It’s built to better fit pedalboards—but three switchable voices make it more versatile, too.
Wide range of wah voices. Smooth sweep. Torque-adjustable treadle stays parked when you want it to. Top-mounted jacks. Bypass LED.
Voice switch could be bigger and easier to see.
Dunlop Cry Baby Junior
Ease of Use:
Wah pedals lagged so far behind in the scramble to become “pedalboard friendly" that I came to relish the stubborn resistance to shrinkage. Dunlop went a long way to undoing big-wah design entrenchment with their Mini Wah. But they've really refined the wah's relationship to the pedalboard with the Cry Baby Junior.
The 8"-long Junior shares a few features with the Mini—most notably the 3-position voice switch. But where the Mini's switch was stashed inside the enclosure, Junior's is on the enclosure's right side. The easier access is welcome because switching between the three distinct voices—the high-focused GCB95, the midrange-y vintage setting, and the low-frequency voice—opens up many tone options. The low-frequency and vintage voices, in particular, reveal many cool parked-wah tones through the pedal's sweep, especially in the toe-down position. And speaking of sweep, Junior's is as conducive to slow, controlled filter sweeps as quick-flickin'quack-funk moves.
While clearly more compact than a full-sized wah, its footprint—which was developed with help from Pedaltrain—isn't the only board-optimizing feature. Top-mounted jacks, a flat, rubber bottom panel, and a bright bypass LED on the heel of the enclosure also help make the Junior a wah that space-conscious players can love.
Test Gear: Fender Telecaster, Fender Vibro Champ
Thanks to a flexible EQ, this old-school-minded beauty is fantastic at nastying-up leads—but also works great with chords. The PG Dusky Augustus review.
A very flexible, user-friendly octave fuzz with plenty of aggression and the ability to handle both single-note runs and chords. High-quality build.
Not always as dramatically snarly as some old-school octave-fuzz pedals.
Dusky Electronics Augustus
Ease of Use:
British pedal pioneer Roger Mayer once explained to me, over pints in a London pub, how his seminal Octavia worked. Employing a visual analogy—using the large mirror on the wall behind us and the reflection of an upheld cardboard beer mat— he said: “You see two of them, but there’s still only one.” Simple, right?
The Augustus octave fuzz pedal from North Carolina maker Dusky Electronics follows Mayer’s principle for an octave effect of “folding” the input frequency into two, to create an octave-up sound at the output. Dusky uses a different circuit to achieve the same effect, but it generates a very flexible and gnarly octave fuzz that’s great for everything from emotive leads to massive, mechanical-sounding power chords and more.
Eight Legs Good
The Augustus (which is presumably named after the Roman emperor Octavian Caesar Augustus—get it?) is a pretty straight-ahead pedal. But it offers extra flexibility in the EQ structure that pays big sonic dividends. The big aluminum “heat” knob at the top-right controls gain and the and “more” knob controls output volume. The other two small, clear, plastic knobs labeled “meat” and “light” control bass and treble, respectively. Inside, the circuit features MOSFET input and output amplifiers, with a high-impedance input buffer to help the pedal perform at any position within your signal chain.
The Augustus’ expanded EQ control capabilities (many vintage-flavored octave pedals including the Octavia have just a single tone knob, if they have any tone control at all) and wider frequency response enable the pedal to be used effectively with bass, baritone, and keyboards. But for our evaluation, I stuck with a few classic guitar recipes: a Les Paul and a Stratocaster into a Carr Super Bee 1x12 combo and a Friedman Small Box head and 2x12 cab. And I didn’t have to play for long to get a sense of its abundant creative potential and flexibility.
Many octave-fuzz pedals built on traditional circuit templates tend to freak out (though often in very cool ways) when you try to play more than a single note—or, heaven forbid, play a slow unison bend. But the Augustus happily eats up chords, bends, and dyads, spitting out aggressively effected but representative renderings of the notes that you put in. That makes it very effective for spicing up more complex leads, but it’s mean and monstrous in rhythm guitar applications, too.
Since the octave content is set, the real tone variation comes via the gain and EQ controls. The heat knob alone can take the sound from almost relatively sedate settings, where notes sing distinctly, to thick and jagged or grungy and nasty tones. In most instances, I preferred the character of the sound with heat between 10 and 2 o’clock, where the pedal issued trippy, zippery, synth-like snarl along with impressive sustain. The EQ knobs, meanwhile, provide a lot of flexibility for matching different guitars and amps, and the extra layer of control definitely sets the Dusky apart. The extra EQ power also widens the range of guitars that can be used effectively with the pedal. I find many octave pedals to be a less-than-ideal match for humbuckers, but I was particularly impressed with how Augustus handled the signal from a Les Paul, and the pairing yielded thick, beefy versions of even the freakiest sounds.
