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Electro-Harmonix Wailer Wah

A new wah from EHX that you can rock - and cock

by Phil O'Keefe

 



Wah pedals are some of the oldest, and some say one of the most useful, types of guitar pedals. Electro-Harmonix has a long history of making wahs, including the relatively recent Crying Tone model which, like the other pedals in their Next Step pedal lineup (such as the EHX Talking Pedal I previously reviewed here on HC) use no moving parts but instead use an accelerometer (similar to the motion sensor in modern smartphones) to indicate the pedal's position. Many users love the Next Step pedals, but they have a few disadvantages that turned off some players. Now Electro-Harmonix has released the Wailer Wah, so let's take one for a spin and see what they've kept the same - and what makes it different from its predecessors.





What You Need To Know

  • The Wailer Wah circuit is the same as the Electro-Harmonix Crying Tone wah, but is housed in a more traditional package.  It foregoes the motion sensor and no-moving-parts design approach of its predecessor, instead using a treadle coupled to a rack-and-pinion geared mechanism. 

  • Unlike many wah pedals, the Wailer Wah shell uses a tough modern polymer material - not metal. Not only does it appear rugged enough to stand up to heavy use, it saves considerably on weight while still maintaining a traditional appearance.

  • The Wailer Wah measures 9.92" L x 3.4" W x 3.0" H and weighs only 1.6 pounds.

  • The electronic construction is done mainly with surface mount components, which helps reduce cost but makes user modifications more difficult.





  • The input and output jacks mount on the sides of the Wailer Wah, with the input jack on the right and the output on the left as you'd expect. Input impedance is 1MOhm, and the output impedance is 1.5kOhm.
  • On the pedal's left side, a 2.1mm center-negative power jack accepts 9V DC. A power adapter isn't included, but it will work with all the usual suspects, and powering it on a daisy chain with several other pedals using a One Spot adapter caused no issues. The Wailer draws 6 mA and should be powered by a 9V DC adapter that provides a minimum of 25 mA of current.

 

  • The Wailer Wah can also be powered by a 9V battery. A tool-free hinged door on the bottom of the pedal provides battery compartment access. EHX even tosses in a fresh battery with the pedal so you can get to rockin' it right away. Best of all, the battery compartment door remains attached to the pedal, even when it's open, so you're much less likely to lose it.





  • Plugging into the input jack turns on the battery, so unplug the input cable when you're not using the pedal to conserve battery life. The battery can be left in when using the pedal with an external power adapter.
  • Four rubber feet help prevent sliding around on hard floor surfaces, but can be removed for pedalboard mounting. A rubber pad on the top surface of the treadle provides plenty of grip so your foot doesn't slip while trying to operate the pedal.

  • Having a traditional treadle makes this pedal much better suited to using the Wailer Wah as a fixed filter for those "cocked and locked" wah tones that you hear on so many recordings.

  • The switching is handled in the same manner as on most other wah pedals - press down firmly at the toe end to click the switch on or off as desired.



Limitations

  • Like all wahs that use moving parts, those parts are subject to wear and tear over time. Pots can get dirty and noisy and occasionally need to be cleaned. To be fair, this applies to nearly all wah pedals (with the exception of the Crying Tone), and I see nothing to make me think that the Wailer Wah will be any less durable than other traditional wah pedals.

  • There is no LED to indicate active / bypass status.



Conclusions

The Wailer Wah keeps the same great-sounding circuit as the "no moving parts" Crying Tone wah with a wide sweeping vocal sound that isn't a clone of any other wah, but reminds me a bit of vintage Vox wah tones. If you prefer mounting your wah on a pedalboard over freestanding use, or if you're like me and like to use cocked and locked wah settings to apply a fixed filter sound to your guitar, the Wailer Wah makes a lot of sense and you'll find it much more suitable to your needs than the Crying Tone model. It's also wonderfully light by wah standards and won't add nearly as much weight to your board as many of its competitors.

For those looking for a traditional wah, the EHX Wailer Wah needs to be on your audition list. Not only does it have a great sound and smooth sweep range all wrapped up in a lightweight, pedalboard-friendly package, but it comes in at a price that is simply astonishing for a USA-built wah pedal. Once again, Electro-Harmonix scores big on both quality and value.  -HC-


Resources

Electro-Harmonix Wailer Wah ($83.63 MSRP, $62.75 "street")

Electro-Harmonix product web page    



You can purchase the Electro-Harmonix Wailer Wah from:

Sweetwater  

Guitar Center    

B&H Photo Video  

Musician's Friend    












__________________________________________________

 




Phil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician and Guitar Player magazines.  

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