Towards the end of the 1960s, the guitar was a hugely popular instrument, but artists had taken the sounds it produced to the limits.
At the time, the different effects available to guitarists were restricted to tape delay, tremolo, spring reverb and finally fuzz.
Then in 1966, Brad Plunkett of the Thomas Organ Company created the prototype wah wah pedal.
Opening the door to a variety of different sounds, chances are that if you have been listening to any type of music over the past 40 to 50 years you will have heard its effect.
Artists ranging from Jimi Hendrix to Frank Zappa and Eric Clapton to Slash have taken advantage of the unique sounds that it produces.
The guitar effects pedal alters the tone of the signal to create a distinctive effect, intended to mimic the human voice. It sweeps the peak response of a filter up and down in frequency to create the sound also known as the wah effect.
It changed the way that musicians looked at making songs. It worked essentially as a filter, changing the acoustic cavity in which the sound resonates and blocking certain frequencies and letting others through.
“It started out as a rock deal with Hendrix, but before you know it you’ve got wah being used in R’nB, soul and finding it’s way into anything from jingles to movie soundtracks,” Art Thomson, senior editor at Guitar Player Magazine, said.
Following its introduction, the accessory improved the ability of artists to express themselves musically and has gradually woven its way into the fabric of modern pop-culture.
For many artists, the pedal’s ease of use, its dynamic, timeless and flexible nature means that it is an effective accessory that adds to a musician’s creative palette.
“This pedal is a pretty simple concept, but it just sounds so different the way that different people play it,” guitar player Dweezil Zappa concludes.
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