another wah pedal blog: the Cry Baby Super by JEN of Italy

JEN 001

JEN 001

Welcome back to the blog. We haven’t discussed wah pedals since our blog ‘wah wah mods & repairs’ published 21/5/2011. We still regularly receive recent production wahs for basic repairs & setups. In this case a Cry Baby Super by JEN of Italy arrived for a complete overhaul from a customer in Canberra. This wah has been owned by the same customer for well over 30 years & could be considered a ‘classic’. Compared to some modern production wahs it has the most basic no-frills circuitry, and yet it is capable of a more ‘vocal’ sweep that is so musical & engaging that you just don’t want to stop playing !

JEN 002

JEN 002

We identified that the following components were faulty and should be replaced: the ‘pot’, the footswitch, the 9V battery clip & the input jack. The board itself (which included the famous ‘Fasel’ inductor, see JEN 004) was still OK. This was the perfect opportunity to offer the customer a ‘true bypass’ MOD, as we were going to install a DPDT Carlingswitch anyway. This is literally the only modification we would recommend for this wah. This wah already has a 9V DC IN jack installed, but there were no additional components provided for filtering the power or protection against reverse-polarity &/or over-voltage. The customer’s intention is to power the wah using 9V battery only (which some people still feel gives the best results in a traditional wah), so we took no further action in this regard, beyond a fresh battery & a new battery clip.

JEN 003 - replacement of rubber pads

JEN 003 – replacement of rubber pads

Before we could attempt to setup the newly installed pot & footswitch, we replaced the 2 x missing rubber pads on the underside of the pedal as shown in the photo JEN 003. These pads are critical to the ‘feel’ of the wah as you reach the end of the sweep and also dampen the mechanical action of engaging the footswitch. Most important. It is necessary to glue these pads in place and allow the recommended time for the contact glue to set.

JEN 004

JEN 004

24 hours later we returned to set the height of the footswitch, ie its point of engagement, plus the sweep of the pot. The original pot we removed measured 250K ohms, which is not a standard value for wah pots these days, but we successfully installed a 150K pot which when adjusted resulted in a very nice sweep. We discovered that there are significant physical differences between the original pot, rack & gear compared to current production (not for the first time). Therefore the nylon clamp that holds the rack nicely in place up against the pot gear was actually exerting way too much tension for this wah pedal to be of any practical use. Much trial & error later we finally had it just right.

JEN 005

JEN 005

You can see the original nylon clamp with the new pot in photo JEN 005, plus the ‘true-bypass’ MOD has been implemented. A resistor has been added to minimise pops & clicks (ie, a ‘pull-down’ resistor). We added some foam (JEN 004) to enable the battery & clip to be padded down firmly when the bottom plate is re-attached.

The sweep of a wah & the ‘feel’ of the bypass switching are so much a matter of individual preference, in most cases we can only adjust to what we think is appropriate, based on practical experience. We returned the completed wah via parcel post to our valued customer, Mr John Milton, and some days later received this very positive feedback & testimonial:

HI Ivan…………….and I must say how great it sounds. Certainly feels different under foot, but the sweep & the clarity of the wah is most notable and it didn’t take long for my memory of the pedal to return. Also noticed there was hardly any change (when using the Jen) of tone apart from the wah effect, of course, and the subtle transition of OFF to ON & vice versa. Very clean signal, and the low tones of the sweep don’t go muddy & gurgly (!?!). The newish ones seem to do that and it is horrible (the Zac Wylde version in particular). All in all, I’m really happy and it is great to get that ‘sound in my head’ back, which I didn’t realise was gone for a few years. Thanks again for a fantastic job and I certainly do appreciate it. I wouldn’t want to make any further changes, it is perfect for what I try to do. JM.

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13 Responses to “another wah pedal blog: the Cry Baby Super by JEN of Italy”

  1. Kevin Says:

    I very much enjoyed reading your post.

    With regard to modding the 9VDC power jack on this wah, you mentioned here that if you were to do so, filtering and reverse polarity protection would be a consideration. Is filtering a neccessity? For example, is dirty power coming from a common Boss-type adaptor and therefore a need to protect your main board? What would be entailed in adding this? I can see the need for reverse polarity diode to make it “idiot-proof”. Also, what is this thing about a 9V battery “giving best results in a traditional wah”? I’ve never heard of this. Is this a personal thing or do you know of a technical reason why this is preferred?

