CaliforniWAH… You just gotta love that name. But does it sound as great as it pronounces? Let’s grab a bass and find out!
Eden’s CaliforniWAH belongs to the category of effects that I have chosen to name Filter & Wah on this site. But it could also be envelope filter, envelope follower, touch wah, auto wah or similar. The point is we’re talking about an effect that triggers a certain filter based on the dynamics of the input source. The wah effect is not following e.g. a time-based LFO, but responds to how you play accordingly to how you have chosen to set the sensitivity parameter.
The CaliforniWAH features 4 knobs a switch and a footswitch. All the knobs are labeled with numbers from 0 – 10 and with indicators for every step, which actually adds up to 11 markers. This can be somewhat confusing as for instance setting a knob at 2 equals the 9 o’clock position and similarly 5 and 8 are the 12 and 3 o’clock positions respectively.
Anyways, from the left, the first knob controls what Eden has decided to call LOW POINT. Essentially, it defines a frequency from which the filter ‘picks up’ so to speak. The lower the setting, the lower the frequency. I guess you could also think of this knob as the cutoff frequency.
Then we have the SENSITIVITY knob, which lets you adjust how the pedal responds to your playing. Lowering this setting requires you to dig in harder to trigger the filter and vice versa.
Next up is the RESONANCE parameter, which is essentially a boost of the cutoff frequency. It sounds to me like this knob controls the Q or the ‘width’ of the resonance. To keep it less technical, I like to think of it as the knob that is determining the amount and character of the ‘quack’.
On the far right we have the EFFECT LEVEL knob on the far right. This simply controls the overall level of the effect pedal so you can match it with the level of your bypassed signal. The name of this knob can be a little confusing as you might think it would control only the effect level, making it more of a blend or dry/wet control, which is not the case.
Finally, there is a little red switch called VOICE that simply changes the fundamental voicing of the filter or envelope effect. When you engage it, the general ‘quacking’ character increases quite dramatically.
The sound examples of the CaliforniWAH is divided into 4 rounds. The first is focusing on regular groove playing in the low register. The second is an example using low as well as higher notes. The third is an ultra-funky setting playing with a pick to emulate something of a synth-like bass sound, and the last part is demonstrating an alternative use where the filter is used as a parallel effect that adds punch to your dry bass sound.
NOTE! Please use headphones or ‘real’ speakers. You simply can’t judge low-end material on laptop, tablet or phone speakers…!
NOTE! If you are on a mobile device, please turn it to landscape mode to see the knob settings of the pedal for each audio clip.
The CaliforniWAH has way more tones and possibilities than I have covered in this review. In fact, I barely scratched the surface so versatility is definitely high with this pedal. I like most of the tones I could create with it, but also recognizes that not all of them will be suitable for live performances.
Setting the LOW POINT too low does add some mud as well and contributes to the risk of drowning in a busy mix. But than again, had Eden decided to set the lowest point higher to prevent this, you would miss out on that subby territory that can be used creatively to create a sine-like synth sound or dubbing dry takes for added low-end punch.
The build quality is great. It’s a sturdy little pedal. And yes, it is actually a lot smaller than what I expected from having seen the photos online. It’s probably the form factor that gave me the idea of a larger pedal. ‘Landscape-designed’ pedals are usually much bigger than ‘portrait-designed’ pedals. To give an idea, the width of the CaliforniWAH is the same as the length of a standard Boss pedal. Then it is a little deeper than a Boss pedal is wide – if that makes any sense. In short it will take up about one third more space on your board than a Boss pedal.
The visual design can be discussed, but then again visuals are so subjective. I actually like the smooth west coast vibe with the palm trees and all in a ‘kitch’ kind of way. However, the graphics also collide with the practical side of being able to see the markers around each knob clearly. That said, who actually pulls out a little piece of paper with the settings written down? Not many, I guess.
The CaliforniWAH comes with its own dedicated power supply, probably because it needs 15V which is a bit unusual. Most multi power supply units will feed 9V and maybe 12V and/or 18V. Reportedly, there is a technical explanation to why 15V was chosen that should have something to do with noise, and the pedal is indeed very silent. Still, having to find one extra socket just for one pedal on each gig may be too much of a hassle for some.
One thing I missed in terms of usability/design was that since the VOICE switch makes such a drastic difference and while the same knob settings often works well both with and without the VOICE switch, having a dedicated footswitch to kick this in/out would have been awesome.
The CaliforniWAH retails at around $150 (2015), which I find quite reasonable for a pedal that offers such quality, feature set and not least funkiness! It’s not a boutique pedal and it’s not priced as such, so it actually adds up quite well.
Pros and cons aside, I like this pedal. It does not sound like my ‘benchmark’ Boss FT-2 pedal, but I have been using that for so long that I am definitely biased. However, it’s not a bad thing and the CaliforniWAH also delivers so many effect tones that the FT-2 could only dream of.
Needs its own power supply
Graphics clash with knob markers