Not too many people actually know the history of the wah pedal. Most folks think it starts with Jimi Hendrix and his iconic Voodoo Chile tone, but the story actually begins with Clyde McCoy – a white Dixieland jazz trumpeter from the thirties who couldn’t sound less like Hendrix. The original Vox wah pedal that Hendrix made famous actually strove to emulate McCoy’s ability to make his trumpet cry in a “wah-wah” sound by fluttering his playing with a mute in the bell of his instrument (see this video).
Fast forward 50 years and Vox still makes highly regarded wah pedals alongside stalwarts Dunlop and Morley, but Fulltone currently seem to hold the reigns as the best wah on this important niche market with its (appropriately named) Clyde Deluxe Wah. The Clyde Deluxe features the widest pedal sweep among the bunch, true bypass switching, and three different settings – the“Jimi” setting which aims to emulate the 1960s Vox Voodoo Chile tone mentioned earlier, the “Shaft” setting aimed at dialing in super bad funk grooves, and a “Wacked” setting geared toward more colorful treble punchy wah tones.
It also has a few advanced features that set it apart from the pack including a buffer that helps ensure that the wah plays nice with other pedals on the chain, particularly fuzz pedals where noisy screeching and crackling tends to be an issue due to their high impedance. The Clyde Deluxe has an adjustable treadle, which allows for customized resistance for your foot. As anyone who’s stood on stage oscillating their foot up and down for a whole song can attest, this can definitely come in handy. Finally, the pedal comes with an adjustable trimmer to ensure the appropriate amount of gain and boost when the wah switches on.
One item to note is that the Clyde Deluxe requires careful attention in the the foot motion department. Some users complain that the sweep is too big, because the range is wide enough that you can’t simply go top to bottom repeatedly to get a great wah tone. You’ll need to practice using small ranges and larger ranges when the notes or chords call for it.
As with any stompbox, practicing with the Clyde Deluxe and getting to know the adjustments is critically important to maximizing its capabilities, but the Fulltone pedal offers the most functionality in a wah pedal on the market. – Ryan Dembinsky