If you want to spice up your playing and give it a full new edge, a great way to do this is through effects pedals. One of the most popular bass effects pedals in modern music is the wah wah pedal.
Wah wah pedals alter the pitch of your notes, raising and lowering them to achieve fully different tones out of them.
While wah wah pedals are often associated with sloppy players (many tend to use them to hide the mistakes that they make) you will be the exception to the rule, right?
Using a wah wah pedal is not a get out of practice free card. While wah wah pedals can be a great supplement to your playing to change your tone, they should remain just that; a supplement.
If you find yourself reverting to the wah wah pedal each and every time you solo, you won’t know if you are playing sloppily or not; the pedal changes your pitch too much to tell.
The best thing to do when using a wah wah pedal is to practice your lick before you use the pedal. If you happen to write one while using your pedal, that’s okay; simply practice it later on without the use of your pedal. This will stop you from playing a sloppy lick.
Because of the amount of compression a wah wah pedal can give, it can sometimes be difficult to tell if you are hitting all of the correct notes. This is why it is so important to practice the lick without any effects. It will allow you to make sure that each and every note is as it should be; clean.
You don’t need to limit your wah wah pedal to licks; it can be used for riffs, too.
While it isn’t recommended that you write an entire song using the wah wah pedal (it will become an enormous blue of notes) you can write full sections of a song using the wah wah pedal. If you have a song you are working on, either with or without your band, try making one of the sections a bass section.
Take the lead, but don’t start going insane; write a riff using the wah wah pedal. Although it isn’t a bass song, the song Bad Horsey by Steve Vai is a perfect example of the proper usage of a wah wah pedal. The riffs are sound heavy and mean, is they are mostly written with the wah wah pedal in the down position.
Try implementing some of these techniques into your own riff writing.
Your riffs don’t have to be complex; they can be simple three note patterns. The important thing is that you use the wah wah properly to achieve a good tone with those notes. Fifteen misused notes are useless; three well used notes are useful. Keep this in mind, because more isn’t always better.
The best way to hone your wah wah pedal skills is to practice. You will never know what can sound great until you try. You might even surprise yourself.
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