The Best Wah Pedals of 2023: Find Your Perfect Match

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Looking to step up your guitar game in 2023? Or yearning to recreate that iconic “wah-wah” effect that revolutionized the music scene back in the 1960s? Well, you’re in luck! This article will guide you through the best wah pedals of 2023, ensuring your next purchase hits the right note. With a robust history dating back to the jazz era, the wah pedal has come a long way. It’s now an essential tool on any guitarist’s pedalboard, from rock’n’roll to funk and beyond. So, whether you’re a fan of Jimi Hendrix’s psychedelic riffs or Funkadelic’s groovy beats, keep on reading to find your perfect wah match. Buckle up, it’s time for a wild ride through the world of wah pedals.

The REAL MCCOY CUSTOM RMC-10 on a white background



The Real McCoy Custom RMC-10 is the latest offering from Geoffrey Teese, a renowned figure in the world of wah pedals, often referred to as the “Wah Guru”. Teese has spent years studiously observing classic wah pedals from the 1960s to the present day. This deep understanding of the mechanics and unique attributes of various models has allowed him to create the Real McCoy Custom range.

The RMC-10, in particular, is designed in the classic Thomas Organ style and boasts a custom-designed metal-can inductor and an RMC-ICAR potentiometer. This piece of equipment is encased in a durable metal case, can be powered by either AC or DC, and offers true-bypass switching along with an adjustable-tension treadle.

Key Benefits

  • Offers a cleaner, more focused tone with a shorter sweep range, ideal for musicians seeking a clear and compact sound.
  • Features a unique throaty character, particularly noticeable as you push towards the toe.
  • Provides versatility due to its true-bypass switching, adjustable-tension treadle, and ability to run on either AC or DC power.
  • Crafted with a custom-designed metal-can inductor and an RMC-ICAR potentiometer for a premium experience.


Given the quality of the components and the reputation of the “Wah Guru” Geoffrey Teese, it is reasonable to expect that this may be a premium-priced product.

Pros & Cons

From our perspective, the Real McCoy Custom RMC-10 carries certain distinct advantages and also some aspects that might be worth considering. The RMC-10 offers a cleaner tone and a more concentrated sweep range, characteristics often associated with classic “Italian” models. This is great for musicians seeking a clear, compact sound in their performances. The throaty character and the enhanced highs as you push towards the toe are particularly appealing.

On the other hand, some might find the range of the sweep to be less extensive compared to other models in the market. As with all musical equipment, the ideal choice often depends on personal preferences and specific requirements.

The Morley Steve Vai Bad Horsie 2 Contour Wah

Morley Steve Vai Bad Horsie 2 Contour Wah


The Morley Steve Vai Bad Horsie 2 Contour Wah is a signature wah pedal made in collaboration with the renowned guitarist Steve Vai. This pedal is designed to operate on a single 9V battery or a power adapter, and it’s compatible with most 9V adapters. Crafted from rugged cold-rolled steel, it is built to withstand the harsh rigors of constant use and ensure longevity. One of its key fundamentals is its Electro-Optical design, which eliminates the need for pots and boosts its lifespan.

The pedal comes with two modes: a Bad Horsie Wah, reflecting Steve Vai’s preferred tone and sweep, and a Contour Wah, which allows you to modify the frequency and output of the wah effect using the CONTOUR and LEVEL knobs.

Key Benefits

  • Designed in collaboration with Steve Vai, offering his preferred tone and sweep.
  • Electro-Optical design for extended durability and functionality.
  • Two operating modes (Bad Horsie Wah and Contour Wah) for sound versatility.
  • Switchless design for ease of use, engaging and disengaging instantly with foot touch and removal.
  • Constructed with cold-rolled steel for robustness and longevity.
  • Compatible with guitar, bass, or keys.


Potential buyers are advised to look out for vendors or authorized sellers for accurate pricing information.

Pros & Cons

From my personal perspective, the Morley Steve Vai Bad Horsie 2 Contour Wah presents a number of noteworthy strengths. Its switchless design is indeed a standout feature. It automatically activates as soon as my foot touches the pedal and deactivates when I remove it. This instant operation eliminates the need for any manual switches, making it user-friendly and quick to employ. Another commendable feature is the Contour mode. This option gives me the freedom to adjust the frequency and tone of the wah effect, offering a wide array of sound possibilities to tailor a unique sound.

The pedal’s flexibility is also remarkable, allowing me to create my own tone or emulate Steve Vai’s signature sounds. The Bad Horsie 2 also impresses with its tonal versatility – it can produce both clean and gritty sounds while maintaining signal clarity and definition at any setting. The pedal also includes other notable features, such as LED indication, a quick clip battery door, and a one-year warranty for added value.

However, it’s important to note that while the pedal is highly functional and effective, the lack of pricing information can be a downside for those looking to assess its cost-effectiveness. Also, while the switchless design is innovative and convenient, it may take some getting used to for musicians accustomed to traditional wah pedals.

The Vox V847-A Wah Pedal

Vox V847-A Wah Pedal


The Vox V847-A Wah Pedal is a reissue of the original Vox wah pedal from the 1960s, an iconic piece in the history of music gear. It shares common components with the widely recognized Jim Dunlop Cry Baby wah pedal, further establishing its pedigree.

This version of the pedal features a distinctive chrome finish, adding an attractive aesthetic to its superior build quality. With a substantial weight, it stays firm and steady during use. It also boasts a redesigned inductor, bringing it even closer to the design of the original Vox wah inductors.

Key Benefits

Here are some of the standout features of the Vox V847-A Wah Pedal:

  • It offers versatility in usage, making it suitable for a variety of music genres.
  • It is capable of producing a wide range of dynamics and a warm tone, outperforming many digital alternatives.
  • The pedal can serve as a filter to boost specific frequencies, or as a traditional wah pedal for more expressive playing styles.
  • Its easy-to-use design allows you to engage and disengage the pedal with a simple press-down and click-off mechanism.


The value of this pedal lies in its superior performance and versatility, as well as its lineage, tracing back to the classic wah pedals from the 1960s.

Pros & Cons

As a user of the Vox V847-A Wah Pedal, I have found that the rocker pedal’s slightly shorter travel compared to a regular Cry Baby does not inhibit its performance, thanks to its dampened mechanism resulting in a smoother ride.

The pedal’s AC power capability and buffered input jack are significant advantages for preserving the original, unprocessed guitar tone when the pedal is not in use. Its ease-of-use is another big plus.

However, like any piece of equipment, proper care and maintenance are essential to extend the pedal’s longevity. Regular cleaning is advised to ensure this. Despite these benefits, some players may prefer the longer travel distance offered by other pedals on the market.

The Fulltone USA Clyde Standard

Fulltone USA Clyde Standard


The Fulltone USA Clyde Standard is a unique wah pedal that channels the vintage vibe of the original Vox Clyde McCoy wah pedals from the swinging 60s. Designed with attention to detail, the pedal is available in three distinct colors: Powder-coated White, Hammertone Black, and Hammertone Gray. To keep your music flowing, the Fulltone Clyde operates either on a 9-volt battery or an optional AC adapter.

Key Benefits

  • The Fulltone Clyde Standard features a hand-wired circuit designed to replicate the classic Vox wah pedals, with carbon composition resistors, Polypropylene WIMA .01 capacitors, and a tuned-core hand-wired inductor.
  • It also includes Fulltone’s “Fullrange” pot, which means you get a wider sweep range compared to standard wah pedals.
  • The pedal has a rubber slip-proof surface on top of the treadle, and the tension is adjustable for precise control over the wah effect.
  • The Fulltone Clyde Standard is sought after for its vintage tone, robust build quality, and the level of control it offers.


We recommend potential buyers check official retailers of this pedal.

