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Is Leo Nocentelli’s Mardi Gras signature wah the coolest looking Cry Baby of them all?

Dunlop Leo Nocentelli Cry Baby Mardis Gras
(Image credit: Jim Dunlop)

Legend of funk Leo Nocentelli has a signature Cry Baby wah pedal and it is a thing of beauty. Finished in gold and purple sparkle, with a green treadle grip emblazoned with a fleur-de-lis, the Cry Baby Mardis Gras is a celebration of his home town New Orleans.

Nocentelli is one of the greatest players to come out of the city. Listening to him play with The Meters, it as though his right hand is wired differently to other guitar players, at one with the groove. 

But like any guitar player playing funk, the wah pedal holds a special attraction, a vocal filter to accentuate the groove. Nocentelli used his most famously on tracks such as I Just Kissed My Baby, and his signature Mardis Gras is voiced to recreate that sweet, vocal electric guitar tone you hear on the record.

It has a deeper frequency range, much like Nocentelli’s JH-1 Hendrix signature wah. With the heel down, the centre frequency sits at 290 Hz to 310 Hz, and with the toe down its 290 Hz to 310 Hz. Like a regular Cry Baby, the pedal is activated by a toe-mounted switch. It takes a 9V batter or DC power supply.

Speaking to the Jim Dunlop site (opens in new tab), Nocentelli spoke of how “master of the wah” Jimi Hendrix turned him on to the wah with tracks such as Machine Gun and Voodoo Chile, with Nocentelli picking up one for The Meters’ debut album and using it on Here Comes The Meter Man solo.

“I wasn’t into how to use it properly when we recorded that, but as time went on, I started using it more,” he said. “The song that really brought out the way I interpret the wah-wah was Just Kissed My Baby.”

To recreate the effect heard on the record, Nocentelli explained how you push the toe down for the higher notes, and move it to the heel position for the low notes – “It’s very meticulous and very methodical.” 

The Leo Nocentelli Cry Baby Mardi Gras Wah is available now, priced $199. See Jim Dunlop for more details.

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.