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Four Wah Comparisons: CAE MC404, Vox V846 Handwired, RMC Joe Walsh, Area 51 Standard

jamisonlps

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As I mentioned in another recent wah thread, I've owned over a dozen or so wah's in the last 5 years trying to find "the one". I've come full circle and decided to do one last shootout with three new models that had been on the list for a looong time (Teese JW, Vox HW, MC404) and a re-visit of one of my fave's, the Area 51.

I will break down the analysis as follows: Range of motion, noise, quack, clean performance, overdrive performance, overall tone and of course a final ranking.

1) Range of Motion: Measuring treadle position from toe to heel.
Vox HW = 24mm
Area 51 = 26mm
MC404 = 30mm
JWSW = 34mm

2) Noise: Hard to rate on a scale, will list in order of quietest to noisiest. Tested in the toe down position.
Vox HW = quietest maybe due to battery power only?
Area 51 = a notch above the Vox
MC404 = very close to the A51, just a tad more noticeable
JWSW = by far the loudest/noisiest of the bunch, even the footswitch is noisy (I've heard this about the Teese wahs)

3) Quack:
Vox HW = Not much real quack or vocal quality to this wah, surprisingly. Just really smooth with limited range. It will wah when moved fast but does not quack like the others.

Area 51 = very vocal, can almost hear it talking like saying "wow, wow, wow". Quack is on the lower end of the spectrum (heel), maybe a little too quick in the movement and can be abrupt, takes some getting use to. (There are options from A51 to tweak this control).

JWSW = Lots of quack available, very balanced. Not too smooth like the Vox and not as vocal as the A51. The broad sweep really takes some getting use to.

MC404 = I'm not gonna review red as I don't really find it useable even after tweaking. It's dark and wooly to me. I also do not really use the boost feature but some may find that as an added bonus.

The Yellow fasal is where it's at here for me. It has the classic Vox quack, not as vocal as the A51 but a little smoother and "playful". Can really do great whacka-whacka funk type stuff. The whole sweep just works well.

4) Cleans:
Vox HW = again, the least impressive of the bunch. Just not very vocal or quacky, not much else to say.

Area 51 = very vintage and classic sounding, no harshness at all, very natural. The Q spot is a little abrupt but there is an optional "quack control" avaialable to smooth this out.

MC404 = Great cleans, very musical and watery sounding. Not as dull as the Vox but not as quacky as the A51, just sounds right working the treadle.

JWSW = Still a great sounding wah, but I do not like the really long throw of this pedal, the sweet spot is toe forward (toe), just can't settle on this one.

5) Overdrive:
Vox HW = Didn't do much for me, all the other wahs have more character.

Area 51 = Killer sounding with gain, esp. for that cocked wah sound. Not to dark, not too bright, ot too much snarl or growl, just the right amount. Leads really sing with this one.

MC404 = again, second best to the A51. A little muddier on the heel, thinner on the toe. Not as clear or transparent as the A51 either, a little more growl and clipping present.

JWSW = Very honky compared to the A51. Alone, not a bad sound wha by any stretch but really didn't stand out as a top contender here.

6) Overall Tonality:
Vox HW = Dull, nothing special, surprising given the design, wiring and cost.
Area 51 = One of the best wah's I've ever tried (guess that's why this makes 3rd one I've bouth in the last 5 years).
MC404 = I would have no problem using this long term. The red fasal and boost are unnecessary for me though; Less=More.
JWSW = A good standard reference, better than a Crybaby and Vox but not in my top two.

7) Final Ranking:
1. Area 51
2. CAE MC404
3. Teese JWSW
4. Vox V846 HW

I also tried two different Crybaby standards over the past few weeks. They were ok but have a short physical sweep and a very harsh high end. I returned everything but the A51 and my MC404. I have a Wilson Signature Wah incoming for the next round, hahaha!
 
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Mr. Papa

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Man, it's like reading a serial novel--when's the next episode? I'm eager to hear the rest of your evaluation when you have time.
 

Wookie

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Ive been using the MC404 for a while now and absolutely LOVE it. The one feature I LOVE is that you can switch the inductors on the fly with one tap of the switch which works great switching between my Les Paul and my Tele so it's not overly brite and stays very balanced. A SUPERB WAH!
 

jamisonlps

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May 30, 2005
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Updated, sorry for the delay been super busy. Wanted to have time to thoroughly compare and contrast these wah's though.

I'm gonna try a couple of Wilsons probably, maybe the Bonamassa Signature.
 

Mr. Papa

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Thanks for this review, it is helpful. Would love to know if you try out the Bonamassa--I'm eyeing it myself.
 

v-verb

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Jul 16, 2001
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Cool reviews!

I've been on a Wah quest - 2 Crybaby Supers - Jen made, Vox Clyde RI (similar to the Cry Babys - very vocal - great sound), incoming Crybaby 535Q and Landgraff wah.
 

spidey

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Nov 21, 2003
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Great reviews! Am interested to see what you think to the Bonamassa. Any chance of doing the Fulltone? I've see Trower a couple of times use one and he sounded awesome.
 

jamisonlps

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May 30, 2005
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Never tried the Fulltones. Everytime I get interested in them and look at all the demo vids, I quickly decide against it. They've never impressed me, maybe I'll run across at least a standard one of these days.
 

Classic

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Has anyone [other than me] used/compared any of these to the Moollon way? I'd be interest to hear others views and reviews on it.
 
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