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The Wah Pedal (Guitar Lesson)


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Brad Henecke

The Wah Pedal

In this lesson, Brad Henecke introduces the wah pedal and demonstrates its many applications.

Taught by Brad Henecke in Rock Guitar with Brad Henecke seriesLength: 15:53Difficulty: 1.5 of 5
Chapter 1: (03:39) Lesson Introduction Wah Pedal Overview

"Wah" or "Wah-wah" is an effect that enables guitarists to mimic the sounds of the human voice. Rocking a wah pedal back forth creates a sweep through various frequency ranges. Rocking the pedal forward accentuates the higher frequencies. The middle position keeps the tone relatively stable. However, the wah still colors the overall tone when it is set in the middle position. Rocking the wah back accentuates the lower frequencies.

Connecting the Wah Pedal

The wah pedal features familiar inputs and outputs that you have probably seen on other effects pedals. The signal running from the amplifier is plugged into the output jack. The signal travels from the wah to the guitar via the input jack. On the Dunlop Crybaby model, output and input are renamed "amplifier" and "instrument" respectively.

Amp Input Vs. Effects Loop

It is impossible to achieve the traditional wah sound by inserting a wah pedal into the effects loop. Instead, wah should be run directly through the input on the front of the amplifier. Connecting the wah in this manner will enable you to imitate the tones heard on your favorite recordings.

Signal Chain

Remember that the position of a pedal within the signal chain will have a slight effect on the overall tone produced. For example, a wah pedal produces slightly more bite when it is placed after a distortion or overdrive pedal. This tone may or may not be desirable to you. Experiment with the position of the wah in the signal chain to find the ideal tone for you.

Powering the Pedal

The wah pedal can be via powered via an ac adapter or a 9 volt battery. A wah pedal can also be powered by an external source such as the Dunlop Power Brick or the Vodoo Labs Pedal Power. Remember that effects pedals drain batteries in no time. Batteries are the most expensive power option in the long run. Using a battery can also generate some extra noise which may or may not be desirable.

Miscellaneous Tips

Many players attach a piece velcro to the bottom of the wah pedal to keep it from sliding around on the pedal board or floor. Kirk Hammett used to situate his wah pedal on a small rug to keep the rubber feet from sliding around. Unfortunately, putting a wah on carpet makes it more difficult to turn on and off.
Chapter 2: (01:07) The Wah Pedal On Dunlop style pedals, the on / off switch is located below the rocking pedal. Pushing the pedal all the way down engages it. Some wahs such as the Dunlop Crybaby 535Q feature LEDs that indicate whether the pedal is turned on or off. Morley wahs are turned off simply by rocking them all the way backwards. Many players find this feature to be extremely reliable and user friendly. Regardless of model or manufacturer, all wah pedals are easy to manipulate and turn on and off when playing in a standing position.
Chapter 3: (01:05) Wah Pedal Tricks Brad provides a demonstration of some A minor pentatonic licks played with the wah and distortion. The wah is not just limited to lead guitar applications. It can also be used as an effective rhythmic device. Listen as Brad plays some familiar power chord shapes with the wah. An excellent example of power chords played with wah occurs in the introduction section to "Down" by 311.
Chapter 4: (02:26) Wah Pedal and Clean Tone In many funk, R&B, rock, and blues songs, the wah is used in conjunction with left hand muting to create funky, syncopated grooves. Muting the strings with the left hand creates a percussive effect. Some guitarists refer to these percussive, syncopated grooves as "scratch" rhythms. These rhythm figures are typically performed with a clean tone. If the tone is too distorted, it ceases to be effective in this context. The wah is rocked to the forward position on the downbeat. It hits the back position on the "and" beat. Then, it travels forward for the next downbeat. Practice this rocking motion with any barre chord voicing.
Chapter 5: (02:23) More Wah Pedal Tricks In this scene, Brad presents a simple wah exercise that can be applied to rhythm playing. Rock the pedal using the method outlined under the previous scene.

You can also rock the way back and forth rapidly during a sustained chord to produce a wave-like tone. Brad demonstrates this idea with an "open" D chord at 01:24. Adjusting the speed of the rocking motion drastically affects the tone and the size of the wah wave.
Chapter 6: (02:39) Wah Pedal Tricks Like Brad demonstrates in this scene, holding the wah pedal in a fixed position can create a very distinct lead guitar sound. Listen as he plays some A minor pentatonic licks with the wah held in the middle position.

