I’ve always thought Wah Wah pedals are cool. Whether rocking out with a vintage heavy metal sound or going for a funky modern jazz effect, there’s always room for a little wah effect. The thing is, I have always just used a Cry Baby designed for a guitar with no features except an on/off switch, so I realize it is time for me to learn a thing or two about dedicated bass wah pedals and decide which one is the best.
The best bass wah pedal, in my opinion, is Morley PBA-2. It is versatile, has great features, is built to last a lifetime, and it just sounds the best. I loved the automatic switch feature and the optical electronics keep the pedal sounding clean for a lifetime. Also, it doesn’t hurt the best is also one of the most affordable models reviewed, so you’ll still have enough money for a corn dog on the way to your gig.
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Bass Wah Pedals We Recommend
Morley PBA-2 Dual Bass Wah
What’s good: Great features. Automatically bypasses when you lift your foot. It uses electrical optical circuitry instead of a pot, so the action feels great and the device never gets worn out or dirty.
Not so good: The Dual modes refer to the pedal having two different wah sounds, ‘traditional wah’ and ‘funky wah’. This gives less versatility than pedals adjustable Q.
Morley has been making great pedals for a long time and it should be no surprise that they came out with a great, affordable workhorse of a bass wah.
This pedal sounds great. A good clean tone engaged or in bypass mode, whether you are rockin’ out in traditional mode or playing tight funky bass lines in the funk wah mode.
Solid construction, switchless design, and a good feel to the foot complete a very nice profile of features in an affordable pedal.
Dunlop 105Q Cry Baby Bass Wah
What’s good: An automatic heel switch is easy to use with no crackle.
Not so good: The low end loses some of its strength even when you adjust
When I think of the classic Wah-Wah pedal, Cry Baby is the first name that comes to mind. Dunlop has created a bass version of the classic with some sweet new features.
The Q control is a killer feature, as you can adjust the range of the sweep. This lets you choose from a dry treble sound and a smooth full tone, good for whether you want to get real funky or have a barely noticeable wave sound.
If you are worried about losing volume, the volume knob gives it a real boost. Solid metal makes it feel solid.
This pedal is the workhorse. Good to go for a rough life of garage jamming and out on tour.
Hotone Audio BP-10 Bass Press 3 in 1 Pedal
What’s good: The wah pedal sounds good and funky and the active volume pedal is very clean sounding.
Not so good: It does not have an adjustable Q and so it may not work well with clean tones. The biggest negative for this product is the way the 3 effects toggle; you have to lean over and adjust it by hand
As the name suggests, this is 3 pedals in 1. A Wah pedal, a Volume Pedal, and an Expression Pedal. That is a lot to get out of one pedal and if it can deliver for you, it makes a great bargain.
For a bass player that takes solos, it is nice having a good quality, active volume pedal so you can jump out in front of the sound without losing tone quality. The expression pedal is handy if you are using other devices that require it.
If you are looking for a good volume pedal with occasional wah and other functions, this pedal is a great value.
EBS Stanley Clarke Signature Wah-Wah Bass
What’s good: Designed to be a tone filter that makes a passive electronics bass sound like it has active electronics, you can use the pedal to find just the right tone, and then leave it in place for virtually an endless range of new sounds for your instrument.
Not so good: This is one of the most expensive pedals on the market. You better like it to make this investment.
This is the pedal that will make your Fender Squire sound like you are playing a top of the line custom bass. More a tone filter than a wah, this pedal can reshape your entire sound before you even start moving your ankle.
When you do decide to use it as a wah, it is as good as any other on the market, with an adjustable sweep and 4 pre-shaped pass options that allow you to keep the high or low ends out of the sweep range, or give it a full band range. Click the switch to send it into bypass mode or you can then use it as a high-quality volume pedal. This is the Pedal that will change how you sound. Stanley uses one on his upright bass. What else do I have to say?
EHX Crying Bass Wah
What’s good: Heavy players who don’t want to lose one ounce of the low-end boom are going to appreciate the low-end pass that leaves the lowest tones out of the sweep. They will probably also appreciate the growl and buzz that the tone provides.
Not so good: This pedal doesn’t have any Q control or volume boost control, so you take what you get with the tone.
This affordable, simple, sturdy wah pedal keeps it simple, delivering a big low end with some growl and fuzz in there too.
If you are rockin’ on your bass with a pick and big overdrive, your head is banging and you like an extra layer to make your rhythms really drive that beat, this pedal will go the distance.
You can throw it in the van at the end of the night without worrying about breaking it, and if you do lose it during lightning stage changes, you can afford to buy another one.
The EHX Crying won’t give the sumptuous tones of a new age jazz player, but that’s not you anyways now is it?
Dunlop Geezer Cry Baby Wah Pedal
What’s good: If the Dunlop 105Q Bass Wah is the classic with some improvements, the Geezer model is just the classic. If you are just looking for a classic sound, this is an excellent choice.
Not so good: You have to remove the plate to adjust the Q, but it comes with Geezer’s preferred factory settings, so most likely you will want to leave it as is.
