12 Best Wah Pedals in 2017
There are plenty of ways to change up the sound of your electric guitar whether you are a Pro or a rookie. Effects pedals are one simple (and fun) way to change things up with the old Wah-Wah pedal being a fan favorite for decades. Looking for the best Wah pedal? Well, look no further.
Finding the right gear for a gig can drive even seasoned musicians mad, but we have tried to make things simple when it comes to Wah-Wah pedals. Our table consists of 12 pedals that will take your sound to all new levels, and our guide below can help you navigate the landscape to make your buying decision simple.
Table of Contents
- Top 12 Wah Pedals Ultimate Chart
- Wah-Wah Pedal Buying Tips
- Optical or Mechanical?
- Extra Controls & True Bypass
- Top 5 Best Wah Pedal Reviews
Top 12 Wah Pedals Ultimate Chart
|Design||Name||Control Style||True Bypass||Rating (1-5)|
|1. Xotic Effects Wah XW-1 Guitar Effects Pedal||Mechanical||Yes||4.7|
|2. Morley VAI-2 Steve Vai Bad Horsie 2 Contour Wah||Optical||Yes||4.7|
|3. Dunlop GCB95 Cry Baby Wah Guitar Effects Pedal||Mechanical||No||4.5|
|4. Dunlop 535Q Cry Baby Multi-Wah||Mechanical||No||4.5|
|5. Ibanez WD7 Weeping Demon Wah Pedal||Optical||No||4.4|
|6. Vox V845 Classic Wah Wah Pedal||Mechanical||No||4.4|
|7. Morley PWOV Power Optical Wah/Volume||Optical||Yes||4.3|
|8. Morley PBA-2 Dual Bass Wah||Optical||Yes||4.2|
|9. Jim Dunlop JC95 Jerry Cantrell Wah||Mechanical||No||4.1|
|10. Behringer Hellbabe Hb01 Ultimate Wah-Wah Pedal||Optical||No||4.0|
|11. Donner Wah Cry 2 in 1 Mini Guitar Wah Effect/Volume Pedal||Mechanical||Yes||3.9|
|12. Morley MWV Mini Wah Volume Guitar Effects Pedal||Optical||Yes||3.6|
Wah-Wah Pedal Buying Tips
Wah-Wah pedals may be simple to use, but good ones aren’t as easy to find. Follow these tips to find the pedal that best fits your needs and your price point.
While you may assume that only guitar players use Wah-Wah pedals, that isn’t the case at all. Initially, they weren’t even made for guitarists although they are by far their biggest customers thanks to Hendrix, Vai and other legends. Although we are sticking with the guitar, you still need to consider if you need one for a Bass or regular axe.
Some of the best Wah pedals on our list will work with both bass and regular electrics like a Strat or Telecaster. That said, look before you leap. If you only play the bass, buy one for the bass as it’s not likely you’re going to decide to switch instruments mid-gig. On the flipside, a combo Wah pedal “geared” for regular guitars with some bass-centric features would not be a bad thing.
Optical or Mechanical?
There are dozens of variations on the classic Wah pedal depending on what you are looking for. There are only two main styles however with optical and mechanical. One is more high-tech than the other, and while both work in the same fashion; there is an important difference to keep in mind between the two.
- Optical – Optical Wah pedals keep the mechanical parts to a minimum and rely more on tech than pots or switches. They can pull off a few tricks their mechanical brethren cannot, but are also something you may not be able to fix yourself if it goes out of whack during a gig. Not good news unless you have a backup or a “fixer” on hand.
- Mechanical – On the other hand, mechanical Wah-Wah pedals have more moving parts. Most are built to be sturdy and last, but those parts could break down over time and need to be replaced. The good news is the parts that usually fail can easily be replaced in most cases and you don’t have to have a degree to do it. In a nutshell, it comes down to preference and what you want from your Wah pedal.
Extra Controls & True Bypass
If you get a mechanical Wah pedal, your options could be sparse depending on the model and price point you’re shooting for. That means you won’t get knobs for adjustments and need to focus more on frequency ranges as you won’t be able to adjust unless you want to modify it yourself. That’s something we don’t recommend unless you know what you’re doing.
