Wah pedals are a staple effect in many guitarists' pedalboards, adding a distinctive vocal-like quality to their playing. However, using a wah pedal can be daunting for beginners or those unfamiliar with the pedal's functionality. In this blog post, we will provide a comprehensive guide on how to use a wah pedal, including tips and techniques to help you achieve the sound you're looking for.
How to Use The Wah Pedal? To use a wah pedal, connect it to your guitar and amplifier, find a comfortable position for your foot on the pedal, engage the pedal to activate the "wah" effect, experiment with the pedal's sweep, and use it in moderation.
By following these steps and trying out different playing techniques and pedal settings, you can create a distinctive vocal-like quality to your guitar playing.
What is the WAH Pedal?
A wah pedal is a guitar effects pedal that alters the tone of the guitar signal to create a distinctive "wah" sound. It does this by selectively boosting and cutting certain frequencies of the guitar's audio signal, resulting in a sweeping effect that is controlled by the player's foot on the pedal.
The wah pedal has been used in various genres of music, including rock, funk, and blues.
How does the WAH Pedal Function?
The wah pedal works by adjusting the EQ curve of the guitar signal. The pedal is essentially a variable resistor that changes the frequency response of the signal passing through it.
When the pedal is in the down position, the signal passes through unimpeded, but as the pedal is moved up, it gradually attenuates the high frequencies of the guitar signal.
This produces a distinctive "wah" sound that can be manipulated by the player's foot to create a range of different effects. The wah pedal is typically placed in the effects chain between the guitar and the amplifier, and can be used with other effects pedals to create complex sounds.
Types Of Sound That A WAH Pedal Can Generate
The wah pedal can generate a range of different sounds, depending on how it is used. Some of the most common types of sound that can be produced with a wah pedal include:
- "Wah" sound: This is the classic sound associated with the wah pedal. By rocking the pedal back and forth, the player can create a "wah-wah" effect that mimics the sound of a human voice saying "wah."
- Boosted midrange: By leaving the wah pedal in a fixed position, the player can use it to boost the midrange frequencies of their guitar signal. This can give the guitar a more pronounced, cutting tone.
- Sweeping filter: By using the wah pedal in conjunction with a sweeping filter effect, such as a phaser or flanger, the player can create a range of different filter effects that move up and down the frequency spectrum.
- Cocked wah: By leaving the pedal in a fixed position, the player can create a "cocked wah" effect that essentially acts as a midrange boost. This can give the guitar a unique, throaty tone that is particularly useful for solos.
- Feedback: By using the wah pedal to control the feedback of the guitar signal, the player can create a range of different feedback effects that can add a new dimension to their playing.
Overall, the wah pedal is an incredibly versatile effect that can be used in a range of different musical contexts to create unique sounds and textures.
THE STANDARD WAH-WAH SOUND
The standard wah-wah sound is achieved by rocking the pedal back and forth, which filters out certain frequencies of the guitar signal and creates a "wah" effect.
The wah pedal is typically used to add expression and dynamic to guitar solos, and can also be used as a rhythmic effect in funk and rock music. The sound can range from a subtle tonal shift to an exaggerated and dramatic effect depending on the player's technique and the settings on the pedal.
THE WAH FILTER
The wah filter is the heart of the wah pedal and is responsible for creating the classic "wah" sound. It is essentially a variable frequency filter that is controlled by the movement of the pedal.
When the pedal is rocked forward, the filter's cutoff frequency is raised, allowing more high frequencies to pass through and creating a brighter, more treble-heavy sound.
When the pedal is rocked backward, the cutoff frequency is lowered, allowing more low frequencies to pass through and creating a darker, bass-heavy sound.
By adjusting the position of the pedal and the filter settings, a wide range of tonal variations and effects can be achieved. The wah filter is an essential component of the wah pedal and is what gives it its signature sound.
