When it comes to effects pedals, it seems as though bass players are seriously getting the shorter end of the stick. With tons of different specialized effects and just as many EQ minded variations, guitar players have a seemingly unlimited amount of choices that they can incorporate in their effects pedal arsenal. Many of these effects work best when used on leads or standout rhythms that would actually do more harm than good when used with an instrument that is meant to hold down the back beat. Imagine trying to hold down a bass line while using a phaser effect; not only would the timing of the bass sound a bit off (even if you’re not) but the rest of the band will surely have a bit more trouble trying to stay in sync, which is why when it comes to the bass, most players prefer EQ pedals over their effect infusing counterparts. Compressors, noise gates and booster pedals are far more common for use with a bass since they work right along with the instruments main job of holding down a smooth, direct and – most importantly – consistent rhythm section that doesn’t cut through the guitars and vocals. But that doesn’t mean guitarists should have all of the fun. Sure, there aren’t as many popular effects combinations for use with the bass as there is with guitars, but if you have itch for something a bit funky, then we have just the thing – the Dunlop Crybaby 105 Q Bass Wah. This pedal was made with bassists in mind and used by plenty of today’s top back-beat brethren such as Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Robert Trujillo of Metallica, Justin Medal-Johnsen of Ima Robot, notable bass virtuoso Doug Wimbish and plenty more. So, if you have been searching for a dedicated bass pedal that won’t leave the rest of the band desperately looking for a low-end groove, read on and check out what Dunlop’s Crybaby Bass Wah can do for you.
Most people that are familiar with several of today’s most used pedals can tell you that Dunlop’s Crybaby brand of effects pedals are certainly popular choices for both professional and amateur musicians alike. Kirk Hammett regularly uses his Crybaby Rack Wah for several of Metallica’s screaming solos and even the great Eric Clapton has been known to feature that famous Dunlop Wah throughout his career. But in case you’re wondering if this Crybaby is simply the same guitar-minded variant with the word bass simply slapped on their and resold, put those fears to rest as this wah pedal is strictly for all those bassists out there. Alright, we all know that when it comes to the bass, you don’t mess with that low end and Dunlop knows this too, that’s why the Crybaby Bass Wah applies the wah effect to the mids and highs only, leaving that low end frequency untouched – meaning you can throw in as many bass solos and fills without ever disturbing that back beat.
Those of you familiar with any of the other Crybaby line of stomp boxes will find the size, shape and design of the Bass Wah right in line with them and depending on your personal experiences with these types of pedals, that may or may not be a good thing. The reason I say this is because of the location of the Bass Wah’s two control knobs are located on the left side of the pedal and are not all that big to begin with, meaning it can be a real pain trying to make slight adjustments during a live show environment. While that should be no problem for players who tend to take care of settings before they go onstage and don’t regularly make adjustments throughout the set, it’s a criticism I’ve heard before from players against this type of pedal so it should be worth noting. And speaking of controls, the Bass Wah is pretty straight forward on this end. Only two controls – Volume and the Variable Q – nothing more. As far as the Variable Q knob is concerned, to quote the manual, “you can control the peak of the filter with this adjustment.” What this means for you is that this knob is where you will control the tonal qualities of the Wah effect. Turning the knob clockwise towards the higher end will hit more of the higher frequencies giving it a harmonic vocal-like effect that is a bit pronounced which would be best applied on bass solos or in-your-face funk lines. Turning this Q knob counter clock-wise will yield a much less pronounced and subtle effect that is nowhere near as vocal sounding but has a much smoother musical tone which sounds great for holding down the back rhythm and fills with just enough thickness. The volume control itself regulates the volume of the effect applied to your bass. Straight forward enough, less will give you less wah effect and more will give you more, but it should be noted that the overall volume of the effect also depends on the Variable Q setting. When the variable Q is at its high setting, the overall effect volume is also raised while lowering the variable Q will also lower the effect on volume, meaning its best to first dial-in the appropriate Q setting first and then make effect volume adjustments afterwards.
As far as the build goes, the Dunlop Crybaby Bass Wah feels pretty solid and should take a reasonable beating but its narrow design does make it a bit cumbersome when it fails to keep stable while stomping it at an edge. Still though, more like a nitpick than an actual deal-breaker. The pedal itself is spring loaded so rocking it back and forth will have a bit of a give to it. Depending on your preference, you may or may not like this feature but as far as starting and stopping the effect goes, the pedal works solid. The effect responds very quickly to pedal so as soon as you hit it on you will have that wah on although there is a very slight delay when switching it off. The manual itself attributes this small delay to allow the player to rock the pedal back and forth which is completely understandable seeing as how it is a wah pedal. As far as bypass goes, the Dunlop Crybaby Bass Wah unfortunately does not feature true bypass meaning if your pedal runs out of juice, the signal won’t be able to run through and your entire effects chain will be dead. Instead, this pedal features “auto-bypass” which essentially means that you have to have the thing actually on (not the effect, just the pedal itself) in order for the signal to run through, so better make sure you have a spare 9 volt battery or pickup one of Dunlop’s DC power bricks (or any 9volt AC) if you really want to negate this issue.
While the Dunlop Crybaby 105Q Bass Wah is not without its flaws – namely no true bypass – for less than 120 bucks, you get that well known Crybaby wah sound made specifically with the bass in mind. And while you will probably have this pedal in its auto-bypass position for a good portion of your set (unless of course your band is of the funk persuasion), when you do switch it on, rest assured that you will be getting some of the most recognizable wah tones in the business that have more than enough mid and high range flavoring all while leaving your low end how it should be – nice and deep. All in all, the Dunlop Crybaby 105Q Bass Wah is definitely worth the price tag.