Frank's Wah Wah Pedal

The most zappaesque effect is the wah-wah pedal (Vox or Cry-Baby)
Zappa admitted to being "real fussy about equalization." and he used his wah-wah pedal more as an equalizer than a dynamic device. "Very seldom do I just step on it on the heat like on the old Clapton records where he goes wacka-wacka-wacka," he told Rosen. "Usually what I do is shape the notes for phrasing with it, and the motion of the pedal itself is very slight. I try to find one center notch that's going to emphasize certain harmonics, and ride it right in that area. As a matter of fact, I think I was one of the first people to use wah-wah. I'd never even heard of Jimi Hendrix at the time I bought mine. I had used wah-wah on the clavinet, guitar, and saxophone when we were doing We're Only In It For The Money in '67, and that was just before I met Hendrix."                        

Zappa  used it in very personal ways (for example, with an alto sax). I think that his wah phrasing is more interesting than the stuff played by Hendrix or Clapton, who applied it on a more mechanical way, jumping over the rythm. Zappa tended to use it as some kind of equalization pedal, searching new tones and articulating the melodies in a very fluid and exciting way. Listen to "Willie the Pimp" and "Inca Roads"Napoleon Murphy Brock played a saxophone amplified through a wah-wah pedal in the Frank Zappa movie The Dub Room Special, as well as on some of Zappa's albums

The first wah pedal was created by Brad Plunkett at Warwick Electronics Inc./Thomas Organ Company in November 1966. This pedal is the original prototype made from a transistorized MRB (mid-range boost) potentiometer bread-boarded circuit and the housing of a Vox Continental Organ volume pedal. The concept, however, was not totally new. Country guitar virtuoso Chet Atkins had used a similar, self-designed device on his late 1950s recordings of "Hot Toddy" and "Slinkey".
Frank's Wah Wah Pedal Frank's Wah Wah Pedal Reviewed by frank zappa newspaper on 13:15 Rating: 5

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