Pedal to the Metal: The 25 Greatest Wah Solos of All Time
We pick the 25 greatest rock and roll wah solos of all time.
Since the guitar's inception, there have been countless talented players who could make the instrument sing, but it wasn't until the mid-Sixties and the arrival of the wah pedal that guitarists could make it cry.
Perhaps because it entered the collective consciousness at the hands—or feet, rather—of guitar gods like Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton, the wah pedal has been a vital part of the rock and roll lexicon since it was introduced by Vox, finding favor with guitarists who wanted to bring a whole new level of expressive possibilities to their playing.
More than any other effect pedal, the wah has played a key role in some of modern guitar's shining moments, from Slash's epic, ascending run in "Sweet Child O' Mine" to Eddie Hazel making wah synonymous with funk in the Seventies to Hendrix simply doing that voodoo that he did so well.
In honor of its place in rock history, the Guitar World staff recently picked out the very best wah solo moments of all time, each a snapshot of a great guitarist letting his voice be heard through a truly rock and roll pedal. Of course, we considered the quality of the solo itself and the song's iconic status in the world of rock and roll.
25. "1969" — The Stooges (The Stooges, 1969)
Soloist: Ron Asheton
Raw, visceral and distorted to the max, Ron Asheton's solo on this Stooges classic may not win any composition awards, but it was the perfect compliment to Iggy Pop's gutteral snarl.
24. "Walk Away" — James Gang (Thirds, 1971)
Soloist: Joe Walsh
It comes in just at the end of the song, but Joe Walsh's solo spot on "Walk Away" is a bit of a late-in-the-game show-stealer. Since 2007, Walsh has had his very own signature wah made by Real McCoy Custom.
23. "Cult of Personality" — Living Colour (Vivid, 1988)
Soloist: Vernon Reid
"Cult of Personality" was the song that instantly made Vernon Reid a household name in the alt metal community, combining manic use of the wah with a stream-of-conscious flurry of notes straight from the mind of a true guitar junky. Even more impressive, Reid stated in a 1988 Guitar World interview that the solo was a first take.
22. "25 or 6 to 4" — Chicago (Chicago, 1970)
Soloist: Terry Kath
On the second half of a lengthy guitar solo on this Chicago classic, Terry Kath introduces a distortion-drenched, wah-driven guitar line that melds incredibly well with the song's horn section. Fun fact: Kath was once referred to as "the best guitar player in the universe" by Jimi Hendrix.
21. "Maggot Brain" — Funkadelic (Maggot Brain, 1971)
Soloist: Eddie Hazel
On the opposite end of the the spectrum from the ultra-tight, ultra-clean guitar sounds many listeners identify with funk is Eddie Hazel's tone on this 10-plus-minute track from Funkadelic, which features no vocals and serves primarily as a vehicle for Hazel to explore the deepest reaches of space in his wah-wah-powered mothership.
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