Pedalboard friendly funk machine
When it comes to current pedalboard trends it seems that size does indeed matter. We have seen a huge increase in the prevalence of diminutive stompers over the last few years, from the TC Electronic mini range to Electro Harmonix’s marginally larger Nano series. Players have been won over by the way these pedals offer the perfect combination of quality tones and a smaller footprint, meaning musicians can fit more effect options into smaller spaces without compromising too much on functionality or usability. The challenge for the manufacturers has been finding that balance between size, tone and quality, and the way the mini-pedal market has exploded proves they’re getting it right. There’s also the added bonus of being able to fill your board with mini pedals and pretend you’re a giant. This, we promise you, never gets old.
What has been interesting is the way that some of the more traditional pedals, the old guard, have jumped on the bandwagon by taking ‘classic’ pedals from their line-ups and shrinking them down to a fraction of their former size, breathing new life into old favourites and exposing them to a new audience in the process. We’ve seen the shrunken Tube Screamer re-boot from Ibanez, and now there’s another old favourite to add to the list.
Enter the Jim Dunlop Cry Baby Mini wah. Now, we aren’t going to bang on about the original unit here. Unless you’ve been living in a yurt in the Outer Hebrides for the past 40 years you’ll already be aware of the original Cry Baby’s game-changing, iconic status so we don’t need to labour that particular point. The real question is whether a miniature version of a wah pedal still offers the same ease of use as its big brother. See, with mini versions of single-switch pedals it’s only really the housing which has reduced in size and you don’t play those pedals in the same way you do a rocker-switched pedal. You turn them on, you turn them off. That’s about the sum of it.
With a rocker pedal, there’s a lot more feel and expression involved, and over time we’ve got used to the size of the rocker underneath our feet. Can a smaller version offer the same level of control? Are your feet going to slide off at inopportune times? Is the filter sweep the same? All this, and more, will be answered in this Jim Dunlop Cry Baby Mini wah review…
First things first, Jim Dunlop Cry Baby Mini Wah is built like a tank. A decidedly dinky tank, but a tank none the less. Its durable chassis isn’t at all heavy though so don’t worry about it weighing you down on your travels. The treadle is as rock steady as the full-size version and in operation, has a silky smooth feel under foot. The on/off switch is the same size as the original and functions exactly as you’d expect it to, offering that same satisfying clunk as you engage it. Internally, the design layout is clean and the jack sockets are trouble-free. The base is solid rubber with 4 screws to hide away the battery and components, and there is also a connection for a PSU so you don’t have to rely on battery power alone.
Don’t let its small size fool you — the Cry Baby Mini Wah doesn’t skimp on tone or usability. It comes equipped with the legendary Fasel inductor, a full sweep range with which you can traverse the whole frequency spectrum, and three internally adjustable voicings—Low, Vintage, and GCB95. The switch is located inside the unit and allows you to change the frequency range of the pedal. The default setting is H—High, for the standard GCB95 sound. For a more vintage, midrange-focused sound you can set the switch to M, and for the lower frequency range (which is used in Dunlop’s own Jimi Hendrix Wah,) select L. All three settings sound fantastic, as you’d expect, and operate completely noise-free.
Practically speaking the only way we could think of improving the Cry Baby Mini Wah would be to move the 3 way voicing switch to the outer case to make it instantly accessible, and perhaps to include an easy-access, screw-free battery cover. That aside, you’re getting a perfect miniature version of the original here at a great price. The only difference in terms of feel is likely to be the position of your foot on the treadle. Most of the time on a regular size wah, logically, you’ll have your toes at the end of the pedal…but with the mini you’ll need your heel covering that part to allow for the clearance of your heel when the pedal is in a cocked position. It doesn’t take much getting used to and if you weren’t consciously thinking about it, you wouldn’t notice that you were using a pedal half the size of its original incarnation.
Couple this pedal up with a mini delay like the TC Electronic Flashback Mini, a mini chorus like the TC Electronic Corona Mini and a boost/distortion pedal like the aforementioned Tube Screamer Mini and you’ve got your basic tonal world covered on floor real estate no bigger than a tea tray.
About the Author
Lee is a lifelong guitarist and composer from the UK. In addition to being a worldwide endorsee for Ibanez Guitars, Lee is also a Laney Amplification ambassador, and has demonstrated for Roland/BOSS, D’Addario and many others both live and on video. Lee also works as a freelance session musician, and has a passion for Music/Guitar tuition, playing and teaching an eclectic mix of styles.