10 Best Wah Pedals 2021 – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide
If you are a deemed solo guitar player, you might be thinking of ways on how to add flavor to your sounds. Of course, this is not an easy thing to do especially if you only have a guitar alone. Therefore, you got to have the best wah pedals on your arsenals.
Wah pedals are among the secret weapons of professional guitarists. Even legends like Kirk Hammet and Jimi Hendrix had used these stomp boxes for their live gigs and performances.
Despite such feat, regular players like you can still master the art of using a wah pedal. In fact, it doesn't take time before you fully materialize the benefit that this effects pedal can give.
At this point, you might be thinking already of buying a wah pedal. But wait! Do you even know which wah pedal brand you are going to buy? The selection is not a problem as there are a lot of choices out there.
However, we are talking about the pedal that can benefit you the most. Therefore, you should not settle for less.
Fortunately, in this article, we listed some of the best wah pedals on the market today. There are a lot of testing that was done before we concluded this list.
You can guarantee that we will feature here will certainly improve the game of your guitar. So what are you waiting for? Read on!
10 Best Wah Pedals: Gear Review Guide
Versatile is the name of the game of the Dunlop 535Q Cry Baby Multi-Wah. This is the main selling point of this device and the main reason why many guitarists are so hooked on it. The tonal versatility it gives is something that you don't see every day.
If you are a guitar player who tends to shift between genres, then using this pedal will give you a lot of benefits. Specifically, it comes with various controls so that players like you could get varied playing style.
If you don't know, most of the best wah pedals out there don't have these complex set of controls.
At first, this pedal looks very intimidating. However, once you use it already, you will realize that this one has an intuitive interface. It doesn't require to be a professional just for it to unleash its full potential.
Just tweak this device, and you can hear the immediately the wonders it can offer!
- Highly customizable wah pedal.
- Comes with a built-in boost to make your signal louder.
- Easy to use effects pedal.
- Tonal range is pretty limitless.
- Construction is robust as a tank.
- The versatility sometimes serve as a distraction to which tone you should use.
- Some guitar players think that this pedal needs a little more sweeping.
One of the biggest contenders of the Dunlop wah pedals is the brand Morley. Particularly, you should out for their VAI-2 Steve Vai Bad Horsie 2 Contour Wah.
It is among the highly rated best wah pedals in the guitar industry due to its versatility, performance, and quality construction.
This wah pedal is using a switchless design. You can activate and deactivate this pedal by just stepping on it. Such feature is very convenient already, especially for that guitarist who are always on the go.
In this aspect, we can say the Morley is one step ahead of their competitors.
Meanwhile, you can use this wah pedal in two modes: the Contour and Bar Horsie. Each of these modes will allow you to control the intensity and warmth of the tone to a very fine degree. For advanced users, the said feature can change the game!
- Construction and hardware are highly rigid.
- The tension on the pedals are perfect for the feet.
- Uses buffered bypass to boost any degraded signal.
- Tonal variety is pretty excellent.
- Intuitive design and interface.
- Limited controls compared to Dunlop wah pedals.
- The body is quite longer than Cry Baby (it might take time before you can get used to it).
Inarguably, one of the finest pedals out there is the MXR MC404 CAE Wah. The main reason for this is that the latter was created by Custom Audio Elections and the design team of Cry Baby.
With the presence of these prominent names, you can say that this pedal will kill the charts!
The biggest selling point of this wah pedal is its usage of the dual inductors. Specifically, such components condition the voicing and character of the wah. As a result, the pedal can generate a vast range of tonal variety.
And since this pedal comes with two inductors, you can assure that your sound options will never run out!
The emphasis on the high, mid, and low frequencies are excellent on this one. But it doesn't mean that it can produce subtle effects anymore. Meanwhile, you can also guarantee that this product can withstand the abuse of consistent usage!
- Extremely robust construction.
- Comes with dual conductors for better tonal diversity.
- Produces warm and rich sound.
- True bypass technology.