Also, try taking the opposite approach with the wah. Play a simple repeating lick while rocking the wah from high to low or vice versa.
Chapter 7: (00:42) Building a Note Dynamic intensity can be built with a single note or repeating figure such as a trill by slowly rocking the wah through its full range. Listen as Brad sweeps the wah from low to high while performing a trill.
Chapter 8: (01:47) Using the Wah on Each Note Brad sweeps the wah through its full range from low to high on each individual note within the pentatonic scale. This same technique can be applied to guitar solos. Shift the wah from one frequency to the next as you shift between notes in a lick.

Final Thoughts

These are by no means the only tricks that can be performed with a wah pedal. Experiment and have fun with your wah to come up with your own unique sounds. You never know what you may discover. Also, listen to how your favorite guitarists use the wah pedal. Imitate the sounds that you hear.

Links

Check out the following wah manufacturers' websites:

1. www.jimdunlop.com
2. www.morleypedals.com
3. www.voxamps.com
4. www.budda.com

Video Subtitles / Captions





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Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.


2006Telecaster2006Telecaster replied on August 29th, 2012

The shoeless sock is so bedroom.

123zxc123zxc replied on February 23rd, 2011

thannnnnnnnnnnkkkkksssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

henry krinklehenry krinkle replied on February 23rd, 2010

When are you returning Brad?

martymaymartymay replied on October 23rd, 2009

AWESOME! I love it !

joel13joel13 replied on October 5th, 2009

now i really want a wah wah pedal!

dlc53dlc53 replied on September 9th, 2009

Hi,hey 2 days with your lessons and learned more than years i've learned on my own.This wah lesson was great thing you can minick alot of the other pedal effects with this, can you compine it with delay?

Brad.HeneckeBrad.Henecke replied on September 9th, 2009

yes add some delay i do it quite alot

caseharr33caseharr33 replied on April 19th, 2009

Really enjoyed this lesson, the other night went to the bar to watch this local band and I was just amazed by his wah playing and this lesson makes it all clear on what he was doing, can't wait til I'm good enough to get me one.

SylviaSylvia replied on April 7th, 2009

Wow Brad! You are getting downright skinny. Lookin good my friend! Great lesson too!

Brad.HeneckeBrad.Henecke replied on April 12th, 2009

Thanks !

jboothjbooth replied on April 8th, 2009

He's looking so good, it's AWESOME!

ronin808ronin808 replied on April 7th, 2009

Dude I have a crybaby wah getting dropped off on wednesday!! great timing with this lesson. I cant wait till I can use the wah when I'm improvising on my solos.

Brad.HeneckeBrad.Henecke replied on April 12th, 2009

I'm glad you are excited about the crybaby coming there will be some more lessons on effects .just got to get time to record more .

hendoe30hendoe30 replied on April 12th, 2009

That was awesome Brad. I had seen people on youtube talk about wah peds but not that in depth. Reminds me of "Yankee Rose".

dewin32dewin32 replied on April 11th, 2009

Cool, I like the sound of your crybaby, I've just ordered myself a Dunlop Classic crybaby GCB95F, the one with the Fasel inductor in it. Can't wait for it to arrive!

snowdadsnowdad replied on April 7th, 2009

Brad, great lesson! I have been wanting to learn to use the wah pedal. Thanks.

Rock Guitar with Brad Henecke

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

In this Phase 2 series Brad Henecke will school you in the art of rock guitar. You will not only learn how to play some of your favorite songs in this series, but you will also learn how to create your own.



Lesson 1

Basic Rock Guitar

This lesson covers the absolute basics of rock guitar. Learn about the electric guitar, pickups, amplifiers, changing strings, and more.

Length: 52:09 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 2

Learning Chords

The first step of your rock guitar experience is learning some of the more popular chords and that is what this lesson is all about.

Length: 42:30 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 3

Barre Chords and More

Brad Henecke introduces common strumming patterns and barre chords.

