You might recognize the wah pedal from classic songs like “Voodoo Child” by Jimi Hendrix or “Enter Sandman” by Metallica.
How to Use The Wah Pedal? You use the wah pedal by pressing down on the metal plate and it creates a high pass filter. The intensity of the high pass filter is controlled by how much you press down. Professional guitarists will alter this filter to the beat so it sounds synchronised to the track you are playing!
In this article, we will be looking at the wah pedal in great detail… Now let’s get into the details of how this device can affect your guitar tone… So let us get started!
1. What is the Wah Pedal?
First of all, let me tell you what the Wah pedal is?
The wah pedal is a device that filters input signal (also the same as an envelope filter) that is controlled by adjusting the plate with his or her feet. The name – “wah”? comes from the fact that this type of pedal manipulates and creates a sound that is like initiating the human vocal voice – “wah-wah”.
With your guitar’s signal entering the pedal as input and then when pressing down the pedal drastically alters the tone of your signal, whereby the bass frequency is filtered out as you press down.
The wah pedal’s structure contains a potentiometer and an electrical resistor that goes with a rotating contact. The rotating contact switch divides the pedal’s internal voltage level, which is connected directly to the rocking plate. By altering the voltage level the “wah-wah” effect is created.
2. How the Wah Pedal Function?
We all know that the wah pedal effect is created by using your foot to actively adjust and alter the sound.
An important part of the wah pedal that must be mentioned is the rocking plate. This is controlled by your foot, therefore, it’s more convenient for the guitar player to adjust as you play.
By moving your foot from the open to the closed position, you will sweep through a layer of the filter into the sound.
- A closed position is when you use pressure in the toes and step hard on that part so that the toes are on the ground, a treble effect will arise becoming a high-pass filter.
- While with the open position, it’s when your heel is close to the ground, serving a low-pass filter with low frequencies passing through and the higher ones will be blocked.
The speed with which you move your foot back and forth between the open and closed position will affect how to pedal sounds. Getting the timing just right will generate the perfect “wah-wah” crying sound.
3.The diverse types of sound that a wah pedal can generate
Similar to any guitar pedal, the wah effect can help you to alter and change the tone of your sound anyway you want. It all depends on your personal taste and how you want your sound to turn out to be, which type of genres, songs, or position you are playing, taking advantage of the guitar effects will help you to show your true musical personalities.
The Standard Wah-Wah Sound
This is considered to be the most widely played style when it comes to the wah pedal, also it’s quite easy and interesting to try. With the first note that you hit, starting from the open position, you then rock it down to the closed position. Then before moving to the next note, remember to return the pedal to the open position again, back it up, then repeating that same process by rocking the pedal back and forth on every single note that you play. Then the result is that every note can experience a “wah-wah” effect.
The Wah Filter
Another playing style using the wah pedal that you should take a look at is to use it as a filter. The wah pedal is now kept at a fixed position, without continually rocking it back and forth. For example, some guitarists tend to leave the wah pedal in the closed position to boost their tone when playing as a solo. There are plenty of spaces and options to choose between the range of opened and closed positions, therefore, many exciting and unique colors can be generated to add to your tone.
The Wah Sweep
This is quite similar to the normal “wah-wah” effect generated by rocking the pedal back and forth. Instead of doing that at a faster speed, this time we try doing it slowly, moving your foot from the opened to the closed position. By gradually altering the tone of your sound, it will make room for some amazing sounds.
The Funk Rhythm
The funk rhythm is quite a complicated and tricky technique for any guitarist. You can only master it by practicing all over again many times. But once you get used to it, it will be worth your efforts. Similar to the standard wah, you also move the foot pedal back and forth constantly, but not with the note, this time it’s about your beat. Starting from the open position with the first beat, then you move to the closed position. Then repeat that process for the other parts upcoming.
For those who are still confused with the phrase “funk rhythm”, it consists of 4 notes per beat.
As mentioned above, besides creating the wah-wah effect by rocking the pedal back and forth, the wah pedal can boost your signal, emphasizing the notes. If you wish to highlight some of the notes, the wah pedal is worth trying.
4.Where should you place your Wah pedal in the signal chain?
Just like all other types of the pedal, where to place it in the signal chain will always be a hard question. It’s because it’s hard to give the most objective answer to it, the final call depends on the guitarists and how they want their sound to come out from the end of the signal chain. Two options: placing it first or keeping it at the end.
- Beginning of the Signal chain – With the wah pedal, most people will recommend you to place it somewhere at the beginning of the signal chain. This is because this will only manipulate the original clean signal. The process of altering your sound using the wah pedal should come before the overdrive and distortion and after any EQ or compression. It helps maintain the sound at its natural and wildest sweeping sounds. Also by boosting the sound using the wah effect first, you can reach and affect your range with higher levels of distortion.
- End of the signal chain – The second option which is to put it at the end of the signal chain, it will exaggerate the sound at an extremely high level. This is because you are filtering the effects as well as the original input. This way may make the tone in which you have adjusted sound off and may disappear by filtering their sound too much.
However, there’s no bad and good option, it comes down to whether you like it or not.
5. Wah Pedal Recommendations
Dunlop Cry Baby
Some guitarists are all over this Cry Baby legendary wah pedal, screaming countless times to earn this amazing pedal. This is the one that started it all, as being the first-ever version of the wah pedal that came to exist. It’s also being used in thousands of records and appeared on many stages since the early rock and roll era. With this pedal, you can reproduce that classical tone or try a new direction that you favor.
This Boss PW-3 is a wah pedal that owns 2 different modes, with the first one generating the classic wah sound – as if in the Dunlop Cry Baby. And the second mode allows you to leave behind a majority of low frequencies regardless of the current position of the pedal, closed or opened.
Vox V847-A Original
This wah pedal is a version that has many similar features to the original Vox in 1966. Instead of the usual vocal sound of a human – “wah-wah” crying sound, the Vox tries to mimic the effect of a mute used on a trumpet by wind players. It is also considered to create an effective closing to the original classic wah sound.
Mooer the Wahter Mini
Unlike the Cry Baby, Wahter generates quite a different voice compared to the Cry Baby. But this wah pedal is cheaper and also quite small, kinda tiny. This can cause inconvenience since the rocking plate is not big enough for your foot to fit in perfectly for easier sweeping on the sound. However, some might find it not that difficult to use this Wahter Mini and importantly it’s more affordable.
In this article, we covered the following:
- What is a Wah pedal?
- How the Wah Pedal functions
- Where should you place your tremolo pedal in the signal chain?
- Some recommendations for choosing a suitable wah pedal
If you can any questions at all then please leave your comments in the section below.. Thank you!