REVIEW: Jim Dunlop JH-1B Jimi Hendrix Signature Wah Wah
Another in Jim Dunlop’s expanding range of signature wah wah pedals, the JH-1B Jimi Hendrix Signature Wah Wah takes the place of the company’s previous Jimi Hendrix model, which debuted in the 90s and was used extensively by Jerry Cantrell of Alice In Chains (as well as Frankie, the rhythm guitarist in my first band, and maaaaan was I jealous). The new version is much more faithful to the original style of wah wah pedal Hendrix used.
Although he changed his gear regularly, one of Jimi’s mainstays was a pedal designed by the Thomas Organ Company and manufactured by JEN in Italy. While the previous Jimi model was visually reminiscent of the standard GCB-95 model Crybaby, the new version has a chrome pedal and a thick and hardy black crinkle finish which visually align it with its ancestors. It feels very heavy and study compared to my old and battered 90s GCB-95.
Battery access is through a compartment in the bottom of the pedal, which is a nice touch compared to the old “unscrew the pedal’s feet with your fingers” battery access method of some other versions over the years. You can also use a 9 volt power supply, which is not provided.
Like the previous Jimi Hendrix model, this one has a lower frequency range than a standard Crybaby. The low pass range is 290Hz – 310Hz, and the high pass range is 1400Hz –1510Hz. The overall effect is a general darkness compared to what we normally think of as a standard wah tone. This is especially good for Strat players like Jimi who want the funky quack of a wah wah pedal but need to keep the high end from becoming too shrill when using the already treble-accentuating bridge pickup. Rumour has it that Jimi achieved this sound by simply taking his wah apart and moving the potentiometer with his fingers so it wouldn’t be able to travel to the top of its range. The new Signature Wah takes the unpredictability of this method out of the equation.
The sound of this wah is instantly recognizable. With single coils and low gain levels on my 50 watt Marshall head it totally nails the “Voodoo Child” sound. The tone is resonant without being too coloured by overtones, and there is a lot of subtletly within the wah’s range. It works best for the cleaner end of the spectrum, losing some of its identity at mega gain levels.
This is a very cool pedal and while it’s limited in the sense that it doesn’t have several modes and extra bells and whistles to allow personalized tone shaping, it gets back to the heart of what wah wah pedals are all about.