The Augustus is enticingly full of tone possibilities, and really grew on me the more I played it. It might not be as jaggedly surreal and extreme as some more traditional octave-fuzz designs, but it feels less chaotic, more controlled, and certainly more versatile than most. You can unleash dramatic leads just as easily as fat rhythm chords, which is no small feat for an octave pedal. And while it might seem just a touch costly for an octave fuzz, the price is very reasonable for a well-built, U.S.-made pedal that offers a genuinely enhanced take on the time-tested octave-fuzz effect.
Watch our demo of the Dusky Augustus Octave Fuzz:
Digital-control-enabled features makes Walrus’s already immersive modulation machine a scalpel for carving precise waveforms.
Many bold and subtle variations on vibrato and chorus textures that facilitate precise modulation shaping. Powerful, sensitive, and interactive controls.
Tap tempo switch is very close to bypass switch if you don’t use external tap switch.
Walrus Audio Julianna
Ease of Use:
My younger, more reactionary self used to think of chorus as a chilly, artificial effect. These days I have a lot more appreciation for how much life chorus can bring to the simplest musical surroundings.
I spent a lot of time testing the new Walrus Julianna chorus and vibrato during a chilly, rainy week, when not much of anything sounded good to my weary ears. But plugging in the Julianna, turning up the depth, and exploring the pedal’s fun and intuitive controls well and truly cut through the fog—enlivening basic folk-rock chord sequences and elevating them to something much more grand.
Fashion and the times aside, it’s little wonder that so many U.K. bands rooted in folk-rock, like the Cocteau Twins and Smiths, embraced chorus back in the ’80s. It has a way of coaxing blue sky from the dreariest songs (and grayest English skies) without stripping a bit of what makes them haunting in the first place. I have little doubt that Johnny Marr or the Cocteau’s Robin Guthrie would love the way the Walrus Julianna walks that line.
Sisters of the Sea
The Julianna is a more feature-rich evolution of the Julia analog chorus and vibrato. One of the most fundamental differences between the Julia and the Julianna is the latter’s introduction of digital LFO control, which leaves the analog modulation circuit more or less unfettered, but enables the addition of tap tempo, wave shape selection, an awesome drift control that automatically varies the modulation speed, a ramping function that generates Leslie-like accelerations and weirder fare, and tap division controls. The Julianna may not look worlds more complex than the Julia, but the musical possibilities are more expansive.
Just like the Julia, the Julianna has controls for rate and depth, and another cool modulation-shaping control called lag that shifts the modulation wave’s center to achieve extra-woozy textures at high depth levels and even convincing, organic, 12-string-like sounds at lower depth and lag levels. The other less-conventional dial is a dry/wet ratio control labeled d-c-v (dry-chorus-vibrato) that enables cool blends between dry and chorused tones or chorused and vibrato tones.
There aren’t zillions of blended shades on tap, but drier dry/chorus blends can be a bonanza in the studio when you’re trying to get that just-right touch of subtle animation without sacrificing note clarity, and vibrato-heavy blends can really color a chorus tone and add demented movement to fuzz solos. Julianna adds an awesome second function to the d-c-v knob, though. When you run the pedal with stereo output (which I highly recommend), the d-c-v knob splits and blends the chorus, dry, and vibrato signals in various combinations to generate wet, widescreen modulation.
The Digital Depths
The Julianna’s two most obvious digitally-enabled features, the wave shape control and tap tempo-with-subdivisions, aren’t knock you-over-the-head, mind-blowing additions, at least in terms of sonic shock. But they are very effective for shaping your modulation in very specific ways—a task the Julianna excels at in general.
Differences between the wave shapes can seem subtle at low depth settings—particularly between the sine and triangle waves. At more pronounced depth settings, however, you clearly hear the differences and their respective musical merits. The sine wave setting is softer around the edges and sounds more expansive and airy. The triangle wave setting is much more focused, with perceptible peaks that seem especially responsive to high-mid frequencies. Put a fuzz or overdive in front of the pedal at this setting, crank up the rate, and add a generous dollop of lag, and you can get a very cool, Leslie-fied twist on the Jimi-with-Uni-Vibe sound that will slice through a dense mix. The random wave setting, meanwhile, adds strong hits of tape wobble that can be accentuated to very cool ends by the lag control. The drift function, which is enabled by holding down the bypass, contributes even more woozy randomness by automatically varying the speed between settings you determine with the depth control. Combined with vibrato-heavy settings, it can be spectacularly queasy.
The Julianna isn’t merely versatile as a modulator. It sometimes feels like a surgical tool for adding chorus and vibrato to your signal in very specific ways. It’s simple enough that you can use this sound-tailoring power on stage without risking calamity. But I suspect the Julianna will really shine in the studio, where this wealth of rich modulation colors, and the power to hone them to fit in a mix just right, could make it a go-to wave-making machine.
Watch our First Look demo: