First and foremost among the pedals I use, it has to be the wah wah. And if you’re going to use a wah wah, it has to be the Jim Dunlop Cry Baby – simple, elegant, classic, and the wah you hear at the beginning of Voodoo Child (Slight Return). Good enough for Jimi, baby, good enough for me . . .
As a young man, I was very fussy about using FX pedals. Everyone else around me in the early ’90s seemed to be hacking away at guitars drenched with chorus and delay and dozens of other effects (used, I suspect, to hide the fact they didn’t have the determination to develop their technique through 8 hour-a-day practice sessions) so I set my face to the wind and determined to use no pedals at all: vibrato, palm muting, pick up switching and clean/crunch amp channels would be enough for me.
But from studying Hendrix’s technique I quickly realised a wah wah was going to be essential. There’s a reason the pedal has an onomatopoeic name, as its sound is so organic it almost ceases to be an effect pedal and becomes an extension of the guitarist’s imagination – I, like many others, mouth the wah sounds I make as I play them.
So be it providing that funky edge to clean, muted strings, or adding some trebly scream to a high bend during a solo, the wah wah is my go-to pedal.