One of the most icon guitar effects pedal to ever be invented (besides the overdrive pedal) is the Wah pedal. Especially the Dunlop Crybaby Wah Pedal. This pedal has been hailed by professionals & hobbyists throughout the world since it’s creation back in the 1980’s.
But the wah pedal was originally invented by Bradley J Plunkett back in November of 1966. Bradley worked at the Thomas Organ Co and used a VOX organ pedal to create it. Later he would work with Del Casher who would take the idea a step further.
Del worked on the pedal in his studio in his Hollywood Hills garage like a mad scientist working on a secret formula. And the “sonic sound” he created became popular with musicians who were looking for an edge in expressing their music. Since it was a bit edgy in its design and tone, it was hard to get out to the mainstream.
Then came along artists like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton & Jimi Page who got the pedal & created guitar wizardry with it. Squeals & swoops of sound would seem to just pour out of their guitar as they rocked back and forth with such swag & style. Effortlessly as if commanding a spirit from another world!
This made the wah popular among guitarists of all kinds who felt it would be an excellent addition to their guitar playing arsenal.
With this pedal, you could mimic a muted trumpet sound and when played through a high-gain amp like Hendrix did, you could really get some sounds that were out of this world. I highly suggest you pick one up & add it to your guitar player toolbox. It will inspire your abilities to enhance like they never have before.
Over the years, other pedals were made for guitar players who were now able to create total originality in their sound by mixing and matching pedals. Including the wah.
But throughout the years the sound quality could never really be captured consistently (as each pedal sounded a bit different) until one man stepped into the picture and changed the history of the pedal forever. Mr Jim Dunlop.
In the 1980’s Jim Dunlop, a machinist who made his own style of guitar accessories such as picks, capos & slides was able to acquire the crybaby brand and decided to work on making improvements to this fantastic technology. The ability for someone to see an opportunity & make it work is one of the key elements to any success. Jim Dunlop was no exception.
Although it wasn’t an easy transition with technical & logistical hurdles to overcome, Jim wasn’t going to give up. He assembled a state-of-the-art engineering team, purchased the highest of components from vendors and methodically took the pedal to a whole new level of consistency and reliability. By doing so, he created the Dunlop Crybaby Wah (that is still, after all these years) sought after by professionals & hobbyists alike.
The Dunlop Crybaby Wah
What makes it so special?
The Dunlop Crybaby Wah has a very distinctive style & sound. When you hear it, you know it’s a wah. And not just a wah, but the Jim Dunlop Crybaby Wah. This pedal has been used by some of the most popular recording artists, played on stage by the most icon guitar heroes & utilized on songs that have become the soundtrack to our lives.
This is one of the few pedals that are not only used by guitarists, but also by keyboardists & violinist. I know, crazy huh? I can just imagine a violin with a wah. Jimmy Page come to mind? What an awesome guitarist. Listen to how he utilizes the wah in his song “Dazed & Confused“. After hearing that, how could you not want to plug into one and check it out? You know what I mean?
Or how about when Eric Clapton uses it in “White Room” with Cream to get that crazy wild sound that sends shivers up & down your spine. Or how about when Jimi Hendrix uses it to maximum effect in the infamous song “Voodoo Child” where the intro alone grabs you by the “you know what” and slams you to the ground.
The wah pedal has also been used in different styles of music. Like Pop, Reggae & Funk. Very popular in funk music. When you hear that wank-wank sound that’s popular in that style, it’s the wah. And probably, a Dunlop Crybaby Wah. So is this a special product? You bet it is! And that my friend is why it is on my pedalboard and is highly recommended, you have it on yours.
When you can create something that is part of people’s everyday life, you know you have created something special. And the Dunlop Crybaby Wah definitely fits into this category.
Millions of people around the world use this pedal & like I always say, “if it’s good enough for all our rock n roll heroes who use it (Stevie Ray & countless others) then it should be good enough for us”
Dunlop makes all kinds of great products for guitar. From pedals to picks, polishes, slides, capos and more. If you aren’t already using their products, I suggest you check them out. You won’t be disappointed.
Not to mention what Jim Dunlop did for the guitar pick, capo & slide. Pretty interesting stuff. But that will have to be for another lesson.
How Does The Crybaby Wah Work?
It works by stepping on it & rocking it back and forth in a sweeping motion.
Some Technical Aspects of the Dunlop Crybaby Wah.
Jim Dunlop created the first GCb95 Crybaby wah pedal in the late 80’s that was designed to replicate the original from the 60’s. But with better sound quality, consistency & reliability.
