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Area 51 Wah
Old 22nd June 2009
  #1
Gear Guru
 
kafka's Avatar
Thumbs up Area 51 Wah

OK, I've had an Area 51 wah for going on a month now, and have finally had the chance to really try it out. At first, I wasn't sure if the $300+ was really worth it. I mean, it's a wah wah pedal, for Pete's sake. Shouldn't a $70 Crybaby do the trick?

The relevant question, though, is how often is the Crybaby (or any other wah) just the right one? Sometimes it is - no doubt about it. But what I've found is that different combinations of guitars, amps, and other pedals make one wah or another less suitable. With the Area 51, that is much less of a problem. With the standard range control, the buffering circuit, the "quack" and the "growl" knob options, it's easy to tune it to get the exact sound you need.

With the buffering circuit, the Area 51's ideal location is before your overdrive pedal. This gives a much more amp-like interaction between the two. If you find that certain frequencies are peaking out too much, change you range or back off on the quack control. Need a little more push in the low-end? Increase the growl. The Area 51 can handle both gentle and aggressive wah styles. The knobs are a little subtle, because the sound doesn't really change until you start playing the Area 51. The versatility doesn't really become apparent until everything is in motion.

Now, saying the Area 51 is highly adaptable doesn't mean it doesn't have it's own sound. It has a personality of it's own, which may or may not suit you. I'd say it has a very refined character, compared to other wahs. It's a very milky filter, more like you might find in a phaser. It also seems to have a very steep cutoff. If I could add another knob to it (as if 3 weren't enough!), I'd put a blend knob to mix between the straight and wah's signals, to temper the steep cutoff.

At $300+, the Area 51 is one of the most expensive wahs on the market. True, without options, the Area 51 goes for as little as $200. But, it just won't be as adaptable. If I had to order my preference for options, it would be: buffer, quack, growl, side LED. Really, though, just get all of them, and don't look back.

If a cheaper wah that suits you, then save your money and buy it instead. If a $70 Crybaby is your thing, then yeah, definitely, don't spend 4.5x's as much on the Area 51. However, If you find yourself covering different styles on multiple guitars or amps, you'll probably find that the Area 51 is the one wah that covers the most bases.
Old 22nd June 2009
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Brickman's Avatar
 

Killer wah , u might like to try the Fuzz too , buttery fuzz , absolutely delicious tone and not crazy expensive either . Looking forward to Area51's tube tremolo too , that dude makes some great pedals .

Just came across this on youtube -

YouTube - Montgomery Appliances '77 Flanger IV

Sounds almost as tasty as the A/DA flanger .
Old 23rd June 2009
  #3
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brickman View Post
Just came across this on youtube -

YouTube - Montgomery Appliances '77 Flanger IV

Sounds almost as tasty as the A/DA flanger .
Is that actually available to buy?

I do like my Area 51 wah a lot, but the treadle is a bit on the loose side for my taste - if I take my foot off, it falls to toe down position on its own accord.
Old 23rd June 2009
  #4
Lives for gear
 
Brickman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TEMAS View Post
Is that actually available to buy?

I do like my Area 51 wah a lot, but the treadle is a bit on the loose side for my taste - if I take my foot off, it falls to toe down position on its own accord.
Mmm , that sounds like a PITA , haven't had that problem yet *fingers crossed . Maybe u should email Dan , he seems to be very responsive and helpful .
I don't know about the 77 flanger , I've emailed Montgomery Appliances , waiting to hear back.......
Old 24th June 2009
  #5
Gear Guru
 
kafka's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by TEMAS View Post
Is that actually available to buy?

I do like my Area 51 wah a lot, but the treadle is a bit on the loose side for my taste - if I take my foot off, it falls to toe down position on its own accord.
That's too loose. I had a Morley wah around 25 years ago that used to do that. No matter how much I tightened it, it always worked itself loose. Call up Area 51 and see if they can help you out.
Old 30th June 2009
  #6
Lives for gear
 

The treadle's resistance is controlled by a tensioning band pressing against the rack (the long straight gear that turns the pinion gear on the wah pot). Usually one just tightens that screws a bit or wipes off a bit the lubricant.

Most if not all Jen/Vox derived units (Dunlop, Teese, A51 etc.) use this arrangement.

Andy
Old 26th October 2011
  #7
Here for the gear
 
rsrd's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kafka View Post
OK, I've had an Area 51 wah for going on a month now, and have finally had the chance to really try it out. At first, I wasn't sure if the $300+ was really worth it. I mean, it's a wah wah pedal, for Pete's sake. Shouldn't a $70 Crybaby do the trick?

The relevant question, though, is how often is the Crybaby (or any other wah) just the right one? Sometimes it is - no doubt about it. But what I've found is that different combinations of guitars, amps, and other pedals make one wah or another less suitable. With the Area 51, that is much less of a problem. With the standard range control, the buffering circuit, the "quack" and the "growl" knob options, it's easy to tune it to get the exact sound you need.

With the buffering circuit, the Area 51's ideal location is before your overdrive pedal. This gives a much more amp-like interaction between the two. If you find that certain frequencies are peaking out too much, change you range or back off on the quack control. Need a little more push in the low-end? Increase the growl. The Area 51 can handle both gentle and aggressive wah styles. The knobs are a little subtle, because the sound doesn't really change until you start playing the Area 51. The versatility doesn't really become apparent until everything is in motion.

Now, saying the Area 51 is highly adaptable doesn't mean it doesn't have it's own sound. It has a personality of it's own, which may or may not suit you. I'd say it has a very refined character, compared to other wahs. It's a very milky filter, more like you might find in a phaser. It also seems to have a very steep cutoff. If I could add another knob to it (as if 3 weren't enough!), I'd put a blend knob to mix between the straight and wah's signals, to temper the steep cutoff.

At $300+, the Area 51 is one of the most expensive wahs on the market. True, without options, the Area 51 goes for as little as $200. But, it just won't be as adaptable. If I had to order my preference for options, it would be: buffer, quack, growl, side LED. Really, though, just get all of them, and don't look back.

If a cheaper wah that suits you, then save your money and buy it instead. If a $70 Crybaby is your thing, then yeah, definitely, don't spend 4.5x's as much on the Area 51. However, If you find yourself covering different styles on multiple guitars or amps, you'll probably find that the Area 51 is the one wah that covers the most bases.
Thanks for the post. Been looking at the CAE wah but heard great things about area 51 as well.
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