10 Best Wah Pedals | April 2017

We spent 27 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. Generate a multitude of cool sound effects from your guitar or keyboard with something from our selection of wah pedals. We've included models in a budget range ideal for beginning thrashers through to professional grade units good enough for stadium performances. Whether you want to imitate your favorite musician's sound or create your own, you'll find what you need here. Skip to the best wah pedal on Amazon.
10 Best Wah Pedals | April 2017
Overall Rank: 5
Best Mid-Range
★★★
Overall Rank: 1
Best High-End
★★★★★
Overall Rank: 8
Best Inexpensive
★★★
10
The Hotone Soul Press is a 3-in-1 wah, volume, and expression pedal all packed into a compact and durable red housing at a price anybody can afford. The pedal's large surface makes it perfect for use during live performances and its range is smooth and functional.
  • sound based on the original cry baby
  • active volume mode
  • can crackle at the top of the sweep
Brand Hotone
Model SOUL PRESS
Weight 13.6 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0
9
The Morley Steve Vai Bad Horsie has a switchless design that makes it easy to turn on quickly, and a spring action that automatically returns the pedal to its starting position, which also turns it off. It features two modes: standard Vai and contour.
  • adjustable range and effect levels
  • budget-friendly price
  • some find the throw is too long
Brand MORLEY
Model VAI-2
Weight 3.6 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0
8
The Behringer Hell-Babe HB01 is remarkably low-priced given the fact that it's actually a competent unit. It relies on 100% optical control for wear-and-tear-free pedal operation, having no mechanical posts or switches, so it should last a long time.
  • adjustable heel-down frequency
  • designed in germany
  • takes a while to fine tune
Brand Behringer
Model HB01
Weight 3.9 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0
7
The multifunctional Boss AW-3 has dedicated ins for both guitars and bass instruments, effectively making it two pedals in one. It allows you to choose between fixed or auto wah, has excellent sensitivity controls, and can even make human voice-type sounds
  • offers a broad tonality
  • auto control via tempo control
  • good sound clarity and definition
Brand BOSS Audio
Model AW-3
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0
6
The Ibanez WD7 Weeping Demon boasts multiple high-end features, allowing for versatile use, such as range switching, range fine tuning, and many other tone-shaping controls. You can also adjust the footboard's tension to suit your preference.
  • auto wah setting
  • solid all-metal case
  • can make almost any wah sound effect
Brand Ibanez
Model WD7
Weight 4 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0
5
Ask any guitarist and they will tell you the Dunlop 535Q Cry Baby is one of the best options out there for those who need the versatility to play a range of genres, from blues to rock to reggae, and want to create their own customized sound.
  • foot-controlled boost switch
  • q dial to adjust wah range width
  • too complicated for beginners
Brand Jim Dunlop
Model 11537002001
Weight 3.9 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0
4
There is no doubt that the Fulltone Clyde Deluxe is pricey, but it has a solid build and three unique tone effects: Shaft, Jimi, and Wacked. Overall, the entire unit feels very polished and the pedal action is smooth right out of the box with the perfect resistance.
  • led status indicator
  • very clear tones
  • intuitive controls
Brand Fulltone
Model CDW
Weight 4.3 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0
3
The Dunlop KH95 was developed in collaboration with the famous metal guitarist Kirk Hamett, and features his iconic wah sound, along with cool skeleton graphics and his signature emblazoned right there on the pedal. It's a must-have for thrashers.
  • has a very thick top end
  • can also make traditional wah tones
  • extremely easy to use for beginners
Brand Jim Dunlop
Model 11099000001
Weight 3.8 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0
2
The Vox V847A is a good lower-priced model that won't have you feeling like you sacrificed sound just to save a few bucks, especially after you hear its awesome dynamics and rich tones. It is good for players of almost every genre, and it comes with a vinyl carrying bag.
  • 100-hour battery life on one 9v
  • rubber feet to prevent sliding
  • easy to control the sweep
Brand Vox
Model V847A
Weight 3.5 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0
1
The sleek-looking, great-sounding Xotic Effects XW-1 offers a huge range to produce smooth and shallow vintage sweeps all the way up to top long and wide sweeps, so there aren't many sounds it can't accomplish. Also, its treble and bass controls are extremely responsive.
  • onboard bias control
  • preserves a guitar's sound
  • doesn't lose bass throughout a sweep
Brand Xotic Effects
Model XW-1
Weight 2.5 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