True Bypass is something you may see a manufacturer tout as a feature, but you can’t necessarily believe their hype. It comes down to the wiring which we won’t delve into. True Bypass allows the signal to “bypass” anything else in your chain when the pedal is off which cuts out any interference along the way. It’s basically a direct line between your guitar and the amp regardless of what’s between.
Top 5 Best Wah Pedal Reviews
Our number one pick for the best Wah pedal around goes to Xotic Effects and their XW-1 Guitar Effects Pedal. This Wah pedal has True Bypass thanks to a Gold contact relay which the company says offers up a true bypass tone. It may not look it, but it’s actually smaller than many pedals on our list measuring right around 9.8” x 4.4” x 3.4”.
While small, the XW-1 is quite powerful with a fuzzy buffering circuit and adjustable Bias and Wah-Q controls. There is also a two-band EQ with +/-15 dB center-detent pots to fit everyone’s playing style. The rocker pedal tension is adjustable as well so it will be smooth underfoot while you play. There is a Treble and Bass knob on alongside the Bias and Wah control and an LED light to help you get a grip in the dark.
The Xotic Effects Wah pedal is a great pedal for those who want an additional measure of control from their pedal and is available in White. That may be a bit of a downer depending on your gear but that’s what they created paint for.
Most guitarists now the name Steve Vai and the sounds he created from his guitar. Plenty of kids grew up wanting to sound like Vai, and while that’s no easy task, Morely makes it a little easier. Their VAI-2 Steve Vai Bad Horsie 2 Contour Wah cannot magically transform you into the man himself, but it will give you his famous tone thanks to a little technological trickery.
The Bad Horsie 2 is an optical pedal so there is less chance of mechanical parts breaking down over time. You will still have to worry about circuits, but considering Morely puts out quality products you won’t have to worry much. As for the features, this pedal has a clear tone buffer circuit with full bypass. It’s switchless as well and has 2 foot-selectable Wah modes with Contour and Bad Horsie.
Another perk we like with this model are the knobs up top which let you adjust the Wah level and frequency on the fly. This one also has an LED light and can run off a 9-volt battery or an AC adapter.
Dunlop is one of the top brands when it comes to guitar pedals, and the CGB95 Cry Baby is arguably one of their finest products to date. It also live us to its namesake by giving you that classic Wah-Wah sound and is built like a brick. That’s a good thing if you play a lot of gigs as the heavy duty die cast pedal is going to last for years to come.
Whether you want to go heel-down for more thump or toe-down for treble, the GCB95 has you covered. The pot is rated at 10K ohm and matches the heavy-duty nature of the exterior as well. Like we said, this isn’t the type of pedal you’ll find in the trash after a few years – these can last a decade or more. On the downside, there are no extra bells or whistles on this pedal, only the input and output jacks.
The Cry Baby also doesn’t have a LED light, which is a shame although something to be expected on mechanical pedals of this nature. Aside from that, there is really no downside as this you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck from this one.
If you were not blown away by the Cry Baby GCB95 from Dunlop, we have a feeling this one will change your mind. Their second entry onto our list is the Dunlop 535Q, which is also a Cry Baby but dubbed a “Multi-Wah” pedal to boot. In a nutshell, it is just as sturdy as the GCB95 but has all the extras you could want from a modern guitar pedal.
The missing LED light is back in action on the 535Q and you’ll get a variable boost adjustment from 0 to +26 dB as well. There is no true bypass although the on/off switch can take care of any errant signals when not in use. When you’re not busy adjusting your boost, you can fiddle with a whopping 6 guitar ranges on this model courtesy of the Q Dial.
As much as we love the 525Q, we did find the control knobs to be a little more fragile than we’d like compared to the rest of the build. It will run off a 9-volt battery or AC adapter although you will need to purchase the latter as there is not one in the box.
Now for a pedal that has a worthy name and looks to match. The Ibanez WD7 Weeping Demon will may your fans (and neighbors) weep as it has that classic crying sound. It’s the second optical pedal in our Top 5 and has an auto switch which means you’ll get instant-off in the upright position. You can actually adjust this for a delayed effect as well.
Like bells & whistles? You will get a large degree of adjustment with this Weeping Demon with a Range Fine Tuning knob, a Range Switch and dials for Q, Low and Level. Want to adjust the tension level in the footboard? Not a problem and you can “lock” in your settings thanks to the company’s Tone Lok features. On the downside, there is no true bypass although you can fix that with some wiring.