- Comes with an AC adapter and 9-volt battery.
- It is not as versatile compared to the Dunlop 535Q.
- Not a good choice for practicing beginners.
Another Dunlop product that takes the limelight is the Dunlop GCB95. This one has the potential to sweep off the competition as well, thanks to its affordability and performance.
Although it doesn't have the true bypass circuitry, we can still say that the sound it produces is something that your ears will cherish.
Moreover, this particular wah pedal can generate the classic wah sound. If you are someone who grew to these sounds, you must get this pedal no matter what! Are you craving for that iconic Jimi Hendrix music in the 60s? Then this pedal is the answer!
When it comes to versatility, the Dunlop GCB95 Cry Baby Wah is not the best choice. It doesn't come with the adjustments and switches that are quite essential for a wah pedal.
However, since it can produce certain quality wah sounds, this product is still worth your money. Do not ask about the build quality. The Dunlop GCB95 is as sturdy as a rock!
- Classic wah sound is an excellent selling point.
- Robust hardware and body; can withstand multiple usages.
- Functionality and interface is on point too.
- Its price is more than reasonable.
- Ideal for beginners.
- Not a versatile wah pedal.
- Not a bypass pedal; therefore you can't adjust it if you don't modify the internal parts.
Xotic Effects is a special wah pedal. It can provide the "old school" vibe that you miss for ages. Despite its new interface and appearance, the Xotic Effect can still generate warm and smooth results without adding artificial flavor to your signals.
For the record, it is not true that Xotic Effects has a poor design. Even if you use this all day and all night, the Xotic won't just give up on you.
In fact, it is a good choice if you are always doing some gigs and performances.This wah pedal is just a reliable partner.
Unlike conventional wah pedals that suffer from alterations and gain injections, the Xotic Effects remain to be consistent with its performance.
Once you can pair this wah pedal on your guitar, all you have to think is the sweet music that you want to produce. Moreover, since its offer minimal footprint, this item will never be a nuisance on your pedalboard.
- Highly tweakable and offers wide tonal variations.
- Its default sonic sound is spine tingling.
- Audio clarity is top notch.
- It will never change the original volume of your guitar.
- Pretty impressive construction and interface.
- An expensive guitar pedal.
- Not a good choice for amateurs and practicing guitarists.
A unique wah pedal that you should not ignore is the Fulltone Clyde Deluxe. Specifically, this device is a three-in-one stompbox. Moreover, it is a great alternative if products from Dunlop and Morley are not available.
In fact, Ed O'Brien of Radiohead and My Morning Jacket's Carl Broemel are using this pedal for their performances.
The three-in-one settings of this pedal are the following: Jimi, Shaft, and Wacked. The Jimi can emulate the legendary Vox Clyde McCoy sounds. However, this is just the default sound of the pedal, which you can categorize as typical in some sense.
Meanwhile, the Shaft setting can give you brighter sounds. If you want to add shrill to your funky pieces, then you should go to this mode. Lastly, the Wacked can create the muddy and bassy sounds.
Specifically, it is so profound and responsive that you listeners would get immersed in your performance easily!
- Comes with a three-way mode switch.
- Possesses an internal resonance control for altering the bass and gain response.
- Customizable sounds and frequencies.
- Extremely rigid and robust hardware.
- Highly responsive wah pedal.
- One of the most expensive choices for best wah pedals.
- Produces noise when you crank the volume at higher levels.
One of the pioneers of wah pedals is the company Vox. Therefore, we don't wonder anymore why their Vox Vox V847A sounds so good to the ears.
In fact, this particular brand is also aiming the pinnacle of best wah pedals, which is pretty dominated by Dunlop currently. Despite that, you can guarantee that this pedal can still offer you a satisfying performance.
Among the Vox wah pedals, the V847A is their primary opus. Aesthetically speaking, you can get involve with this pedal at first sight. Its casing has a sleek touch and emanates a professional appeal.
