All About Wah (History of the Wah Wah Pedal).

Cry Baby Wah, in 4 parts.cry-baby-wah-wah-pedal The Cry Baby Wah Wah pedal, or simply Wah, was invented in 1966 and quickly found its way into the gear rig of prominent guitarists of the day. To celebrate the history of the Wah, from Brad Plunkett’s play thing to the 1970’s adult film industry and to its rebirth as an 80’s rock device, here’s a video history of the Cry Baby Wah Wah pedal.

History of the Wah Wah Pedal (in 4 parts)

Part 1: The Beginning.

Part 2: Cry Baby Hits the Rock Scene with Clapton,Hendrix and more.

Part 3: Overkill. Cry Baby Branches Out to Jazz, Funk and t.v. themes.

Part 4: Don’t Call it a Come Back. Stevie Ray Vaughan, Metallica and Alice in Chains help make the Wah Cool Again.

What struck me about the Wah is how it never really went away. I grew up listening to Hendrix and Cream, but always thought the Wah-Wah died in the 70’s. But looking back, with the help of this documentary, I realize that it never really went away. Like the guitar itself, the Wah-Wah just keeps evolving.

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Comparison: Fender Mustang 1 vs Peavey Vypyr 15.

Fender Mustang 1 vs. Peavey Vypyr 15 – which is the better modeling amp? They are so similar that it may be difficult to choose.

If you’re looking for a new modeling amp and have a budget of $100 you’ve probably asked yourself this question. It’s easy to see why – two of the best selling modeling practice amps at this price point are the Fender Mustang I and the Peavey Vypyr 15. As I write this, each retails for $99 new, and has loads of features. In fact at first glance, they are so similar that it may be difficult to choose one over the other.

Here’s a guide to help highlight the specific strengths and weaknesses of each and help you decide which is best for you.

Features Overview

fender-mustang-i-practice-amp

The Mustang I has 24 total amp presets. They consist of 8 different amp models, each with 3 different effects and mod settings. Each of these presets allows for custom effects and reverb/delay settings as well as EQ volume and gain control.

The Vypyr 15 also provides 24 total presets, modeling 12 popular amps in both clean and distorted channels. There’s also 11 editable post amp rack effects with parameter control.

Both support headphone out, and MP3/CD/Aux input. Both also feature a single 8″ speaker, a tap tempo switch, and peavey-vypyr-15 practice ampUSB port for high speed recording.

The Peavey Vypyr 15 features Peavey’s patented TransTube technology which provides “true analog distortion”. This is meant to simulate tube sound and response in a solid state amp.

The Mustang I features Fender FUSE software that allows for tweaking the living hell out of the amp and the Mustang’s modeling of a vintage tube amp is very close to 100% accurate.

Now with the basics out of the way, let’s dig into the details.

 

Control Panel and Interface

The Mustang I has 5 knobs:

  • Gain
  • Treble
  • Bass
  • Volume (of the amp being modeled)
  • Master Volume
  • Amp Preset Selector
  • Effects
  • Reverb/delay

Even though there is no knob for Middle EQ, the Mustang I is so customizable that you will rarely miss it.

While the Mustang I does not have a separate channel for clean and dirty, you can use any of the presets to store a clean preset and another to store a dirty preset.

The Vypyr 15 has 9 knobs:

  • Stompboxes
  • Amp Preset Selector
  • Effects
  • Pre-Gain
  • Low EQ
  • Mid EQ
  • High EQ
  • Post Gain
  • Master Volume

The Peavey Vypyr 15 is a bit more customizable through the front knobs, but the Fender Mustang I provides much greater customization through it’s software package. More on that later.

Fender Mustang 1 vs Peavey Vypyr 15 – Which is a better 1st amp?

Neither the Fender Mustang I or the Peavey Vypyr 15 really makes a good choice for your first amp if you’re just starting out learning the guitar. This has more to do with modeling amps in general, than either of these specific amps.

If you’re looking for the best amp for beginning guitar players, look at straight, traditional amps and skip the modeling. You can always get an effects pedal to add on later, once you’ve become a better player.

If, however, you already know how to play acoustic guitar and are looking for a great 1st amp to branch out into electric guitar playing or you’re looking to get into a more sound variation with a modeling amp, then the Mustang I is the best choice in my opinion. It’s also a great choice for a practice amp or if you’re looking for an amp to play while song writing.

However, if you’re only interest is Metal or you wouldn’t use the Fender FUSE software and you’re looking for a rock solid modeling amp for Metal that will suit your needs out of the box with no additional effort beyond the occasional turn of a knob, then stop reading right now – the Peavey Vypyr 15 is for you.

Vypyr vs Mustang (general)

Some Peavey Vypyr 15 owners have complained about a lack of “clean distortion” and muddy clean tones. This sort of criticism is limited with the Fender Mustang because you can overcome almost any such problem with the FUSE software.

In my opinion, the Mustang I has better tones – overdrive and clean – and playing dynamics than the Peavey Vypyr 15, which makes the Mustang a much more flexible amp. And that’s before you factor in the FUSE software!

I believe that Fender has raised the bar on modeling amps, while maintaining their fabled Fender cleans. The Vypyr 15, however, missed the mark on delivering a good clean tone.

Still, many Vypyr owners swear by them, but most tend to be heavily into metal. The Peavey Vypyr 15 is a great amp for playing metal or hard rock but if you even think you want to play other styles, then the Mustang I is the better choice.

Fender FUSE

What really puts the Mustang ahead of the Vypyr is the software package that it comes with. The Mustang comes with Ableton Live and IK Amplitude, but what truly makes it rock your way is FUSE. FUSE is where the Mustang series amps leave the competition in the dust.

What you can’t edit and tweak with the top panel control knobs on the amp itself, you can edit to your liking with the FUSE software package, then save it straight to a preset on the amp.

Along with the ability to fully customize your amp’s sound, FUSE also enables you to download presets from the fender site and owner’s forum. There are hundreds of community created and supported presets for a variety of popular bands and musical styles.

FUSE gives you – the owner – full control over how your amp sounds, but it also keeps it fresh: Stuck in a rut? Feel like you just keep playing in the same style? Just download a preset that’s out of your comfort range and experiment with something new. Don’t like it? No worries, just overwrite it with another one, or go back to the factory presets. It’s this ability that makes the Fender Mustang the amp that keeps on giving.

FUSE opens up a world of possibilities and puts you in control of virtually every aspect of the amp.

Fender Mustang 1 vs Peavey Vypyr 15 – Conclusion

Some have said the Peavey Vypyr 15 is a waste of money and you shouldn’t look at anything less than the Vypyr 30. The Vypyr 30 though is about twice the price of the Vypyr 15, so in my opinion if that’s even an option than you should really be comparing the Vypyr 30 and Mustang II amps.

Personally, I think if you need to spend an extra $100 to get “anything resembling good tone”, then you’re probably looking at the wrong product. I say this because the Fender Mustang I truly does deliver good tone at the same price point as the Vypyr 15.

Others have been critical of the speaker choice for the Vypyr 15, saying that 8 inches is too small. This of course depends on what you plan on using the amp for. I’d say it’s definitely too small for performing a gig, but it’s plenty big for practicing at home or in an apartment. The Mustang I has the same speaker size, but few owners complain about it’s volume. I suspect this is because Vypyr 15 owners tend to be looking for a louder sound, while Mustang I owners are looking for better tone and more versatility.

The Peavey Vypyr 15 is a solid amp for metal and hard rock right out of the box, but the cleans are not as good as the Fender’s Mustang I and it lacks the versatility of the Mustang. If you have no desire to play blues, jazz or classic rock then the Vypyr 15 is a good choice. If you’re looking for maximum versatility and excellent tone, then the Fender Mustang I is the choice for you.

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Why the Fender Mustang I is the Best Practice Modeling Amp for Under $100.

Looking for the best practice amp for under $100 can be a confusing experience. Guitar Center alone carries over 100 such amps for less than $100. It’s easy to see why choosing which guitar amplifier is the best for your money can be difficult.

I realize $100 may not seem like a lot to some people, and in the world of guitar amplifiers it really isn’t that much. But for the aspiring guitarist just starting out or the hobbyist, 100 bucks can be a good chunk of change.

Many practice amps in the under $100 range are frankly not worth the money. The Fender Mustang I is the exception. In fact, I think it is hands down the best modeling amp for under $100. Here’s why.

Basic features

The Mustang I practice amp is a 20w combo modeling amp with a 1 x 8″ speaker configuration. It’s plenty loud for a practice amp, but sounds sweet with the volume down low too. It also has a headphone jack, so you won’t wake the neighbors / wife / kids etc…

Features include:

  • Line in (for CD or mp3 player)
  • Input for foot switch
  • Headphone/line out
  • USB connection port

Controls for:

  • Gain
  • Volume
  • Treble
  • Bass
  • Master
  • Preset Select
  • Modulation Select
  • Delay/Reverb Select
  • Save Button
  • Tap Tempo Button

Modeling amps are all about effects and modeling different amp configurations, so it’s not surprising that one of the major aspects that differentiate one amp from another is what presets are available on the amp.

The Mustang I amp features a total of 24 different presets, in 3 colored groups – green, amber and red. Each group has 8 presets, labeled A, B, C, D, E, F, G, #. The factory presets follow a steady progression from vintage ’57 Tweed Deluxe to increasingly heavier sounds up to more modern, metal based amps (think Mesa Boogie and Diesel).

The range of these stock presets is enough to provide hours of enjoyment, playing in a range of styles from early Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly to Hendrix and Deep Purple to Ozzy and Metallica. It also does a good job of jazz and blues, and you can always dial back the effects to get those renowned Fender cleans.

Not satisfied with the preset? Think the sound is close, but not quite right?

No problem. The Mustang features knobs to control the Gain, Treble, Bass, Volume (of the amp being modeled), Master Volume, Effects, and Reverb/delay.

Still not totally happy with the mix?

