Review: Ibanez WD-7 Weeping Demon Wah Pedal
When I jumped into performing music for the first time, I had no effects rig whatsoever.
I had a Fender solid state amplifier, a 20-year old Fender guitar, and no clue about what was needed to actually play live. 20 years of woodshedding helped, but I needed effects to cover the wide range of sounds necessary for a gigging guitarist. Adding to the fact that I’m a cheapskate when it comes to buying things, I set about building a pedal board that consisted of whatever I could find cheap at pawn shops.
My first pedal absolutely spoiled me. First, I bought the thing for $30 US in a pawn shop. That’s a nice price for just about any effects pedal. Secondly, the pedal had a wonderful sound, was very versatile, and held up to all sorts of abuse. That pedal was the Ibanez Weeping Demon WD-7 wah pedal. It served me faithfully for about 4 years. You never know what you have until it’s gone, however. Another shiny piece of gear raised its ugly head, and I traded the WD-7 away. Within the week, I felt like I had personally just shot Ol’ Yeller.
I replaced the Weeping Demon with a Crybaby Wah, and immediately hated it. The pedal was untweakable. The stock setting was all that was available. I couldn’t add any bottom end, couldn’t add any gain, and couldn’t add any eq to the effect at all. It sounded weak to me, by comparison. Secondly, I could not ever figure out if the thing was on or not, without running the treadle up and down to see if it did anything. There were no lights on it whatsoever to note that the effect was engaged or not. I couldn’t even feel the switch under the pedal when I tried to kick it on. In addition, getting the under-the-treadle switch to engage was a hit-or-miss proposition.
The first night I tried the pedal at a gig, I launched into a terrific solo in the middle of “Hey Joe”, working the treadle like the ghost of Hendrix had possessed me. Not a single vocal-like wah emanated from the pedal. When I hit the solo, I had not managed to engage the switch. When the next break in the solo came, I stepped hard on the front of the pedal, hoping to add some saving grace to what at that point was a miserable solo. Again, nothing. It was at that point that I cursed that Crybaby with enough vehemence that it wished it had never been created. When the Christmas jack rolled in, I ordered myself a new WD-7, and vowed to be faithful forevermore.
So what’s the difference, you might ask? Aren’t all wah pedals created equal? In short, no. So let’s dissect the WD-7, and find what makes it a truly superior wah pedal, in my humble opinion.
Not all wah pedals are created equal…
The WD-7 has a very unique look, kind of like one of the Rebel Alliance’s battleships in RETURN OF THE JEDI. It’s shiny stainless steel with a black rubber treadle insert, so the user’s foot has a nice grip on the pedal. It is somewhat bigger than most wah pedals, so it will take up additional space on a pedalboard. I don’t find this all that bothersome. I simply put it beside the board itself, and all is well.
Secondly, the controls on the pedal itself distinguish it from other wahs. The pedal has a volume, a “Q”, and low eq knobs that feature Ibanez’ Tone-Lok. You simply set the knob to your preference, then push the knob back down into the chassis of the pedal itself, and the knob is locked down. This makes it much harder to accidentally bump the settings out of place.
The volume knob is pretty powerful. It adds up to 5db of gain/volume boost, and it can be the bane of a soundman’s existence. I found myself getting yelled at to back down the volume when I kicked on the WD-7. Through trial and error, I found that running the volume at about 10 o’clock seemed to work for the best.
The “Q” knob seems to tweak the high frequencies of the wah to your preference. It can get quite shrill if you roll the knob all the way to the farthest right position. I found running it in the 12 o’clock position yielded a more all-around tone for me.The Low knob is a low frequency EQ, and can add quite a bit of low end to the wah sound. I found myself running this knob at about the three o’ clock position, which added to my ears a distinctive flavor to the wah sound.
The WD-7 also has a neat little feature to adjust the voice of the wah. It contains a Range switch that reads either Normal or Low. When set to the Low portion, the bass frequencies are further amplified, giving the whole pedal a completely different voice.The Weeping Demon also has a knob that allows you to control the overall sweep of the wah when engaged. Add to the fact that you can alter the settings with the other eq knobs and the Range switch, you have a very tweakable wah pedal indeed, running the gamut of sounds from Hendrix to Dragonforce. I found myself using the WD-7 to add some synth-like shimmer to chords. I really enjoyed using it for volume swells and rocking the Demon’s treadle at the same time. Add some delay and you can create some very neat musical atmospheres.
I won’t make the same mistake twice…
Saving the best for last, I come now to the feature that I have vowed I will never be without again in a wah pedal. The WD-7 is an optical wah, kicking in automatically when the user engages the treadle. No more guessing as to whether the pedal is engaged or not. Simply step on the pedal, and the wah does its magic. No more hunting for a switch under the treadle, stepping heavily trying to engage the effect. No more botched solos. (Well, it won’t be the pedals’ fault if I do, anyway.) The pedal contains yet another switch to kick on the amount of delay time the effect stays on after you release the pedal to its full upright position. It can be set to go off almost immediately, or you can tweak it to stay on for a bit after release.
Not a fan of the optical wah? You can simply rotate the footswitch lever on the side, which converts the wah from optical mode to something more akin to a traditional wah. The notable difference is that in the second mode, the battery compartment on the side has a stompbox feature that turns the wah on and off. I never used this feature, but I think this feature is vastly superior to the under-the-treadle design on traditional wah pedals.
As if all this pedal goodness wasn’t enough, the WD-7 has a small-but-bright LED to tell you when the effect is on. The Weeping Demon is also 9-volt powered, which matches most of my other pedals. I didn’t have to go hunt down a whole new AC adapter to power this beast. I considered Slash’s signature wah for awhile, but the fact that it had less features and was 18 volt powered took it out of consideration.
The only other wah that I’ve found that might prove more tweakable is the Joe Satriani Big Bad Wah. However, the $100+ price difference between the two pedals puts the WD-7 over the top. In addition, the Big Bad Wah has the hated under-the treadle on-off switch.
In short, the WD-7 has great value for the money, features out the wazoo, and is built like an M-1 Abhrams tank. I found true wah love, strayed, and came back again. I won’t make the same mistake twice.