9 in Line: Dunlop’s Most Popular Wahs Explained


Dunlop has been known for being the company that listens to the people. They give you tone at a price the workingman can afford. They have great fuzz pedals, overdrives and every other flavor one could think of. But the bread and butter of this company is the Crybaby Wah. With TheToneKing.com’s 30 Pedals in 30 Days just around the corner, it’s a good time for a lesson on the differences behind some of Dunlop’s most popular Wahs.

As a young man, just twanging away on my six-string, I had no use for wah pedals. At the time, the only application I have heard for that effect was enhancing guitar solos and background music for porno. Even now, I hardly place guitar solos in my music because I don’t think it complements MY (<—stressed) music by any means. I have the ability, just not the will. The riff that rocked that logic though, was a dandy little tune called “Baptized in the Redemption”. Crediting guitarist? Andreas Kisser. Now, I use my Wah for main rhythm sections with big, bulky chords because I love that chaotic swirl effect.

As much as I can say I love the products that come out by Dunlop and even enjoy interviews done by Bryan Kehoe (not to be confused with Brian Kehoe, American male fashion model and former reality television show participant). I do have a bit of a personal bone to pick with the Dunlop company. There should be one more name to my list below, and given the story above, you should know that I want the pedal designed by the man who made me realize that I was starved of such a tone. For those that don’t know, the A.K. Wah was originally exclusive to South America and as far as I know, with the exception of a few draws on the internet, was never available to North Americans. I WANT IT! Give me the chance to buy one (even under the table would be acceptable). This is not to say that any other wah pedals are of any less quality. I just want that one step closer to the tone that originally inspired me.


Joe Bonamassa wanted to know what was different from this Wah verses every other. The answer is a 1960’s Halo Inductor that gives a smoother effect with just a whisper of overtones. But for those who want the tech talk, what is a Halo Inductor? “The carefully selected ferrite* material and copper wire gives our inductors the same sound and response as old Halo Inductors that were used in Clyde McCoy Wah pedals. The winding technique itself is unique to Arteffect and together with other factors, assures that the inductors will give your Wah the “correct” sound that will enable you to mimic legendary Wah tones” (art-tone.com).


* fer·rite: noun. A compound, as NaFeO2, formed when ferric oxide is combined with a more basic metallic oxide.



JH1D & JH2


Jimi Hendrix is to be forever known as the father of daisy chaining pedals together. It will come as no surprise that he has two versions out. The JH1D is thep

edal that reaches way back to the late 60’s to preserve the original sound of the Wah as made by the Thomas Organ Company.

What are the differences?


The JH2 is the 70th Anniversary Tribute Series. It is honestly more of a collector’s issue. But at a limited run in 2012 these will likely have some additional value.




Dimebag Darrell and his Crybaby From Hell. This is in the top 3 most common signatures I have come across, and it has to be for a damn good reason.  It can sweep further then most with the twist of a knob, yet it can come back to the short 60’s range.  I can talk about the boost, which I am sure we all know about, but I just learned that one could adjust the tension of the pedal with a simple and supplied Allen key. I can’t find a conformation that this pedal is also built with a slight octafuzz. Perhaps I heard the same rumor, but something to consider. This pedal may have been made for Dimebag, but he made it for all of us.





ZW45DL E ZW 45

Made for the beefy sounds of Zakk Wylde, ranging from a low growl to throaty aggression. This seems to have a bit less sweep then others but it is voiced lower then others to complement the overdrive+distortion combo Zakk is known for. This has been used in some less likely places like Maroon 5’s James Valentine. This is also equipped with a tension adjustment. It comes as no surprise when you consider that Zakk and Dime were great friends.




80942b8a51f73977e65a7712b9f09c0a-d3lixkjSW95 & SC95


Ya know, that guy who always wears sunglasses and has a top hat. Maybe you heard of him. The SC95 is more cut and dry compared to the rest of Dunlop’s signature Wahs. It has less features per square inch then the SW95, but it doesn’t mean it’s not without it’s own charm. The SC95 has more girth in the middle and that sweet spot pops out a little more. SW95 has a built in distortion, and much like a distortion it has a volume knob and a gain knob, which is initiated by the kick button.





Did I mention that The Tone King got to shake hands with Eddie Van Halen? The Tone King hasn’t washed his hand since.

With direct collaboration with Eddie, this bad boy was modeled after his “Holy Grail” crybaby. With a more vocal sound, high Q inductor and a wicked steep sweep. Dunlop created pots to sound like they have been kicked around for the soul purpose of sounding like it survived the 90’s. Perhaps if they splash on some hair spray, it can sound like the 80’s.





Jerry Cantrell is well known for riding that sweet spot of the Wah. Everything inside has been selected to produce an ominous tone. I feel I don’t need to describe the sound very far because he is one of the leading names that inspire people to buy a way. The physical appearance is something to envy. Rusted and worn brass is a damn good look.






Why does Kirk Hammett walk with a limp?

Because his foot is stuck to his wah.

As one of the most loyal users of the crybaby should by all rights, I should have a signature Wah. However, I am not famous. So Kirk Hammett comes in a commanding second, and rightfully so. While taking the essence and EQ settings from his amp, you get just a few steps closer to his sound, but with a further sweep then other Wahs. For even more authentic treatment, duct tape can be purchased and your local mom and pops hardware store.




bg-95_5BG 95

If blues be your flavor, look no further then one of the leading blues Wah innovators Buddy Guy. Built in with a Fasel inductor for a crystal high chime and an option of a “throaty growl” or his “bell like tone”. I like options. They make me happy in my socks. The Buddy Guy has all this and is sporting the latest in polka dot fashion.





TG95 (not a real pedal)question-mark

This is The Grin Fantasy 95.

One can dream? Can’t he? nudge-nudge

If Dunlop ever approached me about making my own model, I would start out with an almost scooped EQ, with just a touch of mids. I would be very curious about the Halo Inductor, but I would have to hear it with my distortion. I might not have said it before, but every pedal I buy (and I love pedals more then my wallet allows), I want it to sound good with bass as well as guitar. After that, a drastic extension of range would be in order. I want the biggest sweep available and wicked overtones on the high. Now, I have been on stage before. The LED lights are a HUGE help because I could stand in front of a very loud amp, and still hear nothing. But what is the dividing factor in my pedal versus others? I want an on/off switch that controls the optional silicone fuzz. Just a taste now, because I will have distortion right after the Wah, but just imagine how chaotic that could sound. Sometimes though, I just like the clean sweep, so it makes sense to have the optional button but the fuzz is what I had always dreamed about when I heard that the DB01 had that feature (again, no conformation on that). As for the aesthetics, I would ask for a midnight purple with black swirl with just a few drops of white and my grin decal on the rubber pad. (*sigh*) A dude can dream…




Even without my own signature Wah, Dunlop has managed to become the go-to company when it comes to the Wah pedal. Nobody is better known for their Wahs, and there’s definitely a reason for that.



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About the Author: Started playing bass at 15. It was Danko Jones who inspired me to play at all, and in a small town I couldn't be picky on what I can get my hands on, so I bought a squire with pride. Obtained a B.C. Rich guitar months later. Moved to the city at 17. At 19 joined my first metal band as a bassist which ended at 20. Joined a bass heavy rock band, which I loved being in whole heartily. I now wait to venture into a new project. For the time being though, I am exploring my abilities as a writer.

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