Wah Pedal Shell

Building a Wah Pedal Enclosure

If you’re somebody that enjoys building guitar pedals, you’ve probably seen the aluminum wah shell floating on the internet. It’s available from a number of sells, for a large range of prices, but it’s exactly the same thing.

It’s cast aluminum, it comes in a kit with hardware to assemble. And terrible instructions. There’s varying degrees of terrible, but none of them are great.

First of all, they all say to use a center punch. No, that’s stupid. You need to use a pin punch. You can get a pin punch set for around $10 for 3 of them. You’ll mostly use 3/16″ and 1/4″.

Here’s a completed shell along with the pin punch set I use.

Second, some of them tell you that you always go from left or right side. That’s bullshit. Neither side works well. The only safe way I’ve found to work with these shells is to drill both sides of the rocker plate pin holes to 1/4″. Drill thoroughly and make sure it’s clean. Then you should have no trouble inserting the pin, using the PIN PUNCHES.

Third, I saw one terrible instruction set that says to cut the self-adhesive pad in half to use on the rocker plate…where the felt pad is supposed to go. If your kit didn’t come with a good felt pad, go get one at any store. Get a 3/4 or 1″ pad. The self-adhesive pad they were talking about is for the battery space in the main shell.

Finally, if you prefer powder coating over painting, keep in mind these shells will gas out, and you need a powder coater using the correct type of powder to deal with gas outs.

Build Your Wah Pedal

Here’s the correct method, simplified:

  1. Paint / decorate your shell.
  2. Drill the rocker plate pin holes using a 1/4″ bit. Don’t screw up.
  3. Mount the L bracket with the single hole towards the back of the pedal.
  4. Mount the center pillow block using the large hex screw and large lock washer.
  5. Mount the “tension clutch” with two self-tapping screws and lock washers.
  6. Mount the rack assembly to the rocker plate with the teeth pointing to the fat end of the rocker. The mounting plate will probable be towards the left.
  7. Adhere the felt pad to the fat end of the inside of the rocker plate where it will press against the switch.
  8. Adhere the self-stick pad to the inside of the main shell where the battery will go at the heel.
  9. Test fit the pin through all holes. Then line it up with the shell base including the center pillow block.
  10. Grab the rocker plate (aka pedal assembly) and make sure to stick the rack assembly through the large opening where the wah pot will be. Insert the bearing pin through the rocker plate, making sure that it goes through the pillow block and connects with the other outside hole on the rocker plate.
  11. Once the pin is all the way to the opposite side, tap it in gently making sure it’s lined up correctly. Use the pin punch to tap it until it’s flush with the outside of the plate.
  12. Install the guts, the rubber tread, and mount the bottom plate.
  13. Throw away the extra parts.

Personally I didn’t care for the treads that came with it, so I bought some Dunlop treads. They look nice, and they say instrument/amplifier on it so new guitar players won’t get confused. 🙂

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