Area 51 Standard Wah Grey with Buffer
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ALL NEW FOR 2020!
The Area 51 Wah (Standard, Clone, and All Options models) have been updated for 2020. I redesigned the circuit boards from the ground up and added a few cool new features. Gone is the ala-carte ordering system for options. I'm now making the wahs in 4 versions: Standard, Clone, All Options, and Fuzzwah. This allows me to build pedals in advance and have stock available at any given time. Starting in April 2020, the Area 51 Standard wah has the all new (and unique to Area 51) Selectable Bypass and Buffering System.
This circuitry allows the player to easily set the wah up in any of SIX configurations:
- True Bypass (with output buffer off)
- True Bypass (with output buffer ON)
- Vintage Bypass (output buffer off)
- Vintage Bypass (output buffer ON)
- Buffered Bypass (output buffer off)
- Buffered Bypass (output buffer ON)
The buffer circuit has a volume control trimmer so you can dial in the output level to match a fuzz face type pedal better.
These wahs have the same legendary tone that has made them sought after for many years now - since 2003! The standard model has what's come to be known as the "Area 51 Voicing" which is to say that it's slightly lower range than a vintage type wah. There's still plenty of treble, but it's smoother and still very much in the midrange. It's just smoother. The "Q" is a little bit sharper too - which makes it pair well with humbucker guitars and P90s as well as Fender style single coils. The heart of a wah is it's inductor - and I worked for a very long time on the development of mine. I make them right here at my shop - by hand on a winder that I designed for the purpose that uses an antique sewing maching motor and programmable relay to set the amount of turns. I make two versions now - the Standard (used with standard wah, all options, and fuzzwah) and the Clone which is spec'd to work best with the Clyde Clone. If you'd like a standard with the Clone voicing, shoot me an email - email@example.com - and I'll be happy to set you up.
Bypass Types - What you should know
True Bypass - This type has become pretty much the standard for effects at present. Very simply, your signal passes directly from input jack to output jack when the effect is bypassed. If you really like your straight into the amp tone - this is the way to go usually.
Vintage Bypass - This is the type of bypass that was used on the vintage wah pedals of old - from the early English, American, and Italian made wahs right up into the 2000s on pedals like the Vox V847. It's also often called "tone suck" bypass. But before you write it off completely - hear me out. If you have an amp that has a lot of treble and attack, vintage bypass can really smooth things out in a nice way. After all, our heroes like Jimi, Eric, Jimmy, SRV, etc ALL used this type of bypass in their wahs. And nobody to my knowledge has accused them of having bad tone.
Buffered Bypass - This is where your bypassed signal goes from the input jack - to a buffer - to the output jack. It converts your signal into a low impedance signal that is far more impervious to things like resistance and capacitance from guitar cables - especially long ones or not-so-great quality ones. It can be useful on a pedal board also - but keep in mind: the buffering only goes until it hits the next device - then, that device becomes responsible for the signal.
This wah also features an output buffer that can be used to drive a fuzz pedal after the wah. Vintage style fuzzes have a low impedance input which is a really important part of their tone. It loads down the passive guitar pickups and helps give it that really fat, round sound. It also is what allows the fuzz to clean up with your guitar volume (something this wah will ALSO do - more on that later) But if you try to run a wah into a fuzz, it won't work well. The fuzz loads down the output of the wah and makes it sound pretty weak - sometimes it will oscillate/squeal. The output buffer lets the signal pass to the fuzz without it loading down the wah. Problem solved. There's also a buffer level control that lets you dial it in so that it prevents the signal from overcompressing (cutting out) at the fuzz input.
All Area 51 Wahs now have an input level/impedance control on the board (it's an external control on the all options wah) Set it about 1/3 of the way up for vintage Clyde or Thomas Organ type response. Half way for the Area 51 setting - pretty close to unity gain compared to bypassed. Or my favorite setting - all the way up! This lowers the input impedance of the wah and lets it clean up like you wouldn't believe for some super-smooth and watery wah wah tones. Turn your guitar volume to about "9" and it's more prominent wah - and guitar volume maxed is just about as mean and dirty as a wah can get.
One more thing: When you buy an Area 51 Wah, you're getting the best value of anything out there. I've been building and improving on these for close to 20 years now and I truly know that what I build now is the best they have ever been. The parts are all chosen for tone and reliability - from the robust 3PDT footswitch on back. The circuit board is even shock-mounted on rubber grommets to keep microphonics to a minimum. And in purchasing a pedal from us, you are supporting a very small business that has forever been focused on building a killer pedal that is as dependable as they are toneful. And another great thing about buying a pedal built like mine: If it ever does need repairs - it CAN be repaired! Many modern pedals are built for ease of assembly by robotics and as such are very difficult to fix.