The wah pedal has a legendary history in rock and other types of music, with many of the greatest guitarists of all time using them and having their favorites.
In case you don’t know, a wah pedal is a device that allows a guitar to take on a distorted sound that sounds like a human voice saying “wah-wah”, hence the name.
Check out the guitar solos from songs like Even Flow by Pearl Jam, Sweet Child ‘O Mine by Guns ‘N Roses and Enter Sandman by Metallica for some very famous examples.
There are so many different wah pedals on the market now that it can be difficult to know which one is best for the kind of music you want to make.
That’s where this guide comes in – we’ll take you through a selection of the best wah pedals, including a profile for each with pros and cons.
You also shouldn’t miss the buyer’s guide and FAQ sections further down, where you’ll find all kinds of useful information to give you the inside scoop on what you should look for when you’re buying.
But for now, let’s get into it – the best wah pedals.
Our Best Wah Pedal Reviews
As you can see, the title has the word “mini” in it, and this is because it’s a smaller version of the Dunlop Cry Baby.
This brings some advantages.
The full-size Cry Baby is certainly a great pedal, no doubt about it, but the smaller size of this version makes it easier to control, as well as giving you more space on your board, which will be particularly useful if you’ve got a lot of other pedals there as well.
The extra control means that you can more finely tune the exact sound you want the pedal to make, which means that if you haven’t found a pedal that suits your sound yet, this one is definitely worth checking out.
The smaller size might take a little bit of getting used to if you usually use full size pedals, but you’ll adapt quickly enough, and operationally the size doesn’t really make much of a difference.
Despite being smaller, it manages to keep that classic, throaty Cry Baby sound that’s earned the original its reputation. Overall, it’s a great pedal for beginners or experienced guitarists. Also available from the manufacturer’s website.
- Great control: easy to control the quality of the sound
- Small size: makes it easier to fit on a crowded pedal board
- Customizable: easy to alter the sound
- Small size: some might prefer the larger version
- The perfect balance of wah control and pedal board efficiency
- Choose from four different frequency sweep ranges via the Range Selector
- Adjustable, switchable boost allows you to step out in front of the mix
- Q control shapes wah response from narrow to wide
Vox is the company that actually first brought the wah pedal to the market, but at the time it was intended for wind players, rather than guitarists.
As we know, demand proved to be a lot higher among guitarists and Vox is still producing great wah pedals today.
This one is still based on the specs of the original 1960s version that Hendrix and Gilmour used, with some modern touches to bring it into the 21st century.
This pedal has a warm, powerful sound that no other brand can quite imitate.
The rubber feet on the bottom are also very sturdy, meaning that it won’t shift about as you switch the pedal on and off.
That’s a good thing, because the switch on this pedal needs quite a bit of pressure to press down. Also available from the manufacturer’s website.
- Affordable: a lower price than a lot of other pedals
- Original: it has the distinction of being the original wah sound
- Stable: easy to turn on and off without shifting around
- Switch: needs lots of pressure to press down
- Based on the specs of the original VOX wah from the 1960s, the V847 has faithfully transmitted the legendary sound to the present day. Through careful experimentation, the traditional VOX wah has evolved into the V847-C wah pedal, with a tone that enhances today's rock music.
- While carrying on the tradition of VOX wah pedals, the V847-C wah pedal's numerous customizations make it the perfect modern VOX wah.
- DIMENSIONS (W X D X H): 102 x 253 x 80 mm / 4.02 x 9.96 x 3.15 inches
- WEIGHT: 1.3 kg / 2.87 lbs (excluding battery)
This wah pedal is a great option for someone who wants to dip their toes into the effects pedal world.
I’ll say right now that this isn’t a revolutionary model or anything that breaks new ground, but it’s not trying to be. What you get here is good, solid performance at a very reasonable price.
Honestly, unless you’re looking for something very specific from your wah pedal, this should do everything you need it to do.
It’ll give you a crisp sound with a midrange that sounds vocal-like for a fraction of the cost of a lot of other models.
The casing is plastic, rather than anything more durable, but that’s part of what helps to keep the price so low and also has the benefit of making the whole thing much more lightweight than these pedals usually are.
Also available on the manufacturer’s website.