THE WAH SWEEP
The Wah Sweep is another type of sound that a wah pedal can generate. It involves slowly sweeping the frequency range of the wah filter, creating a smooth and gradual change in tone. This technique is commonly used in blues and funk music, as well as in solos to add expression and dynamics to the playing. The Wah Sweep can be achieved by moving the foot pedal up and down in a slow and controlled manner, or by using an auto-wah effect which automatically sweeps the filter based on the input signal.
THE FUNK RHYTHM
The Funk Rhythm is another popular sound that can be achieved with a WAH pedal. This sound involves keeping a consistent rhythm while using the WAH pedal to create a pulsing effect. The trick is to use the pedal in a way that creates a rhythmic pattern, such as syncing it up with the drummer's hi-hat pattern. The Funk Rhythm is commonly used in funk and R&B music.
To emphasize notes with a wah pedal, players can set the pedal to a fixed position and leave it there while playing. This creates a tone that emphasizes the frequencies at that particular position, adding a unique flavor to the notes being played. Another way to emphasize notes is to use quick, rhythmic movements of the pedal to create a pulsating effect, which can help the notes stand out in a mix.
Where should you place your WAH Pedal in the signal chain?
It is generally recommended to place the wah pedal near the beginning of the signal chain, before any distortion or overdrive effects. This allows the pedal to interact with the raw guitar signal, creating a more dynamic effect.
However, some players prefer to place the wah after distortion effects for a more saturated sound. Ultimately, the placement will depend on personal preference and the desired sound.
Best WAH Pedal Recommendations
- Dunlop Cry Baby Wah - This classic wah pedal is a favorite of many guitarists and has been used by legends like Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton.
- Morley Bad Horsie 2 Contour Wah - This unique pedal has a switchless design and a contour mode for added versatility.
- Vox V846-HW Handwired Wah Pedal - This handwired pedal delivers a classic wah sound and has a rugged, durable construction.
How To Use A WAH Pedal: Conclusion
Using a WAH pedal can add a new dimension to your guitar playing, allowing you to create a range of expressive sounds.
Whether you're just starting out or have been playing for years, learning to use a WAH pedal can be a fun and rewarding experience.
By following these tips and techniques, you can start exploring the world of WAH and find your own unique voice on the guitar.
How To WAH: FAQ
How do I get a good wah sound?
To get a good wah sound, start with a clean tone and gradually increase the gain and distortion levels to achieve the desired sound. Experiment with different settings and sweep the pedal to find the sweet spot where the wah effect is most pronounced. It's also important to pay attention to the timing and rhythm of your playing to make the most of the wah effect.
How do you practice a wah pedal?
To practice a wah pedal, start with slow and simple exercises to get comfortable with the pedal's sweep and timing. Gradually increase the complexity of the exercises and incorporate different playing techniques to explore the pedal's sonic possibilities. It's also important to practice using the wah pedal in conjunction with other effects to create a unique and personalized sound.
Is it hard to use a wah pedal?
Using a wah pedal is relatively easy once you get the hang of it. It's important to find a comfortable position for your foot on the pedal and experiment with the pedal's sweep to achieve the desired effect. With practice and experimentation, you can create a range of expressive and dynamic sounds with the wah pedal.
How does a Cry Baby Wah work?
A Cry Baby Wah works by filtering certain frequencies from your guitar signal to create a vocal-like "wah" effect. When you rock the pedal back and forth, a variable capacitor inside the pedal sweeps through different frequency ranges to create the distinctive sound. The Cry Baby Wah is one of the most popular and widely used wah pedals in the world of guitar.
What goes first wah-wah or distortion?
In most cases, it's recommended to place the wah pedal before the distortion pedal in your signal chain. This allows the wah effect to filter the original clean guitar signal before it is distorted, resulting in a more pronounced and expressive sound. However, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to pedal order, and experimentation is key to finding the right sound for your playing style.
Should wah pedal be first or last?
As mentioned earlier, it's generally recommended to place the wah pedal before the distortion pedal in your signal chain. However, there are no fixed rules for pedal order and it ultimately depends on your personal preference and the sound you are trying to achieve. Some players prefer to experiment with placing the wah pedal after the distortion pedal to create a more subtle effect, while others may choose to use the wah pedal in combination with other effects to create a unique and personalized sound.
