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Big Bad Wah
Yes, I have a wah addiction and I don’t care who knows it. From Michael Schenker to the “Theme from Shaft,” the wah is the coolest yet most over used pedal on the planet. I am guilty as charged, but Joe Satriani is an enabler. He offers some cool options to this beloved pedal and you’ll want to use this model a little too much.
It’s a dual mode wah where the footswitch at the bottom right side of the pedal takes you to the dark side of tonal world domination. Wah One is the classic British Vox sound. Wah Two gets you variations of Satriani’s signature wah sound and the ability to sculpt mayhem of your own. Its adjustable drive and two inductors let you construct the voices you hear in your head. When Wah Two is engaged you can utilize the Drive knob to go from boost to “growly.” With the drive all the way to the left, it takes you back to the Vox signature sound.
The Voice mini-toggle lets you choose between bright or warm and dark, while the Inductor switch allows you to move between a UK-style wah and the American voiced version.
|Watch Joe talk about the Big Bad Wah:
Click here to see the video full-size.
Wah One won’t get you that aged, mellow, comfy sound that Madison Square Bedroom gear snobs are after. It’s a harder, modern British wah sound. Its got great honk, sweep and natural smoothness. It’s clean, but might not be clean enough for wah-wah cork sniffers who like the sound of old pedals aged to perfection. At the top of the sweep it stops just short of being ice picky. It sounds great with lead tones, letting your distortion or overdrive shine unhampered. As stated, the lack of mellowness could turn off a few guitarists right up until they use it in an actual band context. Using real battlefield conditions are essential when trying out wahs. It’ll cut through any band mix without being annoying and offer a sweet upper mid vowel colorization without being harsh.
Wah Two is where it gets interesting. It’s a pedal tweaker's delight, but is simple enough that plug-in-and-go types won’t have a brain hemorrhage trying to figure it out. You can’t help but want to crank up the drive and burn some rubber. It’s less transparent than Wah One, but transparency is kinda not the point. Wah Two begs like a horny prostitute for that big, bad, boosted wah solo. It was born for this. It made sweet love to all my distortion pedals and compelled my Marshall JCM800 to sing like a bitch. I visited Michael Schenker Land and gave Kirk Hammet a run for his money. Thick, rich and chocolatey upper midrange tones emerged. I appreciate that I had the option of switching between a brighter or warmer sound with the Voice mini-toggle. The Drive knob dirties things up, but it never gets ridiculous. It’s very musical, has true-bypass circuitry and works well with the Inductor button for great tone shaping options. I like it. I like it a lot.
The Final Mojo
The Big Bad Wah sounded outstanding through every amp I played through. It lacks the classic mellow aged feel that a lot of pedal makers are pushing, but I can’t imagine Satriani was thinking mid-'70s Curtis Mayfield when he thought up this pedal. The Big Bad Wah allows you to get the stock Vox wah sound, their take on an American wah and plenty of tonal variety. Cranking this up with your favorite distortion pedal and manipulating the Drive knob will give you some bodacious in-your-face rock tones. It ain’t cheap, but you get what you pay for with this pedal and it offers a lot of splendiferous sounds and big rock supremacy.
you want a wah that has more than one sound.
the idea of tonal choices in a wah induces psychological trauma.
MSRP $280 - VOX - voxamps.com