First of all, yeah, its the guy from Black Sabbath, who wrote the first riff you ever played on electric bass. Who doesn’t want to sound like Geezer Butler? When I think of what makes Geezer unique was his ability to cut through the mix.
If you find yourself on stage with a heavy drummer and lots of distorted guitars, this wah pedal might be for you. Built like a tank, simple to use and capable of being real funky. This pedal will put big punctuation marks on your attack.
Morley Cliff Burton Tribute Power Fuzz Wah
What’s good: This truly is two pedals in one. You can adjust the level and intensity of the fuzz while having an additional option of switching to ‘modern’ mode which pulls back on the gain and low ends of the fuzz.
Not so good: This wah doesn’t have adjustable Q, but you can adjust the volume and I have a feeling that is likely to be all the subtlety you need.
This pedal is designed to remind us of the original Ride the Lightning Metallica sound. If you are playing through a tube amp or a compressor and want to get that full-throated sound, this is the pedal for you.
You can use the wah or fuzz separately or together. The fuzz on this pedal might surprise some who are used to a more over the top fuzz sound, but you will not lose any punch with the fuzz.
The wah benefits from Morley’s awesome optical circuitry and clean full tone engaged or in bypass mode. Solid construction and built to last, and it even a cool glow in the dark design so you can see it through your thrashing hair during the second encore.
G-Lab Wowee Wah Bass
What’s good: It has some very cool and unique features, such as optional settings between automatic switch off when removing your foot, or the traditional toe switch to toggle between engaging or bypass.
Not so good: It leaves the low end a little soft and has a thinner wah sound than some other pedals.
A solid wah pedal with some great features and a great sound. The G-Lab deals with the low-end by having a switch that adjusts the entire frequency sweep either to include the low-end or to leave it full and intact.
There are four switches to fine-tune the tone and meet the specific needs of the song. It may not be the best for heavy players, but the design allows for more creativity and versatility on the toe end of the wah sound.
It is built to last with a very nice looking stainless steel case.
What is a Wah Pedal?
A wah pedal is an expression pedal that the player rocks gently back in forth to put a little wave into the tone. It’s impossible to imagine rock, funk or jazz music without that sound. But how does it work? and what issues need to be addressed when adding it to a bass sound?
A wah pedal is like an envelope filter that sweeps the frequency of the range, changing the tone as it sweeps through and creating a ‘wah’ sound. While the envelope filter may be more common, it sweeps the sound for every attacked note. The wah pedal sweeps based on the foot movement and opens the player up to a lot more creativity.
What does a bass Wah do?
The Bass wah sweeps the range of the frequency, creating that classic wah-wah sound. Most pedals make sure to keep the bottom end tone full and strong. Many pedals also have a volume function to bring that sound up during solos or signature bass riffs.
Bass Wah vs. Guitar Wah
Playing bass, if you use a pedal designed for guitar, you are sweeping the frequency range of a guitar’s notes. If a bass player uses a wah pedal that isn’t designed for the bass, he will end up with a nosey treble tone that sounds weak and scratchy – the dedicated bass wah fixes that.
Why do I need a bass Wah pedal?
The wah sound is common in many different styles of bass playing. Heavy metal players laying it down with aggressive picking can use that sound to accent their distortion or fuzz. Funk players create that classic waves of tone and bright pops use it to accent their slap style. Even cool jazz players use the wah pedal to add creatively to their rich sumptuous tones. Which style you tend to play will help decide which features you want in the pedal you use.
What other features should a bass Wah offer?
Other features have been added to make these pedals really work for you. For instance, some pedals have lost the switch under the tow and opted for an automatic mechanism that puts the pedal into bypass mode whenever the foot is removed. Some pedals have made the wah effect itself adjustable so that the player can get a little delay on the effect, or make it more subtle.
Many features have been created to address the biggest problem that sweeping the bass frequencies presents; ‘gain drain’. That is, the tendency to make the bass seem quieter. We all want that low end to punch through the mix and rattle the windows of the building and any pedal that takes the oomph out of a low end is going to be a big problem. This problem is addressed in a variety of ways which make up one of the most important differences in the features of various pedals.
Remember, pedal order is important. You want to plug into the wah first, before compressors and distortion.
How do Bass Wah pedals avoid ‘gain drain’?
One way avoiding ‘gain drain’, is to boost the signal when the pedal is engaged with a simple volume increasing feature. Other pedals adjust the frequency that gets swept by the wah so that the lower end of the bass is left unaffected. Other pedals use even more advanced shaping settings that act almost as a pre-amp before the wah signal is sent out. Regardless of the style of music, keeping that tone true when the pedal is engaged or in bypass mode is one of the most important features of any wah pedal.
Whichever features they use, the result needs to sound good and the product needs to be durable to survive late nights and long road trips. The wah pedal is an iconic aspect of the sound of American music and music around the world, and it is finally true that the bass wah is receiving the engineering it deserves to keep the toes tapping, heads banging, and booties shaking in every corner of this land.