    All the best!

    Kevin
    Calgary

    • ivanrichards Says:

      Hello Kevin. There is anecdotal evidence only that some guitarists prefer powering their wah from a battery. Perhaps the impedance of the battery plays a role, as with vintage fuzz pedals.

      • Kevin Says:

        What’s your personal view on batteries vs power supplies in vintage effects (ie. wah, fuzz)? If the impedance plays a role, maybe a resistor/cap/inductor circuit to mimic the battery impedance? Beyond impracticality, it seems quite wasteful to use batteries. I guess the same could be said for vacuum tubes over transistors and silicon rectifiers though. I have an old Italian-made Wah with a red Fasel inductor, and I’m just tuning up and somewhat modernizing mine (without touching the original PCB, though). Interesting reading, for sure.

      • ivanrichards Says:

        hello Kevin: the role of the battery in certain vintage style effects, including germanium fuzz pedals in particular, but also possibly wah pedals can be significant; a few years back I custom designed/built a pair of battery simulator pedals for a customer pedalboard, for use with such pedals; these battery simulators were intended to power off typical modern pedalboard regulated power supplies, and offered control over output voltage (which could be lowered to about about 4V DC to simulate an old battery), and battery impedance, which obvioulsy simulates increasing battery internal impedance up to a value of 100 ohms; apparently this worked system very well with ‘fuzz face’ type pedals. All this additional complexity on a player’s pedalboard obviously limits the appeal to only the most demanding tone freaks. IR.

    • ivanrichards Says:

      hello Kevin: additional filtering in the form of a series resistor plus a suitable capacitor to ground is generally a good idea, as many 9V DC adaptors in fact offer unregulated DC with a minimum of filtering, or else poorly regulated DC; a zener diode to ground as protection against over-voltage is also an optional enhancement. IR.

  2. giusprs Says:

    Hello, I have bought the same pedal, but without the switch. What kind of switch i have to buy?

  3. Ken Says:

    Hello ivanrichards,
    Thank you very much for publishing your article on the web. Very informative! I have a JEN Crybaby like the one in your article (bought it in 1981), and I wanted to change the DC power jack input to the BOSS stompbox style jack. I bought the jack and opened her up, and I noticed that the JEN input jack is quite a bit different from the BOSS jack. Do you have any information on what needs to be done to make this conversion? Any schematics or kits w/ directions for sale, or anything like that? Would appreciate any advice you might have. Thanks.

    • ivanrichards Says:

      hello Ken: I can’t supply kits or schematics, but you will find the info you need on certain internet sites describing wah wah theory & mods, complete with illustrations/schematics; ideally additional components should be included to protect against reverse-polarity & also provide additional filtering – the original JEN has none of these enhancements. IR.

  4. Rob Charteris Says:

    I the same Mr Cry Baby Super by Jen with the white fasel like the one you have above. I’m wanting to power it in my effects board using the 9v dc input, mostly so I don’t need to use batteries. The input looks to be a 1/8 phone jack but I am unsure of the polarity, I’m hoping since you seem to know your stuff that you might know. I intend using an Ashton Powerbar Multi power supply.

  5. robholsman Says:

    Hi Ivan, I came across your article while trying to research a pedal I have – a little while ago my Dad gave me an old Cry Baby Super he’s had for many years. As you seem to know about these, I was wondering if you could tell me whether this one is any good – the innards are slightly different from the one you worked on. I have a link to some pics here https://www.dropbox.com/sh/z9v5iryjwmjor3l/AAB7KXdxtg8mdfyGeUNJ9X3da?dl=0

    It works but is a little scratchy. If its worth the time then I’ll look at getting the pot replaced and I’d be definitely interested in the true bypass mod because it does sap level even when not on. Unfortunately with me being based in the UK its perhaps a bit far to send it to you 😉

    Any input greatly appreciated as all I can find are tonesnob message boards and very little actual info!

    Bets regards

    Rob

    • ivanrichards Says:

      Hello Rob: I think you should proceed with restoring that wah pedal – the board uses different capacitors but is essentially the same circuit; true-bypass is essential, also a new battery clip; replacing the pot may require some rework as per the example in my blog; good luck; IR.

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