If you want to give a vocal effect to your instruments, go no further. This article will show you the Top 5 Wah VST Plugins in 2023, both paid and free.
You’ve recorded a guitar part or some other part, and you feel it would be cool to add a wah wah effect to it. The good news is that you don’t even need to fiddle with actual pedals, as you can achieve this virtually right in your DAW.
These days there are enough plugins that emulate this effect, and we’ll talk about them below. But first, let’s understand what a wah pedal is?
What do wah wah pedals do?
Wah pedals create a peak that slides across the frequency spectrum from the lows to the highs. It produces an effect similar to vowel changes in the human voice that no other instrument has. As a result, when using a wah pedal, the musician can give movement to his sound, making it less static and more exciting and expressive.
A similar effect was first used in the early twentieth century by trombonists and trumpet players, who realized that they could get a somewhat “weepy” sound by closing and opening the front of their instrument with their hands.
Then, in the 1960s, engineers created the first wah pedals to give this sound to guitars. One of the most famous pioneers of this effect was Jimmi Hendrix.
The first wah pedals were pretty simple – they had only one button and a platform for the foot, so it was possible to glide. Then engineers began to add additional settings to them, like selecting a specific frequency and depth. There were also a lot of digital pedals that could work automatically.
These days, the most famous genres that use wah pedals are funk, rock, and metal. For example, this effect is often used on rhythm guitars in funk. As for rock and metal, musicians here often apply it to solo parts to highlight individual notes and give more emotion to their playing.
Besides guitars, the wah effect is actively used on bass, keys, and other instruments.
Top 7 Wah VST Plugins 2023 You Can Get (Paid & Free)
1. Kuassa Efektor WF3607 (Paid)
The Efektor WF3607 plugin from Kuassa will please you with different pedal emulations and enough settings.
Quite a young company from Indonesia, Kuassa has already managed to win the hearts of many audio enthusiasts. These guys produce a variety of software, including emulators of guitar heads and cabinets, effects, and other tools for music production. We must say that their products are also quite affordable.
The Efektor WF3607 plugin is an emulator of not one but several wah pedals. So you get all the necessary settings and many different presets. But the cherry on the cake is that you will be able to apply a MIDI pedal to the plugin and write virtual pedal automation in real-time.
- 6 Different Pedals
On the left side of the plugin window, you will have a special switch between the different types of pedals. In particular, there are emulations of 6 units: Cry Baby, Grey Wah, Axis Wah, MuLP, MuBP, and MuHP. The last three are copies of the Mu-Tron units with High Pass, Band Pass, and Low Pass filters.
- Choose Pedal Position
You also get a separate knob that determines the position of your virtual pedal. You will be able to move it with your mouse cursor and writing automation. But it’s still more comfortable to do it with a MIDI pedal if you have one. Make sure that the pedal is visible in the settings of your DAW.
- Lots of Different Settings
If you’re the kind of person who likes to sharpen your sound – you’ll have that opportunity with the Efektor WF3607. The plugin has six knobs to customize the pedal’s performance further. In particular, three large knobs will be responsible for Range, Q, and Level. There will also be smaller ones lower, the Envelope setting with Amount, Attack, and Release.
- Use Presets
The plugin developers have also made sure that you have different enough presets that you can use as starting points. Here you will find more than two dozen options with automatic pedal position and static one. Of course, they are all based on the different types of pedals available in the plugin.
Kuassa Efektor WF3607 is available for Windows XP or higher and macOS 10.6 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST/3, AU, and AAX formats.
Kuassa Efektor WF3607 is a pretty good wah pedal emulation plugin with good sound and settings. You will get six types of pedals, among which sound of Vox, Cry Baby, and Mu-Tron units. On top of that, the plugin only costs $25, which isn’t much for that variety.
2. SuperlyDSP Automatic Wahwah (Free)
If you are a fan of funk, the SuperlyDSP Automatic Wahwah plugin may be something you will definitely like.
It’s always good to get free software. And even more so if it’s versatile enough and has an excellent sound. That’s exactly what the following plugin on our list is – Automatic Wahwah by SuperlyDSP, which you can get free. By the way, these guys have other free effects, including phaser, tremolo, delay, and chorus.
As you can understand from the name, the Automatic Wahwah plugin works automatically. However, you will not be limited to customizing its sound. There are three modes of operation, trigger level, waveform tuning, and even a stereo expander. It’s a pretty good set, as for freeware. So let’s take a closer look at its features.
- Control Your Depth
The big central knob helps you adjust the Depth of Effect. You will immediately hear the wah effect become more pronounced as you turn it clockwise. Again, adjust this to your taste based on your material. You can also select the exact frequency of the effect thanks to the slider on the side.
