GUITAR EFFECTS Is this noise- and maintenance-free Korean whine box the new big way to add some baby-like vocals to your guitar tone, or should you hold on to your old Crybaby or Vox 847 wah?

Find out in this review!


Have a listen to the pedal in this test video. I focused entirely on demonstrating the actual sound of the pedal, rather than just filling it with guitar wankery, like the usual guitar demos seen on YouTube. And yeah, I did have the good taste of wearing socks as well. More guitar videos on my blip channel!

Wah-wah-what?

Whiner.
When it comes to guitar effects, wah (or wah-wah, if you will) is perhaps one of the more common types of modulation in Western contemporary music. On a clean or mildly driven amp, the weeping, vocal quality of the wah is known to deliver a rather funky 70's sound that goes perfectly hand in hand with a psychedelic batik shirt and an afro haircut.

Wah is not only about porn music, however. Most rock bands use it at some point, but metal gods like Michael Schenker and Zakk Wylde (see picture) are especially frequent whiners. The latter even has a signature Crybaby model of his own. As does Jimi Hendrix amongst many more.

Dunlop Crybaby, Vox 847 or Artec APW?

Followed by the cleaner, smoother sound of the Vox 847, Jim Dunlop's Cry baby is perhaps the most recognised wah out there. Especially in rock music, where its loud, gritty tone really comes in handy.

As with most things in life, there are options, however. From a Korean company called Artec, comes a modernised line of affordable wah effects with a lot of bells and whistles (literally) that your traditional whimper boxes usually don't come packed with.

I decided to give the APW-7 model a go, coming with the widest set of features. This pedal sent me back 59 Euros on Thomann.de. This was the same price the Vox 847 went for, while the standard Crybaby GCB95 was a tad pricier.

Artec APW-3 vs. APW-5 vs. APW-7

According to the Artec website, the APW-7 is a Mid-Low range enhanced traditional Inductor-Transistor type Wah pedal - if you can manage to wrap you head around that...

Range knob and AC power input

The APW-7 is the highest model of Artec's range of wah's, starting with the standard APW-3 coming with a AC input, and a "Range" knob letting you control the frequency range of the wah effect. This setting dictates how high the whine peaks when you suppress the pedal, ranging from a subtle moan to a high pitched whine.

Guitar/bass dual mode

The middle brother APW-5 adds a bass mode switch, which transforms the signal to a lower frequency better suited for bass guitars, supposed to make an additional wah for you bass guitar obsolete. Could be a useful feature if play both instruments, or if your band only has the budget to buy one pedal.

Whish mode

The APW-7 then adds another feature on top of that, called "whish", which does nothing but adding a squeal, or a "whistle", as Artec themselves like to call it. It's a completely artificial effect that is just slapped on, with no modulation of the actual guitar tone going on. You can literally put the guitar back in the stand and just wiggle you foot to add this squealing sound. It won't make any bit of difference what you play - or even IF you play or not.

No true bypass

Neither of these pedals are true bypass, meaning that they are actively bypassing the signal as soon as you connect the pedal to your effects chain. The power consumption is rather low though, at 14mA when active, and 12mA when bypassed. The AC input also has standard negative centre polarity, making it easy to hook up to any pedal powering unit.

Might as well get the cheapest one

So, is it worth the extra 14 Euros, stepping up from the APW-5 to the whishtastic APW-7? To most people, I'd say it probably isn't. And if don't plan on using it for bass guitar, then even the APW-3 would be just as good as both the higher models, which neither really bring anything useful to the table apart from what the APW-3 already has.

No scratchy pots...

Much like the tone or volume controls on your guitar, traditional wah pedals use a potentiometer ("pot"), to control the resistance which is a variable resistor used for rolling the effect on and off, either with a knob or a foot pedal. And similar to your tone pots, over time a wah pot tends to get scratchy as corrosion starts to build up, and from dust entering the unit. Most wah pedals therefore need to have the pot either cleaned or replaced, which could be a bit tricky to do. Artec's wah pedals, on the other hand, use something they like to call a MAGNETIC FIELD SENSING SYSTEM, which apparently makes them noise- and maintenance-free.

...But an awful sweep range

As good as it may sound, never to worry about scratchy pots, the sound Artec's wah delivers is not all perfect - far from it. Not sure what it is that does it, whether it's the magnetic sensors instead of a traditional potentiometer or something else, but whatever they've done it just doesn't work for a wah pedal.

A normal wah gradually sweeps from a low to higher frequency as the pedal is suppressed. Artec's wah instead starts at low and stays there until the pedal gets pushed about halfway down, at which point it more or less dips over to full pitch. A "twitch" or "hiccup" effect would be a better way to describe the Artec APW-7, than a wah.

Bottom line

Will probably have this thing replaced with something like a Vox wah or CryBaby instead... The Crybaby Classic is supposedly especially good, but also at a significantly higher price point.

Even something like the Behringer Hell Babe seems a lot more useful and even cheaper. It's even touch-sensitive (no toe switch that needs to be stomped, activates as soon as you start wiggling it), like the Morleys and the Crybaby 95Q for instance.

Hell Babe.

Thanks for reading this far! If you found this review helpful, feel free to pass it on! Cheers!

/theJo