There are quite a few variations when it comes to Dunlop’s very famous Crybaby wah-wah pedal brand. There’s the Kirk Hammett Signature Crybaby which has been specified to meet the Metallica thrasher’s personal tastes and settings. The same goes with Slash and Buddy Guy’s signature Crybaby pedals as well. Dunlop has even graced bass players with the Crybaby treatment! Well, those are all well and good, but what if you want something a bit more… classic? You can always go with the Crybaby Classic in that case, but maybe the limitation of its vintage Fasel Inductor – even with all its true ‘60s glory – doesn’t suit your modern needs. If only there were a Crybaby pedal that had the original vintage sound of the classic model without the drawbacks of the vintage tech… well, weak segue aside, I’m of course talking about Dunlop’s Crybaby Original – one of the most popular wah-wahs in the market today. Alright, for those of you unfamiliar with the Crybaby Original, let’s take a closer look and see if it’s truly deserving of its positive reputation.
The first thing you’ll notice when you take this bad boy out of the box is its relatively simple and straight forward appearance. The pedal comes with a manual obviously, but unless you can’t figure out which input your guitar cable goes in, you won’t need to even look at the thing. The pedal itself is powered by either a 9 volt battery or an AC adapter, neither of which come with the pedal sadly, but I had plenty of loose electronics adapters that fit and worked perfectly so you can try that out if you don’t want to just use a battery. You can always get the official adapter or even a spring for a Dunlop DC Power Brick like the pros do, which will make sure you won’t lose power in the middle of a show as the pedal tends to be a tad bit power hungry when powered by a 9 volt, although a fresh battery should last you for more than just a few shows depending on how much the effect is used.
The build itself feels strong and well made, although I wouldn’t go putting your entire weight on it, or on any pedal for that matter. It’s slightly bigger and feels a bit hefty when held in your hands as compared to other single effect pedals but in my opinion, that’s a great thing as the pedal hardly moves an inch when placed on the floor and used in action, unlike some of the smaller lighter pedals which can make for a very frustrating experience. All in all, this pedal is straight forward but slick and will last you a long time with minimal care. Plenty of pedal vets have been known to use their Crybaby for over 20 years without the slightest hiccup, so as long as you don’t go throwing the thing on concrete walls or dunking it in water, a drop or two from the height of your hands shouldn’t be anything to worry about.
As far as the features on this goes, not many, but you shouldn’t need more than just the stomper pedal, although it does come with a bypass switch that I found extremely helpful during live shows. When an effect is not in use, some pedals tend to give off a slight buzz that is probably due to the unavoidable electrical discharge given off by the pedal as the signal makes its way through and to the amp. If you want a completely clean signal with no slight buzz, as some of us more finicky players have to have, you’d either have to take the pedal off (which would make no sense during live shows, not to mention how unprofessional that looks, but that’s just me, wanting to play like a professional, you know) or, in the case of the Crybaby, simply turn on the bypass switch and you’ll get a completely naked signal devoid of any wah effect in case you don’t need it. The slight buzz is very slight and only really comes in when the gain is set pretty high so it shouldn’t really bother most people and you can’t hear it as much as if you’re looking for it, but it’s nice to know the option is there for more sensitive ears.
This is where the Crybaby really shines. Essentially, this is a wah pedal and that’s what you’re getting, but don’t let that dissuade you, it may only have one job, but it does it great! You want Jimi Hendrix or Kirk Hammett styled solos? Look no further as the Crybaby is pretty much dead on as long as you have your EQ settings more or less to their tone. Hook this up to a Fender Stratocaster and you’ll swear Hendrix just came back from the dead! The slight twangy nature of the guitar mixed with a good amount of gain with the Crybaby on will make even mediocre solos scream. Better yet, try it on a Telecaster for even more of that signature twang! I tried this out myself on my first guitar, an Epiphone Les Paul and I’m telling you, just give the amp a decent amount of bass with a nice helping of gain, not too much though, 6 should be good, and even lower quality guitars will have that same warm intensity that the pros achieve with the wah pedal.
The settings are as straight forward as it gets, stomp on the pedal for wah, stomp it again to turn it off. The Crybaby also offers a great amount of range in the sweep from a warm trebly high to a nice deep low, making this sucker give your solos a very nice scream that works very well for most types of rock. Funk aficionados will have a lot to like here too as the Crybaby can give you a nice punchy “whacka-whacka” sound when played with some staccato. As mentioned above, it is possible for the Crybaby to give you a slight buzz, but only when used with really high gain, as is true with many pedals, but overall you shouldn’t have too much trouble with that if you don’t tend to always max out the gain. Even then, it won’t be noticeable enough to negatively impact a live full band performance.
It’s incredible when you think about the amazing sound you get for the price. As far as wah pedals go, none come to mind that can match the sound and the value of the Original Crybaby for a similar price. Strong enough to be used professionally, easy enough that even the most inexperienced players will have fun with it, and cheap enough that anyone in the market for an effects pedal can buy. All in all, the Jim Dunlop Original Crybaby Wah is a superb buy and a great addition to any guitarist’s pedal collection!