Carl Verheyen’s Studio Diary, Oct 2011

I’ve had pretty big feet ever since high school.
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I’ve had pretty big feet ever since high school. I’m lucky I grew into these size 11-1/2 gunboats, because clown feet are not part of the rock and roll mystique. Even so, I’ve been busted a few times for tapping my huge and heavy foot while playing nylon-string acoustic in the studio, and I’ve had to resort to taking my shoes off in those situations.

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But the other day, I was able to put these clodhoppers to good use. I was asked by a composer friend of mine to come down to his home studio and put a wah-wah guitar part on the main title of a new sitcom he was writing. Springtime is usually “pilot season,” where they put together the new shows for the Fall TV season, and see which ones are going to make the cut. TV producers are always looking to score their shows with the perfect music, so it’s important to get it right.

I own a bunch of wah pedals, and I decided to bring five of them. There’s a nice Carr Viceroy amplifier at the studio that I always enjoy playing through, and I began by hooking up an ancient CryBaby that I’ve owned since I was a teenager. We sampled various other wahs, but the composer was looking for something radical—like the sound Jimi gets at the end of “Rainy Day Dream Away.” I tried a Vox, a Carl Martin, a Dunlop, and an Ernie Ball, and I got close, but I never quite achieved that intense of a sound.

Then, it occurred to me that I could hook up two wah wahs, and operate them simultaneously by laying my big shoe across both pedals. The Ernie Ball and the Carl Martin were laid side-by-side, and I hooked them together using right-angle plugs on a short cable length. The only problem was that the pedal throw and height of each wah was slightly different, and it was hard to get them rocking backand- forth in sync.

Luckily, the engineer owned an Ernie Ball wah, as well, so we traded out the Carl Martin, and went with two Ernie Balls. That worked much better, and the wahwah sound became a lot more extreme. Rocking two wah pedals simultaneously on a pedalboard might be difficult to pull of live, but it’s a lot of fun to experiment like this in the studio. I’m going to try various combinations with the rest of my wah pedals at home, so I can employ this “synchronized-dual-wah secret weapon” at a later date on one of my recordings. And it’s nice to have finally found a use for these big feet!

A member of Supertramp since 1985, Carl Verheyen has also logged a dazzling 25-year career as one of L.A.’s premier studio guitarists. His most recent Carl Verheyen Band release is the DVD, The Road Divides.