Hey wah fans! Craig here!
I have to admit, I actually prefer a good wah pedal for these types of tones, but a good auto wah does have it's place sometimes. Over the years, I have tried a bunch of different auto wahs, thanks to my friend Brian that has access to just about all of them (he's got the best job!).
After trying a bunch of these pedals, I am seeing how these actually do have their place - I even have one permanently in my board now!
If you are looking for one yourself, here are what I consider to be some of the best auto wahs on the market today.
Or....let's get into the reviews!
Boss AW-3 Dynamic Wah
When I played the Boss AW-3 Dynamic Wah, I was pleasantly surprised at the advancements that were made.
- Can be used for both guitar and bass. Previously, the Boss AW-3 Dynamic Wah was regarded asore of a guitar pedal. The newest version is designed for use by both guitarists and bassists. There is even a separate input on the side depending on which instrument you want to use. Both inputs are 1/4″.
- Cool versatile feature - This pedal is a little different than other in that you can program it to use auto wah and put it in a fixed position. If you want to control the filter, manually you can just attach an expression pedal and control it that way. The options are limitless. The auto wah can be altered using a tempo control.
- Humanizer feature - One of the coolest features on the AW-3 is the “Humanizer.” This effect can give your guitar or bass a vocal-sounding effect. The formant filter on this is very useful and there is a broad range of dynamic possibilities. There are two different knobs for vowel sounds on the Humanizer function. The new Boss pedals are also more durable than their ancestors. The AW-3 is definitely built to last. I recommend getting an expression pedal to help control the pedal in real time if you are going to be playing it live.
- While I did not notice this, I have heard other guitarists say that this seemed to suck a lot of lows out of your tone. Not something I experienced but I thought I should mention it.
Joyo JF-322 Wow Auto Wah
They are great pedals for guitarists that are looking to add to their sound on a budget.
- Not too harsh – A lot of auto wahs can be a bit brittle or harsh. This is something that the company avoided in the Joyo JF-322 Wow Wah Auto Wah. The pedal is a much more subtle auto wah than many of its counterparts. It decorates the sound instead of completely taking it over.
- Low Price – Not everyone can afford to drop hundreds of dollars on an auto wah. Joyo is a company that makes great products for these people that want to experiment with new sounds. They are also great for beginners to work with a wah.
- Cover Design – There is a cover that flips over the pedal when you have dialed in your sound. The pedal will protect all four knobs and prevent them from becoming unknowingly adjusted. The four knobs on the pedal are sensitivity, bias, resonance, and decay.
- This pedal does a great job of adding a subtle envelope filter to their sound. It would be a great pedal for a beginner taking their first foray into funk guitar. It is powered via a 9V power adapter and has 1/4″ in and out jacks.
- I would say that the build quality may be a little low, but for the price, it is still a good deal.
Mooer MFT2 Funky Monkey Auto Wah
Its small size and powerful performance are some of the things that impressed me a lot.
- Very easy to use. Its control knobs are well-positioned and easily accessible. Setting any mode is as easy and similar as it is with other typical wah pedals.
- Small size. I love that this takes up hardly any space in my pedal board.
- Well-built to survive serious stomping for a very long time.
- The Mooer MFT2 Funky Monkey is not that great when set to the higher rates and ranges and lacks a little bit of the bottom end because it sounds a little bit whooshy, but it is great in the mid ranges. This pedal has Hi, Mid, and Low control knobs that are packed with awesome effects.
Xvive® Auto Wah Bass Guitar Effects Pedal Envelope Filter
Very compact and looks and sounds great too!
- Super compact. Takes just a small amount of space in your pedal board leaving room for a lot more!
- Can be used with both a guitar and bass.
- Can recreate a wide variety of different wah tones - twangy, funky, and whatever else you need.
- While not necessarily all bad, this pedal (at least in my opinion) is geared more towards new guitarists. But the plus side on this is that the price is amazing.
Mad Professor MAD-SWAW
This is something that the Grateful Dead’s legendary guitarist, Jerry Garcia, used a lot to shape his iconic tone.
- The pedal is easy to control. There are only four knobs. Each of them is very dynamic and has a noticeable effect on tone. My favorite knob is the “Bias” knob. It decides the frequency of the resonance. I got some really quacky filter envelope sounds when I dialed this parameter in.
- The pedal is not cumbersome at all. This makes it very useful in a live setting. I think that, for its size and its price, it’s the best auto wah pedal that I’ve ever played.
- It looks cool! Sure, not a huge feature as far as tone is concerned but I love the look of it!
- Price - it is definitely a higher investment, but I would say that it is still worth the price.
And The Winner Is...
I don't know of any guitarist that has never owned a BOSS pedal - and I know a ton of guitarists!
BOSS pedals are solidly build and have a great reputation....the AW-3 included. Rugged, built to last and ready to take abuse.
The tones I got from this opened up a whole new realm for me. I freakin' love this pedal!
Nothing wrong with the price either!
Boss AW-3 Dynamic Wah
Top Auto Wah Pedals Comparison Chart
|Joyo JF-322 Wow Wah Auto Wah Electric Guitar Single Effect||Excellent pedal at a low price!|
|Boss AW-3 Dynamic Wah||You can never go wrong with a BOSS effect.|
|Mooer MFT2 Funky Monkey Auto Wah Guitar Filter Effect Pedal||Small, but powerful tone.|
|Xvive Auto Wah Bass Guitar Effects Pedal Envelope Filter - Singing Autowah V17||Another great addition to your pedalboard.|
|Mad Professor MAD-SWAW Guitar Wah Effects Pedal||Jerry Garcia's auto wah choice.|
How Does An Auto Wah Pedal Pedal Work?
Ever wondered how a guitar makes that sound? Or how does an auto wah pedal work? Despite the name, it is not actually a pedal at all, but a component that reproduces the same effect that a wah pedal would make. Other than that, it produces very close to the same sound that a manual pedal would.
They are a little different for the sound achieved from playing an instrument. The sound is in the science. The auto wah pedal has the unique ability of being totally independent from human interaction and, because of this, can be used to make sounds that a manual pedal can not. The effect is not controlled by the musician moving their foot, but the volume of the input from the instrument. Then it proceeds to alter the frequencies to cut and distort the tone. This produces the infatuating hums and intoxicating tones that bands like to use.
Most pedals use an envelope detector to produce the amount of frequency needed and then use a cutoff to sweep out the unwanted frequency. Some pedals use a different method by using a low frequency oscillator to constantly change the effect. The difference is an ever responding sound that will always have a unique appeal.
Most wah pedals are laid out, basically, the same way. They have a couple knobs to change the effects sound. One is a sensitivity knob to adjust the input level to match the output expected. Another, is the control for the initial cutoff point of the noise. Along with that, is the the depth control knob for the filter sweep. Some more expensive models have other optional knobs to go with these, but those three are the standard knobs.
Hopefully this can help to educate some on what exactly they would want to start looking for in the future.