(EDIT: I received some feedback from people, wanting to know why it looked like I wanted to hurt them in the demo video. I apologize. I have one of those faces where, if I don’t make it a point to smile, I look very angry. Top that with this being recorded post-Easter week, meaning tired, unshaven, and a little crazy, and yes…when I re-watched the video, it did make it look disturbingly like I wanted to hurt you. So there is now an edited version of the video, focusing more on the much more important guitar, and less on me inadvertently using my ‘angry face.’ And as a bonus, now it looks more like a movie! )
I’ve been sitting on this Ooh Wah for a while now. See, this is one of those pedals that sounds really cool in the shop or on online demos; and then you stick it on your board to play it out live, and it’s like, ‘Wait…what do I do with it?’ So I was confident that after a couple weeks of alone time with it (yep), I would emerge with victorious new ways in which to use this effect. Ya…uh, no. I emerged victorious in only elevating my opinion of myself as a sucky and unoriginal musician. That’s the ironic thing about trying to emerge victorious. It doesn’t…well…work.
The Ooh Wah is 8 auto wah’s in one, and the pedal sequences through them in different patterns over which you can choose to control, or choose to have play at random. So the sound, no matter how you splice it, is a step filter. Which is a really rad sound…for like, one half verse of one song…in one set…once every two months. For those of you who haven’t heard a step filter, it’s like a filter pedal combined with a hard trem. So it breaks up your sustain into computer sounds that go in and out at different intervals. Again, very cool; but use it more than once in a set, and you’re gonna start to get glares. Just one of those odd effects that when you use it once, everyone pats you on the back for your innovation; so you try to use it again, and you’ll get immediately railed for your overuse of effects. And they wouldn’t be wrong, either.
And the ZVex is really good at what it does. I’ve tried a few other step filters, including the Moog, some Line 6 stuff, Copilot FX…and the ZVex is by far the warmest, and sits in the mix the best. So well, that you can even use it as a regular auto-wah…but you have to really think while you play it, and be careful not to let the sequencing sound come through. Which makes it kind of like, ‘Then why wouldn’t I just get ZVex’s actual wah?’ And you would be correct in thinking that. So I thought that if this pedal rocks at step filters, then that’s the demo I’ll do of it. But then I realized that that demo would be of me hitting a G chord, and then turning the pedal on to step filter it. And I don’t care how awkward I am on camera, even that wouldn’t have kept a G chord demo from boring your mind off.
So in the end, I guess I just ended up watching Brazil and Blade Runner, and thinking about the end of the world (as the ’80′s would have it), and then recording the only other valid and workable live use of the Ooh Wah that I was able to find. And that is to stick it behind delays and trem, and then use finger dynamics to play it in a way that colors all the other effects. And apologies that you have to see me in this video. I try really hard to keep that from happening, but I’ve been getting a lot of requests to show some of the chord voicings I’m using in these demo’s, rather than just the blinking lights of my pedalboard. I much prefer the blinking lights, and in fact spend far more hours per day staring at my pedalboard than I do staring at the mirror (hmm), but this is the only way to show chord voicings. And you’ll want to listen with something other than laptop speakers (just anything with some bass, really) in order to hear how the Ooh Wah works, as this piece hinges upon a subtle bassline underneath the sound of the Ooh Wah behind the effects:
And there ya go. The only other use besides step filter sounds, that I have found for the Ooh Wah. Incredible step filter, and when played consciously, can be used for regular auto wah sounds and, as in this case, for a color under your ambient effects. And for those interested, the signal chain here was my normal Prairiewood into the Matchless HC30, and effects were Ooh Wah–>Dr. Scientist Tremolessence–>Damage Control Timeline (swell settings)–>Diamond Memory Lane–>Damage Control Timeline (low mix infinite reverse settings)–>Arion SAD-1. And a couple quick notes on the Ooh Wah. One, there are two versions. Version 1 starts at random points in the sequence when you turn it on. Version 2 holds at the first step of the sequence in bypass mode. Personally, I prefer version 1. And secondly, it does not have an adapter jack, so it needs to be powered by a battery or a ZVex power plate, which unfortunately costs a good $30 on top of an already kind of expensive one-or-two-trick-pony pedal. But the batteries do last quite a while in this thing, and it is handpainted of course, so that more than makes up for it. So sad that I’m serious right now.
Oh, and each new actual piece or composition will be posted in the Music section above with a link to my Soundclick site, not necessarily as a new post here, as that will again, probably start to bore everyone. They’ll only be posted here in cases such as this…when I’m not original enough to think of any other way to demonstrate an effect. But come on…when they’re handpainted like that, and have 8 led’s (absolute score of ever right there), you’ve just gotta find an excuse to keep them on your board. Once again, all tone is reduced to cool blinking lights. And that would not be wrong.