Is The Sonuus Wahoo The Right Studio Wah For A Session Guitarist?

Amped blogger Michael Elsner takes a look at the Sonuus Wahoo   04-Apr-14

Is The Sonuus Wahoo The Right Studio Wah For A Session Guitarist?

Michael Elsner is a session musician and composer based in California. In this article, he takes a look at the Sonuus Wahoo Wah pedal...

I've never considered myself a 'gear whore' by any means. I'm very much of the mindset that you buy a piece of gear and squeeze every inch out of it that you possibly can. I'm also very much a fan of gear that has the ability to give us guitar players an incredible variety of sounds at a reasonable price. Great tone starts with our fingers, but I really feel that true inspiration hits when we have a great sound coming from our rig.

One piece of gear that's inspired me quite a bit lately is a pedal called the Wahoo by Sonuus. The Wahoo is a digitally controlled analog filter/wah.  It has two separate filters which lends itself to creating an incredible variety of sounds. It's not a one trick pony by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, with this pedal, you're limited only by your imagination. The amount of sonic 'juice' that can be extracted from this piece is really quite unlimited.

I've been playing with the Wahoo in my studio for the last 3 weeks and I still feel like I'm just barely scratching the surface with it. There are plenty of videos and reviews online, which I encourage you to check out, but I wanted to describe a little about this pedal, my experience playing with it, and why I'm excited about it.

What I find particularly interesting about this unit is that it's a digitally controlled analog circuit with true bypass. This pure analog signal gives the pedal a very warm tone, while also allowing for an incredible amount of editing capabilities. This flexibility allows us guitar players and bass players, a great deal of control over our sound.

There are 100 Factory Presets and 100 User Presets. The Factory Presets are bundled into groups of 10 for easy navigation and access to the sounds you're looking for. For example, Presets 0-9 are various wah sounds, Presets 10-19 are vocal vowel sounds, Presets 60-69 are rhythmic LFO beats, etc.

There are two modes to the Wahoo. There's performance mode, which is simply choosing one of the 100 presets and having fun, and then there's programming mode, where you can go extremely in depth to edit and create your own sounds.

For the most part, editing the parameters is very simple, and straight forward. However, the only thing that starts to get confusing is not the pedal itself, but the theory behind filters. By and large, these concepts are a bit foreign to guitar players as we rarely deal with this type of stuff, especially the deep editing of their parameters, but Sonuus does an exquisite job in their manual, covering the theory of precisely what each parameter is doing. They even go so far as to include pictures and graphs so that we can visually see how these parameters are effecting the sound.

Like what you're reading from Michael? Watch our SonicState Amped review of the Sonuus Wahoo by Gaz Williams

Housed in a very sturdy aluminum casing, this unit will last through the rigors of road travel and heavy use. There are two protective bars that prevent your foot from accidentally pressing any of the knobs used for editing, which, when pressed, take us into programming mode. They took this security feature one step further by adding a lock switch on the back of the unit that keeps it locked in performance mode.

Which brings me to the performance of the Wahoo. The feel of the foot pedal is very smooth, with a fair amount of resistance, just enough to be comfortable when rocking those wah sounds. Their proprietary pedal sensor removes the need for a potentiometer that, like many other wah pedals, will inevitably wear out. With that in mind, there is no potential for those annoying crackling or scratching sounds many of us have become accustomed to with standard wahs.

I can keep going on and on about the construction and flexibility of the Wahoo, but the main point I want to make is that it SOUNDS GREAT!! Sonically this is a very warm unit which is what really surprised me.  While I enjoy the variety of wah tones that come as presets with the Wahoo, I especially enjoy using the filter effects. Some of the coolest, in my opinion, are the touch wah effects. These filter effects are touch sensitive and respond to the aggressiveness in your playing. However, once I discovered that I could sync the LFO's to the tempo of my recording, I was completely sold.

I love beat sync'd sounds, especially when they lay low in a track and propel the beat/groove along. But, Sonuus took it a few steps further with the Wahoo. You can sync the LFO to multiple tempos.  For example, let's say you have a song with a tempo of 120.  You can set separate high and low BPMs. With the foot pedal in the toe-down position, the LFO can sync at 120 BPM and in heel-down position, you could set it to 60 BPM. You can then rock the pedal to ramp up and down between the two tempos for a 'mock leslie' sound which I love.

Not only can each of the filter's LFOs be synced to a tempo, but their subdivisions can be completely independent.  Filter 1 can be locked to a subdivision of 1/4 notes, while the LFO of filter 2 can be locked to 1/8 notes, and so on.

And while we're talking about LFOs, the Wahoo allows for a multitude of waveform shapes, including, sine, triangle, square, various saw and trapezoid as well as random.

I also want to mention the very unique pitch tracking filter effects. The Wahoo will track the pitch of the note you play and vary the filter to the pitch of the notes. This creates some truly unique sounds, that, again, with the flexibility of the editing capabilities, allow you to fine-tune and create your own exotic sounds.

One last feature of the Wahoo that deserves some discussion is it's ability to sync with a computer via USB. This allows it to sync to the computer for midi operations, as well as to update the firmware. It can even be fully powered via USB. Any pedal or piece of gear that allows for continuous future firmware updates becomes a 'living' piece of gear in my opinion, and knowing that Sonuus has planned for future firmware updates makes this pedal an even more secure investment.

Stylistically, the Wahoo is a pedal that I feel is ideal for all genres of music. Everything from rock to pop to funk to experimental and beyond. Even dance and electronic musicians would benefit greatly incorporating this pedal into their live/recording rigs.  As its flexibility is really unsurpassed in such a small, compact unit.

Overall, I really enjoy the Wahoo as it truly offers you a limitless variety of filter sounds. Learning your way around the unit is very quick and easy, as is programming, saving, and naming your own presets.

Because of the nature of filters and the wide variety of parameters associated with them, it may take some time to get used to what each parameter is and how those adjustments will help you achieve the exact sounds you're looking for. However, that's more personal knowledge of the theory of analog filters as opposed to the pedal design, and with the pedal design, I believe that Sonuus has a real winner with the Wahoo.

For more from Michael, and to hear his music, go to

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