Wah Wah's... How Come my new one doesn't sound like.....

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Wah Wah's... How Come my new one doesn't sound like.....

Postby Don Butler » Mon Jul 27, 2009 3:30 pm

If you grew up with the original Vox Wah Wah, you know the new ones that Dunlop makes don't sound that good by comparison. In fact, most of the ones made after `71/`72 sound pretty marginal. So.. WTF happened?
Well, like anyone else who's in the manufacturing biz, you usually have two or three sources for parts. The hardest part in a Wah is the pot as you can't just go buy another 100K pot and put the gear on it. Most Wah pots have a gear that's got a cotter pin or post thru the shaft to keep it from slipping. I've noticed that the early pots were made by ICAR and were open while just a few years later the ones used most were Allen-Bradley and were a sealed pot. so is a pot a pot..? No! The original pot had a special taper made just for the Wah Wah. The A-B doesn't and neither do most replacement pots. the other problem is the life span. Most were designed to last for 10,000 turns. while that may sound like alot, it's not really when your rocking back and forth on one. I know(and use) the Fulltone Wah Pot is the same exact taper as the ICAR, but it's good for 100,000 turns. Teese also has/uses a great pot that's built like the ICAR. If you have a bad pot, I would avoid using any of the Hot Potz, etc. on the market as most likely they're junk.
The other biggy that changed alot between 1966-`71/`72 was the inductor. Vox/JEN used a number of makes. The most liked are the Fasel and "stack o'dimes". The one I dislike the most is the "red brick" TDK, very narrow sound. These were used alot in the `70's. Seems as though most think that a 500 Mh inductor is a 500 Mh inductor.. not so. Teese has his custom made and Fulltone was using Mercury Magnetics for theirs until a couple of years ago. Now they use a Mu-Metal one that's suppose to sound like the old Stack o'dimes... I don't care for it much as it's too Hi-Fi sounding. The new Fasel reissues don't sound like the original ones either. Dunlop seems to have used these as a selling point in most of their current Wah's. I've measured old ones against new ones with an LCR meter(measures inductance, capacitance and resistance). Totally different readings. The ones in Vox and Cry Baby's that are round and black and flat on the top sound awful
The other items in new Wahs that are not like originals is the component choice. Originals used Carbon Comp resistors and polyester caps. Look at your new one and you'll see these shitty, cheap little carbon film resistors and polypropalyene caps. They're all made somewhere in Asia and both contribute to the harsh sounding aspect of a new pedal.
Now another aspect too is the battery. a 9v battery isn't just a 9v battery. When this circuit was designed, it was designed with using a carbon battery, not an alkaline. Alkalines didn't even come along until aboput 10 years or so later.
I equate them like this:
Carbon battery sounds like an amp with a tube rectifier. An alkaline or lithium battery sounds like an amp with a solid state rectifier. Same goes for almost all other pedals with batteries and unless you're using a regulated power supply for those with the DC adaptor, then it's the same as an alkaline or lithium battery. Most wall warts are not regulated and actually give you between 10-12 volts and will add noise/hum as well. If you just have to use one of these things then make sure it's a true "regulated" 9v supply.
So.. what do I think is the best Wah Wah that sounds like the original Vox Clyde McCoy? The Teese Picture Wah. It sounds as good or better than any original I've used. I've been modding new Wah's for years and what I've found is that it's not just one thing to make it sound like the old ones, but the combination of all of it. I've seen a number of originals that were wired with True Bypass as well stock from the factory.
So what would one do to make their new Cry Baby or Vox Wah sound like an old one?
Replace the SPDT switch with a DPDT switch for True Bypass, replace the inductor and wah pot and change every component on the board that's in the signal path. While you're at it replace the cheesy Chinese made jacks with some Switchcrafts.
I hope this has helped with your understanding of Wah's at least a little.
Thanks!!
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Re: Wah Wah's... How Come my new one doesn't sound like.....

Postby Epidrake » Mon Jul 27, 2009 4:07 pm

I know nothing about these things but obviously everything makes a difference. The Morley wah pedals have no pots and have true bi-pass. How do they compare? They are also made in the USA, which I like.
“Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will also be like him. Answer a fool as his folly deserves, that he not be wise in his own eyes. (Prov. 26:4–5).
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Re: Wah Wah's... How Come my new one doesn't sound like.....

Postby Don Butler » Mon Jul 27, 2009 5:33 pm

Morley's are o.k. they use a photocell/LDR setup. The thing that puts me off from them is the size and weight. My pedalboard that I fly everywhere weighs 45 lbs. My Wah weighs about 2.5 lbs. which puts it pretty close to the weight restrictions with the airlines. I'm guessing that the Morley weighs a good 5+ lbs...
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Re: Wah Wah's... How Come my new one doesn't sound like.....

Postby Epidrake » Mon Jul 27, 2009 6:45 pm

You are right about the weight, maybe not 5 pounds, but they are heavy. I have the one that is a volume, a wah wah and a distortion pedal all in one. It's not something that I use on a regular basis. I was just curious how it stacked up sound wise since it doesn't have the pots.


Addition: I just checked, the Morley weighs 3.3 pounds.
“Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will also be like him. Answer a fool as his folly deserves, that he not be wise in his own eyes. (Prov. 26:4–5).
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Re: Wah Wah's... How Come my new one doesn't sound like.....

Postby Don Butler » Tue Jul 28, 2009 2:53 pm

That's not bad, but just too big for my use.
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Re: Wah Wah's... How Come my new one doesn't sound like.....

Postby Jorgedebasso » Tue Jul 28, 2009 5:18 pm

Epidrake wrote:I know nothing about these things but obviously everything makes a difference. The Morley wah pedals have no pots and have true bi-pass. How do they compare? They are also made in the USA, which I like.
As a Morley endorsee, I can say they are solid. My guitarists chose Morley after trying all the different pedals. I use the distortion volume wah...

I didn't say very much there did I?
:lol:

Actually, the bass player for the metal band Exodus is one of my best friends and he's been on the search for a good wah forever...I'll ask him about his findings...
30hz is best.
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Re: Wah Wah's... How Come my new one doesn't sound like.....

Postby Epidrake » Wed Jul 29, 2009 2:34 pm

Jorge, Morleys are solid. Do you know Bill over there? Really nice guy. I read somewhere that he can actually walk you through, by phone, how to widen the wah sweep!
“Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will also be like him. Answer a fool as his folly deserves, that he not be wise in his own eyes. (Prov. 26:4–5).
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Re: Wah Wah's... How Come my new one doesn't sound like.....

Postby Don Butler » Wed Jul 29, 2009 3:00 pm

BTW, just so you know.. I do fix Morley's. they asked me several years ago to become a repair center for them.
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Re: Wah Wah's... How Come my new one doesn't sound like.....

Postby Epidrake » Wed Jul 29, 2009 3:17 pm

Cool, good to know!
“Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will also be like him. Answer a fool as his folly deserves, that he not be wise in his own eyes. (Prov. 26:4–5).
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Re: Wah Wah's... How Come my new one doesn't sound like.....

Postby Jorgedebasso » Wed Jul 29, 2009 3:58 pm

Epidrake wrote:Jorge, Morleys are solid. Do you know Bill over there? Really nice guy. I read somewhere that he can actually walk you through, by phone, how to widen the wah sweep!

Yeah, Wenzolf is a great guy...he totally takes care of us...
30hz is best.
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