Our Top Pick for 2019: Dunlop 535Q Cry Baby Multi-Wah Pedal
The electric guitar is one of the most versatile instruments in modern music making. All a guitarist need do is simply attach a guitar cable, attach it to an amplifier, and utilize a plethora of tone choices and voices to generate some truly bodacious sounds. You can boost gain, treble, and your mids, but what if you want to add an effect to your guitar playing? The so-called wah wahs, or simply wahs that a guitar can create are best achieved using a guitar pedal. While you can generate these with a multi effect pedal or an amplifier with a strong effects package, a dedicated wah pedal will provide you with the most variation of sound and the most enjoyment. For you, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best dedicated wah pedals that are available on the market today. Check out some of these excellent pedals as well as some pre-purchase considerations for you to make before you commit.
Let’s Have a Quick Look of Our Top 4 Picks:
#1. Dunlop 535Q Cry Baby Multi-Wah Pedal
Simply stated, Dunlop is one of the most popular effects pedal producers in the world. An excellent example of success, the company grew up from the small home business of Scottish immigrant Jim Dunlop to an instrument producer that is respected globally. Initially beginning as a company that produced capos, Dunlop now specializes in effects units.
Our Gold Pick winner typically is beloved by consumers and critics alike, and our Dunlop Cry Baby wah pedal is no exception. Its design is based on the original wah pedal, the Vox Cry Baby wah wah, and it takes this iconic performance that was utilized by legends like Jimmy Hendrix and Frank Zappa into the 21st century. The 535Q’s history started with Dunlop’s invention of the GCB95 in 1985.
From an aesthetic perspective, this wah pedal sports the iconic Cry Baby design. It’s somewhat squat, and is set on four rubberized feet that aid in increasing the grip of the unit. The device is crafted of heavy duty metal and is colored black with a semi-textured surface. The pedal hinge itself is thick and sturdy enough to last a lifetime. The wah range selector is positioned along the right side of the device and is die-chrome with a textured, easy to grip surface. Insofar as dimensionality, the unit measures in at 10.9 inches long, 4.9 inches wide, and has a height, from the ground, of about x 3.5 inches and weighs about four pounds in totality.
There’s quite a history behind this product. This unit was created to provide some of the same performance that was provided by the legendary Vox unit. This unit became massively popular and led to the 1990 creation of the 535Q which was a direct response to artists wanting more range and versatility out of their wah pedals.
As a result of these artist’s requests, the wah range selector was upgraded to provide a six position range. They also eliminated the high band pass filter which some artists didn’t find desirable and modified the Q, which effects how narrow the band pass filter is on the wah pedal. The result of this is a wider range of sounds, from a deeper more throaty sound to a sharper more strikingly punchy sound; all were possible with the new Dunlop Cry Baby. Finally, the engineer’s at Dunlop added a pre-amp boost as some artists felt that the wah pedal reduced the sound of the highs and lows due to signal loss. The pre-amp boosts the signals across the entire circuit.
Simply put, this pedal is designed to emulate just about any wah sound that you’ve ever heard. It even comes with a selection of settings that will help you achieve iconic soundsets such as:
• Zappa Honking Solo Tone
• Hendrix Voodoo Chile
• Frampton Talk Box Style Wah
• Jerry Cantrell Chewy Sweeping Lead
• Bob Marley Smooth Lead
• Jimmy Page Dazed and Confused
Each of these presets are easy to achieve and sound performance perfect.
As mentioned previously, this pedal is designed to be versatile; and as a result, its popularity grows steadily, year after year. In addition to the six selections of wah, you can also select from center and range of the wah effect. In addition to this, you can also adjust the boost to your preference. As a powered device, you can simply plug it into a wall via the included AC adapter. If this is not possible, the wah can also operate on a single nine volt battery.
Currently, this wah pedal enjoys an excellent rating on Amazon, which you can expect from our Gold Pick winners. Of the 86 individuals that reviewed this item, 89 percent felt that it was worth a four star rating or above. Of these reviews a full 74 percent though it actually deserved a five star rating. One such rating stated: “Did much research on Wah Wah pedals and its history. This 535Q has been identified as the best ALL ROUND Wah, but not only that, it also gives you so many options to shape your Wah sound to find what fits your personal taste. Spec options come to show you how to copy Hendrix, Slash, Frampton etc.”
#2. Ibanez WD7 Weeping Demon Wah Pedal
Ibanez has enjoyed musical instrument prominence for over a century now. Founded in Japan in 1908 as the Hoshino Gakki Company, the instrument wing of the corporation became Ibanez when they started manufacturing Spanish guitars in the 30s. Since then, the small company that became the worldwide instrument phenomenon Ibanez has since gone on to produce millions of unique and versatile guitars. Our Silver Pick wah pedal is part of Ibanez’s line of guitar support items. The device is durable, feature-rich, and most of all, great sounding.
Few things look more different from each other than our Gold and Silver Picks. The Ibanez Weeping Demon looks more like a disembodied gas pedal as opposed to the stapler-like construction of the Cry Baby. Design-wise, it’s clear that Ibanez valued function over sleek aesthetics when they designed this monster, but they didn’t neglect to stamp on the weeping demon logo and lettering onto the foot pedal itself. The unit itself is colored a very simple gun metal grey and the footpad is made of a dark gray, slip resistant rubber. The casing is as heavy duty as you can get; it’s comprised of a die-cast aluminum that is sturdy and won’t accumulate scratches with extended use. This pedal has the measurements of ten inches in length, two and a half inches in height, and four inches in width.
The Weeping Demon is considered a variable wah, and is part of the tone-lock series of wah pedals that were first introduced in 2004. Positioned alongside of the pedal itself are three parameter knobs that when you set pre-set the desired configuration, can be fully tucked into the chassis of the wah pedal itself in order to protect them from damage.
The topmost knob deals with level and can add a little bit of crunchiness to your wahs. It ranges from a cleaner sound to a more overdriven noisy sound. The second knob, which is positioned in the middle of the three adjustment knobs, controls the character of the wahs generated by this pedal. This Q knob, similarly to how the Q effect affects the Cry Baby, controls how intense the filter sweep is; simply engage the switch, and dependent on how much you manipulate the pedal, you’ll get different wah wahs. The final switch is a bass EQ effect; this can alter the sound of your wah from bassy to smooth.
There are two built-in modes for this wah; the first uses the switch positioned along the side of the main pedal and is called “footswitch mode”. With this mode you use your foot to turn the wah effect on and off via the clickable switch. With this mode, you don’t have to continuously interact with the pedal at all, you can simply turn on your wahs with a single step and turn them off with another. The result is a mid ranged EQ type sound that, if you wish, you can alter by applying pressure to the pedal.
To engage the second mode, simply pull up the lever that is positioned along the left side of the unit with your hand. When this lever is engaged, auto-switch mode is activated. Auto switch allows for the unit to engage the wah effect when your foot is placed directly on the pedal. This is a more traditional wah experience, as you directly control the intensity of the effect through the movement of your foot. When you are not stepping on the pedal, the effect is off; apply pressure and your guitar will gently weep.
The final setting on this pedal is a range switch that has two settings, which are normal and low. The first thing you’ll notice with the low setting is that it completely changes the sound that your guitar is outputting. That’s because this setting is actually for basses. That’s right; this pedal can even add some great-sounding wahs to your bass as well!
This is a great wah for almost any guitarist. On Amazon, 94 percent of the reviewing audience felt that this is a great pedal (at least worthy of four stars). One reviewer’s testimonial: “I played this at a local guitar dealer before, and I immediately fell in love with it. I decided to order it here since it was a bit cheaper brand new, and I am completely satisfied. The cool thing about this pedal is that it’s got two different modes to engage the wah (Auto-wah and Footswitch.) I use the auto-wah feature.”
