Wacka-wacka. Some think Fozzie Bear from the Muppets. The rest of us think of Dunlop's Cry Baby. Built in 1966 and copied from Thomas Organ/Vox, the Cry Baby wah-wah pedal continues to win the hearts and minds of many guitarists.
Not Every Beginning is Easy
Although most musicians know and love this famous wah-wah pedal, the path to achieving success wasn't necessarily an easy one. For starters, the pedal was notoriously inconsistent in tone and build quality. In fact, the legendary Thomas Organ/Vox Cry Baby frustrated many guitarists including Jimi Hendrix who was constantly abandoning pedals and trying new ones to find the right fit. When Thomas Organ/Vox failed to secure a trademark Dunlop realized the opportunity, claimed ownership over the Cry Baby name, fixed the flaws, made some solid improvements securing the legacy the pedal has today.
What Made It So Popular?
It's all about the wacka-wacka or funk style rhythm the pedal produces. At its core, the pedal was created to imitate the crying tone of a muted trumpet. This unique sound enabled it to become quite the expressive tool and vibrant addition to any guitarist's arsenal. Hence, most of the musicians we admire today gravitated towards this was-wah pedal mainly for soloing because of its uniqueness. It was quickly popularized by Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Joe Bonamassa, Slash, Kirk Hammett, and David Gilmour.
Dunlop was able to strike gold with its Cry Baby. It didn't have a perfect start but after years of refinement and subtle improvements, it has carved a nice place for itself. Today, it is no surprise to find it on a majority of pedalboards from serious to amateur guitarists.