Of course, such kind of ambiance is also present when this pedal will go on the roll One of the biggest advantages of the Vox V847A is its responsiveness. It will complement your instrument throughout the mix. It doesn't take the spotlight really, but it won't let your solo run off dry!
The range of tone is pretty dynamic, too. If you are looking for a straightforward wah pedal, then you can bet your money on the Vox V847A.
- A "pure" and "authentic" wah pedal.
- Highly responsive to your signals.
- Lets your instrument shine throughout the mix.
- It doesn't come with unnecessary features that would serve as distraction.
- Ideal for recordings and live applications.
- Somehow, this wah pedal is quite sensitive to minor adjustments.
- It is not a true bypass pedal.
Ibanez is the latest brand to enter the world of wah pedals. But it doesn't mean that their products are subpar from the rest.
In fact, this company has a broad understanding of how sounds work, as they are a top producer of excellent electric guitars.
For now, we can say that the Ibanez took a different route for their wah pedals. Specifically, they added unique features for their wah pedals, which are not present even to the leading brands.
For example, the Weeping Demon Wah is using the "electro-optical" feature to improve its overall responsiveness.
Meanwhile, this sleek wah pedal is also tweakable. It is fully loaded with various control features and sound adjustment settings for the pleasure of its users.
Of course, it would not be as good as the other wah pedals if it has no variety or distinction to its sound. Overall, you can say that the Ibanez WD7 Weeping Demon is the dark horse of the game.
- Highly durable wah pedal.
- Comes with multiple control features.
- High tweakable sounds but with no sound flavoring.
- Lets your instrument shine, especially on high gains.
- Can work in various genres.
- Consumes too much space on your pedalboard.
- Setup is somehow complicated, especially if you are new to wah pedals.
At some point, many guitar players would disapprove of the idea of dynamic wah pedals.
However, for us, it is just a test on how far you can go for your passion. Of course, many are reluctant on using them, considering that they don't operate like your regular wah pedal.
An example of such intricate wah pedal is the Boss AW-3. This particular unit is not something that could beat those Dunlop or Morley models.
However, if you want to go out of the box, AW-3 will certainly give you a hand.It is not a flashy pedal, but it is not flimsy either!
Among the noticeable features of the Boss AW-3 is its default sound presets. You can tweak the sound of your guitar without breaking any sweat.
Despite its unique interface, this pedal still uses the same myriad of controls that you can find on regular wah pedals. Moreover, this unit is extremely durable, too!
- Tough construction.
- Circuitry is certainly top notch.
- Has a small footprint.
- Its tonal versatility is pretty decent.
- Reasonable price.
- Not ideal for amateur players or for anyone who doesn't know to operate the controls.
- It is not as intuitive as other wah pedals.
Behringer Hellbabe HBO1 is one hot model of a wah pedal. It is highly versatile, thanks to the availability of multiple controls and adjustment settings. Moreover, it is also an affordable choice.
If you are tight on budget, this particular wah pedal is the ideal candidate.
The aesthetics of the Behringer Hellbabe HBO1 is not as good as those sleek Dunlop and Morley wah pedals. However, despite its bland appearance, this pedal packs a punch! It does not color the sound of your guitar.
Instead, it just keeps it warm and right on the beat.
It also uses a switchless feature. Once you step on this pedal, it will work like a beast. Meanwhile, a circuitry with noise-suppression technology operates this device.
Even if you pump the volumes at high levels, this wah pedal will never add unwanted noise to the effects!
- Affordable but offers quality value.
- Comes with a 9-volt battery and AC adapter.
- Highly intuitive design, has LED indicators for easier usage.
- Tonal variety is already decent.
- Produces exceptionally smooth and warm sounds.
- The construction is not as rigid as other wah pedals.
- Tuning and setting up this wah pedal is difficult.
- Does not offer the "precise feel" that guitarists want.
The Best Wah Pedals: What You Need To Know
In this article, we have to clarify that we didn't cover auto-wahs. Although the latter and wahs have the same sound, they still belong to different worlds. Therefore, we just restricted our list to pure wahs and nothing else.
