In my online course at Berklee Online: Funk/Rock R&B Soloing and in my instructional book, Funk R&B Guitar: Creative Solos, Grooves and Sounds, I talk about guitar sounds and effects that are common to the genre, both back-in-the-day and in contemporary tunes. One of the flagship sounds for the genre is the envelope filter. Envelope filters might be described as wah pedals in disguise. Instead of having a rocking treadle for use with your foot, the filter is automatically controlled with volume or velocity. Essentially, the harder you pick, the more “wah” you get. You can get some very interesting sounds after fine-tuning and experimenting with your picking and plucking.
Back in the day it was the Mu-tron III envelope filter that showed up in funk on guitar and on basslines. In a recent blog post, I talked about the 3-Leaf Audio Proton envelope filter as a hot contender for today’s market. I recently stumbled on a rare find in the Guyatone WRm5 Wah Rocker pedal. These are no longer made and seem few and far between in used circles. I was looking for something for my pedaltrain nano board. Yes, I am on a constant search for smaller effective pedals that I can squeeze onto that little go-to board! I took a chance with the WRm5 since I had never played much with this model. I did, at one point, try out its predecessor, the WR2 many moons back. The WRm5 has the standard features of most envelope filters: Decay, Threshold, Response, although differently named from some other auto-wahs, give full control over the quality of wah and oww that you get over time. In addition, it has a “blend” switch which allows you to mix the original signal back in with the effect. Though I have never found it necessary to mix my original signal back in with an auto wah sound, it seems an interesting feature. I will experiment with this one to see what my personal applications for it might be.
Overall, I think the Guyatone WRm5 Wah Rocker is an unbelievable find, and is about the smallest full-featured envelope filter I have enjoyed thus far. Mine was an eBay quick sell on buy-it-now at about $160.00, which is probably pricier than they were when they first came out, but given that these things are untraceable, it was a good value addition to the mini funk bag of tricks! Keep an eye out on eBay for one! AAAA+
Below is a YouTube demo I found for this pedal: