If the original Vox/Thomas organ Clyde McCoy sounded only half as good, it would still be the stuff of legend. It was the first mass-produced wah pedal, and that distinction alone (not to mention associations with Misters Hendrix and Clapton) would forever cement its reputation. Like many milestone guitars and effects, it’s a design done right the first time (more or less). Good original Clyde McCoys are prized as much for their musical merits—that deep, expressive voice that really speaks—as for their vintage pedigree.
Dunlop’s new limited edition CM95 Clyde McCoy isn’t an exact replica of the Thomas Organ unit. (That’s probably a good thing, given inconsistencies that can make one original Clyde McCoy a masterpiece and another a dud.) For starters, its components are assembled on through-hole circuit board. It’s also built around a more stable Dunlop-designed halo inductor. (A good halo inductor is a key to the original Clyde’s mojo.) The CM95 also addresses the few shortcomings of the original Clyde, notably its noisy, microphonic tendencies. Dunlop’s Clyde succeeds where it counts: serving up creamy scoops of beautifully contoured, smooth, and expressive wah sounds that might startle players accustomed to the brash, barking voices of many modern wahs.
Streamlined and Simple
Wah pedals unencumbered by EQ or boost functions tend to be pretty minimal under the hood. The guts of the CM95 look especially tidy and ordered, however. Dunlop’s HI01 halo inductor sits prominently on the sparsely populated PC board. Another concession to modernity is a center-negative 9V jack. The pedal is built into a textured enclosure with an embossed Cry Baby logo, differentiating the CM95 from other wahs in Dunlop’s extensive Cry Baby family.
Sing Me Back Home
With an amp and guitar plugged in on either side of the CM95, the pedal distinguishes itself much more readily. From the rocker’s first throw, the sound and feel are distinctly a cut above most wahs, with more range, a deeper sonority, and a greater range of colors and shapes.
One immediate difference between the CM95 and less expensive wahs is the Clyde’s superb sound in softer settings. Here the marriage of a vintage voice and a quieter circuit pays dividends. The nuanced, silken sweep can be revelatory on bluesy, country-soul solos. Aspiring J.J. Cales questing for his slinky, front-porch-lazy phrasing and tones need look no further.
The CM95 is equally at home in loud, psychedelic contexts. In front of a fuzz, distortion, or loud amp, it’s lightning-responsive—and percussively quacky when you speed up the rocker action. Placed between a fuzz and amp, it reveals how richly the frequency sweep can transform tones already exploding with harmonics. It’s equally adept at noisy, J Mascis-style sweeps and slow synth- and phaser-like coloration.The sounds you can generate with the CM95 may even inspire you to ditch a pedal or two.
The toe-down position generates a musical, harmonically complex treble boost that can be stinging or mellow if you keep your pinky on your guitar’s tone knob. Subtle movements in the brightest third of the pedal’s range generate cool ring modulation-like sounds that you can tailor via the guitar’s tone and volume settings. If you play cranked to the gills, you’ll find you can often park this wah and rip away without having to reach for your fuzz. I used a Marshall 18-watt for much of this pedal evaluation, and the toe-down settings delivered a lacerating, buzzy, speaker-ripping tone that many would mistake for skittery ’60s fuzz.
It’s a delight to experience such total sonic transformation just by stepping on a single rocker pedal. If, like many wah dabblers and dilettantes, you’ve played wah once or twice before abandoning it in frustration, the CM95 may profoundly reshape your notions of what wah can do. The sound is authentically ’60s—deep, vocal, and many-hued. But the real difference here is how those sounds match the tactile experienceof the Clyde McCoy. Underfoot, it feels sensitive without being twitchy. It avoids the harsh, on/off binary voice that plagues lesser wahs. At just under 200 bucks, it stacks up sonically against pricier boutique wahs. The rugged construction suggests that the Clyde may hold up as well as those more expensive pedals. Have you ever wondered about the fuss surrounding vintage wahs? The Clyde offers a better-than-fair facsimile that may forever change your opinion of what this effect can do.
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