You’re guaranteed a lot more purity of tone with minimal background noise (a real concern with high-gain tones and a wah combination) with Morley’s Optical (MQ2 custom inductor) technology. The Volume component of this pedal is very smooth – a taper that ranges from zero sound to full sound over a short treadle stroke.
The wah is impressive in that it offers a vintage wah sound that seems to be primarily mid-range – there is no muddy or muffled bottom end and the top end is only a bit more trebly than the original tone. Gone is that top end shrill you sometimes hear with wah pedals, which makes wanting to avoid a full toe-down position during play. Concurrently, if you want a honking or growling wah, this is not it – the Power Wah Volume is far more classic Morley wah. Part of the great sound and clarity of this pedal comes from its 20/20 Buffer Circuit that retains your tone and prevents any tone loss or volume drop, but also the silent switching to prevent pops and noise. The demo included with this review combines both clean and driven sounds while playing an Eastwood-Backlund 400 DLX guitar into The Countess V4 Preamp (MESA cab sim via the Axe-Fx II). But rather go simple with the tone I also included the Eventide H3000 Band Delay plug-in so that the volume and wah of this pedal manipulates some wild and freaky presets for some impressive results.
GENERAL USE: Easy to operate, just like any basic wah or volume pedal. Give it juice via a 9VDC adapter or with a 9V battery (via the quick clip battery door in the bottom). If using a battery, you will need to unplug the input when not in use to prevent battery drainage. The input and output are standard for this type of pedal, along the sides and with ¼-inch cables. Choose whether you want to use the Volume or Wah aspect of the pedal with the side footswitch (in wah mode the LED lights up). The pedal is switchless, and so simply step on and use. In Volume mode there is no sound with heel fully down, whereas there is full signal strength with toe fully down. In wah mode you activate the lower frequencies with heel down and the higher frequencies with toe down. Moreover, you can adjust the strength of the wah signal with the Wah Boost knob, which gives upward of 20dB of clean boost. Of course, you can use either volume or wah in specific and limited settings, e.g., use the Wah as tone filter by leaving in desired position or set the volume level by leaving in any desired position.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: Morley’s 20/20 Power Wah Volume is a solid buy at $159 USD (there are several pedals in the 20/20 line, a moniker that refers to “focused and new; a refocus of the Morley pedal line for 2020”). It has a solid build in every respect and operates flawlessly, from its very smooth volume taper (with the Volume component) to its unmistakable classic Morley wah sound. Not only do you have a space-saving design by combining two pedals in one, you actually get two more pedals under the hood. First, the wah component has a 20dB (clean) Boost knob, just in case you want to push your lead (or rhythm) up a notch. Second, this pedal includes the new 20/20 Buffer Circuit that prevents signal loss while maintaining tone (and most buffers do cost $75 or more), allowing for the use of a lot of pedals on your board or long cables. Other pleasant features include the classic Corvette yellow cold-rolled paint with the Morley glow-in-the-dark grip topper on the treadle. As well, along with its compact size, the treadle breadth is short when compared to larger volume/wah pedals, which makes any treadle movement highly sensitive (which is good for those who know how to control their wahs/volumes, but not so good for those with uncoordinated feet). This is something I like, since you don’t have to sweep big distances to produce a desired outcome or to get a favorable result.