Thomas Organ Co were the pioneers of the of the wah, but unfortunately, they failed to patent their technology & the wah-wah name. Which caused many replicas to flood the market while their model was starting to finally take off. This was unfortunate because it created much competition for the company.
With the wah pedal technology now in Jim Dunlop’s hands, he set out to make a greater pedal than had ever been produced before in the whole history of the wah pedal. The Dunlop GCb95. This guitar pedal became the first of its kind to produce crispier funky rhythms, a cleaner signal that did not distort the original guitar tone and a reliability to not break down.
No matter if you were on the road, on the stage or in the studio. A working musicians kind of pedal that he or she could rely on to give them the signature crybaby sound night after night consistently.
The Dunlop Crybaby Wah does exactly that! Made up of heavy-duty construction fit for a tank. A nice long shape that is designed to rest your foot on while rocking back & forth and is powered up by using a 9v battery or a Jim Dunlop AC adapter.
Inside the heavy-duty construction is a circuit setup branching into four compartments. These four blocks consist of, a power supply circuit, an input buffer, an output stage, and an active filter. The Thomas Organ Company used a similar setup to create the VOX V847. The only problem with the VOX guitar pedal is that it had a glitch in tonal variation. This was a result of low input impedance on the guitar pedal.
When Jim Dunlop took over, he found a way to correct the low input impedance issue by raising the input voltage. This allowed for a much cleaner more controlled sound.
Over the years the crybaby wah has been redesigned, features added on sister models & a couple years back Dunlop made some upgrades to the original. Cosmetic changes to boost its ergonomics and tweaks to the battery compartment to make it more accessible. Which makes it easier to change the battery without interfering with the rubber footing.
The Good Points
A solid metallic casing that is durable and resistant to damage
Produces funky wah-wah sounds iconic with the 60’s, 70’s & 80s
Does not distort the original tones of the guitar
Improved design for easy access to the battery compartment
Revamped bypass switch to curb loss of tones
Universal power jack that is compatible with all power supply units
The Bad Points
Lacks LED backlighting to improve visibility in the dark
A bit heavy compared to other pedals.
Needs oversized space on your pedalboard
That is why the “mini-wah” was invented. For easier transportation & less space taken up on the pedalboard. The Led light thing I believe they are still working on. LOL!! I’ll admit, it does help to see as much as possible when your playing in a dark venue.
Guitar players have enough to worry about, no need to make it harder trying to determine where the wah pedal is when you need to step on it. But then again, if it doesn’t hinder Slash’s playing when he’s all drunk (or at least used to be) then it shouldn’t hinder ours. LOL!!!
I will have to say though, I did see GNR over the summer of 2017 and I must admit they still got it! I was impressed (didn’t think I would be but I was) Slash played & sounded KILLER so did Axle & the whole band. Got invited by one of my favorite students and I feel very grateful for the opportunity.
Top customer reviews
August 12, 2017
I was a little iffy about purchasing this pedal due to its price range.
Definitely worth it, As soon as I opened the package I could feel how heavy the Dunlop Crybaby pedal was.
Made out of metal and seems to be very durable.
Plugged it in and ran my Ibanez Ts9 with it and I was hooked.
All and all I am satisfied with the purchase.
September 23, 2017
November 29, 2015
I think for the sound quality, consistency, reliability & price range your not going to go wrong with either the original Dunlop Crybaby Wah or the “Mini” Dunlop Crybaby Wah. The wah pedal has been around since the 60’s. The Dunlop Crybaby Wah has been around since the 80’s and is still as popular today as it ever was. Still used by millions to help create musical masterpieces & proudly will be as long as there is electricity to plug an electric guitar into.
No matter your style, if you are looking for a new sound, or a new pedal to boost your inspiration, I recommend you check out the Dunlop Crybaby Wah pedal. Or if you are tight on space and need something smaller on your pedalboard or just want to use one pedal real quick, be sure to check out the mini Dunlop wah pedal. The “mini-me” of its bigger brother.
Grab one today & start producing some of that magic that the wizards of guitar used to do & still do that makes us want to pick up our guitars today, just like yesterday, get on our knees and pray,……We don’t get fooled again. LOL!!
And if you are in need of learning how to recognize notes on the fretboard, check out my lesson on that. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. And if you haven’t already (if you have, thank you very much) be sure to sign up for my guitar club where you will receive membership discounts.
Until our next lesson, Take care.