march 2009

Keeley''s Crybaby mod, the Mello Wah, offers up a variety of useful tones

Dunlop Eddie Van Halen Signature Wah
The wah pedal holds the distinction of being both one of the most useful pedals you can have on your pedal board and the most obnoxious. Let it be known from this day forward that every funky song does not need to include “wacka-wacka” sounds from the ‘Shaft’ theme song. It just doesn’t, so please stop it or risk being taken out back by The Wah Police. If you can’t afford a Michael Schenker CD, one will be appointed to you.

Keeley Electronics has created a wah mod righteous enough to please persnickety studio cats and gonzo live performers. They have unveiled The Mello Wah, named after studio guitarist Ney Mello. They got hold of a Dunlop Crybaby and tricked it out with bells, whistles, lights and best of all luscious tones.

Switches & Knobs
Added switches and knobs can give some guitarists an anxiety attack, but the Mello Wah is very straightforward. Keeley has only added two switches, one knob and an LED. The inductor switch, located at the toe of the pedal, allows you to toggle between warmer vintage-voiced sounds to the right and a higher-voiced cutting tone to the left.

The knob located on the right side of the unit is a midrange/volume control which allows you to dial in more volume and midrange. Rolling it way back counter clock wise gives you a stock setting while rotating it clock wise gives you the midrange and volume goodies. The toggle switch next to the knob is a three-way bass and resonance booster. The center position gives you the stock sound. The rear position offers the kind of sweep capacitor sounds found in Dunlop’s Jimi Hendrix and Zakk Wylde wahs, while the forward position enables the deep and the low.

The Sound
I took this bad boy to a few different gigs and jam sessions. Using my trusty Performance Frankenstein Strat, I plugged into a ’65 Fender Pro Reverb, a ’82 Marshall JCM 800 and a 50 watt Ceriatone Overtone Special. The stock settings sounded terrific, but as I made little adjustments with the toe switch, I could hear myself pierce through the loud band mix or warm up during softer dynamics. I preferred the vintage right position but as I manipulated the right side toggle switch, I got all kinds of over the top “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” sounds. It never got ridiculous and never wimpy. It reacted wonderfully to my distortion pedals and I like how the midrange/volume knob allowed me to give it more gas. Santana fans will dig the notched “Europa” tones you can squeeze out of it. Another stroke of genius was adding a blue “On” LED placed in the back left corner of the heel. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve left my wah on by accident and couldn’t figure out why my guitar sounded funny.

The Final Mojo
I like this wah a lot. True bypass! I appreciate that when I rolled the midrange/volume knob all the way back, I didn’t get a big volume boost. There’s no screech either. For recording, you don’t always need a crazy wah. Sometimes you need a smooth mellow wah tone that doesn’t make noise and this thing works well. If you play in various musical situations and don’t want to carry a bag o’ wahs, The Keeley Mello Wah is the wah for you.
Buy if...
you want a wah with tonal and volume flexibility.
Skip if...
you hate to tweak.

MSRP $269 - Mod $179 - Keeley Electronics -

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