- Trigger Level
Another critical parameter is the Trigger Level, which you will find in the lower left corner. This slider will allow you to adjust how much the effect will affect notes of different velocities. So it will be helpful if you use a plugin with a midi keyboard.
- Three Operation Modes
You will also be able to choose an effect mode based on your material. In particular, Clean, Saturated, and Bass. They are all quite similar but still have different flavors. For example, Saturated will have more harmonics, and Bass will sound like a typical bass wah.
- Stereo Widener
A nice bonus of this plugin is the Stereo Width option. Thanks to it, you can adjust the effect’s sound from mono to wider. In the latter case, you will be able to hear some original signal in the center and a nice atmospheric effect on the sides.
- Choose Waveform
And, of course, the plugin will allow you to choose the waveform of the effect, which will also affect its sound. So, for example, the setting varies between ADSR and Triangle-Sawtooth waveforms. As for the rhythm settings, you will have the opportunity to synchronize the plugin with the BPM in your DAW.
SuperlyDSP Automatic Wahwah is available for Windows 7 or higher, macOS, and Linux. It comes in VST3 and AU formats.
SuperlyDSP Automatic Wahwah is a reasonably versatile free plugin that you can use for any instrument, be it bass or keys. It has plenty of settings, but it’s also easy to use. Also, a definite plus here is the Stereo Width feature. Unfortunately, this software is only available in two formats – VST3 and AU.
3. MeldaProduction MFilter (Paid)
The MFilter plugin from MeldaProduction will make your static sound dance.
We can assume that you have encountered cases where you do not have enough plugin settings. As if it works pretty well, but you still want to change something more to your taste. It is precisely what MFilter software from Czech company MeldaProduction is.
MFilter is not just a plugin that will give you a wah effect. Instead, it is an advanced tool for sharpening filters the way you need them. There are adjustable oscillator shapes, four modulators, seven filter types, and any other possible settings. On top of all this, the software has a built-in saturator and a user-friendly interface.
- Dual Interface
If you suddenly thought that MFilter is too complicated for beginners, don’t let that scare you. There are two types of interfaces – one simple with only a few controls to get results as fast as possible without getting too complicated. The second will be the most advanced and offers a lot of sound manipulation settings.
- Lots of Presets
Once you open the plugin, there will be a list of presets on the right side of the window. You can quickly try to use it, so you don’t have to bother with the settings. For example, there are moving options like Rhythmic, Autopan Riser, Trance Gate, Gentle Phasing, Downer, Rectangle, Circle, Engine, Dancing, etc. Of course, you’ll be able to change any of their settings.
- Many Different Filters
To customize the sound of the effects in more detail, you will have as many as seven types of filters at your disposal. In particular, you can choose between notch, band-pass, high-pass, low-pass, high-shelf, low-shelf, and peak. It’s also noteworthy that the plugin allows you to use up to 6 different filters simultaneously.
- 4 Global Modulators
An essential part of how such effects work is how they move through time. MFilter gives you the ability to influence this as well. In general, there are Four Modulators with all kinds of settings. They can work as ADSR envelope, follower, LFO, or pitch detector. On top of that, it can all happen in combination.
- Tube Saturation
You won’t need to use a separate plugin for saturation since MFilter has this function as a built-in feature. You will find this option in the global settings section on the main window. By turning the knob, you will get added harmonics to your effect and, as a result, a tube vintage flavor.
- Surround Processing
Another exciting feature is that MFilter works not only in mono and stereo. You will also have the ability to use eight channels of surround processing. So it will be an excellent tool for working on music for games or movies.
MeldaProduction MFilter is available for Windows 7 or higher (both 32 and 64-bit) and macOS 10.9 or higher, 64-bit only. It comes in VST/3, AU, and AAX formats.
MFilter from MeldaProduction will give you not only a wah effect but also all kinds of sweeps. Thanks to its dual interface, it can be straightforward and unusually advanced with all kinds of filter and modulator settings.
As a result, the software will work wonderfully on leads, strings, pads, and any other instrument. Plus, it’s pretty inexpensive for such extended functionality – it’s about $50.
4. P&M OB LA WAH (Paid)
Plug & Mix’s OB LA WAH plugin will give you a vintage effect with a simple interface.
The guys at Plug & Mix make music production software that gives a vintage flavor without being too complicated. They have a whole bundle of 50 different plugins, including amplifier and cabinet emulations and all sorts of effects pedals. We’ll talk about one of them below.
It is the OB LA WAH plugin, which you can get as a bundle or separately. It is essentially an automatic wah effect with only four knobs. Still, it should be enough to get the desired result quickly. We should pay special attention to the plugin’s design, which is somewhat psychedelic and just beautiful to the eye.
