Hands-On Review:Voodoo Lab Wahzoo
A trio of outstanding wahs in one pedal
By Ara Ajizian,
Musician’s Friend Staff Writer
Few effects pedals have made as big an impact on music as the legendary wah-wah. From the opening riff of Jimi’s "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" to decades of funk and countless rock and metal solos by the likes of Slash, Kirk Hammett, John Frusciante, Mike McCready, and many others, the wah effect has found its way into every style of music. Knowing that the world already has more than enough wah pedals, the folks at Voodoo Lab created the Wahzoo, which combines three killer wah effects into one rugged, musical pedal. With its Vintage, Autowah, and Stepwah™ modes, the Wahzoo might be the last wah pedal you’ll ever have to buy.
Vintage vocal tone
As I mentioned before, there is no shortage of wah pedals on the market. Over decades there have been countless signature models of the most popular wahs, boutique brands that pop up and create their own wahs, and constant tweaks to make each one better than those that came before. However, despite all these modern marvels, the original wah stands out as the Holy Grail—the Italian-made, ’60s-era VOX Clyde McCoy Signature Wah-Wah.
What made the Clyde McCoy’s sound so legendary continues to be debated to this day, but the why is easy: it was an incredibly musical and responsive pedal. The Wahzoo replicates this vintage goodness to an impressive degree, both in its tone and in the way it responds. As a bonus, the treadle is adjustable via an internal trim pot, so you can customize the sound to your liking, opening up the high-end for an edgier sound or beefing up the lower end of the pedal’s range for a darker overall feel. This is ideal for matching the Wahzoo’s tone to your specific amp and/or pickups.
The vintage voicing of the Wahzoo carries over to its robust Autowah mode, complete with a sensitivity knob that allows you to create all sorts of funky effects that respond to your playing and pickups. With the heel down on the treadle, you get a standard filter that’s perfect for Hendrix-y riffing and chordal lead work. With the toe down, the envelope filter reverses, delivering an effect that’s great for single-note runs and leads.
There are no rules when it comes to this pedal, so there’s lots of variation to be found among settings or by rocking the pedal back and forth while you play. In fact, that’s one thing I’d strongly recommend if you pick up a Wahzoo—experiment! It’s always great to get hold of a pedal like the Wahzoo that encourages your creativity instead of boxing you in with just a few tones.
As a testament to this, I tried the Wahzoo with my bass and got stellar results, particularly with my fuzz pedal engaged. Whether it was the overdriven outro bass riff of Rage Against the Machine’s "Know Your Enemy" or copping Flea’s bass line from "Sir Psycho Sexy," the Autowah performed brilliantly and didn’t compromise my tone.
Step it up
The most versatile setting on the Wahzoo is its programmable Stepwah mode. It comes with four built-in patterns to get you started, and from there it’s a fairly easy process to create your own and save them in the four preset positions. The manual is well written and guides you clearly through the ins and outs of creating your own patterns, each of which can have up to 28 steps! Once engaged, rocking the treadle back and forth controls the speed of any pattern.
Stepwah mode is ideal for foot-free operation, so players who sing will undoubtedly love it. I’m perfectly capable of playing and singing, but add in effects that need my attention and I can get discombobulated pretty easily. It was nice being able to program a pattern for a song, knowing that as soon as the effect was engaged, I could focus on my performance.
Adding to the Stepwah’s power is its tap tempo function using an external switch. It’s perfect for syncing your patterns to the tempo of a tune, especially if you’re in the studio and need the timing to be perfect.
Wah-tever you want
The Wahzoo’s incredible versatility and vintage voicing make it a standout among its peers. For starters, it’s full of highly sought-after, classic tone and response that carry over to a killer autowah effect as well as the incredibly rich, programmable Stepwah mode. Factor in lots of extras like external footswitch capability for tap tempo and mode switching, true bypass via gold contact relay, an all-analog signal path, and rugged construction, and you’ve got a pedal that’s worth a lot more than its price tag would suggest.
I should also point out that the Wahzoo takes on a whole new life when you incorporate it with other effects, particularly modulations. It’s a pedal that will definitely revolutionize the way you think about the wah-wah effect, leading you down new creative paths with its power and functionality.
Features & Specs:
- Classic Clyde McCoy tone
- Autowah and programmable Stepwah modes
- Stepwah mode with up to 28 positions
- Adjustable treadle toe position
- Normal and reverse envelope
- Fast, responsive tracking
- Stores 4 user-programmable sequences
- Treadle sets a wide range of tempos in Stepwah mode
- External tap tempo, plus treadle sets quarter, eighths, or triplets
- True bypass switching via nitrogen-sealed gold relay