Judging by just how many wah pedals there are on the market, it's very easy to see that musicians just love the expressive, distinctive tone that nothing but a wah provides. Why not, after all, when the music that generations have grown up listening to – have truly been inspired by – feature the wah wah effect as consistently as anything else? Wah is a sound that goes back to the roots of rock and roll, and has stayed in the picture precisely because it's such an interesting, useful, dramatic effect. The Dunlop CM95 Clyde McCoy® Cry Baby® is a nearly note-perfect homage to the wah that started it all. I've tried a heck of a lot of wahs based around the same basic idea of the CM95, but short of having an original 1960s model, I've never tried one that nailed that sound: throaty, from a muted, almost "wow" formant sound at the bottom of the sweep to the screaming top end that typifies this treasured family of wah pedals.
Depending on when you and music first met, you might have heard the wah sound this captures so well for the very first time on Hendrix's rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner" or on a song by Clapton; later, when Geezer Butler played "Bassically;" a generation later, you might have rocked out to Zakk Wylde's outrageous wah squeals, or Kirk Hammet's wah-saturated soloing. Not long after that, on Pantera records, or the unforgettable wah-powered riffing from Jerry Cantrell of Alice in Chains. It is a sound that pervades modern rock, just as it has since its creation. There's a reason that Dunlop chose to return to the original tone: people love it!
Something Old, Something New…
Wahs are complex, but there's a key component called an inductor which puts the "wah wah" resonant sound into a wah pedal in the first place.
The original Clyde McCoy used an inductor that has become quite famous for its specific character: the Halo™ inductor. Hand-wound "replicas" of the classic Halo™ inductor are often used in DIY attempts to recreate the original sound. Dunlop did one better and created a modern Halo™ inductor specifically for the CM95: the H101. It isn't exactly the same thing as the original Halo™; Dunlop actually improved on it, stabilizing it to prevent microphonics from occurring. This improvement just stops the wah from making unwanted, weird noises and makes it a more stable circuit, still retaining its lovely, screaming character.
Combine that with a very solid housing and treadle mechanism (hey, this is a Cry Baby® we're talking about), chassis-mounted input and output jacks, and a long-life potentiometer built for a lot of use and you have the makings of a serious homage to the genesis of the Crybaby® sound.
What We Like: If you want to get THE classic, original Cry Baby® tone, you can pretty much end your search here.
Concerns: The pedal doesn't have an LED indicator, but neither do a lot of wahs. The original Clyde McCoy® certainly didn't!
Tone: – This is a straight up 5 out of 5 for Cry Baby® tone seekers; it nails it! For everyone else, it's merely an awesome sounding wah, the horror!
Build Quality: – It's a Dunlop wah, very sturdy, likely to survive many years on the road. The adjustable treadle is extremely comfortable to operate without any side-to-side movement.
Value: – I guess we could ask for something like an adjustable Q or an LED on/off indicator, but Dunlop aims for authenticity and those features wouldn't fit the bill there.
Overall Rating: – If you're a Cry Baby® wah lover, this is as close to the original sound as I've personally heard, ever. If you have broader tastes in wahs, it's still worth a shot. You may never have heard a Cry Baby® scream so sweetly.