Pros & Cons

Speaking as an experienced team of music enthusiasts, we’ve discovered numerous pros while working with the Fulltone USA Clyde Standard. The pedal is incredibly well-constructed and easy to control. The on/off switch engages smoothly without causing any loud pops or sudden loss in volume. What truly sets this pedal apart is the wider tonal range and smoother treadle action it offers when compared to the original Vox Clyde McCoy wah pedals. The vintage tone grabs attention, and the build quality ensures a long-lasting relationship with the pedal.

However, as with any product, it’s critical to be aware of potential stumbling blocks. In the case of the Fulltone USA Clyde Standard, the only con we’ve found is the lack of provided pricing information. This could potentially make it challenging for musicians to assess whether this is a suitable investment for them without further research.

The Dunlop Cry Baby Mini 535Q

Dunlop Cry Baby Mini 535Q


The Dunlop Cry Baby Mini 535Q is the compact sibling of the legendary Cry Baby wah pedal. Small in size but big in functionality, the Mini 535Q doesn’t compromise on versatility. It packs all the capabilities of the full-sized 535Q into a more compact and efficient design. For the classic wah effect, the pedal is equipped with a red Fasel inductor. Whether you prefer to use a 9-volt battery or a power supply, the 535Q Mini is flexible, sporting a true bypass to keep your signal pristine when the pedal is not in play.

Key Benefits

  • Delivers the authentic, throaty Cry Baby tone typical of the full-sized pedal
  • Compact size is perfect for those with limited pedalboard space or for musicians constantly on the move
  • Highly reliable, capable of enduring years of use
  • Offers tonal flexibility in a small package, making it a valuable addition to your pedalboard
  • Ensures minimal space usage on your pedalboard due to its smaller footprint


The value that this little wonder promises to deliver, with its versatility and durability, is certainly something to look forward to.

Pros & Cons

From our experience with the Mini 535Q, we’ve noticed that it features a four-way switch. This allows us to alter the frequency range of the pedal’s sweep, giving us more control over the impact of the wah effect. Additionally, the Q knob is a nifty tool to adjust the width of the bandpass filter, letting us emphasize different frequencies to our liking. The pedal also boasts a boost switch that enhances the output signal, a feature we particularly appreciate during solos or when we need to cut through the mix.

However, it’s worth noting that due to its smaller size, you might need some time to adjust your foot technique. Yet, with a bit of practice, it becomes quite easy to maneuver. While the smaller size might require initial adjustment, the ergonomic design of the 535Q Mini makes it comfortable to use over time.

The Boss PW-3

Boss PW-3


The Boss PW-3 Wah Pedal resonates with a compact and lightweight design that’s perfect for musicians needing to economize their pedalboard space. Crafted with a die-cast aluminum chassis, this pedal establishes an impressive, sturdy presence underfoot. It showcases two distinctive wah sounds, giving you the freedom to explore your musical creativity. With status LEDs on each side, you can easily ascertain when the wah effect is activated, even in a dimly lit room.

Key Benefits

  • Space-saving design: Fits seamlessly on crowded pedalboards.
  • Dual wah tones: Offers Vintage and Rich mode for a varied soundscape.
  • Enhanced visibility: Features status LEDs on each side, ensuring you know when the wah effect is on.
  • Solid construction: The die-cast aluminum chassis provides stability and durability.
  • Tonal flexibility: Allows for easy access to your desired sound by parking the treadle in your preferred position.


The Boss PW-3 is generally acknowledged for delivering excellent sound variety and quality in a budget-friendly package.

Pros & Cons

From our experience, the Boss PW-3 doesn’t disappoint. One of its outstanding features is the Vintage mode, which artfully captures the iconic tones of legendary artists like Jimi Hendrix and evokes the nostalgic soundtracks of the ’70s. Furthermore, the Rich mode adds depth to the wah effect, making it a great choice for high-gain sounds.

On the flip side, the PW-3 may lack the vintage appeal of a Cry Baby. But don’t let that deter you. This pedal is constructed with durability as a priority and serves up a broad spectrum of tones.

