4 ways to get more from your wah pedal

(Image credit: Future)

You think a wah pedal is only about percussive wacka-wacka funkateering? Have we got news for you…

1. Sweet spot 

Mick Ronson loved it, Michael Schenker still does and even Soundgarden put it to great use in Rusty Cage. 

Simply position the wah with your foot until it’s enhancing your midrange in a sweet spot – bingo! You’ve got a distinctive tone that’s great for leads and even chord stabs.

2. Slow sweep 

The wah doesn’t have to be used in an intense flurry of notes to be impactful; slowly pressing down on the treadle with your foot as you play a riff with gain is highly effective for intros or breakdown parts as it gradually allows more high-end frequencies to filter in.

3. Intro riffs

Set the wah down for an intro riff that sound lo-fi and then you can brig it back when kicks in to add to the dynamic. Muse's Dead Star is a good example of this in action. 

4. Opening chords  

Similar to our slow sweeps, pressing down on the wah as you play a chord opens up the higher frequencies as an accent. It's used in reggae rhythm work and Bob Marley & The Wailers' Stir It Up is a prime example. 

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Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.