Pedals

Dunlop CM95 Clyde McCoy CryBaby

  • By Jeff Baker @tonereport
  • February 25, 2014
  • 6 Comments

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

6 Comments

  1. Raven

    “Wahs are complex”

    Wahs are actually very simple circuits. Especially the vintage kind with the inductors and no buffers.

  2. Jeff Baker

    I rolled that over before committing to it; it made it through a few revisions and ended up staying because I wanted to emphasize a key point about this pedal that differentiates it from scores of other similar wahs. If I had it to revisit, I’d probably say wahs are deceptively simple, but that belies some complex nonlinear interactions. Or not. An inductor is basically what differentiates a wah from a weirdly filtered and gain staged volume pedal; it’s what puts the resonant peak (heck, resonance /per se/) into the wah.

    You have to remember that I’m writing for a very varied audience. There are some great guitarists who still take their guitar(s) in to a tech for re-stringing. And yet, this is a product which really lives or dies based on a few key electronics decisions made in its construction - at least to the technically inclined. Everybody else wonders “does it sound good? what does it sound like? as advertised, or…?”

    So, Raven, I actually agree with you for the most part, and wording that section was tricky, but I stand by it on the grounds that I really needed a segue into explaining - but not over-explaining, mind - what precisely is special about and differentiates this wah from, say, a standard modern totally basic introductory level Crybaby, or one of the various flavors with a Fasel inductor, or one with an adjustable Q and other versatility features, or ___________. In keeping with the goal of explaining what specifically makes this wah stand out among its numerous kin, I opted for a streamlined explanation that is, hopefully, fully approachable regardless of electronics background. To a total novice or someone who doesn’t know how wahs work at all, they /are/ complex - but can be simplified, as I took my best shot at doing for the sake of brevity and flow within the context of the magazine.

    Thanks for the comment on the review, and have a good one smile

    Jeff Baker
    Contributor to Tone Report Weekly

  3. Jeff Baker

    Hah, it’s late, I forgot to mention - there’s a reason that I worded it SPECIFICALLY like that. From an electronics standpoint, there’s definitely more going on than just the inductor, and I didn’t want to falsely over-emphasize the importance of the inductor - after all, this sort of wah topology gets a lot of its sweep characteristics from the first transistor, and of course the potentiometer used needs to be super high quality or it’ll develop issues later in life, the specific frequency emphasis and Q need to all be set for verisimilitude/authenticity in a product aimed at recreating a classic sound. But at the same time, the inductor has behaviors which are determinative - once the rest is all set up, even the output transistor, with its much simpler contribution - you can tweak a circuit all you want to adjust the frequency center, the sweep range, the sweep shape, but you can’t, by altering the other components, change the behavior of the resonant characteristics of the inductor.

    So, I couldn’t accurately say that it’s ALL the inductor. I also couldn’t deemphasize the importance of the inductor, especially since this particular one is a proprietary part made to emulate the behavior of the original as specifically as possible (though without the microphonic behavior in problematic older ones, and with much tighter tolerances thanks to modern manufacturing techniques, of course). But it’s very far outside the scope of the review to explain how a wah works here.

    Wahs are as sophisticated as the understanding of the individual who is either building one or buying one… But explaining them is time consuming and would be inappropriate in this case. Yet that couldn’t go unremarked-upon, since it’s one of the more significant aspects of this wah in particular versus the aforementioned huge variety of wahs that abound.

    I hope that more completely addresses your comment. Now I’ve got a couple posts that, at a glance, well outpace how many words went into the review itself smile That wouldn’t be a very helpful thing for anyone wondering whether to give this wah a shot, and those who understand the electronics of gear well enough hopefully understand what I’m trying to do by focusing on that particular aspect in isolation given that it (and every other attempt at recreating an authentic-sounding classically voiced wah) understandably emphasizes the special sauce proprietary part.

    Jeff Baker
    Contributor to Tone Report Weekly

  4. Alan Thompson

    They conveniently avoided a couple of things in the description of the new “Clyde McCoy” Cry Baby (which is a wah that never really existed, the original was a Vox product).  Does it have true bypass switching, to overcome the problems of using a wah in front of a vintage Fuzz, or did they use the input buffer they are using in their other wahs (which doesn’t fix this particular problem).  And, what transistors are they using?.  In most Dunlop Cry Babys they use transistors that are much higher gain than the originals, which also changes the sound.  And, did they use the original value components, which are changed from the original circuit in the regular Cry Baby’s.  I think this should have been discussed in the review, and a pic of the inside would have been nice.  Still, it sounds pretty good from the video I’ve seen, so I think it’s worth checking out.  Dunlop used to manufacture the modern Vox wahs, so now that they are made in China, it’s good to see them making their take on the original.

  5. Alan Thompson

    Oops, I goofed in my last post, it’s not the issue of true bypass that makes a wah work in front of a vintage fuzz, true bypass just eliminates the tone sucking that most wahs have.  Instead, an output buffer would help with the issue of using the wah in front of a fuzz pedal.  Got a little confused there in my quickly dashed-off post.  Still, both of those issues are not discussed either in the product description or the review.  Couldn’t see any way to edit my first post, so I thought I’d clear that up!.
    Thanks.

  6. Greg Malakoff

    I’m not clear after reading this.  Does the new version of the Clyde McCoy Dunlop Cry Baby Wah have true bypass?  Thanks