One of the easiest ways to achieve a tone comparable to your favorite player is by emulating their gear setup. Sure, about half of an artist’s signature tone comes from the player’s skill itself but you’re definitely in the right direction if you’re looking into attaining a few of the things they swear by. With that said, for those players a bit green behind the ears or simply can’t put down the cash on their favorite artist’s top of the line set up, one of the easiest ways to recreate their tone is by picking up a product specifically made with the artist’s sound in mind, which brings us to the artist signature effects pedal. Although they can’t one hundred percent re-do the exact same sound as the artist that bears its name - since we all know that everything from their choice in guitar/pickup/amp/etc is involved in an artist’s tone - signature effects pedals will get you close to the real thing and usually at a much more economical price. And since we are on the topic of signature effects pedals, there is one effect that seems to top the list of the number of artists that are connected to the sound; the wah wah effect. Makes sense when you think about it; there is nothing as signature to a guitar player than the way in which they shape their solos and one of the most popular guitar solo effect is most definitely the wah wah. That very noticeable scream has been with rock since the beginning and can be heard just as prominently on blues records as they are in metal.
Now, if there is one specific wah pedal that holds a sizeable amount of real-estate in popularity among the pros, it is most definitely Jim Dunlop’s Crybaby Wah pedal. In fact, it is officially the best selling guitar effects pedal – EVER! Everyone from Jack White to Joe Walsh to Ted Nugent have the Crybaby Wah in their repertoire. And since we are speaking of artist signature pedals, almost no other pedal has as many artist variations as the Crybaby, so with that said, what’s the difference? While most of them are more or less the same in their ability to produce screaming wah solos or a funk-cetric wacka-wacka rhythm, it’s the little differences of each where the gold is at. Depending on the style you are going for, one of these artist pedal’s unique features might just be that final piece you are looking for, so whether you’re just curious in finding out the differences between the original Crybaby and that of its spawn or are in the market for one of these babies, read on and check out some of the variations of the Jim Dunlop Crybaby Wah.
If we were to simply just list the names of all the artists that have used Dunlop’s Crybaby, the list would be staggering and would look like a variable who’s who of electric guitar. Throughout the years, Dunlop has offered multiple variations on their Crybaby design from the Multi Wah, Bass Wah, Rack Wah, Original Wah and the Classic Wah, not to mention the artist signature series deviations. The original pedal itself is actual a copy of a competitor’s wah pedal, the Thomas Organ/Vox Cry Baby Wah (the original pedal used by Jimi Hendrix), which is where Dunlop’s also got its name from since at time Vox had yet to own the term Cry Baby as a trademark for their pedal. Since then, the Crybaby has been delivering that signature wah sound for guitar solos or that equally defining “wacka-wacka” rhythm style for funk.
For those of you unaware of who this man is, you are definitely missing out. Not only was he a pioneer of the original Chicago blues sound, he has served as the influence of some of rock’s most notable guitarists including Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix. During the ‘60s, Guy was a member of Muddy Waters’ band as well as a house musician at Chess Records. His use of the wah was just as influential as his guitar playing, pretty much solidifying the effect as a staple of the blues. The Buddy Guy BG-95 Crybaby Wah lets you switch between two uniqe wah voices that the man himself was known for using. Select DEEP for a thick and throaty growl or move over to BG for a warmer bell-like wah tone that Guy himself was known for. Couple that with its distinctive polka dot pattern casing and you have yourself a Crybaby that can stand out on its own!
Slash is as well known for his top hat long hair combo as he is for use of bluesy guitar riffs mixed with Jimmy Page, Angus Young and Jeff Beck styled classic rock solos. Best known as the former guitarist for Guns ‘N Roses, Slash has become a legend in his own right, constantly being featured along numerous artists on various projects; it seems as though you can’t even have a Super Bowl half-time show without the guy going out there and melting some faces! Newly inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (class of 2012), Slash ranks up there among the best of rock guitarists. All you have to do is think back to that famous guitar solo on “Sweet Child ‘O Mine” to hear what Slash can do with a wah, and those wanting that similar growl can take advantage of the unique features his Crybaby has to offer. The pedal effortlessly delivers high gain distortion to that wah effect thanks to the onboard Fasel Classic circuitry that ensures your lead tone will pretty much cut through anything, all with Slash’s custom specs used for upper mid-range tone focus to add just the right amount of shine.
Any fan of Metallica can tell you that the sound of their solos is almost as signature as the sound of the entire band, and a big thanks can be given to lead guitarist Kirk Hammett for his aggressive use if the wah. While the man himself uses Dunlop’s Crybaby Rack Wah for his signature tone, those not wanting to spend over half a grand for that specific sound can attain it with the much more affordable KH-95 Crybaby Wah. Kirk Hammett himself worked closely with Dunlop to get all the specifics just right, taking all of his EQ, volume and tone settings into account while creating his signature pedal. Known for its thick top end and full dynamic range, the KH-95 is by far the most affordable way to get those metal solos screaming like few others.
Although the wah-wah effect was just barely invented by the time Hendrix made it big in 1967, few other guitarists have used the wah in such a signature way than this guitar hero. Back in the ‘60s, Hendrix used a Thomas Organ/Vox Cry Baby Wah for his sound, the very same pedal that Dunlop’s Crybaby was modeled after. Putting all that company trademark and patent talk out of the window, the JH-1B Crybaby Wah is pretty much the real deal as far as what Hendrix himself used. Simply listen to the Hendrix tunes “Still Running, Still Dreaming,” "Up From the Sky” or “Voodoo Child” and you’ll hear exactly what Dunlop was going for when making this pedal. And its not just the sound that’s vintage, the pedal design itself is pretty much one hundred percent authentic featuring a flashy chrome top and sleek black Italian crinkle-finish aluminum body.