Wah Wah Techniques
The Wah-Wah pedal has been around for about fifty years and it continues to be a popular effect for many guitarists. Essentially a frequency resonance filter that sweeps from bass to treble and back creating a vocal-like “wah” sound, this simple device can be heard on thousands of hit records.
Jimi Hendrix was one of the early users who popularized it among rock guitarists. Clapton, Trower, Santana, and numerous others also jumped on the wah bandwagon. That’s not to say that rock musicians were the only ones using the Wah-Wah. In fact its inherently funky sound can be heard on countless R&B, Soul and Funk songs of the 60s and 70s. Let’s take a look at some the techniques that can improve your “wah-ability.”
Adding Spice To A Riff
Many rock riffs could be improved with the help of a little wah. Here is a short riff played without wah:
Now here is the same riff played with wah added:
Not all riffs sound better with wah, but many do. If your riffs are sounding a little too pedestrian, try a little wah.
Muting the strings as you rock the wah-wah pedal can give you a cool percussive effect. Here is a sample:
To create this effect place your finger gently across the strings of the guitar fretboard (don't push them against the fretboard) to dampen (or muffle) the strings. Now rock the pedal back and forth as you strum out a rhythm. This can be a great intro or second guitar part.
Now let’s take it one step further and add some chords to the mix:
In this example, I play a chord and then lift my fingers up to mute the strings while I rock the wah and strum. This gives you that great “chucka—chucka”’ sound.
In Tempo Rhythm Guitar
If you use a clean tone and rock the pedal in tempo with the music, you can get a great R&B or funk sound:
Experiment with different rhythms and see what you can come up with.
Looking for a unique intro or ending to a song? Try some waves:
Simply play a chord once and rock the pedal quickly back and forth.
Ever wish your amp had more tones? With the help of a Wah-Wah it can. Simply rock the pedal until you find a tone you like and leave it there. You can get some really snarly tone doing this, here is an example:
Place the wah at the start of your effects chain and you will get a more subtle effect as the other effect color your wah tone. Place the wah at the end of the effects chain and the effect will be more pronounced as the wah colors the other effects tone.
Wah-Wahs can make your playing more expressive, interesting, or personal — something every player should strive for. And they are a lot of fun. Try one and have some fun.