Did Hendrix use a cry baby pedal?
Yes, Jimi Hendrix is known to have used a Cry Baby Wah pedal extensively in his playing. The pedal was a key part of his signature sound, particularly on tracks such as "Voodoo Child" and "Little Wing".
Did Jimi Hendrix use a wah pedal?
Yes, Jimi Hendrix is credited with popularizing the use of the wah pedal in rock music. He is known to have used the Cry Baby Wah extensively in his playing, creating a distinctive and expressive sound that became a hallmark of his style.
Who uses wah pedal the most?
The wah pedal has been used by countless guitarists across a wide range of genres, from Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton to Eddie Van Halen and Tom Morello. Some of the most prominent users of the wah pedal include Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, and Kirk Hammett.
Does a compressor go before a wah?
There are no strict rules for pedal order, and the placement of a compressor pedal before or after a wah pedal depends on the sound you are trying to achieve. Placing the compressor before the wah pedal can help to even out the dynamics of your playing, while placing it after the wah pedal can help to emphasize the effect and create a more pronounced sound.
Is a wah pedal just a tone knob?
No, a wah pedal is not just a tone knob. A tone knob is used to adjust the treble or bass frequencies of a guitar's sound, while a wah pedal changes the filtering of frequencies to create a vocal-like "wah" effect. The pedal allows the player to sweep through a range of frequencies, creating a distinctive sound that can be used for solos or adding texture to rhythm playing.
What is the easiest first pedal to build?
The easiest first pedal to build depends on your level of experience and expertise in electronics. A simple distortion pedal or fuzz pedal may be a good place to start, as they have fewer components and are easier to build compared to other pedals like delay or modulation pedals.
Do bass players use wah pedals?
Yes, bass players use wah pedals to create a "wah" effect on their bass guitar. The effect can add texture and expressiveness to their playing, similar to its use on electric guitar.
What is Q on a wah?
Q is a term used in the context of a wah pedal to describe the peak resonance of the frequency range being filtered. Essentially, it determines the intensity of the "wah" effect created by the pedal. A higher Q value creates a more pronounced and focused "wah" effect, while a lower Q value creates a broader range of frequencies.
What is the simplest wah pedal?
The simplest wah pedal is likely the Morley Classic Wah, which has a single knob for adjusting the "wah" effect and does not require a battery or external power source. It is a passive pedal that uses the guitar's signal to power the effect.
Who was the first to use a wah pedal?
The first known use of a wah pedal was by jazz guitarist Sonny Boy Williamson II in the early 1960s. However, it was popularized by Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton in the late 1960s, becoming an iconic effect in rock music.
What songs did Jimi Hendrix use the wah pedal?
Jimi Hendrix famously used the wah pedal on many of his songs, including "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)," "Little Wing," "Up From the Skies," "Still Raining, Still Dreaming," and "Message to Love," among others.
What is wah frequency?
Wah frequency refers to the specific range of frequencies being filtered and emphasized by the wah pedal as the player sweeps the pedal up and down. It can be adjusted using the pedal's Q knob to create a more or less pronounced "wah" effect.
What is the Ahhh sound?
The "Ahhh" sound refers to the vocal-like sound created by a wah pedal as it filters and emphasizes certain frequencies. The effect is often used to create expressive and dynamic solos or add texture to rhythm playing.
Are wah pedals noisy?
Wah pedals can be noisy if they are not properly grounded or shielded from external interference. However, many modern wah pedals feature noise-reducing circuitry to minimize unwanted noise and hum.
How do you set up a Cry Baby wah pedal?
To set up a Cry Baby wah pedal, first, connect it to your guitar and amplifier using appropriate cables. Then, adjust the Q knob to the desired resonance and sweep the pedal up and down to find the desired wah frequency. Finally, adjust the volume knob to ensure a consistent signal level.
Who uses a Crybaby wah pedal?
Many famous guitarists have used the Cry Baby wah pedal, including Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Kirk Hammett, Slash, and Steve Vai, among others.