REVIEW: Jim Dunlop Buddy Guy Wah Wah

Dunlop seems to be going full tilt with the signature wah pedals lately – Dimebag Darrell, Slash, Zakk Wylde, Eddie Van Halen… and finally they’re honouring one of the originators of wah in a blues/rock setting, the great Buddy Guy.

Even at a glance, anyone familiar with Buddy would know this is his wah. It’s kitted out in the same white polka dot on black background as his signature Fender Stratocaster, and his signature is present in moulded form on the treadle. The finish of the pedal itself is very slick, thick and glossy, and looks like it would withstand a huge number of knocks and bumps before starting to show the even the faintest hint of wear. Normally stuff like that wouldn’t bother me on a pedal (I’m sure everyone has a banged-up Boss DS-1 or Crybaby under their bed, if not on their pedalboard), but in the case of the Buddy wah I’d like to preserve that neat polka dot finish for as long as possible.

Similar to the boost switch on the side of the Dimebag wah, there’s a small kick button on the right side of the pedal which allows you to go from the default “Deep” mode to the “BG” mode. There are LEDs on both sides of the pedal to let you know if the effect is engaged (blue) and if Buddy’s “BG” mode is selected (red).

Inside, the pedal features true bypass switching and a Fasel inductor. The inductor is the brain of a wah circuit, if you will, and tone hounds have long praised older Crybaby wahs which used a Fasel brand inductor, over later models which didn’t. In recent years the company has brought back this venerated component in many of its wahs, and it’s become a strong selling point.

Let’s kick the pedal into action and start with the “Deep” mode. The filter sweep of this mode includes a low pass range of 250Hz – 330Hz and a high pass range of 1.3kHz-1.6kHz (by comparison, the ZW-45 Zakk Wylde Signature Wah has a low pass range of 250Hz-350Hz and a high pass range of 1.4kHz-2.4kHz). This mode is very thick and deep sounding, with certain harmonic overtones located at about ¾ of the way through the pedal’s sweep which almost sound like they’re generating an additional octave above whatever note you’re playing. It’s a very addictive sound which works really well for single note riffs, and even better for low, gruff distorted rhythm guitar. On this sound alone a lot of people will be sold on this pedal. It also sounds particularly great when used ‘in reverse’ – that is, rocking the pedal from toe-down to heel-down over the course of a note, instead of the other way around.

In “BG” mode, the low pass range is 290Hz – 390Hz and the high pass range is 1.5kHz –1.9kHz. The result is a thinner, more trebly sound which seems to especially appreciate single coil pickups and cleaner tones. It’s closer to a traditional Crybaby voicing, but with more sparkle and less low end. In all honesty I would probably use the “Deep” mode more often than the “BG” mode, mainly because it seems to have a more distinctive character. That’s not to say that “BG” mode sounds bad, because it’s actually quite good, but it’s more standard-sounding. Then again, it’s nice to have both modes available in the one pedal, as there are certainly times when a more traditional wah sound is called for.

Purely on the strength of the “Deep” mode, the Buddy Guy Signature Wah would be a unique addition to the ever-growing stable of Dunlop wahs. The “BG” mode, though it’s really the featured mode of the pedal, is almost a straightforward option compared to the strength of the other mode, and you really do get two pedals in one: A hepped-up but more traditional wah, and the fat, funky “Deep” mode that you’ll have a hard time turning off. While I only had this wah for a few weeks for the purposes of review, I will definitely buy one soon to replace my tired old Crybaby.
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CLICK HERE to buy the Jim Dunlop BG-95 Buddy Guy Wah Pedal from Guitar Center.

CLICK HERE to see Dunlop Crybaby pedals on eBay.

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