How do we feel about auto-wah pedals?

Dave Holmes

New member
I'm picking up the looper pedal I discussed in another thread this week and I got a decent price on my ER-1 so looking at getting a couple more pedals.

Probably going to get an EHX East River Drive or Soul Food (I'm aware that they're fairly different - not fully decided which yet) and thinking ether a reverb or an auto-wah pedal.

My amp has a reverb effect so I could save on that for a while, and I'm not going to have the cash for a crybaby type wah for a while... If I even need one...

I'm pretty green when it comes to guitar fx and pedalboards - so just wondered what the general consensus was on auto-wahs, and whether there were any recommendation around the 50 quid mark?
 

jimistone

long standing member
I have tried auto wah's and I'm not crazy about them at all. Controling the effect, to accent your playing, is crucial on wah wah guitar work IMO. You have close to no control with the auto wah. For instance the ending lead ride on this song I recorded a while back.

https://m.soundcloud.com/jimistone/voodoo-child

That guitar solo is with a crybaby wah. No way you can get that kind of sound with an auto wah.

my 2 cents
 

Dave Holmes

New member
I appreciate that Jimi - my playing is nowhere near yours but I'm hoping to improve (hoping the looper helps in this!). I definitely take what you say on board!
I guess I'm just trying to have a few options so that the loops I can create don't sound stale (as well as badly played!)
Like I said - I'm very green when it comes to guitar fx and pedalboards - I suspect this won't be the first stupid question I ask on this subject...

Really hoping that I'll eventually be able to use the looper pedal in a similar way to how I use my turntable.
Instead of sampling from vinyl I'll be sampling myself; chopping my own riffs and phrases (either guitar, synth or bass: or in combo) to make something dope...
It's a pretty major experiment for me tbh...
 

bouldersoundguy

Well-known member
An auto-wah isn't a substitute for a wah-wah pedal, it's its own thing. It's also something of a one trick pony, great if you want to channel Jerry Garcia or cover Edie Brickell. I would get a compressor pedal and put it ahead of the drive pedal.
 

Farview

Well-known member
I agree with everyone else. An auto-wah isn't going to do what a wah pedal would. (these things used to be called 'envelope followers') The harder you pick, the more 'open' the wah gets. It is really hard to get it to do the same thing twice. It doesn't really work unless it is the first pedal in the chain, because distortion takes away the dynamics that trigger the wah effect.

It really is of limited use and gets very annoying very quickly.
 

notCardio

I walk the line
+1 with bouldersoundguy and Farview. Edie's 'What I Am' is one of my favorite songs, but for years I found it very hard to listen to because of the guitar solo being so annoying. I've finally started to like it on that one, but still can't stand Jerry using it. I've got an original Doctor Q 'envelope follower' because I was a bass player when funk hit. Hasn't been out of the box in almost 40 years.

On the other hand, sounds like you're not doing the standard guitar player thing. You're making loops, perhaps for a hip-hop style, so that's a whole different animal.

I know you've got the looper, but depending on the unit (full disclosure - I've never used a looper, btw) it might be hard to use the loop and delay feature at the same time. To me, a delay would be far more useful, both for what you're doing and for straight up guitar stuff. But if you can't afford a regular wah, then a good delay is probably off the table, too.

I don't understand the pricing situation over there, but a regular wah isn't that much more than an auto-wah here. I'd wait until you can get a regular one, but that's just my opinion. But if there's anybody here who understands a lack of funds, it's me.

Good luck. I'll be curious to hear the music that you come up with.
 

Dave Holmes

New member
sounds like you're not doing the standard guitar player thing. You're making loops, perhaps for a hip-hop style, so that's a whole different animal.

I know you've got the looper, but depending on the unit (full disclosure - I've never used a looper, btw) it might be hard to use the loop and delay feature at the same time. To me, a delay would be far more useful, both for what you're doing and for straight up guitar stuff. But if you can't afford a regular wah, then a good delay is probably off the table, too.

Exactly that - 8 bars is the most I ever need to play at a time! ���� HipHop is my girl. She and my wife do not get along!!!
You're spot on re; delay - something I'm much more likely to use in post I reckon.
I'm definitely going for the EHX-720. Pretty basic but has a reverse feature (which I'm positive I'll abuse) and can save around 10 loops. Stereo inputs are also a massive boon as I can run a synth through it if need be.
I'll be sampling into Maschine (Native Instruments) which is my main weapon in the studio and treating my loops in a very similar way to a vinyl sample.

Also... Just practicing guitar with a little accompaniment can't hurt...

Unfortunately, I'm still waiting for the PayPal funds to clear - I've not sold much on eBay before so they're making me wait....
 

ashcat_lt

Well-known member
An auto wah obviously isn't the same as a foot controlled wah, but with a little tweaking and a bit of practice, it can be a pretty expressive tool. If it forces you to develop your dynamic control, that can only be a good thing. :) My Boss AutoWah has an LFO which kicks in any time it's not doing the envelope follower thing, so if you turn the Sensitivity all the way down it just becomes an LFO filter thing which can sometimes be cool.

I used to set it up with the sensitivity up quite a ways so that even relatively quiet playing made it open pretty high, and the sweep would top out relatively quick with louder playing. It didn't do that "quack" thing like in the Edie song, but rather acted kind of like the way a piano gets brighter the harder you hit it. Compensate for the extra treble by turning down the treble at the amp a bit, and it can be an interesting and fairly subtle effect.

Nowadays it sits in the feedback loop on my pedal board which gives me all kinds of possibilities for manipulating the feedback sound.
 

JMac52

New member
I recently purchased a Mooer @Wah. It's a new product so there weren't any reviews I could find, I think I listened to 1 YT demo. I wanted an inexpensive envelope follower with at least selectable LP, HP, BP filters. This one has that plus "SP" for Standard, whatever that is, plus a "Talk" mode that is very expressive. But it also has a switch for Auto Wah. That produces a seasick inducing noise when not putting any signal through, is not expressive when played (at least in the 5 minutes I spent trying it) and isn't going to fool anyone into thinking it's really being played like a real wah. But that's OK, I have a Cry Baby.
 

notCardio

I walk the line
I recently purchased a Mooer @Wah. It's a new product so there weren't any reviews I could find, I think I listened to 1 YT demo. I wanted an inexpensive envelope follower with at least selectable LP, HP, BP filters. This one has that plus "SP" for Standard, whatever that is, plus a "Talk" mode that is very expressive. But it also has a switch for Auto Wah. That produces a seasick inducing noise when not putting any signal through, is not expressive when played (at least in the 5 minutes I spent trying it) and isn't going to fool anyone into thinking it's really being played like a real wah. But that's OK, I have a Cry Baby.

How's the 'Talk' mode? That sounds interesting. The other stuff I could do without. This all reminds me - I need to get my Crybaby fixed.I really want a 535Q, but hey, this was a gift, so I'll take free anyday.
 

JMac52

New member
The Talk mode is, as you might guess, pretty vocal-sounding. It may be gimmicky or not have that much real musical application. I had fun with the melody to "Summertime".
 

CoolCat

Well-known member
ive used my Wah sim in PodFarm/GEarbox. its ok...I can see how it doesnt have the players "feel" and customized-original human interaction but its a cool effect anyway....wahwah

who ever named it wah-wah got that right.:D
 

raybbj

Member
I don't like autowah. Almost impossible to control. You don't get any human expression out of them.
 

ashcat_lt

Well-known member
Almost impossible to control. You don't get any human expression out of them.
False. I use picking dynamics and vary my attack to alter the harmonic content of my playing anyway. An autowah - set up correctly - can be an extension of that. Like anything else, it takes practice, but it can do some things that are difficult to accomplish otherwise.
 

jimistone

long standing member
It's hard to beat a crybaby wah. You can pick them up used for 40 or 50 bucks. I wouldnt trade my crybaby for 3 auto wahs. But, it all boils down to what you like, what you think sounds good, and what you are familiar with.
In other words....ppersonal preference.
 

Delmont

Member
You probably already know this, but just in case, I'll mention that the most-listened-to envelope filter (a.k.a. auto-wah) is probably Jerry Garcia's Mu-Tron. He used it a lot. As far as I know, it was his favorite effect.

At lower settings it added some expression, at higher levels it gave it him full-blown wah. Hear, for example, Shakedown Street, Fire On the Mountain, Estimated Prophet, Dancin' In the Street, and Catfish John.

To get an idea of what they can do, listen to some of his stuff, if you haven't already. There are some inexpensive envelope filters around these days, such as Eletro-Harmonix's line of Q-Tron filters.

It's also worth noting that these days, wahs are back in ascendancy.

The envelope filter's limitation, obviously, is its regularity. You can't go up on one note, go down on another, sustain a tone here but not there, or throw in a quaver. Every note is treated the same. You also can't put it in one position just to create a steady tone for one song - for instance, setting it at a low frequency to capture the so-called "woman tone."

Another cool alternative to a wah is the now-hopelessly-out-of-fashion-but-still-too-much-fun "talk box," as heard on Joe Walsh's Rocky Mountain Way and Peter Frampton's Show Me the Way. It's a stomp box with a long plastic tube coming out of it. You hold the end of the tube in your teeth and make your wah sounds by moving your mouth.
 

bouldersoundguy

Well-known member
False. I use picking dynamics and vary my attack to alter the harmonic content of my playing anyway. An autowah - set up correctly - can be an extension of that. Like anything else, it takes practice, but it can do some things that are difficult to accomplish otherwise.

Delmont's post #18 got me thinking about that. I would likely put auto-wah ahead of compression so I can use dynamics to work the filter then squash it down after the fact. Maybe have a loop to both so I could kick them in together.
 

bouldersoundguy

Well-known member
At lower settings it added some expression, at higher levels it gave it him full-blown wah. Hear, for example, Shakedown Street, Fire On the Mountain, Estimated Prophet, Dancin' In the Street, and Catfish John.

Yep, saw him do most of those several times each.

Another cool alternative to a wah is the now-hopelessly-out-of-fashion-but-still-too-much-fun "talk box," as heard on Joe Walsh's Rocky Mountain Way and Peter Frampton's Show Me the Way. It's a stomp box with a long plastic tube coming out of it. You hold the end of the tube in your teeth and make your wah sounds by moving your mouth.

The stomp box contains a midrange driver, usually a Dunlop ECB306. Clicking the switch connects it to an amp. You don't have to bite the tube, just put it up to your mouth. Your vocal mic picks up the sound of the guitar going through the little speaker and resonating in your mouth.
 
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