Few would argue that Kirk Hammett is the all-time champion of wah pedal overuse, but when cat-crazy shredder Mrs. Smith threw down the gauntlet, the Metallica icon couldn’t resist taking on the unlikely challenger - and the resultant high-stakes wah-off has finally taken place.
At a show for Hammett’s covers project The Wedding Band in Columbia, SC over the weekend, the two finally squared off to see who was the ultimate user and abuser of the Cry Baby wah.
Gibson’s Mark Agnesi, who orchestrated the event during an interview with Smith, introduced the seven-minute wacka battle, which saw Hammett and Smith trading licks over a gained-up reimagining of perhaps the most iconic wah-wah track ever: Theme From Shaft.
The bout initially appeared to be going well for Hammett, as his high-rising pentatonic leads - delivered on top of a giant Cry Baby - had Smith conceding, “He’s more powerful than I ever could have imagined! This will be harder than I thought...”
The treadles were soon to turn, however: at the five-and-a-half-minute mark, Smith wrapped up a furious legato run and achieved the unprecedented feat of operating four wah pedals at once - destroying Hammett’s previous record of three simultaneous wahs on Metallica’s Hardwired.
The resultant wah offensive saw Hammett forfeiting, proclaiming, “I think I’ve just been out-wah’d, people - a moment in history has just occurred.”
“I learned it all from watching you,” replied Mrs. Smith, after receiving a gold Cry Baby plaque certifying her position as “the new undisputed champion of the overuse of the Cry Baby wah-wah pedal”.
Will we see Smith continue her wacka-wacka dominance and topple Hammett’s envious position on our list of the best wah-pedal solos of all time?
The rest of The Wedding Band’s setlist that historic evening spanned everything from AC/DC to Kool & The Gang, and also saw Hammett reprising his cover of Fleetwood Mac’s The Green Manalishi, which he performed at last month’s all-star Peter Green tribute.