#3. Vox V847A Wah Pedal
Simply put, the wah pedal and effect began with Vox. Originally an amplifier company, in 1965, 20 year old employee Brad Plunkett was challenged by the company’s CEO to recreate their iconic amplifiers with cheaper parts to make them more accessible. He did this by replacing the very expensive MRB switch with a potentiometer, which was very cheap. Playing around with the potentiometer, Brad tried something new:
“I went next door, and asked a friend of mine to plug a guitar into this pile of wires, resistors, and capacitors I had on the bench. He strummed a few chords while I turned the knob on the potentiometer. It went ‘WAH-WAH-WAH.’ We looked at each other, and said, ‘Wow! This is really great!’”
Plunkett then wired the potentiometer setup into a Vox organ shell and the rest is wah wah history. Our Bronze Pick is a direct attempt by Vox to recapture some of that magic from the early days of rock and roll and in this regard, they’ve succeeded.
While Vox originally held the Cry Baby name, they failed to register it as a trademark and it was purchased by Dunlop. While not technically a Cry Baby wah, it’s perfectly clear that this wah pedal takes a lot of visual aesthetic cues from the original pedal designed by Vox. As a matter of fact, both the Dunlop Cry Baby and the Vox V847 A look very similar in design. The size is also very similar but the Vox is a little longer; the Vox pedal measures in at a length of 12.5 inches, a height of 3.5 inches, and a width of 5.2 inches.
The chief difference between the Dunlop and Vox pedals on our list is that the Vox pedal was built to the specifications of the original 1965 Cry Baby, whereas the Dunlop is a modified version that came from artist’s requests in the 1990s. With this unit you’ll certainly be able to generate some delicious sounding wahs, but you may not be able to get quite as many unique ranges or Q effects from the Vox model.
With this pedal you will get the ability to create guitar tones that directly emulate some of the most iconic performances of modern rock history. Want to create a funk band with retro 70s styling? You can do it with this pedal. Want to explore some contemporary Jazz wahs? This is the absolute perfect pedal for that job. The fact that this pedal emulates such a classic doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have functionality that brings it into line with more contemporary devices. Like all of the other units on our list, this device utilizes an AC power supply, but also like those on our list and unlike the original Vox pedal, you can utilize a nine volt battery to power this device wirelessly. In fact, you can even power the pedal with a manganese battery for a full 100 hours. Vox has also included a buffered input that preserves your guitars tone when you’re not utilizing the pedal directly.
With such a storied history, you know that this wah pedal will be a darling to the reviewing community on Amazon; 87 percent of this community thought that this was at least worthy of a four star rating. Of the five stars, here is one testimonial which captures the excellent performance of this iconic pedal: “In my opinion, the best sounding wah on the market. It has a wide, full range of tones so you can get your funk and Jimi Hendrix on. Works well for a Temptations, “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” vibe. I run it through my Mesa-Boogie Subway Blues and get a pretty decent vintage tone with it.”
#4. Rocktron Classic Wah Pedal
Are you ballin on a budget but still want to generate excellent sounding wahs? Then the Classic Wah Pedal by Rocktron is the choice for you. Rocktron’s corporate motto is, “Everything at the other end of your guitar cable”, and this line of thinking exemplifies that they are dedicated to guitarists and seek to provide powerful sounds, in many cases, on a budget.
If you are looking for a classic sounding wah that’s not going to have a lot of frills, then this is the perfect wah for your needs. It produces a great range of sound and with this device you’ll be able to emulate some of the classic wah sounds that were produced by the famous musicians of yesteryear. It shares a visual aesthetic that’s reminiscent of the original wah pedal; and as a result, looks very similar to our gold and bronze picks. It has a metal body that’s very durable and a rubberized foot pedal cover that will stand up admirably to years of use. On the front, you’ll find the Rocktron logo as well as the products name. This is also one of the smallest wah effect pedals on our list; it measures in at 11 inches in length, 3.5 inches in height, and five inches in width at the base. Similarly to the other pedals on our list and despite its classic design, you can power this device through a standard AC adapter or through a nine volt battery.
