The wah-wah pedal, which first hit its stride in the opening guitar solo of Jimi Hendrix’s 1968 Voodoo Child (Slight Return), defined the trippier side of funk ever since the genre started making everybody a little more mellow. But the pedal’s invention was a total accident.
It came into being as the love-child of a commercial liaison between the Vox Continental Organ (seen here in this video of the Animals’ 1964 “House of the Rising Sun”), and the Vox Super Beatle Guitar amp in 1966. Sometimes opportunistic corporate mergers lead to innovation, apparently. On the cusp of the psychedelic era, the British amp maker Vox was looking for ways to capitalize on Beatlemania. In 1965, it inked an agreement with California-based Thomas Organ Co., permitting the production of Vox amps in the United States. A subsequent redesign of the Super Beatle into a cheaper solid-state amp (as opposed to one that used more expensive vacuum tubes), and the marriage of the organ and the guitar led to the accidental invention of a more groovy expression pedal.
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