Buyer's Guide

A Brief History of the Wah-Wah Pedal

Discovered in the 1920s by brass musicians who realized they could use mutes to make their instruments weep like sad children, the wah effect quickly became characteristic of jazz and blues music alike. For forty years, the effect remained a manual one until Bradley J. Plunkett designed the first electronic wah-wah pedal for Warwick Electronics in 1966.

Using a breadboard, transistors, and the volume-controlling pentiometer from a Vox Continental volume pedal, Plunkett was able to replicate electronically the fluttering mutes of crying brass instruments. A sound effect that was previously limited to instruments with brass bells could now be achieved using any amplified instrument from the guitar to the violin or even the snare drum, if one happened to be in the mood for experimenting.

Initially intended as an effects pedal for wind instruments, allowing jazz saxophonists and clarinetists to achieve the wah effect without having to grow a third arm, Plunkett's friends insisted upon hearing the pedal in action for the first time that the pedal be endorsed by and marketed toward electric guitarists.

Mere months after the pedal's release in February 1967, two of America's leading power trios, Cream and Jimi Hendrix Experience, recorded hit songs using Plunkett's prototype to great effect, resulting in an unexpected spike in demand for the new technology.

In no time at all, the wah effect unlocked new doors in many popular genres, but most of all, funk, with most funk guitarists today insisting no pedal collection is complete without a wah-wah pedal.

A Solomon's Key to the Temple of Funk

According to legend, Solomon, a king and a magician, possessed the wisdom and the power to compel both angels and demons: opposite ends of a spectrum constructively bent to Solomon's will. The light and the dark, the high and the low, blended together, surreptitious servants at Solomon's every beck and call.

That is how the wah-wah pedal works.

Using transistors to alter harmonics and a volume-style pedal that allows the player to control the resonant peak of any given frequency, wah pedals emulate the human voice in rather uncanny ways.

The human voice relies upon the tongues ability to control the size of two distinct resonating chambers in the mouth. Movement of the base of your tongue controls the size of the first main chamber situated near the top of your larynx. Movement of the tip of your tongue and your lips controls the size of the second main chamber situated near your lips.

As you make a wah-aow sound with your mouth, the high tones become louder than the low tones and then the low tones become louder than the high tones. By giving you the ability to emulate these sounds with an instrument, the wah pedal effectively places the instrument in a kind of virtual resonating chamber similar to that of the human mouth. As a result, an electric guitar can be used to replicate a human voice, allowing a highly skilled player to talk through the guitar the way Frank Zappa does during his "Inca Roads" solo.

Choosing a Wah Pedal to Suit All Your Needs

The key to choosing a wah-wah pedal that works right for you is knowing when and how you'll be using it most often. Which genre or genres will you be playing? Will you be using your pedal to add a bit of flare to some heavy distortion? Or will you be engaging your audience in a full-blown conversation?

For players interested in using wah effects similar to the way Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, or Frank Zappa do, a volume-style, expression pedal is really the only option. If you really want to make your guitar talk, you need to be able to control as much of the effect as possible without having to bend over and twist too many knobs in the middle of playing your solo.

For those interested solely in recreating the wacka-wacka sound indicative of a lot of funk and disco music, subtle and constant control may not be quite as important. Thus, a press-and-release pedal or a stompbox with a fixed wah effect will suit all your funk and disco needs.

For bassists, a wah pedal with too much emphasis on higher tones may conflict with the style of music you're playing, and may even drown out some of tones from the other instruments in the band if used excessively. A wah pedal that allows you to control the range of the effect would be ideal.

In the end, it's important to know where you want to take the wah effect, whether or not you are the only person in the band using it, and if not, which pedal will allow you to complement the other wah effects in the project rather than clash with them.



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Last updated on April 26 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.