It includes a great Q effects resistor that has a surprisingly great range for the price point. The spring’s action is at the right level of resistance, and even with the slightly smaller size, the pedal feels great for just about any sized foot. One reviewer on Harmony Central felt that, “To me, it sounds almost identical to a Dunlop Crybaby. It may not be as smooth and vocal as a vintage pedal or boutique wah. But it’s as good as any standard wah on the market.”
While this wah pedal only has six reviews on Amazon, 100 percent of these purchasers thought that this was the perfect pedal for the money. One of these reviewers even had this to say about the wah pedal: “Really can’t go wrong with this pedal. I actually like it better then my regular Dunlop cry baby. Not quite up there with my vox but pretty close and for the price most def worth it. I added this one because wanted one to gig with and not worry about some shady venues if you know what I mean.Had a ts-9 and another vox stolen a while back.”
With the range of emulation of wahs that are available on amplifiers, you’d think that the sound has a relatively low range; this is not the case. Since the invention of the wah wah pedal in 1966, there have been many advancements that make the standard wah wah pedal very versatile in the sound that it can generate. Each pedal has its own distinct range of wah tones, so you might want to do some shopping around when seeking a pedal that will have you sounding like Hendrix during his famous National Anthem performance. There are a plethora of pedals out there with different ranges that sound great for specific genres, be they hard rock, vintage rock, classic rock, or even country or blues, so it’ll take a bit of research on your part to make a decision on what pedal works best with your type of music.
These types of devices come in a bevy of different size and shapes; some look like huge staplers and some look much more complex. As you don’t want your foot five feet off of the ground, select a wah pedal that fits your comfort level and will be easy to depress with the tip or the entirety of your foot. When you play, you might be pressing the device often, dependent on the music you’re creating, so you don’t want something that’s too unwieldy and uncomfortable to use while at a gig. For wah pedals, measurement is important, we’ve included all the dimensions of the pedals on our list, but if you want to buy one that isn’t featured here, be sure to consider the size and shape before you make your purchase.
Battery Life and Plug-in Power
Sometimes when you’re playing a gig you simply don’t have enough outlets for all of your gear. In this situation, utilizing a series of pedals that are wirelessly powered can really help you keep your unique sound; even if your sound is powered by batteries. When searching for a wah pedal that will melt their minds, be sure to select one that has an AC adapter and can be powered by a battery when you don’t have an option to plug it in. Also, be sure that your wah pedal’s battery can last for a while; some products on our list have a battery life that will last you through several gigs, so be sure to consider these types if you find that you won’t be able to charge every time.
You’ll be stepping on this device constantly, so a flimsy wah wah pedal would not contribute well to your overall electric guitar playing experience. When selecting a wah pedal, be sure that it’s made of a strong, preferably metallic material, and also be sure that any dials that may be less rugged than the remainder of the unit are positioned in such a way that you won’t accidentally destroy them with your foot. Also, these types of devices should be as non-slip as possible, because you don’t want to fall when deploying your wahs into your power chords.
Conclusion (Wrapping it up)
Great guitar playing and strong effects go hand in hand. The wah pedal ensures that you will look great playing while your guitar gently weeps out some beautiful tones. If you are looking to refine your sound and belt out some classic tunes, look into expanding your repertoire with a wah pedal and some other pedal effects as well. This list will help you find the wah pedal that’s great for your specific type of playing and will help you know what to look for in a wah if you’d like to seek one that isn’t on our list. Whatever wah pedal you pick, you’ll be sure to generate some funky, bluesy, and rocking sounds.