Fattening the Tone in a Vintage Vox Wah Pedal

By Paul Marossy

Last Updated 01/28/06

I find the tone of many 70s Italian manufactured Vox wah pedals to be somewhat thin and nasally. The particular one that I have has the original Fasel inductor, and it sounds nice, but I felt that it could have a much fatter sound. Thus began my quest to make it a killer sounding wah. Since this is not an original Clyde McCoy, I have no qualms about replacing a few parts to make it sound more to my liking. One thing to note is that these old PCBs are pretty easy to damage when desoldering components, so be careful!

The first thing that I tried was replacing the original Arco caps with some tropical fish caps. The results of that mod were inconclusive, but I think it improved the sound slightly. Still not satisfied that it couldn't be improved more, I tried some other things. I had already true bypassed it, but there was a little bit of a volume drop when the wah was engaged. Rather than replacing the input resistor, I added a 200K trimpot in parallel with the 68K input resistor to help with that. A measured resistance of 47K seems to be about the best setting and gave it the best tone.

The transistors do play some role in the overall sound, so I replaced both the FGT102 transistor on the input and the SIP5172 transistor with some BC109 transistors, and that was an improvement. But still not quite fat sounding enough.

Remembering some of the things I did when I modded my GCB-95, I surmised that the 660 ohm resistor on the emitter of the input transistor needed to be lowered. I tried a 330 ohm resistor first and that gave it the full sound that I was looking for. That one resistor seems to have have the biggest impact on the sound of all the things that I replaced! It's kind of odd that there was a 660 ohm resistor here as it would normally be a 390 ohm resistor. In the picture below, this resistor is the one directly below the 4uF cap. Lowering the value of this resistor will let more mids and lows through.

With a little bit of patience, I now have a fine sounding wah that sounds about as good as the best ones I have heard. All during this process, I had to find the best setting of the pot's rotation in conjunction with the mods I performed. Hopefully, this page will give you some ideas on how improve your wah tones.

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