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Sometime I wish that I can hear my guitar signal without any interference, loading or buffering that usually comes with pedals in between.
This is because listening to my sounds as they are is usually more pleasant to me.
This is why most time I always go for wah pedals with true bypass.
Now before you say anything, let me say that having a true bypass with your wah pedals or any guitar pedals is really important.
While some people may have other opinions and dispute the fact that true bypass usually has it’s own issues, there are some advantages to be had using a wah pedal that comes equipped with it’s own true bypass.
But choosing a pedal with a true bypass can be a bit confusing.
There are a lot of things that you need to check out and be aware of before you make a purchase.
In this article, we will be looking at what a true bypass is, how to pick the best wah pedal with a true bypass and how to take care of your new purchase making sure you get the best out of your new purchase.
What is a true bypass and what are the advantages?
Before we look at some of the best wah pedals with true bypass, we need to understand what it means for a pedal to have true bypass and the advantages.
Simply put, true bypass can be thought of as a straight wire that is usually connected from the input to the output of a pedal.
What this means is that when the pedal is off (in bypass mode), the guitar signal goes straight from the guitar to the amplifier without any external interference or buffer
Basically a true bypass helps connect your instrument directly to your amplifier, as such bypasses all the effects circuits so the original tone of your instrument is maintained.
This is very important for people like me who want to be able to hear my sounds just as it sounds without any interference.
The simplest way to check if a pedal has true bypass is to disconnect the pedal and then see if the signal passes through when the effect is off.
Things to note about true bypass
The one question I hear from a lot of people is this; if true bypass pedals sound so much better, then why aren’t all pedals true bypass.
The simple truth is that it is not as easy as it sounds
Here is a simple answer
In theory true bypass pedals are awesome but in practice there are some complications that arise.
One of such is noise switching
Noise switching is a situation that occurs when you are playing with a very high gain or using distorted amps.
So what happens is that most of these pedals are buffered
A buffer is sort of a preamplifier that is used where a power source is used.
So when you turn off your pedal, you have a popping transient sound that can be very loud.
This is simply the switching noise at play
So what is the solution?
Basically it all comes down to choices and the ones you are comfortable making.
Personally I prefer going with a wah pedal that has a true bypass as this is much easier for me and I get to hear my sounds unaltered.
At the end of the day, it all boils down to you and your personal choices.
Things to consider before buying a wah pedal with true bypass?
Aside from the fact that the pedal should have a true bypass (which I showed you how to check for it above), there are some other things you need to consider.
1. How reliable is it?
Wah pedals are mechanical devices that work by shifting the position of a potentiometer with your foot.
As such they tend to get rusty and stop working over time.
So basically you want something that is created with a good casing and material that does not break or damage easily.
A good metal casing will ensure that it lasts for a long time.
2. What is the sweet spot?
Next you want to make sure the wah pedal you get is in the range of the “sweet spot”
By “sweet spot” I mean that particular sound that you get between two harsh extremes of very bassy/muddy and very trebly/harsh
3. Is it optical or mechanically controlled?
Optically controlled wah pedals means that it is controlled without the means of a mechanical device such as a potentiometer and switches.
This means that there is usually no wear or tear with optically controlled pedals
While it may seem like optically controlled pedals are much better than mechanical ones, it also has it’s own disadvantages.
Optically controlled pedals are usually very difficult to repair when they have a fault.
Our Top 5 Wah Pedal With True Bypass
1. Dunlop 535Q Cry Baby Multi-Wah
This is one of the most popular and very common wah pedals with a true bypass.
Made by the well known and very popular company, Dunlop, it provides control over the most important wah parameters.
With this pedal, you have the ability to select the frequency center and the range effect that you want.
It has an adjustable, switchable boost that helps increase the gain as and when needed.
It is powered by a Dunlop AC adapter or a single 9 volt battery which makes it very easy to use even in areas where there is no electricity.
It has 6 unique guitar ranges and has a “Q” dial which helps you shape your wah from a narrow, sharp wah to a subtle broad wah sound.
It has a variable boost that can go from 0 to +26 dB which helps in ensuring that you have that wah sound you require.
It has a hard wire on/off switch which helps in turning off and on the unit.
1. It is very versatile with lots of adjustment knobs
2. It has a great battery life
3. It is well built and very portable
1. The filter sweep range is a bit confusing
2. MXR MC404 Dual Inductor Wah
This is a wah pedal that allows you select between a yellow or red fasel inductor for two distinct tones.
