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January 15
more... GearEffectsSound SamplesReviewsWahAugust 2010DunlopJerry Cantrell

Dunlop JC95 Jerry Cantrell Signature Wah Pedal Review

Of the grunge era’s most popular bands, Alice in Chains is arguably the one guitarists most appreciate. Vocal harmonies, guitar solos, and classic song structures set the band apart from their faster, noisier peers. Jerry Cantrell—AIC’s lead guitarist and main compositional force—has cited his major influences as Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath, and country music. Rather than reject the theatrical elements of their rock ’n’ roll predecessors, AIC absorbed those influences, and they can be heard in many aspects of the band’s sound—including Cantrell’s emotive guitar work. His slower metal style was often accompanied by odd time signatures and innovative use of the wah pedal. Recently, Cantrell got together with the folks at Dunlop to develop the JC95 Signature Wah, which is designed to his unique specifications and comes in an attractive, copper-colored casing full of rugged components. It features hardwired-bypass switching and a 9-volt battery you can access without having to remove the bottom plate. You can also run it off an optional AC adaptor or Dunlop’s DCB10 Brick power supply.
Download Example 1
Bridge Pickup
Download Example 2
Neck Pickup
Download Example 3
Neck Pickup
All samples recorded with a Gibson SG through a Mesa/Boogie TransAtlantic tube amp with matching 1x12" cabinet.

Whoops…Wow!

The wah pedal came about by accident in the mid 1960s when engineers at Warwick Electronics Inc./Thomas Organ Company were redesigning a Vox Super Beatle. The task of downgrading the expensive tube midrange boost section of the amp to a cheaper solid-state design was given to a junior engineer named Brad Plunkett. Part of the circuit was wired to a Vox organ volume pedal and the wah-wah was born. In less than two years, the pedal was under Jimi Hendrix’s foot and music has never been the same since. Around that time, funk and soul players were also implementing the wah-wah into their sound. By 1970, a mere four years after the wah pedal’s creation, its capabilities were well defined. However, rather than sinking in popularity over the years like some effects, the wah pedal has remained a staple for guitarists of nearly every genre. Dunlop began releasing signature wah pedals in the ’80s, beginning with the Jimi Hendrix signature model. Each of these models has been tailored to the musician’s specification and, in most cases, the players have implemented these new designs into their personal rig. The short and elite list of signature wah recipients includes Dimebag Darrell, Slash, Buddy Guy, Zakk Wylde, Eddie Van Halen, and Kirk Hammett.

Man in the Box
What makes the wah effect so dynamic is that it emulates the frequency filtering that occurs in the human voice. The name of the effect itself is taken from the filter sweep that happens in your throat when you say the word “wah.” The most basic definition of a wah pedal is a foot-controlled band-pass filter. The two things that determine the pedal’s sonic print are the width of that filter and its range. Wah pedals with a narrow band only produce frequencies that are very close to the center of the frequency you specify by the position of the pedal. A narrow band will produce a very sharp, focused, and drastic wah effect. Wah pedals with a wider, more relaxed band deliver a calmer, more subtle wah effect. The JC95’s filter is decidedly narrow, producing a pronounced wah. This really lets you make your guitar talk.

The other factor in a wah pedal’s sound is the range of frequencies that it can sweep across. The JC95 has a very wide frequency range, allowing it to dive way down to 350 Hz to give your solos punch and full body. The pedal also has a knob to set the frequency ceiling. At its maximum, this is roughly 2000 Hz, and at its minimum it’s around 1000 Hz. The JC95’s range is slightly darker and drastically wider than other wah pedals. This affords you a wealth of creative expression. I’ve been using a standard Cry Baby for years, and I was really inspired by the JC95’s voicing. It made me realize that my current wah pedal is far too timid for my sound.

The Final Mojo
With Cantrell’s moody riffs in mind, Dunlop has crafted a fine wah pedal that pays perfect tribute to his unique style. But even if you’re not attempting to sound like Alice in Chains, you’ll likely find this pedal’s wide sonic range and beautiful voicing inspire creative playing.
Buy if...
you love Cantrell’s wah sound and would like to incorporate a dynamic wah pedal into your rig.
Skip if...
you won’t budge on your current wah pedal.
Rating...


Street $159 - Dunlop Manufacturing - jimdunlop.com