Length: 42:23 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 4

Your First Song

In this lesson Brad covers some of the more advanced barre chord shapes. He applies these shapes to the song "Hotel California."

Length: 41:31 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 5

Blues and Scales

Rock has its roots in the blues. Brad helps you explore the wonderful world of blues in this lesson. He also covers some chord theory.

Length: 48:14 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 6

Tricks and Lead

This lesson is all about specific techniques used by lead guitarists.

Length: 52:02 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 7

Jammin' with Scales

This lesson details how to improvise with the blues scale.

Length: 27:27 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 8

3 Songs

In this fun lesson, Brad Henecke teaches you riffs from 3 classic rock songs.

Length: 28:28 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 9

Power Chords

Power chords help give rock music that "punch you in the face" feel. Learn basic power chords in this lesson.

Length: 13:22 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 10

2 New Songs

Are you ready to learn "Ain't Talking About Love" by Van Halen and "You Shook Me All Night Long" by AC/DC? That's what this lesson is all about.

Length: 27:32 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 11

Pentatonic Scale

Brad teaches the first pattern of the minor pentatonic scale and explains how it relates to the blues scale.

Length: 14:30 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 12

Second Pattern

Brad covers the second pattern for both the minor blues and minor pentatonic scales.

Length: 9:07 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 13

Message in a Bottle

Learn the classic rock song "Message in a Bottle."

Length: 10:22 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 14

Third Pattern

This great lesson covers the 3rd fretboard pattern of the minor pentatonic and minor blues scales.

Length: 7:19 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 15

Colorful Chord Tension

Brad demonstrates how open strings can be added to chord shapes you are already familiar with.

Length: 9:09 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 16

The Fourth Pattern

Brad covers the fourth pattern of the minor pentatonic and minor blues scales.

Length: 8:28 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 17

Daytripper

In this lesson Brad demonstrates how to play the Beatles song "Daytripper."

Length: 15:21 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 18

The Fifth Pattern

Brad demonstrates the 5th pattern of the minor pentatonic and minor blues scales. He also discusses practicing and memorizing them.

Length: 13:05 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 19

"Brown Eyed Girl"

Learn the classic rock song "Brown Eyed Girl" in this episode of Rock Guitar.

Length: 11:23 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 20

Phrasing

Brad introduces you to the importance of phrasing. Quality phrasing is essential when performing any melodic line.

Length: 14:19 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 21

Basics of Tapping

Tapping is an idiomatic guitar technique that offers a unique sound.

Length: 14:34 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 22

Intro to Modes

Learning the modes is essential to the development of your scale vocabulary.

Length: 31:04 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 23

Understanding Chord Shapes

Brad further explains what chord shapes are and how they relate to barre chords.

Length: 10:15 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 24

Natural Harmonics

Learn the right and left hand mechanics involved in playing harmonics.

Length: 13:16 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 25

Advanced Harmonics

Brad covers more advanced harmonic techniques such as harp harmonics, pinch harmonics and tap harmonics.

Length: 16:10 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 26

The Dorian Mode

Brad moves on in his modal lesson series to explain the Dorian mode. This lesson includes 2 backing tracks.

Length: 22:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 27

Phrygian Mode

Brad explains and demonstrates the Phrygian mode.

Length: 13:33 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 28

The Lydian Mode

Brad continues his discussion of the modes. You will learn the Lydian mode in this lesson.

Length: 9:27 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 29

Mixolydian Mode

Brad explains the Mixolydian mode and its practical applications.

Length: 10:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 30

The Aeolian Mode

Continuing with his modal lessons, Brad Henecke teaches the Aeolian mode.

Length: 9:09 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 31

The Locrian Mode

The final lesson in our modal series covers the Locrian mode.

Length: 9:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 32

The Ace Zone

Brad teaches some licks inspired by Ace Frehley of KISS. Incorporate these licks into your own solos.

Length: 7:18 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 33

Learn Licks

In this lesson Brad Henecke teaches you some fun licks that can be used in your own guitar solos.

Length: 10:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 34

Blues Licks

Brad Henecke demonstrates some cool blues licks.

Length: 17:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 35

Modes and Scales

Brad Henecke provides an alternate way of comparing modes and scales.

Length: 8:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 36

A Different View

In the last lesson, Brad Henecke compared some scales that are major or dominant in quality. Now, he repeats this process with minor scales.

