VOX Big Bad Wah – uh, it’s big and it’s, uh, bad. Wah.

Went down to City Music yesterday with my buddy to check out the VOX Big Bad Wah. As always, the City Music staff were helpful and accommodating and within seconds of entering the store I’d been nicely set up with a decent guitar, a VOX VT50 amp (I think) and the BBW itself nestling in-between them.

The first thing to note is that the unit itself doesn’t feel all that sturdy. Looking at the thing in a magazine or on the Web you’d expect it to be quite heavy like a Morley Bah Horsie – but it isn’t; it’s much lighter than it appears which I interpreted as ‘doesn’t feel quite as high quality as I’d hoped’. It has a plasticky feel to it that I think detracts from it a little.  Second, the treadle itself (the bit where you put your foot) is quite narrow. Maybe Joe Satch has tiny thin little feet; maybe it was an optical illusion, but it doesn’t quite feel big enough for a wah of its type.

While we’re on the subject of look and feel, it seems rather an odd design decision that all the controls on the right side of the pedal are different. There’s a chicken-head knob to set the drive. Then there’s a two-position flick switch to set the voicing beneath it. Then there’s a push-in button to select the inductor. And finally, there’s a stomp switch to select the wah type. It just seems a mish-mash of stylistic components and I betcha the folks at VOX had some losing discussions over some artsy whim of Satriani’s to make it just so amid their objections of ‘well, it’s gonna look kinda disjointed and a little dumb’ – and well, they were right it does, but hey – Joe’s name is on it.

Not being a fan of those gotta-push-down-really-hard-in-the-toe-position type wah pedals myself, the BBW didn’t win back any points in this respect either due to the fact that the bypass switch seemed too hard to press in, but I’ll let that go as that’s more down to my preference for those tread-on-to-turn-on-spring-loaded types such as my Crybaby 95Q or the Bad Horsie.  People who like the other old-fashioned type won’t mind this.

Soundwise, the BBW didn’t really cut the mustard. It didn’t seem to go high enough into the treble range for my liking and no combination of the different knobs, buttons or switches seemed to rectify this. Further, no combination of the different knobs buttons or switches seemed to make that much difference in sound either, with the exception of the 1/2 Wah stomp switch that made the overall sound a little brighter or darker and the drive knob, which is hard to screw up. I could not tell the difference between the voices or the inductors whatsoever except that one of those selections made a little green light come on.  But hey – I’m not one of those cork-sniffers who can tell the difference in tone when the break angle from the nut to the string post is 8 degrees and not 9 degrees, so perhaps my aural opinion is rendered invalid.

Rating: 5 out of 10.

Value for money (SGD $235 after discount): 5 out of 10.

Overall: For Satch diehards or poseur rich kids only. For everyone else, get a Crybaby or a Morley BH2.


5 Responses to “VOX Big Bad Wah – uh, it’s big and it’s, uh, bad. Wah.”

  1. test delete me

  2. Hey,
    Sorry to piss about.
    I wanted to comment on your post about Rock Bottom in Croyden, but when I did I got “discarded” so I tested here.


    I bought my first real Strat from Rockbottom in 1979! I travelled all the way from Birmingham to what was then ‘the place’ to buy from. I spent the best part of a day trying all the Strats they had before finally choosing mine.

    I played that guitar in all sorts of bands right up to 2006 when I stoopidly sold it (beat me with a blunt object).

    I often wondered what happened to RB, and now I know.

    Great post.
    BTW, I found you by searching on ‘Rock Bottom Croyden’, you were 6th.

    Best Regards, and Rock on!
    SB 🙂

  3. Wow, you really have nothing good to say about this pedal at all. Haha. I probably would have dived right on a cry baby anyway seeing as how they’re one of the top brands of Wah pedals. Thanks for the info however.

  4. Hey Steve

    I know how that feels – selling something and regretting it. Number of times I’ve kicked myself….

  5. HTGT – yeah – this pedal didn’t scream ‘buy me’ even though it looks good on paper specswise… anyway – on with the pedal/wah quest. 🙂


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