The following is a guest post by Daniel Thorpe. If you are interested in guest posting, please contact me!
The almighty wah pedal, synonymous with guitar legends such as Jimi Hendrix, Slash, Kirk Hammett and more recently, the modern beast of a player that is Zakk Wylde.
The Black Label Society and Ozzy Osbourne axe man has had his signature wah pedal released by Dunlop and the ZW-45 is a modern take on the legendary Cry Baby, giving us mere mortals the chance to emulate the hairy one’s gnarly and powerful tone.
The ZW-45 is built like a tank and weighs quite a bit, which is probably for the best with big Zakk stomping down on it. It really does feel like a quality pedal and you can tell it`s made to last.
The sound of the wah is pretty accurate to what you hear on a Black Label Society record, and it definitely has that `throaty` Zakk Wylde tone to it.
On a clean or crunch setting, it sounds like a true class act, subtly moving through the frequencies as you rock back and forth and surprisingly does funk very well. If you play some old school 70`s or Hendrix style blues rock, then I wouldn’t overlook this pedal because of the name. It is simply too good for that.
When you crank up the gain, and start to rock back and forth you may be surprised at what you hear. This isn’t your conventional wah, with the high frequencies being cut with the heel down, then powering through the mix with the toe down, it really has a signature sound to it, and if you`re like me, it may take a bit to get used to.
It just sounds a tad weak on those higher screamy full on distortion parts than a standard wah to my ears, but when playing dirty riffs and fairly clean funk or blues licks it sounds incredible. If you could adjust the wah sweep like on the Jerry Cantrell model, where you can change the amount of treble coming though it would seriously be one of the best wahs I’ve ever tried.I play in alternative prog rock band, and having those screaming moments where the treble bursts through on a wah is something that has become essential to our sound.
At first, I thought “oh-oh, maybe this wah isn’t for me after all”, and packed it away with the intention to sell. A few months later, I thought I would dust it off to sell, but thought I’d give it one more bash first, and lo and behold, I found some stunning uses for it. It really does excel at those dirty, low down riffs that you want to add some tonal change to too. I`m talking using it on the bottom string riffs rather than for higher up leads. The best way to describe it is it doesn’t scream as much as it barks.
This has opened up a few doors with my bands sound that we may not have tried through if I didn’t have the pedal. I reckon that’s the sign of pedal doing its job well, when it encourages you to try different things and expand upon your sound. Nowadays, I use the standard cry baby for more lead oriented wah, and the ZW-45 lower down and more subtle used wah.
It won`t be to everyone’s tastes, so try before you buy, especially as you can’t adjust the sweep, but you may just find that it does something special with your sound.
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