I walked into Action Music today to post up a bassist wanted flier on their board, and I saw a guy trying out a couple wahs. I asked the owner of the store if I could get in on that, and he just opened the case and started pulling stuff out. I went to the car, grabbed my axe, and he plugged me into a pretty bitchin' Splawn and cranked it.
I started with a RMC1 (Real McCoy Custom) by Geoffrey Teese, which I was told had a much more pronounced low end, smoother top, and was designed for drop-tuned and seven-string players. I absolutely loved the power of the thing, and the top was total butter, but the low end was completely underpowered mush. I since have jumped on their site and found that it was really designed for single coils and bass guitar. Whoops.
Next, I tried the RMC4 Picture wah, since the description said it nailed the Hendrix sound. Well, they were right, and oh boy does it suck for high gain. The low end had even more flub than the previous one. I really want to go back when I have more time to put it between a Strat and one of the Dr Z combos in the corner, but for what I had it was nothing but howling feedback. The midrange was absolutely amazing, though. All throat, very growly and vocal, almost like a pissed off dog.
Around this point, the guy behind the counter says I need to try the Fulltone. Out comes this tacky black thing with a three-way "Wacked/Jimi/Shaft" knob and volume knob. I started with wacked, which is an apt description for how it sounds. Just fucking horrible. I quickly moved over to Jimi, and was served up with a lesser version of the wah above. I shifted over to Shaft, ready to bust out my best Drew Peterson backing track skank grooves, and was surprised to find that this thing was a total monster. Hotter than hell, with a screaming top end, and the throatiest midrange I have ever heard. The thing had people in the store cracking their necks to see what I was doing. If you are a Michael Schenker fanatic, then this is the only wah that exists, since the middle of the pedal is totally vibrant end expressive. Why they call that mode Shaft is beyond me, since it does not do wacka-wacka well at all. The thing that killed it for me is the same low end flub as the previous two.
So, three wahs that were cool, but underlined the reason why I have played Morleys: the first third of the range, at the heel, causes a volume drop. Morleys aren't perfect, but there is a lot of heat at the bottom of the travel, allowing them to punch through. So, at this point the owner says that I absolutely have to try the RMC6, since the two of us seem to be the only people who don't like anything else on the planet. He said it is what he plays, and everyone that works for him thinks he's crazy.
So, out comes this thing with a $245 price tag on it, and three knobs, in "LOOK AT ME!!!" red. He plugs it all up, I step on it, and the feedback flings me halfway across the room. I give him a WTF look, and he simply says, "that's volume, that's low, that's Q. Play with it a bit," and walks off. So, I start dialing knobs, and can hear it has a cool vibe, but whenever I take my foot off the damn thing, KLUNK, the rocker falls down onto the pedal, full open, and feedback just screams at you. I immediately start bitching about how the lose rocker makes it unusable, and dude comes over with an Allen wrench, sticks under the front of the thing, and tightens it up. Holy shit, you can adjust the resistance of the rocker, why has no one else thought of this?!?
So, I go back to work, and in about five minutes I find everything I am looking for. The thing is incredibly versatile, and I found it able to cop the feel of most of the other stuff I have played. The Q lets you go from total Vox honk to screaming Hendrix wash out. The volume, unlike Morleys, is very subtle, and functions more like a clean boost--the overall range is narrow, but the reward is precision. The low knob is absolutely, and surprisingly, the most useful function on the wah. Yes, crank it and it acts like a 5150 resonance knob, and all the way down thins it out. Get in the middle half of the knob, and it acts like a combination Q/volume for the low frequencies. I was able to isolate what bugged me about every single other wah, eliminating the problem. Suddenly, I had Morley uniformity, and no reason to own a Morley any longer.
The eeriest part? How damn simple it was to dial the thing in. I was literally just turning knobs, not thinking about all the shit I just wrote above. It is surprisingly Mesa-like in the way the knobs are interactive, and function best in the middle of their range. I am ridiculously happy with this thing, and not really caring that I just spent $245 on a damn wah.