It bounces in and out of fashion like a tennis ball, but the wah effect never completely goes away – and the fact that Dunlop’s Cry Baby brand alone has 33 models to choose from right now suggests plenty of guitars are still gently (or not so gently) weeping.
Around half of those Babies are signature pedals, including the two latest launches: one for blues-rocker Gary Clark Jr and one for late Pantera shredder Dimebag Darrell. That’s quite a contrasting pair of players, and what we have here is an even more contrasting pair of stompboxes.
That much is clear from looks alone: the Clark wah has an industrial-chic brushed copper finish while the Dime model is ‘camo black’, a meaner alternative to the full camouflage version of this pedal that’s been around since 2004. It’s smarter than the old look to our eyes… and more apt, as most modern stages are entirely free of dense tropical undergrowth.
Clark’s pedal has no controls at all, but Dimebag’s has loads: a six-way frequency range selector, a kick-button on the side to engage a gain boost, plus tiny knobs to fine-tune the range, alter the ‘Q’ shape of the sweep and adjust the boost’s gain. There’s also a second output that can be set to send either a treated signal to an effects loop or a dry one to a tuner.
And on the inside? The Clark has a black Dunlop-branded inductor, while the Dime has the famous red Fasel type.
Dunlop says the Clark pedal has a “lower frequency range” than a standard Cry Baby, but ‘lower’ is misleading, because this is actually a very bright wah at the top of its travel. What they mean is ‘shorter’ – it doesn’t dive as deep as most, so with heel fully down the sound is focused on lower mids rather than bass. This is great for tight rhythmic playing, and could be useful if you find the darkest part of a normal wah’s tonal sweep too muffled.
Here’s another feature that needs some explanation: the six-way switch on the Dime wah doesn’t make the range bigger or smaller, just shifts it up or down. It never gets as sharp at the top, or as midrange-y at the bottom, as the Clark pedal; but in combination with the mini-knobs, it does offer a huge amount of scope for tone-shaping. The Q control is especially nifty, changing how focused the sound is in the middle part of the treadle’s travel – that is, how boldly the mids leap out as you pass through.
The gain boost isn’t a metal mayhem switch, just a simple full-range boost that gets on super-well with the wah for big solos. It’s a pity you can’t enjoy the boost without the wah, but that’s not really the point. Like its coppery compadre, this is a fine wah built with a style and solidity that will never go out of fashion.
GCJ95 Gary Clark Jr Cry Baby: 8/10
- PRICE £194.99
- DESCRIPTION Wah pedal
- CONTROLS Bypass switch under toe of treadle
- FEATURES True bypass; powered by 9-volt battery or mains supply
- DIMENSIONS 252 x 119 x 71mm (with treadle down)
- VERDICT A solid, classy wah with plenty of cut for percussive playing
DB01B Dimebag Cry Baby From Hell: 9/10 (Editor’s Choice)
- PRICE £184.99
- DESCRIPTION Wah pedal
- CONTROLS Wah six-way range control, fine-tune and Q; boost footswitch and gain control; bypass switch under toe of treadle
- FEATURES Buffered bypass, switchable wet/dry second output; LEDs for wah and boost; powered by 9-volt battery or mains supply
- DIMENSIONS 252 x 102 x 71mm (with treadle down)
- CONTACT Westside Distribution, jimdunlop.com
- VERDICT Much more musical and versatile than the name implies
Like this? Try these
- Cry Baby 535Q Multi-Wah £147
- Fulltone Clyde Standard £209
- Xotic XW-1 Wah £299