- Low price: very affordable relative to its quality
- Solid performance: does the general wah pedal job well
- Easy to use: No frills mean it’s easy to get started
- Plastic casing: less durable than sturdier materials
- Basic model: might not be advanced enough for experienced guitarists
- Killer wah and cocked wah sounds
- Traditional gear-and-pinion operation
- Modern lightweight yet rugged polymer construction brings weight down to just over 1. 5 pounds
- Super affordable
- 9-Volt battery included, optional EHX9. 6DC-200mA power supply available
This wah pedal is the bigger brother of the Cry Baby Mini that’s listed above.
The elder Cry Baby is the industry standard wah pedal and has carved out a reputation as the go-to wah pedal for most guitarists’ needs.
There have been countless iterations of this pedal over the years, and the newest one doesn’t disappoint.
The sound here is clean and focused, while remaining just as expressive as the classic Cry Baby models of the past. As always, the pedal is very well put together and you can be sure that it’ll last a long time.
Also available on the manufacturer’s website.
- Classic sound: it’s the famous Cry Baby sound, modernized
- Build quality: the overall quality of the construction is great
- Economical: it’s not the cheapest, but is good value for its quality
- Tone adjustment: has no tone adjustment controls.
- Heavy Die Cast Construction
- Powered by the Dunlop ECB-03 AC Adapter (not included) and/or 9 volt battery
- Dimensions: 10" x 4" x 2-1/2"
- Weight: 3.7 lbs.
- Color: Black
This pedal isn’t one of the better-known names, but don’t be put off because it’s one of the most versatile pedals you’re ever likely to come across.
To start with, it’s smaller than wah pedals usually are (though still bigger than the Mini Cry Baby) and well laid out. It’s easy to adjust the setting with four pots on the right side, making it intuitive to use.
It also makes it easy to tinker with the sound, which means that you can easily get a whole range of variety that you might not get with another pedal, and allows you to get piercing highs and muddy lows alike.
Also available from the manufacturer’s website.
- Versatility: Can be adjusted to produce a huge range of different sounds
- Solidly constructed: Durable and well built
- Small size: Doesn’t take up too much space on your pedal board.
- Price: on the more expensive end of the pedal spectrum.
This is another attempt to recreate that legendary original Vox Clyde McCoy.
In fact, this pedal does even better than that original – it has less noise interference and is better constructed.
This means that your music will sound better and the pedal will last longer.
It’s also quite versatile, and the switch gives you access to 3 different sounds, so you’ll have plenty of options.
Like most good pedals, this one has a true bypass switch so that when it’s off, it’s not affecting your sound at all. If you want that authentic 60s sound, this might be what you’re looking for.
- 60’s sound: the best way to imitate the likes of Hendrix and Clapton
- Heavy duty: sturdy and built to last
- Tone quality: higher than most other pedals
- Cost: This is a high performance pedal with a price to match
- CLYDE wah pedal devotees include:
- The Rolling Stones
- Joe Satriani
- Compatible with The Black Crowes
- Ian Moore
I’ve listed a few different wah pedals here, and any one of them might be the perfect one for you.
But the thing is, different guitarists are looking for different things from their wah pedals, so I want to bring you up to speed on what you need to look out for when you’re making your decision.
What Do You Want From Your Wah Pedal?
Before you set your heart on any wah pedal, it’s important to consider what exactly you want it for.
Sure, you want it so you can make awesome wah sounds with your guitar, but it gets more specific than that. For instance, how often are you going to be using it, on all your songs or just here and there?
Do you just want the classic wah sound, or something more unusual? Do you want to be able to tinker with it to produce your own unique sound, or is plug and play all you need? How much are you willing to spend?
As with just about anything you buy, wah pedals come at a variety of different price points.
If you’re shopping for your first wah pedal, or you’re a fairly new guitarist, then you might not want to cough up top dollar on one piece of kit.
In that case, something like the Electro-Harmonix wah pedal in entry 3 on our list might suit you.
It’s the perfect balance of affordability and functionality, and will still give you a solid product without breaking the bank.
That being said, you shouldn’t expect many frills on this kind of pedal. If, on the other hand, you’re more of a seasoned guitarist who’s willing to part with a more substantial sum, there are plenty of options available.
