Trucker Side FX Wah Wah
It’s time to talk about “the hunt.” This is the term that exists among aficionados of all stripes, pertaining to building one’s collection through means other than paying collectors’ prices. Hunters regularly comb the digital (and sometimes print) landscape in search of deals and outright steals for rare artifacts from their chosen field. For us pedal geeks, it means searching out misspelled Craigslist ads, combing through broken pedal bins accumulated by longtime musicians, and even silently praying through the aisles at antique malls. Many Cabinet items were acquired in this way, and I take pride in my abilities.
Pedal connoisseurs of today are far different from those pre-internet. Now that players of all nationalities are electronically united in geekery, pretty much everything pedal-adjacent has been cataloged, disassembled and revived. A huge boom of effects in the ‘80s kickstarted the novelty, which brought inevitable undercutters and profiteers. The umbrella of effects greatly expanded in this era, and suddenly there were more brands than ever before. Suddenly, the bar was significantly raised; self-professed pedal nerds suddenly had a lot of studying to do in order to earn that label. We’ve got entire media channels dedicated to this stuff now. Digital gladiators log on and line up to do daily battle on the fields of overdrive esoterica even now.
And among this morass of content, several beacons have emerged, and the world’s pedals have been exhaustively cataloged through the efforts of Bart over at effectsdatabase.com. Between his fantastic resource and the digital pages of a library’s worth of effects blogs, it’s rare, but sometimes new effects can slip by the most scrutinizing of lenses. As for what this has to do with yours truly, I am in a position where I own a pedal not yet cataloged by even the hardiest of pedal nerds, and it is the Trucker Side FX Wah Wah. Though Google turns up some rather meager results, you’ll find that the only pictures of this pedal that exist are ones of my actual unit.
I was a very active forum participant (if you’re really into pedals, you could probably guess which) around the time that Ed Prence, owner of the excellent Tonemachines blog, hipped the world to the SRS EQ Exciter. It was pretty inspiring stuff; mostly because there was nothing “EQ” or “exciter” about anything within. This was a certified old-school fuzz unit that managed to shoehorn itself into the fuzz lexicon some 35 years after it was released. Fuzzheads know that there are several “categories” of fuzz devices; Fuzz Faces, Big Muffs, Tone Benders and so on. Well, SRS created a whole new one back in 1977, and nobody knew about it until 2012. How cool is that? Back when I worked for Tone Report, I wrote an article on how to build your own. My personal build for that project sounded absolutely fantastic with off-the-shelf parts. I was enrapt.
While my Trucker Side FX Wah doesn’t go as far to reinvent the wheel, it is an interesting footnote in the saga of English wah, of which Vox was the dominant force. The Trucker Side FX Wah has one fewer resistor than the classic Vox circuit, with one spot that may have held one is replaced with a jumper wire. The circuit board appears extremely brittle so I dare not detach it from the standoff, but it appears that the 470R resistor from Q1 emitter isn’t present. I like my Q1 emitter resistor at 200 ohms, 180 ohms if you’re sassy. However, there is no resistor on the board smaller than 1.5K. There’s a shoddily potted wah inductor, two high-gain BC184C transistors, and vintage Philips caps throughout. Wait, this isn’t a Vox circuit at all. It’s a Colorsound Wah.
Colorsound Wahs are prized for their musicality, enhanced resonance and “quack.” They accomplish this range of sound by omitting the “Q” resistor (the width of the frequency band swept by the wah potentiometer). Almost every wah up until this point has had between 33K and 100K in this position (only the earliest Vox wahs had 100K). All of this added up to a buttery, intense wah that sits perfectly in the mix. While the Vox and Cry Baby wahs got all the attention of the era, Colorsound had a few heavy hitters in their stable: Jerry Garcia, Marc Bolan, Brian Robertson and some guy who just went by Prince.
Discovering things like this is a welcomed byproduct of the hunt; while a Colorsound Wah circuit isn’t exactly cause to pump the brakes, it’s cool to be able to pick up the trowel and fill some of the remaining artifacts of the effects codex.