It has a unique custom designed potentiometer with very low noise quality that helps you adjust and switch the pedal.
It has a gain switch with kick switch and LED indicator that allows you see your settings while adjusting the gain.
It is designed to be compatible with low noise amplifiers making it ideal to use as part of your guitar rig.
It has bright LED indicators that show that effect status and the boost on and off mode.
This is a wah pedal with true bypass that is made from quality material built to last and very portable.
1. Super bright LED indicators lights
2. It has a nice analog sound with low noise
3. It is well built and designed
1. It needs to be carefully handles because the parts are a bit fragile
3. Morley VAI-2 Contour Wah
This is one awesome wah pedal that is made outside the Dunlop family.
It has no switch which makes it very easy to step on it to engage the wah mode and step off to go back to bass.
It has two wah modes, the Bad Horsie and Contour Wah, which can be easily selected using your foot.
It comes equipped with two knobs which makes it very easy to tweak the level and the frequency of the wah sound.
It has a clear tone buffer circuit which ensures that your guitar tone remains pure and unaltered. It also makes sure that the signal level in the bypass and wah mode remains the same.
It has a very easy battery access compartment and comes with LED indicators for easy tweaking your settings.
1. It is fun and very precise to use
2. It has a great and innovative design
3. It has superb flexibility and it is very versatile
1. You will need to get an adapter as it consumes battery quickly
4. Fulltone Clyde Deluxe Wah Pedal
This is a 3 way mode switch wah pedal that has variable input control for getting almost any wah sound you want.
It is a true bypass wah pedal which has LED indicators for easily tweaking your settings.
It has 3 selectable modes; the Wacked, Jimi and Shaft mode that gives you the chance to get that unique wah sound that you like.
With this pedal you can be sure of going from old classic funky sounds to the down and gritty hard rock sounds.
1. It has a great wah sound which is very pleasing
2. It has intuitive controls which are very easy to use
3. It has a great finish with a very nice design
1. It is a bit heavy and has some noise which is good for rock music
5. BBE WAH Class A Vintage 1967 Wah Pedal
This is a vintage pedal that delivers awesome wah sounds when used.
It has a unique halo indicator which helps to enhance the vocal like qualities. The halo indicator also helps you to recreate famous guitarists sounds such as Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton.
It’s unique potentiometer was designed for the ultimate dynamic sweep response which helps in ensuring that you get awesome sounds.
It has a harmony control which helps you tweak and customize your own wah sound easily
It’s components are all hand wired giving you that vintage and authentic quality
It has an On/Off LED indicator which helps in indicating when the pedal is on or off
It’s true bypass is truly awesome as it gives a clean signal path when the effect is bypassed.
1. It is a great option for that classic sound
2. It has vintage and a very smooth sound
3. It is very flexible and versatile
1. It’s parts are a bit fragile and can break easily
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is a true bypass? A true bypass is simply when the pedal is switched off (in bypass mode) which allows your guitar signal to be routed directly to your amplifier without any interference. This allows you retain the original sound of your guitar.
- Are all BOSS pedals buffered? The simple answer is Yes. This is because the buffer helps to electronically strengthen the weak signal making it run over long cables without any tone degradation.
- How do you hook up a guitar pedal? Hooking up your wah guitar pedal is quite easy. Here are the steps to follow
- Make sure everything is switched off
- Connect your amplifier and the pedal to your power source
- Next connect your guitar to the input jack
- Connect the output jack on the pedal to the input of the amplifier
- Switch on the amplifier and then set your levels correctly
- Turn down the effects knob and then switch it on
- What is a loop switcher? A loop switcher is simply an equipment that controls the effect loops used by guitarists. They work by providing a number of effects loops which can contain one or more loops.
- What are the pedals in a guitar? Guitar pedals, also called effects or stomp boxes are small electronic units which helps to alter your guitar tones. They can be used to produce effects such as flanger, tremolo, reverb and chorus.
Choosing a wah pedal with true bypass is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
With this feature you are sure of hearing your original guitar tone without any interference.
This will ensure that your sounds are clean and liked by your audience.
All the pedals in this list were well selected and meet all the criteria for a good wah pedal.
Are there any I may have forgotten? Leave them in the comment box below.