Moreover, we didn't also include volume pedals. Just like auto-wahs, their share the same nuances with the wahs. But their difference in construction and function are still clear like night and day.
What is the Function of a Wah Pedal
At downright definition, a wah pedal works as a filter for emphasizing frequencies. This means that in a particular band of frequencies, others would be cut off while some are maintained.
In short, it is following the same principle of tone controls on any electric guitar or pedal.
The word "wah" is the sound that this effects pedal produces. This particular device can alter the signal of your guitar by drastically changing the frequency response. Of course, the original "wah-wah" sound came from trombone and trumpets.
When you move the rubber mute to the bell inside and out, the "wah" comes off.
Most "funky" songs are using the effects of the wah pedal. However, if you are good at experimenting, you can use this accessory in a myriad of applications as well.
Different musical genres can certainly benefit from this stomp box, one way or another.
For example, you can use your wah pedal as an EQ. Specifically, you can configure the pedal itself so that it can create sharp and bright tone. Such sound modification is deal if you want to stand out in the mix.
Meanwhile, you can also configure it in a way that sound would become smooth and relaxing. If you want to improve the harmony of your rhythm, you will need such kind of feature.
Considerations in Buying Wah Pedal
There are two things that you have to consider before buying a particular wah pedal. The first one is reliability. Of course, you wouldn't want to throw you money on something that breaks quickly, right?
Moreover, you don't want your pedal to produce cheesy sounds as well.
Technically, a wah pedal operates by altering the positioning of its potentiometer. When the potentiometer (or pot) gets dirty and rusty, then the pedal will not work anymore.
At the end of the day, you will have to replace it with a new wah pedal. Therefore, you must look for a pedal that offers high resistance to these kinds of detriments.
The second consideration is finding the "sweet spot" of the wah pedal. Specifically, this is the nuances of sound that you are present in between the "very muddy" and "very harsh" frequencies. The best wah pedals can effectively generate the extremities. However, it is the little intricate details in the middle that counts!
The price of a decent wah pedal ranges from $100 and above. But it doesn't mean that cheaper brands can't make the cut. Some of them can provide satisfaction to their users. However, finding these gems is like searching a needle in the haystack.
Mechanical Wah vs. Optical Wah
If a particular wah is optical controlled, its just means that it uses mechanical processes to produce the effect. Components like the switches and the potentiometers are involved in these schemes.
Most marketing pitches for optical wahs describe the latter as immune to wear and tear. Therefore, they are a good choice if you want to free yourself from persistent issues that plague this device perennially.
Although this statement is true, you should not hold it as absolute.
Devices that are using better technology are quite more advantageous than the old ones. But on the flipside, fixing them would become troublesome as their parts have intricate designs.
We may sound skeptical upon stating that. But trust us. We don't have any problems with optical wahs. We are just reporting the possible predicaments that you can encounter when you get such type of wah pedal.
Meanwhile, mechanical wahs have inferior specs compared to its counterpart. However, when D-Day comes, you can just find spare parts quickly. Therefore, it poses less problem if ever there is a requirement for maintenance.
In short, choosing between will just be a matter of your personal preferences. If you don't have technical skills in dealing with wah pedals, you better go with the optically operated model.
A wah pedal is for any guitarist. It doesn't matter if you are specializing in a particular genre. You can find use to the effects that this stomp box offer. It can let your instrument shine, especially if you are in a band.
Among the best wah pedals that we featured here, we consider the Dunlop 535Q Cry Baby as the best wah pedal. From the recommendations of professionals down to personal experience, this particular pedal remains to be consistent.
It is an excellent partner for your guitar. It doesn't break easily, too. With these, you can achieve those funky grooves anytime of the day!
Of course, we still recommend that you try the rest of the pedals that we reviewed here. Each of them is truly worth your money. Moreover, you wouldn't know which one is the best for you until you tested all the present options!