No problem. The Fender FUSE software opens the door to complete customization of sound.

Fender FUSE

Perhaps the one feature more than any other that sets the Mustang I above other modeling amps is the Fender FUSE software.

FUSE allows you to edit and tweak all the settings of an amp that are available through the top panel knobs and dozens more that aren’t. FUSE lets you to add and configure effects modeling (stompbox and rack mount) to the base amp preset. It enables you to tweak the EQ settings and effects settings and save them to the amp using one of the colored presets. It even lets you choose and configure different cabinets to model.

You can hear the changes you make in FUSE immediately on your amp, so you can fine tune all the various aspects to get the sound right with your guitar. Once you like what you hear, you just select a preset to save it to and you’re free to rock out without your computer.

FUSE doesn’t stop there though. There’s a whole FUSE community on the Fender forums where owners share their favorite presets for others to download and try. There is a multitude of different presets available for modeling various styles, bands and amp brands.

From Jazz to Blues to Rock to Metal, capturing the sound of AC/DC, Zeppelin, Clapton, ZZ Top, GNR, Metallica, Hendrix or .. frankly whatever guitarist you want is a snap with FUSE.

Once you’ve downloaded your favorite preset or built your sound rig from scratch, you save it to one of the 24 amp preset slots. After that, switching from Angus Young’s acidic rock tones to Clapton’s vintage blues is as easy as turning the knob.

Although the Mustang’s modeling of a vintage tube amp may not be 100% accurate in all cases, it’s close enough so that most people will be hard pressed to tell the difference. And those who can will likely not being playing a solid state, modeling amp to begin with. 😉

FUSE let’s you backup your current amp presets at anytime so you are free to customize and tweak, secure in the knowledge of that backup safety net. Totally hosed your preset? Can’t stand the settings on your amp anymore? no problem, just restore the backup and that ugly episode never happened.

FUSE gives the Mustang owner the keys to the kingdom in terms of controlling their amp. It gives you full control of the modeling and sound, and it keeps things fresh and exciting. That’s also what makes this a great amp for the hobbyist. If you find yourself stuck in a certain style of play, just fire up FUSE and give your amp a makeover, or download a new community preset. It’s amazing what a change in sound will do to your playing style.

It is because of FUSE that I believe the Fender Mustang series of amps is perhaps the most versatile modeling amp on the market today.

Effects

The Mustang controls let you choose from a variety of different effects using the 2 knobs on the top: Mod and Delay/Reverb.

That’s the basic way to flavor your sound with a touch of effect, but the FUSE software really blows the doors open on adding effects.

Here’s how the virtual effects work on FUSE:

You can chain up to 4 different effect types together to sculpt the sound you want.

The 4 effect types are:

  • Stomp
  • Mod
  • Delay
  • Reverb

So, you can create an amp preset with 1 stomp, 1 mod, 1 delay and 1 reverb effect all linked together. Furthermore, each effect setting is fully configurable – just like a real effects pedal, or rack effect.

Here’s a further breakdown of the effects:

  • Stomp effects.
  • Overdrive
  • Fixed Wah
  • Touch Wah
  • Fuzz
  • Fuzz Touch Wah
  • Compressor
  • Simple Compressor

Mod effects.

  • Sine Chorus
  • Triangle Chorus
  • Sine Flanger
  • Triangle Flanger
  • Vibratone
  • Vintage Tremolo
  • Sine Tremolo
  • Ring Modulator
  • Step Filter
  • Phaser
  • Pitch Shifter

Delay effects.

  • Mono Delay
  • Mono Echo Filter
  • Stereo Echo Filter
  • Multitap Delay
  • Ping Pong Delay
  • Ducking Delay
  • Reverse Delay
  • Tape Delay
  • Stereo Tape Delay

Reverb effects.

  • Small Hall
  • Large Hall
  • Small Room
  • Large Room
  • Small Plate
  • Large Plate
  • Ambient
  • Arena
  • Fender ’63 Spring Reverb
  • Fender ’65 Spring Reverb

To be honest, adding the virtual effects to the amp modeling via FUSE is not as flexible as a standard stompbox because that effect is then on the preset always, whereas if you use a pedal effect you can easily toggle it on and off. But the Fender Mustang, as with many modeling amps, isn’t meant to replace pedal effects completely. Besides, you can always create a stripped down amp model and attach your stompbox as you would with a non-modeling amp.

I think most people will agree though that the multitude of effects available on this amp is quite generous for the $99 price.

Software

The Mustang also comes with Ableton Live and IK Amplitude software programs. These are studio software for recording, mixing and arranging music. You can add drums or stings to the background of your recording. You can even alter the tone of your guitar sound – yet again – with Amplitube.

Demo

Check out this most excellent demo of the Fender Mustang I:

Summary

If you’re just starting out learning to play guitar, you probably want to skip modeling amps entirely, and get a very good, very basic guitar amplifier.

But once you’ve mastered the basics and you’re looking to take your playing to the next level, take a look at the Mustang I. The possibilities open to the guitarist with this package are astounding, and all for just $99!

 

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