The Best Wah Pedals on the Market
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Weirdly, it seems wah pedals are underrated and overhyped at the same time. Depending on who you ask this effect is either an overused party trick or it is as essential to guitar tone as is drive/gain. Well, if you’re in the camp of the former, I’m not sure why you’re here. But for the rest of you filter feens out there, I’ve compiled a list of some of the most popular and beloved wahs on the market today. I’ll start things off with a couple of the most common, fairly affordable options and we will work our way up to some prevalent boutique units. Let’s get this list rolling.
Dunlop GCB95 Cry Baby – $79.99
To kick things off we have the Dunlop GCB95 Cry Baby. Obviously, if you know anything about wah-wah pedals then you’ll be well aware of the Cry Baby name. This Dunlop unit is the original design that you have undoubtedly heard used from the likes of Clapton, Hendrix and many more.
As far as the controls go, all you get with this Cry Baby is the classic sweep. But truthfully, the simplicity of this unit is part of the charm here. And some folks will really appreciate the fact that you can’t make this thing sound bad. Also, not having loads of extra features helps to keep the cost down. Altogether, this wah pedal is perfect for anyone needing a budget option that doesn’t sacrifice tone.
Dunlop CBM95 Cry Baby Mini – $99.99
Let’s be honest, due to the nature of traditional wah enclosures they are quite cumbersome for some players to deal with. If you are tight on space or concerned with weight, a bulky full-sized wah is not something that will appeal to you. Enter, the Cry Baby Mini.
This Cry Baby circuit is simply a shrunk down version of the original design. It is pretty hard to believe, but these do sound identical to their larger counterparts. Also, if you open this unit up, you are greeted with a switch that enables two additional Cry Baby modes on top of the regular setting. If you are looking for a mini-wah, this one is a great shout.
Morley 20/20 Wah Lock – $169.00
Morley is about as synonymous with wah pedals as you get. Iit is pretty much all that they make aside from some switchers and a few miscellaneous things. And they have been doing this for decades now. So, you can be assured that when it comes to their designs, they know what they're doing.
The 20/20 Wah Lock is the most versatile unit from this year’s range. This pedal’s standout feature is right there in the name. The lock switch allows you to select a position in the sweep that is triggered whenever you press it. This is going to be rather useful for anyone who wants a consistently spot on cocked-wah position. On top of its locking ability, this wah has 3 different wah types, a built-in boost and it’s an optical design of course. For those that don’t know, optical wahs are kind of Morley’s thing, providing their units with ease of activation and increased durability.
If you’re wanting all kinds of features and great build quality this wah has you covered.
Dunlop MC404 CAE – $169.99
This collaboration pedal between Dunlop and Custom Audio Electronics (Bob Bradshaw) is well deserving of a mention on this list. If you are at all familiar with the different wah pedals on the market, you’ll likely recognize the CAE graphic that is front and center on this unit.
This wah is super versatile in a lot of different ways. First off there is a button that lets you change between a darker and brighter-vintage style of filtering (inductor voices). These two voices can also be tweaked via internal trim pots which adjust the Q.
The other big feature you get with this wah is the built-in clean boost. This boost gives you 20dB of volume to push whatever you want as much as you would need to. This inclusion really propels this pedal over the top, making it a great value. Yes, it is quite a bit more money than some other wahs out there, but considering the feature set and overall build quality I see this as being very fairly priced.
Fulltone Clyde Deluxe – $223.20
Anything from Fulltone is likely to sound great, so it’s no surprise that this company makes one of the most popular $200+ wah pedals. There is a standard version of this unit that comes in at just under 200, but then you miss out on the 3 different wah types that the Deluxe has. In addition to these 3 wah modes, the Clyde Deluxe (and standard) has a built-in buffer that can be controlled via the side controls.
Put simply, the Clyde Deluxe wah is just the right amount of versatility put into a really well-made package. And that is a large part of why you pay what you do for this pedal. All Fulltone pedals are made in the US with some of the highest quality parts available. Of course, this unit sounds awesome as well (that being said subjectivity of course).
Xotic XW-1 – $260.00
Our last entry on this list also ends up being the most expensive, coming in at $260. To some this is way too much to spend on a wah pedal, but for many fans of this effect, this unit is the holy grail.
In a lot of ways this wah is similar to the previous on this list, it’s based off the vintage Italian made Clyde McCoy wahs and is made by a super reputable California company. So really you can view this as sort of an alternative to the Fulltone unit, though Xotic’s pedal typically garners a bit more praise.
The controls on the XW-1 include knobs for bias, Q, treble and bass. Most players are going to find that these settings make for having great control without being too overwhelming.
If you’re a fan of wah and have the budget, this offering from Xotic is one of the best you can buy.