Length: 7:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 37

One String Scales

This lesson is all about 1 string scales. Learning scales on 1 string is essential to your knowledge of the fretboard.

Length: 8:34 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 38

One String Ionian Mode

Brad demonstrates a one string version of the Ionian mode. This lesson demonstrates the importance of horizontal scales.

Length: 7:27 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 39

Aeolian Mode on One String

Brad continues his discussion of single string scales. He explains how to play the Aeolian mode across a single string.

Length: 4:11 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 40

Octave Scales

Brad explains how to locate octaves within scale patterns. He demonstrates a cool lick that involves playing simultaneous octaves.

Length: 7:07 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 41

Using Octaves

Brad explains how to use octaves in the context of an exercise. Octaves can also be used to build effective licks.

Length: 5:18 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 42

Harmonic Minor Scale

Brad introduces the harmonic minor scale. He explains how it can be applied to the solo break in "Sweet Child O' Mine."

Length: 7:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 43

Learning by Ear

Brad Henecke provides valuable tips regarding the process of learning songs by ear.

Length: 23:00 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 44

Ear Training Game

Improve your ear training by playing "The Tone Is Right" with Brad Henecke.

Length: 29:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 45

Diminished Arpeggio

Brad Henecke explains diminished chords and provides a fun diminished arpeggio exercise.

Length: 19:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 46

Understanding Time Signatures

Brad Henecke addresses time signatures.

Length: 10:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 47

Diminished Chords

Brad Henecke explains the construction of diminished seventh chords. He also provides a diminished chord exercise.

Length: 10:30 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 48

Open G Tuning

Brad Henecke introduces open G tuning in this lesson.

Length: 23:50 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 49

Drop D Tuning

Brad Henecke introduces drop D tuning in this lesson. He explains many advantages of this tuning.

Length: 12:57 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 50

G Major Pentatonic

Brad Henecke teaches the G major pentatonic scale. He demonstrates all 5 patterns and explains how they can be transposed to any key.

Length: 22:50 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 51

Changing Scales with Chords

In this lesson Brad Henecke talks about changing the pentatonic/blues scales with each chord in a chord progression.

Length: 11:08 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 52

Mixolydian Scale and Chords

Brad will show how to use the Mixolydian scale with a blues chord progression.

Length: 6:56 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 53

Gear and Effects

This lesson is all about gear and effects. Brad begins his discussion with power conditioning and removing hiss from your amplifier. He progresses to discuss a plethora of effects pedals. Brad explores...

Length: 52:48 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 54

The Wah Pedal

In this lesson, Brad Henecke introduces the wah pedal and demonstrates its many applications.

Length: 15:53 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only

About Brad Henecke View Full Biography Brad Henecke was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on May 5th of 1963. He has been a fan of music for as long as he & his family can remember. You could always find him running around the farm wailing on his cardboard guitar, pretending to be a member of the rock band KISS. Additional inspiration came during his first concert when he got the chance to see Boston & Sammy Hagar in the early 1970's.

This opened up a whole new world of rock and roll music for him; his parents noticed his growing interest in music and enrolled him into guitar lessons when he was 13.

From there he jumped into two years of lessons at a local music store in Cedar Rapids. After discovering Eddie Van Halen, Brad knew that the guitar would always be a part of his life. He took his love throughout the city as he played as a pit musician & jammed at parties for friends.

This made him thirsty for more. He enrolled classes at Kirkwood Community College & also took lessons from the one & only Craig-Erickson (www.craig-erickson.com).

His love for music landed him a gig opening for Molly Hatchet in Cedar Rapids with a band called "Slap & Tickle". He has also played in the Greeley Stampede show for quite a few years with "True North".

Brad is currently playing in Greeley, Colorado with a rock band titled "Ragged Doll". They play a wide variety of music with an emphasis on classic rock from the 60's to present, with Brad playing electric guitar in the five piece lineup.

He currently jams on his all-time favorite guitar: a Paul Reed Smith Custom 24. Beyond guitar, he plays also plays drums & bass guitar. He has also been known to thrash a banjo from time to time. He is still actively playing & passing his 31 years of playing experience on to others (you!).

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