My old Cry Baby GCB95 started generate weird noise so I went and bought the flagship of the Cry Baby line, the 535Q. Compared to GCB95 which is a no-frills basic wah-wah pedal, 535Q is like a control room of a space module. There is range selector (controls how wide the wah range is), Q-control (controls how “sharp” the upper frequency of the wah sounds), Volume – boost control (up to 15 dB) and little sideswitch for turning the boost on and off. Volume boost is handy if you care about the slight signal loss wah pedal normally causes. You can use the boost also to overdrive your amp´s preamp input. The pedal includes red Fasel inductor, which should give you the sound of the classic 60s wahs (you know, Jimi Hendrix, Clapton etc) – but to be honest I cannot tell difference between fasel and stock inductor. Maybe Eric Johnson would notice the difference – the legend is that Johnson uses only Duracell batteries in his pedals because they sound the best (go figure). There is small improvements over old Cry Babys, like you can actually switch batteries now without opening the whole damn thing.
Sounds and features:
For a fan of very basic wah-pedals there is probably too many variables to tweak in this pedal and I feel some of the settings are not very usable on guitar at least (the lowest range levels – I still haven´t found any use for them). It took some time to get the sound I wanted and the settings are a bit confusing at first. You can easily get lost in the world of obsessing over the Q-parameter or range selector. After tweaking there is good basic Cry Baby sound and you can get a bit milder wah sound which resembles classic Vox wah sounds. The superstar settings in the manual are pretty unusable (they namedrop everything from Hendrix to Zappa – but the settings seem pretty random). I´d say never mind the manual, go experiment with the settings. Range selector is a great feature, with basic Cry Baby you have to manually adjust the “stick” inside the pedal to change the range, here you can do it on the fly with a big nice knob. Q-control is a mixed bag, you can dramatically alter your wah tone with it, but it is sometimes hard to say where it should be set in relation of the range setting. Volume boost does what is advertises, my only grip is that the little switch on the side of the pedal is pretty hard to hit when playing on stage. Also the forever problem with Cry Babys is that it is hard to know if the pedal is on or off. If you are not interested in extensive tweaking and don´t need volume boost, just get a basic Cry Baby – you probably end up spending more time playing with it 🙂
Quality and reliability:
Build quality is good like it should be with expensive pedal, it shall be seen how the electronics hold up. My last Cry Baby broke down with some noise problems, the chassis of Cry Babys are pretty much indestructable. Knobs are sturdy and after 5 years of use there has been no scratching sounds or anything with the main potentiometer.
My favorite Cry Baby 535Q settings:
Range: 3 from top
Volume: middle (I rarely use the volume boost)
Q: 3/4 full