Posts Tagged ‘VOX Big Bad Wah’

VOX Big Bad WahThe one thing about pedals is that eventually, they wear out; especially pedals that have moving parts like a wah. It may take years, but they do wear out. It’s a fact of life.

My Dunlop Cry Baby has been on the fritz on and off for the past few months. Not wanting to take the time to replace it, and considering that it is easy to clean and adjust, I’ve occasioned to just do a DIY job on it and get it working again. No problem. But I finally just got tired of doing that, and decided to look at a new one.

About a year and a half ago, I evaluated several wah pedals but finally just went with a used Original Cry Baby, figuring it would tide me over for my wah needs. It certainly served me well, and I got a lot of mileage out of it. At the time of my original search though, the VOX Big Bad Wah hadn’t come out, so I really couldn’t consider it. But time went on, and I completely forgot about it until I saw the announcement for the new VOX Ice 9 overdrive pedal. Then suddenly, a light went off in my head, and I just nodded to myself, “That’s right. Joe helped design a wah pedal.”

So I did a bit more research, and saw an excellent video on YouTube with Joe discussing the idea behind the Big Bad Wah, and I knew I had to try it. So I immediately hopped into the car and went down to my local Guitar Center to try it out. I spent about an hour in the GC isolation room playing around with the different settings, and I have to say that Satch and VOX really did well putting their heads together on this wah pedal.

One thing that struck me before I played it was a comment that Joe had made in the video and how he described how Jimi Hendrix used a wah-wah pedal as an “extension of the music,” and the notes that were being played, and not something that was merely a rhythmic effect within an ensemble. That really spoke to me because even though I couldn’t hope to have their chops, I’ve always looked at the wah pedal in that light. So it was with great hope that when I did play it, I could use it in that way.

To make a long story short, the Big Bad Wah (“BBW”) lived up to my expectations and even more! I was thoroughly impressed! The sweep is perfect on this pedal, and unlike other wah pedals I’ve tested, doesn’t have a “breaking point” where the wah effect comes on suddenly. It’s nice and gradual. The total physical sweep of the pedal was also well-though out. It’s wide enough so you can add subtle portions of the effect in, but not so wide that you have to travel a lot to create a dramatic wah effect.

The one thing that used to irk me with my Cry Baby was how it would sound REALLY thin when I got to its full extent. Not so with the BBW. It gets trebly at the top, yes, but not so much that it’ll shatter glass, which means that in the middle of a lead, you can peg the pedal and get some great trebly voicing! On the other end of the spectrum, the lowest setting didn’t put a complete muzzle on my tone. It’s more of a compression effect, with a bleeding off of the highs. That means that your notes still stay fairly clear. Very cool!

Another thing that got me diggin’ the pedal was the different voicings. It has two: Vintage and Modern. The Vintage is a classic VOX wah tone, while the Modern includes the Vintage voice and adds a 10 db boost which is controllable via a Drive knob. Not only that, the Big Bad Wah also has an inductor switch that allows you to choose between a classic UK type of inductor, or a more modern USA type of inductor. The tone shaping possibilities with the BBW are immense!

Needless to say, I walked out of the store with the pedal. 🙂 Once I got a chance, I got a backing track going from one of my songs called, “In the Vibe,” and recorded a quick clip. I realize that I could probably have been a bit more dramatic with the wah effect in certain places, but I’m still getting used to the sweep. I’ll have better clips once I do a full review. In any case, give it a listen.

Also here’s the video I was talking about earlier:

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Ran across these demos on YouTube, and thought I’d share them here. This first one is from VOX at the NAMM show, and sound quality stinks, but the dude’s explanation of the differences between the two different voices (British or American):

This next clip comes from someone apparently in Japan, where the pedal was recently released. The sound quality is much better, and he inserted little conversation bubbles to show his settings. Picture quality isn’t that great but the quality of the sound makes up for it. Plus, it’s kind of amazing that this dude has such clever and articulate feet that he can make all the adjustments with his toes! HA! He’s not bad at guitar either! Check it out!

Especially after viewing the second clip (despite Mr. Clever Toes), this is definitely my next pedal – at least until after I try it out for myself. 🙂

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Big Bad Wah by VOX and Joe Satriani

Big Bad Wah by VOX and Joe Satriani

Ever since I tried out the VOX Satchurator a few months ago, I’ve been waiting for the this wah pedal to arrive. If it is anything close to the quality of sound that the Satchurator produces, I know that this is going to be a great pedal. The pedal features two modes: Mode 1 is classic VOX wah; while Mode 2 features the ability to variably adjust the gain and voicing profiles of the wah to dial in a variety of tonal possibilities.

One thing I take note of when evaluating pedals is if I can reproduce the manufacturer’s or endorser’s claims about a particular feature. For instance, when Satch touted the “More” switch on the Satchurator, during my tests, I was expecting more volume when my amp was clean, and more balls when my tubes were saturated. The pedal definitely lived up to that claim.

With the Big Bad Wah, VOX states, “Designed to Joe Satriani’s custom specs is the design of the pedal pot itself, delivering a smooth, musical tone throughout the entire sweep of the pedal.” This is huge, because I’ve found in my evaluations of different kinds of wah pedals that when you back off the pedal, your output becomes a bit muddy, so you end up never fully backing off because the wah will just suck your tone. Or seemingly to protect against this, manufacturers will narrow the sweep range, so the wah becomes much less dramatic. I found this to be the case with Morley Steve Vai Bad Horsie, which was very musical throughout its sweep range, but overall, didn’t have that dramatic of a sweep as compared to others I tried. So I ended up just getting a Dunlop Cry Baby, and despite its shortcomings, I’ve come to love it.

But I’ve always loved Satch’s wah tone, not because I want to necessarily sound like him, but because it’s just a killer tone, and highly expressive. And as with the Satchurator, Joe was involved in every aspect of the design process, so the Big Bad Wah promises to be of the exacting standards for which Professor Satchifunkilus is known. Once the Big Bad Wah is available in stores, which should be soon, considering the announcement of its release was made at NAMM, you can be assured I’ll be running down to the local shop to try one out!

Some online retailers like Sweetwater, are doing pre-orders for $219. That’s not a bad price to pay, especially for a signature pedal. And I dig the fact that Joe really wanted all his signature pedals to be affordable and within the reach of a wide range of people. In any case, all this combined makes for me taking a serious look at the Big Bad Wah

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