Plus, it can produce that satisfying old-school squawk that was popularized by Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. To sum up, the Boss PW-3 Wah Pedal is a versatile, sturdy, and compact unit that delivers superb sound and excellent usability.

The Xotic XW-1 Wah Pedal

Xotic XW-1 Wah Pedal


The Xotic XW-1 Wah Pedal is an incredibly versatile piece of equipment that delivers a broad range of tones to suit your musical creation needs. Taking inspiration from the sought-after vintage Italian-built Vox wahs of the late ’60s, the XW-1 is designed to bring you the unique voicing of the classic Vox Clyde McCoy model.

Despite its compact size, about 20% smaller than most wah pedals, it provides excellent construction and a thoughtfully designed layout. The XW-1 can run on either battery or adapter power, giving you the flexibility to use it anywhere.

Key Benefits

  • Captures the vintage vibe with added modern functionality and tone-shaping versatility.
  • Perfect for generating wide-open Hendrix wail when paired with a fuzz pedal.
  • Extensive control set, including external knobs and internal switches, for fine-tuning the wah effect.
  • Can create a wide range of wah sounds, from clean and subtle to extreme and defined.
  • The presence cut control is especially useful for single-coil pickups and bright amplifier settings.


In terms of pricing, the Xotic XW-1 Wah Pedal falls within the same range as other boutique wah pedals on the market. Its cost reflects its high-quality performance and versatility, making it a worthwhile investment for those seeking an authentic vintage sound with modern customization options.

Pros & Cons

From our experience, there are numerous advantages to the Xotic XW-1 Wah Pedal. It includes four small pots on the unit’s right side that let you adjust bias, wah Q, and +15 dB for both treble and bass—allowing you to precisely shape and customize your sound. It also utilizes gold-contact relay-bypass switching to eliminate the usual activation click found in many other wah pedals. Even the foot-treadle tension and sweep range can be adjusted to suit your preferences.

On the other hand, while it boasts many benefits, the XW-1 does come with a few design limitations. For one, the input-gain trimpot isn’t easily accessible during performances, possibly causing some inconvenience for users. Also, the pedal’s compact size may feel a tad unusual for some players who are accustomed to larger pedals. But overall, these cons are minimal in comparison to the pedal’s excellent features and performance.

The Ibanez WH-10

Ibanez WH-10


We’re excited to talk about the Ibanez WH10V3, a renowned wah pedal cherished by many for its distinct features and superior tonal quality. This genius device is notably the first of its kind to employ a multiple feedback opamp circuit, setting it apart from the traditional inductor-based wahs in terms of tonal quality.

It’s also equipped with a guitar/bass range switch enabling a seamless transition between two preset frequency ranges. As far as durability goes, the WH10V3 is encased in a robust, die-cast aluminum alloy body sporting a striking black finish. The pedal requires a current of 12mA at 9V and can be powered conveniently by a 9V battery or an external DC 9V AC adapter.

Key Benefits

The Ibanez WH10V3 boasts a host of fantastic features including:

  • An inclusive volume boost for added flexibility
  • A desirable true or buffered bypass options
  • A unique sound capturing the big and deep funky sweep similar to the original WH-10


You can always check online or visit your local music stores to get the most recent and accurate pricing information.

Pros & Cons

Firstly, the pedal produces a throaty wah sound with a usable sweep that many users simply adore. However, a minor hiccup with this model is the volume boost feature, which can be a tad too much when playing clean. Also, there seems to be some debate amongst users about the merits of the true bypass versus buffered bypass options. Another issue reported by some users is a clicking sound when rocking the foot pedal, which they attribute to less-than-stellar parts. Despite these minor issues, many users agree that the WH10V3 delivers a unique, high-quality sound that is hard to find in other wah pedals.

What Is A Wah Pedal (And How Do They Work)?