- Set Up The Wah Center
With the biggest knob called Center-Wah, you can adjust the filter’s center frequency. Just listen to how this setting changes the signal, and you’ll find out what suits your sound best. By the way, this control is equivalent to the pedal pressure level.
- Adjust Your Speed
Another important control is the Speed setting. You will find this knob in the lower left corner. As we said before, this wah effect is automatic here. So you’ll need to dial in this parameter to figure out what speed you need.
- Sensitivity Knob
The Sensitivity knob is responsible for the sensitivity of the envelope. It means that it will allow you to find the right balance according to the output signal level. Start at the middle position to see how you need to adjust this parameter.
- Depth & Dry/Wet Controls
Of course, any adjustment of such effects does not do without a separate Depth control. It will help you adjust how expressive the effect will be. For example, you can get a more subtle wah sound and a pretty extreme one. In addition, there is also a Dry/Wet control to help set the effect in parallel.
- Use Some Presets
Another feature of the OB LA WAH plugin is the availability of several presets. Unfortunately, there are not many of them here – only 5. Nevertheless, it will give a quick idea of what the software can do. In particular, there are such settings as Jam Out, Jello Puddin, Peanut Butter Bass, Purple Daze, and Sassy Kitty.
P&M OB LA WAH is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.7 or higher, both 32 and 64-bit. It comes in VST, AU, RTAS and AAX formats.
P&M’s OB LA WAH plugin can be your to-go tool if you need a vintage wah effect that you can set up very quickly. Despite the small number of controls, you can get very slight and quite aggressive sounds. This software is suitable for guitar, bass, or keyboard tracks, giving them some movement. As for the price, it’s about $50.
5. Wahman Wah Stomp (Free)
NSP’s Wahman Wah Stomp will give you a good sound without any investment.
If you are a Windows user and are looking for a free wah effect plugin, the following product on our list may well suit you. It emulates a stompbox based on an analog circuit with a relatively simple design. But despite this, we can state that there is enough functionality here.
For example, you get a slider to adjust the effect level, a frequency selector, bandwidth, and input and output knobs. We have to admit that the design of this plugin deserves better. However, its functionality is quite good, as for free software. But, first, let’s take a closer look at the plugin’s features to give you a more concrete idea.
- Effect Control
The large slider on the left will determine the amount of effect. You will be able to adjust it with the mouse and thus automate it in real-time. In addition, we are sure that you can connect a MIDI pedal to the plugin, which will be very convenient for recording automation directly when playing.
- Choose Your Frequency
A nice feature of this virtual pedal is that it allows you to select the frequency that will be the main effect. The default setting is 750 Hz. But in general, you will have a choice between 500 and 5000 Hz.
- Use Manually or Automatically
On top of all this, Wahman will give you the option of manual or automatic use. As for the latter, you can also set the tempo according to which the effect will work. The choice is from 0 to 200 BPM.
- Adjust The Bandwidth
Even though this plugin is free, the ability to adjust Bandwidth is a pretty good feature. This regulator will determine how wide the effect’s Q is located at a specific frequency.
Wahman Wah Stomp is available for Windows, both 32 and 64-bit. It comes in VST format only.
Wahman Wah Stomp is a pretty good free plugin with good sound. You’ll get all the settings you need to add a wah effect to your guitar or bass. However, you can try it on other instruments as well. But unfortunately, this software is only available for Windows users.
As you can see, you have quite a bit of choice as to which plugin to use. There are quite a few different options for beginners and more experienced producers who want complete control over all effect settings. To conclude this post, let us give you some tips on what options to look out for.
If you need an option with many wah pedal emulations, we advise you to check out plugin number 1 – it is Kuassa Efektor WF3607. It has as many as six modes of operation but not too many settings to get confused. It also has a friendly price of $25.
We can name the most advanced software with all possible settings #3 MFilter from MeldaProduction. Thanks to it, you will be able to influence almost every parameter of the effect and achieve the sound you want. Besides, the plugin can be used by beginners because there is a separate simple version of the interface.
If you don’t want to invest in buying plugins, we can also propose free options – #2 SuperlyDSP Automatic Wahwah and #5 Wahman Wah Stomp. If you are not satisfied with them, we advise you to pay attention to a few other free software – Pecheneg FX AutoTremWahLight and Fretted Synth Wah bundle.
Experiment, try different ways, and you are sure to achieve your unique sound. Good luck!
Ilarion Ivanenko is a remote mixing and mastering engineer from Ukraine, a musician with more than 15 years of experience. Specializes in rock, metal, progressive and the other genres. He can’t imagine his life without music, as it is the biggest passion in his life