How To Use Wah Pedal | Create New Guitar Sounds

How To Use Wah Pedal | Create New Guitar Sounds


  • Wah pedals, or wah-wah pedals, mimic the human voice, creating a unique guitar effect.
  • This effect was popularized by players like Jimi Hendrix and is best when paired with a volume pedal on your signal chain. 
  • A little goes a long way with wah-wah pedals and other expression pedals, so use them sparingly to hit that sweet spot. 

If you are new to guitar effects, you may wonder how to use a wah pedal. Many of the best guitars, after all, integrate with a diverse array of effects, including the popular wah pedal. So why count wah pedals as some of the best guitar pedals available, and what are some tips for using this type of pedal? Keep reading to find out.

Why Use a Wah Pedal?

Right after learning about guitar note names, you may want to learn all about the classic wah pedal. This pedal has been used on countless recordings by luminaries such as Jimi Hendrix. As a matter of fact, wah-wah pedal usage dominates search queries, along with how to use distortion pedals. This effect creates a unique guitar tone that nothing else can replicate, even if you have learned how to use a chorus pedal.

In other words, if you want that iconic “wah” sound, you need a wah pedal, even if you already know how to use an EQ pedal.

Tips for Using a Wah-Wah Pedal

Each pedal is different here, though they tend to share certain commonalities. With that in mind, here are some useful tips for using a wah pedal.

A Little Goes a Long Way

Wah is a unique effect, and a little of it goes a long way. Even Hendrix used his wah pedal sparingly, and he is credited with popularizing the effect. In other words, start slowly and try using wah on certain leads only some of the time, particularly if you are playing live in front of people. When you are on your own, feel free to saturate the heck out of your signal.

Pair it With a Volume Boost Pedal

This effect can be muddy and easily get lost in the overall signal chain. Make your wah pedal pop by pairing it with other pedals, such as a volume boost pedal. This way, you can engage the volume boost at the same time as the wah-wah pedal to truly accentuate your leads. The same is true of EQ pedals, as they allow you to limit much of the mud inherent in wah pedals.

Practice and Practice Some More

Again, wah-wah pedals are unique among pedals, so it is going to take a while before you get the hang of it. In other words, practice and then practice some more. Before long, you will be a certified wah master.

Wah-Wah Pedals FAQs

How do these pedals function?

This is an expressive and transformative type of pedal that essentially mangles the signal to create a unique tone for guitar players like Chet Atkins. 

Where should you place your pedal in the signal chain?

This type of pedal typically shines at the end of your chain due to its dramatic tone-shaping qualities. However, you may want a pedal or two after it, like a volume pedal, envelope filter, high-pass filter, or low-pass filter. 

Who invented this pedal?

The first of this type of pedal was issued in 1966 by the Thomas Organ Company, owned by the same parent company that made Vox amplifiers. It was not long before this effects pedal was popularized by players like Jimi Hendrix, Steve Vai, and those who play funk music. 



“The effect was developed on accident back in the 1960s by a guy named Bradley J. Plunkett, who was working for Warwick Electronics.” (source)

TIP: Electric guitars with a whammy bar provide an excellent counterpoint to enhance wah effects.



Lawrence Bonk
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