A wah pedal, commonly referred to as a wah-wah pedal, is a type of guitar effects pedal that alters the tone and frequencies of the signal, creating a distinctive vocal-like sound that can mimic the human voice uttering the phrase “wah-wah”. The wah effect has its roots in the 1920s when saxophone and trumpet players used mutes to create a crying tone. It was later translated to the world of electric guitars with the invention of the wah pedal.

The first wah pedal was invented in 1966 by Bradley J. Plunkett at Warwick Electronics Inc./Thomas Organ Company. Plunkett originally designed this pedal using a mid-range boost circuit and the housing of a Vox Organ. Interestingly, the invention of the modern wah pedal was accidental, a by-product of the redesign of the Super Beatle amplifier.

In terms of function, a wah pedal manipulates the peak response of a filter in a guitar’s signal circuit. This manipulation varies the frequencies, creating a unique effect. The pedal is operated by the musician’s foot, rocking it back and forth to control the effect’s frequency response. This gives the player a high level of control over the effect, allowing for a wide range of expressive possibilities.

Different models of wah pedals offer different voicing and filtering options, enabling musicians to further customize their sound. Some of the most popular models include the Dunlop Cry Baby, the Vox V847-A, the Boss PW-3, and the Electro-Harmonix Cock Fight Wah. Each of these pedals has its own unique characteristics and features, providing a plethora of options for musicians to explore and find their own signature sound.

What A Wah Pedal Can Add To Your Sound

The wah pedal is an incredibly versatile tool in the realm of guitar effects. Its unique ability to alter the tone and frequencies of the guitar signal results in a distinct vocal-like sound, likened to the utterance of “wah-wah”. This effect can add an extra dimension to your performance, providing a sense of expressiveness typically associated with the human voice.

Much of the appeal of the wah pedal lies in its hands-on nature. As it is operated by the musician’s foot, it enables a high level of control over the frequency response, allowing for a broad range of expressive possibilities. This interactivity makes each wah performance unique, and the control it offers over the color and shape of the tone is unmatched.

Different models of wah pedals offer different voicing and filtering options, allowing musicians to further refine their sound. For instance, the Dunlop Cry Baby is celebrated for its classic wah sound, while the Vox V847-A is praised for its versatility and warm tone. Regardless of the model, a wah pedal can add a unique character to your sound, opening up new avenues for musical exploration and creativity. Whether you’re using it for rhythm guitar playing, soloing, or as a fixed filter to color your timbre, a wah pedal is a valuable addition to any musician’s toolkit.


All in all, the quest for the ideal wah pedal is a journey akin to finding your unique voice. Each model we’ve explored boasts individual strengths, tonal characteristics, and build qualities, and what works for one musician could sing a different tune for another.

The Real McCoy Custom RMC-10 caters to those seeking a cleaner, more focused tone with a touch of vintage charm. On the other hand, the Morley Steve Vai Bad Horsie 2 Contour Wah delivers versatility with its switchless design and dual operating modes. The Vox V847-A Wah Pedal impresses with its lineage and dynamic range, and the Fulltone USA Clyde Standard captures the essence of the swinging 60s with its wider tonal range and smoother treadle action.

The Dunlop Cry Baby Mini 535Q and Boss PW-3 score points for their compact size, offering great functionality without compromising pedalboard space. On the more niche side, gearheads in search of an authentic vintage tone with modern customization options might find a perfect match in the Xotic XW-1 Wah Pedal. And for those after that distinctive funky sweep, the Ibanez WH-10 might be just the ticket.

In the grand scheme of things, remember that the ideal wah pedal should not only complement your playing style but also translate your unique musical vision. So, take the plunge, express yourself boldly and let your foot do the talking. After all, the journey of a thousand riffs starts with a single wah pedal.


Andrew Scrivens

Andrew Scrivens

I am a live musician and guitar teacher from Brisbane, Australia, with extensive experience playing live, in the studio and for TV shows. I play in many venues, studios, music shops and with my students and as such am exposed to a lot of different gear. I form my opinions based on my experiences playing instruments in these locations.

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