The original Vox Clyde McCoy wah pedals of the late 1960s are high on the list of soughtafter vintage effects. They were widely used during live performances and on legendary recordings by players such as Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck. Because of both the historic value and the distinct sound they produce, original McCoys command big bucks. And vintage purists know you’ve got to have the real thing if you want the real tone.
But wait. With the increasing prevalence of faithful reproductions and reissues, does that still hold true? One of the potential disspellers of that myth is Fulltone’s Clyde wah pedal, an unofficial reissue of the Clyde McCoy.
Built by Mike Fuller, the Fulltone Clyde is available in Powder-coated White, Hammertone Black, and Hammertone Gray colors. The pedal itself is solidly constructed and includes a rubber slip-proof surface on top of the treadle. The treadle rocks back and forth smoothly with a small amount of resistance that allows for better control of the effect. The tension of the treadle can be adjusted with the proprietary “nylock” nut on the side, placed at the pivot point. The Clyde will stay set in whatever position selected, which isn’t always possible on wah pedals that are well-worn. The Clyde also includes four large rubber feet on the bottom of the pedal, which prevent it from slipping. The insides are accessed by removing the feet, which is done easily and without a screwdriver.
Inside, Fulltone’s handwired circuit incorporates a design similar to that of the original and uses comparable components, such as carbon composition resistors, Polypropylene WIMA .01 capacitors, and a tuned-core handwired inductor made from the same type of wire (with the same inductance) as the original. The Clyde also includes Fulltone’s “Fullrange” pot, a copy of the ’60s Icar pot used on the originals. The Fullrange pot is rated at 150,000 turns per lifespan, instead of the industry standard 15,000, and it provides a much wider sweep. The Clyde also includes a trim-pot that functions as a resonance control to add more gain and expand the effect’s frequency response for more lower-mids and bass. Set it at 6 o’clock, you’ll hear the standard ’60s Vox wah setting. The pedal’s on/off switch is easy to engage and doesn’t cause any sort of loud pop through the amp when you step on it. And the Clyde causes no volume loss.
And the sound?
Since the Clyde was created as an upgraded reissue, we ran it up against the original, which was made in Italy, and a recent Dunlop Crybaby. We recruited a ca. ’67 Vox Clyde McCoy “picture” wah (Clyde’s picture’s on the bottom), and a ’68 Vox Clyde McCoy “signature” wah (no picture, Clyde’s name in italics). We compared their tonal responses and functional capabilities, listening for the differences in the tones produced by each pedal’s filter, and to relate the signal and noise levels each pedal created.
With many vintage effects, there’s often wide variation between pedals. That’s to be expected, even among the same models built in the same production run. In the ’60s and early ’70s, components weren’t always built within tight tolerances, and manufacturers often used whatever components were available at the time, so slight variations in construction were not uncommon. As anyone who has tinkered with any number of vintage wahs knows, all wahs were not created equal.
Our tests revealed many things, including that the sweep range of the Fulltone was a bit wider than that of the vintage pedals, with noticeably more bottom and top-end. The taper of the pot on the Fulltone pedal was super-smooth, and we were able to hear minute changes as the treadle was moving in each direction. Very cool!
Along with all the vintage mystique of the older pedals, there were some quirks with each of the original Vox wahs (as might be expected with any vintage effects that have seen 30 years of use). We do have to take into consideration that these pedals were the best of what was available at the time, and possibly the best examples of well-working originals. However, for modern players who need signal processing to be extremely quiet and highly reliable, some of those quirks are simply unacceptable.
Some things we noticed; when using the “signature” Clyde, we heard some clunking sounds through the amp as the treadle hit the base in its full up or down positions. And the “picture” Clyde produced some scratchy sounds heard as the pot was turned to the mid point. On both original Clydes, the switches were fairly noisy and produced distinct pops. Furthermore, both originals showed slight volume loss when the effect was engaged. The Fulltone’s switch was quieter than both, and there was no volume loss at all when the effect was on.
In summary, of all the wah pedals in our selection, the Fulltone demonstrated the widest tonal range, the best tapered pot, smoothest treadle action, and offered the most control of the effect. In addition, the Clyde operates on a single 9-volt battery and can also be used with an optional AC adapter.
So, our assessment revealed that the Fulltone Clyde carried the classic design to the next generation by preserving that alluring ’60s tone and adding the flexibility preferred by modern players. If you’re in the market for a wah pedal, be sure to check out the Clyde.
Fulltone Clyde Wah
Type of Unit: Wah pedal
Features: Extended travel range, custom Fullrange pot, resonance control, tuned-core inductor, true bypass switch, adjustable treadle, operates on 9-volt battery or AC power (AC adapter is optional), limited lifetime warranty
Contact: Fulltone Custom Effects, 3815 Beethoven Street, Los Angeles, CA 90066, (310) 397-3456, e-mail,firstname.lastname@example.org, www.fulltone.com
This review originally appeared in VG‘s Apr. ’01 issue.