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Stomping Grounds: 25 Pedals Reviewed


Pedalworx Cool Machine Wah

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The Cool Machine comes in what looks like a Dunlop Cry Baby casing, but that’s where the similarities end. It’s actually a Jack Butler mod wah that adds a Rotovibe-like automatic function using an actual wah circuit rather than an op-amp auto filter. Running on a 9V battery or DC power adapter (not included), the Cool Machine has two toggles on the top underside of the pedal: one is a “Q” setting for deep or vintage voicings, the other engages the auto-wah function. A knob on the right side of the pedal controls the speed of the auto-wah, which can also be viewed by the speed of the flashing red LED. Nice!

I plugged my Strat into the Cool Machine and a ’70s-era Marshall Super Lead. Right away, it knocked me out with sweet, vintage wah tones and super quiet function. The pedal sweep felt just right, and with a flick of the mini-toggle it brought a bigger and bolder “deep” sound out of the pedal that dropped the floor about 10 feet. Obviously, the folks at PedalworX made their “Q” choices after carefully listening to it through many amps because both settings work extremely well on all of the amps I played through.

Another flick of the right mini-toggle moved the CM into auto-wah territory. I was able to pull out slow Uni-Vibe and faster Leslie-like tones with ease—and even some early Jimmy Page-style “Dazed and Confused” sounds without a trip to the foot doctor! One thing I noticed while getting a little overzealous with the CM was that the footswitch was quite sensitive. More than once I shut the effect off by going too far with a foot sweep. Most pedals have too stubborn of a switch on them, so I’ve probably become a little heavyfooted. Nice to know I can relax a bit. This one is clearly a winner. – SO
Buy if...
you want a great wah with the bonus of a true auto-wah.
Skip if...
you’re married to your current favorite.

Street $250 - PedalworX -

Mad Professor Snow White Autowah

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Made specifically for those who don’t care to be tied to a wah pedal, the Snow White AutoWah (SWAW) might be the perfect alternative. Built in a bud box-sized white case, it offers a choice of 9V battery or DC power supply (sold separately) operation and sports a red LED bypass light and four controls: Sensitivity, Bias, Resonance and Decay. Sensitivity sets the filter trigger level, which allows you to match it to your guitar’s output and your playing touch. Bias controls the filter resonance frequency. Resonance controls the “Q” or sharpness of the filter, and Decay sets the speed of the wah effect. Think of the Decay setting as how fast you would be rocking your foot back and forth on the treadle, where a fast setting would give a full wah for each note and a slow setting would act like a slower sweep over time. An added bonus is that by setting the Bias to the off position you can use the Sensitivity control as a sweepable filter, which is kind of like parking the wah on a specific area of the sweep. Nice!

I found the pedal to sound fantastic with any guitar I threw at it, and was easily able to create badass wah tones with just a little concentration on my right hand technique. Because of the level of control you have over the tone, it’s like having multiple wahs in a package half the size of a traditional pedal, without the need to plant yourself in one place. It took a little time to dial in the right tone, but I quickly found it to be intuitive and more expressive than expected. At first my guess was that it would approximate the tones of a pedal with less control, but upon listening back to my recordings I was hard pressed to tell the difference. – SO
Buy if...
you love wahs but don’t want to be stuck in front of one onstage.
Skip if...
you’re a traditionalist and prefer the known control of a pedal.

Street $350 - Mad Professor -

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