Guitar Gear Review: Mini Morley Wah and Volume Pedals Pack a Classic Punch in a Tiny Package

The new Morley mini series packs all of the classic Morley punch in an incredibly compact unit. I have used every traditional wah and volume pedal ever developed. Nothing gives me the response and tone that Morley delivers. Of all of the wah pedals to chose from I find Morley to be the most vocal.

What so I mean by the most vocal? The Morley has a very human tone to it. I have been able to use my Morley wah in the past to duplicate songs that typically would be performed with a talkbox. Joe Perry’s Sweet Emotion and Peter Frampton’s Do You Feel Like We Do are two songs that come to mind. If you want an example of this you can listen to, Steve Vai’s Yankee Rose is a great place to start.

Morley also does not have that whinny nasal sound that drives me crazy. Some wahs over accent the highs and your guitar ends up sounding like a housewife from Long Island. Being designed for bass, keyboards and guitar the Morley wah has plenty of lows and a broader spectrum of sound all the way to those brash highs if you need them.

At this point you can tell I am a true devotee of Morley. I have had my first generation silver 70’s Morley power/wah /boost for 30+ years. This pedal has been the cornerstone of my tone all of these years. Despite the great tone of this beast there were some downsides of the original Morley pedals.

The first generation Morley’s were huge, taking up enough space for 4 MXR type stompboxes. Secondly due to the size of the unit it could only be powered by ac, there was no 9 volt options. The third issue is the Achilles heal of the first gen Morley’s…the light bulb.

Traditional wah pedals have a rack and pinion type of system that turns a potentiometer (knob) to control the tone. Morley being light years ahead of its time used a light bulb and a photoreceptive sensor. There is a curtain attached to the bottom of the Morley pedal that is in-between the bulb and the cell. As you move the pedal the curtain goes up and down. The amount of light received by the cell controls the tone of the wah or amount of volume. If these bulbs burn out your pedal goes dead. These bulbs are not expensive but they are a pain to change in the middle of a gig.

The new Morley mini’s or as I like to call them, 3rd generation Morleys have corrected all of these issues. The footprint is smaller than not only the first gen Morley but also every other wah I have seen. Nine volt operation is now an option and the blub has been replaced with a LED. The big questions left are how is the sound? How does this tiny pedal feel?

The sound is pure Morley. I used the 3rd gen and 1st gen side-by-side and could tell little to no difference. What I feared most was no issue at all. My size 11 feet fit fine on this compact powerhouse. The range of the pedal is deep allowing for cavernous volume swells or tight funky wah rhythms. The placement of the on/off switch next to the pedal makes this feel 100% Morley.

My first gen is now in mothballs and I am absolutely thrilled to use this new mini Morley for the next 30 years.