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Five Things You Didn’t Know About the Wah-Wah Pedal

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Wah Pedal

For the uninitiated of those potential guitar heroes out there, a "wah-wah pedal" is a pedal that lets you manipulate the tone of your guitar, allowing it to mimic the human voice.

In other words, the wah-wah pedal essentially creates that distinct wah-wah sound that cools down the tone of the guitar into what is often a smooth, relaxing voice.

For you beginners, there are a lot of things you might not know about this pedal, so in case you want to learn more, here are five interesting tidbits.

Wah-wahs are usually meant for lead guitars.

If you're the bass player, you're probably not going to make a lot of use out of a guitar wah-wah pedal, as much as you might like to try it.  Of course, any band is free to try out its own sounds, but wah-wah pedals are usually reserved for the lead guitar, since most bands want to feature the distinctive wah-wah sound.  You'll also notice that the human-friendly sound of the wah-wah works well with an audience's ears.

The wah-wah sound is achieved by filtering the sound.

Passing a sound through a high or low filter will alter it tremendously; a wah-wah effect will cycle through both of these filters smoothly, allowing for a round, smooth tone.  It sounds like a "wah" because this change between filters mimics how the mouth works when pronouncing the word "wah."

Although a bass player might not always use a wah-wah, it has been done before.

Jazz legend Miles Davis, for example, allowed his bassist Michael Henderson to use the wah-wah pedal on an album in the early 1970's.

Originally, the wah-wah wasn't intended for electric guitars.

Even though the electric guitar and the wah-wah pedal seem like a natural match, this wasn't how the process started.  It was only later that the wah-wah pedal was attached to an electric guitar.

One of the most famous brands is known as "Cry Baby."

Cry Baby is an appropriate name for what is known as a wah-wah pedal, and today is one of the most recognized wah-wah brands around.

Now that you know a little more about the wah-wah pedal, you'll probably better understand its usage.  The next time you hear it played, try to remember just a few of these facts!