legs. As such, being able to push the pedal down may be more comfortable for some than it is for others. Consequently, you can see the need for adjustable pedal torsion, as exhibited by the Xotic Wah Pedal. In addition to the features, there are a whole bunch of controls for the sound output. They include those that adjust bass and treble. You will likely find these as knobs positioned on the side of the device. Also, if you are going to use the tool, you might appreciate the LED indicator light to show working status.
What makes it special?
Incorporates an adjustable rubber stopper
What cons did we find?
Some users have mentioned the LED light is not in the ideal position for visibility
What stands out with the Dunlop 535Q Cry Baby Multi-Wah is perhaps the fully customizable wah options. As mentioned in the features above you get six new wah range effects for your guitar. As such, the versatility of the tool is unmatched. Also, if you can adjust the frequency center, you can adjust for highs and lows, giving you control over the output of your music session.
As well you can choose one of two powering options where you either pick the electric adapter or batteries. Whichever option you pick, the tool should still perform the same way. The device features little to no distortion due to the inclusion of a true-bypass. You, therefore, needn’t worry about getting different sounding tones from playing your guitar while the pedal is connected.
What do we love it for?
Easy to use
Several sound adjustments are included
Reliable components used in making the tool
What were we disappointed with?
The device doesn’t come with the batteries or adapter required to power it up
If you are looking for an optical type wah pedal, the Morley VAI-2 Steve Vai Bad Horsie 2 may be an excellent first choice. The dual wah mode should be something you take into account if you consider this a potential purchase where the modes in question are named the Bad Horsie and Contour Mode. The latter features contour control, which adjusts the level of wah output in the song you are playing.
Maybe one of the most positive aspects of this device is the switchless activation. As a user, you may be tired of having to use your hands to switch your device on or off midway through your set. Consequently, the structure of the tool allows you to turn it off by taking your foot off the pedal. When you do step on the device, you are essentially turning it on. This device is as well battery-powered.
What makes it special?
Dual wah modes
Easy access battery compartment
Adjustable volume in contour mode
What cons did we find?
Some users have complained about the range of sounds availed by the device
If you pick up this device from Amazon or the store, you can fine-tune the low or high-frequency range settings. As such, you can count on the versatility of this tool to put you through most playing scenarios. You can also see that the device looks rather stable, and this is due to its solid metal construction. This makes it harder for you to damage the product as you are playing on stage.
There is also the auto switch-off, which you can activate by taking your foot off the wah pedal. As well, there are settings incorporated in the device that culminate in a delayed shut-down response when you step off the invention.
What do we love it for?
Adjustable foot resistance
What were we disappointed with?
The device might be a bit bulky for some
The high price point for this device puts it out of reach for a lot of people
Other features:steel construction, an optical volume pedal when wah is bypassed; combo wah, volume, and distortion; High Q Wah and “Clear-Tone” buffer circuitry; distortion comes with DRIVE, TONE and LEVEL controls
This device is a combo wah pedal in more ways than one. The first is, of course, the fact that it is both mechanical and optical. As a result of being able to fit in both these features into one body, the device exhibits more weight than some of its counterparts. This can, however, also be attributed to solid steel construction and the inclusion of other quality components. You also get to adjust volume and wah independently.
Interestingly enough, there is a high-q wah incorporated into this device. The result of this development is more levels of lows and highs when you step onto the pedal. The knobs and buttons layout on the body of the tool should also help you adjust settings as you look for optimal sound quality. You might also do well to note that the distortion provided by the device works independently of the wah and volume settings. Consequently, making tweaks to the drive, tone, and level controls will not influence the wah effect.
Why are we impressed?
Versatile musical tool
Solid materials used in construction
Quality sound output
What negatives must you be aware of?
The device takes up a lot of power to function
Knobs are too close to the foot, and thus a small mistake can ruin the musical settings
If you have less than 100 dollars budget range, this tool could be the purchase you’ve been looking for. Construction is the typical strong metal body expected of a device of this caliber. You will also note than this is an optical-type wah pedal. In support of the optical circuitry, you are going to have to purchase batteries to use with the device. Nevertheless, the battery compartment is easy to reach and access so you can replace old cells with new ones every so often.
The fact that you get a two-year warranty may also be one of the reasons you are tempted to make this the purpose of choice.
What do we love it for?
The range is impressive as well
What were we disappointed with?
If you are used to different wah-pedal models, this one may need some getting used to
The Dunlop GCB95 Cry Baby is one of the simpler looking wah pedals you can own. It also comes in at less than 100 dollars price point. There are still plenty of positives to talk about. Heavy die-cast construction features as it allows the device to last quite a while. This is in conjunction with the Hot Potz Potentiometer. As per the manufacturer, this component is meant to take multiple-use scenarios without losing sensitivity or getting damaged.
A common feature with other Cry Baby devices is the inclusion of two powering options you have as a result of your ownership of the tool. The 9-volt battery may be your preference, or you may choose to pick out an adapter from the store and plug the invention directly into a power supply. For either of those two options, you will still have to fork out some extra cash as they don’t come included in the purchase.
If you want to adjust the parameters of the sound output, you will have to do it with your feet. Examples are given where toe down will provide you with more treble in your music while heel down is likely more prevalent with bass. You as well have the added advantage of a one-year warranty.
What are its best features?
Adjustable wah output
What could be improved?
Sound is not impressive where there is heavy distortion
The SONICAKE Wah & Volume 2-in-1 is the only device to feature hard plastic construction on our list. A bonus for making this purchase is the lightweight casing that comes with the device. You will thus have an easier time carrying the tool to and from your studio or stage. As well two LED light indicators come in as a bonus in the design of the device, and these show if the device is working as it should.