Jim Dunlop pedals, for instance, have a reputation as industry standard with excellent build quality and have a price to match. These generally offer more features.
Sometimes, you just want a wah pedal that you can plug in and rock out with.
If you’re chasing that classic Jimi Hendrix wah sound and don’t need any other fancy frills, some pedals are more suitable than others.
The Dunlop Cry Baby (or even the Cry Baby mini) or the Vox pedal mentioned above would be great options if that’s the case.
They’re the descendants of the pedals that those 60s rock gods actually used and they’ve taken care to preserve that spirit even in the modern versions.
On the other hand, some people are more interested in a more specific sound that breaks the mold a bit.
If that’s the case with you, then the best thing to do is find out what pedals are used by the guitarists you like.
Getting the exact sound you’re looking for can be a bit of a trial and error process, and listening to the music you love is a fun way to make the search easier.
See also the section where I mention signature pedals below – these can be good ways to get a very specific sound.
Some pedals don’t need (or allow) much in the way of customization.
They have a small number of different settings for you to use, and this is perfect for you if you don’t feel like playing around with your pedals before you start playing with it.
However, if you’re interested in tinkering to achieve a unique sound of your own, then you’ll want something that allows it.
The Cry Baby is a great example of the former kind – it’s not all that customizable, but that’s not why you’d buy it.
A great example of a more customizable pedal would be the Xotic at entry 5 above. It has a variety of different settings that enable you to fine-tune a whole range of different sounds, perfect for if you want to experiment.
There aren’t any on this list, but you’ve probably heard of signature pedals.
It’s common for well-known guitarists to release signature pedals. Some of these can be great, whereas others are just overpriced standard pedals with a lick of paint on them.
Check before you buy one to see whether it’s worth it, but signatures can be a good way to match the sound of your favorite guitarist, particularly if they have a particularly definitive sound that’s hard to match otherwise.
A few guitarists with signature pedals include Slash, Jerry Cantrell, and Kirk Hammett.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is A Wah Pedal?
Basically, a wah pedal is a piece of equipment that you can use to change the sound that an electric guitar makes. Because wah pedals are, um, pedals, they’re usually operated with the feet.
This means you can press down on the pedal with your foot at exactly the right moment you want the effect to work.
Usually, pressing down with a different firmness will affect the way and how much the guitar’s sound is changed.
The name “wah pedal” comes from the fact that the sound they create sounds kind of like a human voice saying “wah”. You’ve probably heard guitarists doing this countless times, but here are a couple of examples:
- The guitar solo from Sweet Child ‘O Mine by Guns ‘N Roses
- Voodoo Child (Slight Return) by Jimi Hendrix
What Kind Of Style Of Music Are Wah Pedals Used In?
The most famous style of music to use wah pedals would be rock music, but it’s certainly not the only one. Rock’s music’s child genre, heavy metal, also often features a lot of wah pedal, and many metal guitarists are among those who have signature pedals.
Another style to use it quite a lot is funk music, where it’s what guitarists use to get the signature “wacka wacka” sound that’s so characteristic of funk.
What Does A Wah Pedal Sound Like?
That’s a question with a surprisingly complex answer. The simple thing to say would be that it creates a sound like a person saying “wah”, but you knew that already.
In fact, for a tool that’s so simple, you can get quite a lot of variety out of a wah pedal depending on how you use it. It can go well with all kinds of different guitar tones.
An example here is that you can use a wah pedal to create a huge sound that engulfs a whole song – try listening to a song such as Rain When I Die by Alice in Chains to note how Jerry Cantrell uses the wah pedal to create a dark, moody atmosphere.
This sounds totally different from how it’s used in, for example, either Sweet Child ‘O Mine or Voodoo Child (Slight Return).
If you go for a pedal that can be customized a lot, you’ll start to find even more variety in how you can make the wah sound, from warm and shining, to swampy and dark.
There you have it, a guide to the best wah pedals that are available for you to buy.
Buying a wah pedal can be a really fun experience and once you’ve got one, rocking out with it for the first time will be amazing fun.
With the information in this guide, you should have all the information you’ll need to make the right choice.
Remember to consider what you’re looking for in terms of price, sound, versatility, and so forth, and you’ll end up with a pedal you’re happy with.