Cry Baby Wah Wah PedalsBuying Guide

A guide to the best wah effects pedals on the market, from Dunlop and beyond.

The Cry Baby wah-wah pedal was originally marketed as an effect for trumpeters. If this sounds ridiculous, remember that in the ‘60s, when engineer Brad Plunkett of the Thomas Organ Company invented the wah-wah, the electric guitar and rock ‘n’ roll music were both still viewed with great skepticism by the old guard of the established music industry—assumed to be a passing fad.

That's why—even though Plunkett designed his wah pedal with guitarists in mind and trumpet players had already been using mutes to create wah-wah tones for decades—the suits at the Thomas Organ Company were convinced that the safest choice was to get superstar trumpeter Clyde McCoy to endorse the pedal and then market it to horn players.

Despite this retrospectively short-sighted marketing move, enterprising guitarists still managed to discover the wah-wah's enormous potential and before long, the Cry Baby was ubiquitous in rock, blues, and funk music. Clapton, Page, Hendrix, Curtis Mayfield, and others all made their own distinctive marks with the effect, helping cement its lofty place in history and culture, and eventually making it one of the most popular and best-selling guitar effects of all time.

Browse our Cry Baby Wah buying guide below to explore the best models on the market and find the perfect wah-wah pedal for you right here on Reverb.

Classic Dunlop Cry Baby Wahs

Even with the success from the explosion of the Cry Baby Wah among guitarists, by 1982 the Thomas Organ Company had managed to run itself out of business. Luckily, Jim Dunlop stepped in and acquired rights to manufacture the Cry Baby, releasing the now-classic GCB-95 Original Cry Baby wah.

The true renaissance of the wah-wah pedal—and the Cry Baby specifically—began when Dunlop took over manufacturing. As most guitarists are aware, Dunlop was not content with the same old Cry Baby, and immediately set about devising new models that featured a variety of upgrades for altering the voice, tone and sweep of the effect.

Check out the five most classic Dunlop Cry Baby Wah models below, plus the GCB95 Cry Baby Wah with the "Super Wah" mod from JHS.

Classic Cry Baby Wahs

Customized Artist Signature Cry Baby Wahs

Much in the same way that guitar brands partner with famous fans of their guitars for specialized signature models, so too has Dunlop partnered with wah-loving pedalheads for specialized versions of their own Cry Baby Wah pedals.

One of our favorites is the CM95 Clyde McCoy model below, which which derives its coolness from being a carefully considered modern recreation of the first-production wah pedal ever manufactured—it even gets its name from every guitarist's favorite trumpeter, Clyde McCoy.

More Artist Model Cry Baby Wahs

Multi-Function Wahs

As with other effect types, like delay and reverb, multi-function wah pedals have also risen in popularity over the years. Dunlop has created a line of Cry Baby Wahs that blend together additional effects (like an adjustable boost), multi-functionality (like the ability to be used as a volume pedal with the wah disengaged), and extra tone-shaping options.

One of the standouts is the classic 535Q Cry Baby, which Dunlop refers to as its "Swiss Army knife of wah pedals," giving players tons of extra-precise tone-shaping options to play around with. Check it and the other multi-mode pedals out below.

Multi-Function Cry Baby Wahs

Rack Unit Cry Baby Wahs

For the most serious wah enthusiasts among us, Dunlop has created rackmountable Cry Baby wah units. Not only is this great for the enthusiastic, but also for the tinkerer—these units give players unparalleled control over their tone-shaping.

If you've already toyed around with the 535Q and found it limiting, then the DCR-2SR Cry Baby Rack Module is the next step in the search for the ultimate Cry Baby Experience. Check that model out and more below.

Rack Unit Cry Baby Wahs

Auto, Bass, and Mini Wahs

Dunlop's expansion in its line of Cry Baby Wahs goes beyond just feature additions and signature chassis. There are also a variety of Cry Baby Wah pedals that are specifically made for bassists, so that the low-ends can get in on the modulated fun, too.

Dunlop has also recognized that a traditional Cry Baby pedal can be a major hog when it comes to pedalboard real estate, so the brand has addressed this with the release of some excellent miniature versions of its classic wah pedals.

If you're looking for even more of a standard-style chassis, you can check out the Crybaby Q-Zone which provides the same effects as other Crybaby pedals but redesigned for stability. It features the same tone controls as the 95Q but with knobs that aren't susceptible to movement when bumped to keep your settings stable.

Auto, Bass, and Mini Wahs

More Wah and Filter Inspiration

If you're not convinced you want to go with a Dunlop Cry Baby Wah model, there are plenty of other wahs and filters made by a slew of excellent big and boutique effects brands alike. Below, we've collected some of those other most popular wahs on Reverb that are definitely worth checking out.

And if you need some extra inspiration, check out this video of Reverb's Joe Shadid playing 50 classic wah-wah riffs in one take.

The Other Most Popular Wah Pedals on Reverb

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Editorial content by Jamie Wolfert

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