Since cry baby wah pedals are some of the highest-rated devices in the market, the SONICAKE promises performance of the same caliber.
Why is it special?
The device is robust in construction
The two LEDs show you just how well the device is working
What are the flaws?
The piece of equipment is even more substantial than metal counterparts
There are several rules to buying a wah pedal. The first is that you must know a bit of information about the gadgets. Also, you may need to consider pricing and your current budgetary limits. Thirdly, you should familiarize yourself with features, so the device you buy ends up being of benefit to you. These are all areas that are included in the buying guide below.
What do you need a wah pedal for?
If you are a proficient electric guitar player, you might need to go solo in a particular set. The sound produced by electric guitars is usually similar in most cases, depending on the type of electric guitar. You can use the wah pedal to spice up a song or add an exciting dynamic to your music. The name wah-pedal is indicative of the type of sound produced by the device in conjunction with an electric guitar.
How to set up a wah pedal
Once you get a wah pedal delivered from Amazon, you will need to set it up so that it is connected to your electric guitar and amplifier, as well. Being that it is an electronic piece of equipment, the first thing to do is to turn the main power off.
The crucial next step is to hook up the pedal and amplifier to power. Of course, if the wah pedal is battery powered like the Morley VAI-2 Steve Vai Bad Horsie 2, then you don’t have to hook it up to an electric socket. You then need to plug in the guitar and the amplifier in the input and output, respectively. It is at this point that you turn the main power back on, followed by turning on the pedal in addition to the amplifier.
Once you are done with the above, you can adjust the pedal settings depending on what you want your output to be. Noteworthy is the fact that not all wah pedals have the same capabilities, so you should factor this in as well before you make the purchase. You can then go on your way to experiment with different songs and sounds to see how best to make use of the pedal.
Features to consider when choosing a wah pedal
The best guitar wah pedal is differentiated from other wah pedals by the features included. One might even say features form a critical point in determining the usefulness of individual devices. You should, therefore, carefully deliberate on the features you want to be included in your wah tool. The surefire way to do this is if you understand wah pedals and their characteristics in general. This is why they have been listed below in addition to their descriptions.
Optical or mechanical?
For those unfamiliar with a potentiometer, it is a mechanical device with a resistor component that slides down when there is a weight on it. In this case, the foot will put weight on the pedal, and the pedal will put weight on the potentiometer bringing it down. Once you take off your foot, the resistor will revert to its original position; hence, the pedal will also be lifted. The level at which the resistor has gone up or down is used to adjust the wah sound output.
On the other hand, we have the optical-type devices, and these use light to determine how far up or down the foot pedal is. This information is then used to adjust the bass and treble of the device.
The benefit of this type of wah pedal is that it is highly unlikely that the device will wear off since there is no potentiometer.
Analog or digital?
This is an area you have to consider whether you are buying a wah pedal or any other type of pedal for your guitar. The analog option provides what is deemed to be an unadulterated or unchanged version of the music you play on the guitar. On the other hand, a digital pedal will have several points of contact, unlike that of the analog, where the flow of sound is continuous. There is even conversion of analog to digital information then back again to analog as the music reaches the amplifier. Analog pedals are thus considered to give a more natural sound.
Where size is concerned, dimensions come into play. As you can see from the Morley PDWII Pro Series II, the size of the wah pedal may even come to be a hindrance if it ends up affecting other settings and knobs. Smaller devices may be preferable as they take up less space in your studio or on stage. This also avails you the option of attaching a few more pedals to your guitar setup.
The range of the sound
With a broader range of sound, there are more possibilities as to what you can do with your wah pedal. The Dunlop 535Q Cry Baby Multi-Wah does well in this regard, even allowing you to shift the center of the effect.
Once you do your research well enough, you will come across a few wah pedals with extra features. These may include warranties, variations in design that add functionality, and more. The Ibanez WD7 Weeping Demon wah pedal, for example, has an auto-wah mode not present in other devices. These features may be the reason why you end up purchasing a particular device.
Where you place a wah pedal in your signal chain is wholly dependent on the equipment you already own. In a setup where there aren’t many components, you could set it up as the first pedal. Where a more complicated structure is involved, you could push it just past a volume or compressor pedal.
If you are just starting to familiarize yourself with guitars, you should hold off on getting a wah pedal. This is because you need to grasp guitar basics before you start complicating matters further. After you get good, you can begin incorporating more equipment into the equation.
Pre-1970, there aren’t that many recorded uses of the wah pedal. Nevertheless, you can hear it in the Jimi Hendrix song, “Little Miss Lover.” Over the next few years, there are a couple more instances where the pedal was used, with one of the more famous songs being “Theme From Shaft” by Isaac Hayes.
One of the three top picks for us as a team is the Dunlop 535Q Cry Baby Multi-Wah. As far as the range of sounds goes, this device is far superior to most other components. You can select the frequency range and even the center of effects in response to the song or songs you are playing at that time.
The Morley VAI-2 Steve Vai Bad Horsie 2 is one of the top optical wah pedals you can have in your music set. The dual wah modes are also praise-worthy. As for the Xotic Wah Pedal, almost everything is adjustable from the bass, treble, bias to the rubber stopper. Also, users can tweak the torsion to suit them. These three options stand at the pinnacle of all eight options we have provided in the list above. Nevertheless, we cannot decide which model you choose as you are more familiar with your situation and needs. Consequently, you need to choose wisely from the options we have availed to you.