TEST: The "Silver Machine" Wah-Wah

Multi-faceted Effect

The Silver Machine
Its stainless steel housing and high-quality components
make the Silver Machine stand out.

The good old wah-wah pedal has turned into one of those items that no guitarist can afford to be without. Since the retro-wave began at the beginning of the '90s, the Cry-Babies and their like have been appearing at our feet in ever greater numbers.
Almost every guitarist now owns such a pedal, whether he plays Pop or Soul, Funk or Fusion, Grunge or Heavy Metal, yet the technology behind the device is still based on '60s know-how.

It is certainly the case that the choice and quality of electronic components has improved enormously in the last twenty years and this fact led the development team at Cologne's Musician Sound Design to rethink the wah-wah principle and create a new design with modern features.


The robust housing consists of corrugated stainless steel. At 1.7 kg in weight, it rests solidly on the ground and four rubber feet provide an additional assurance against unwanted movement. The pedal itself is also stainless steel and, in addition, the manufacturer offers a lifetime guarantee against rust.

The workmanship within the chassis is just as solid. The layout is well considered and intuitive and the components are firmly secured within the housing. Instead of a potentiometer attached to a rack and pinion, the mechanical work of generating the characteristic sound is performed by a mixing-desk fader. The response is absolutely regular and the component doesn't require regular care and attention (although we would never advise against the employment of care and attention to any piece of equipment).

Changing the battery also turns out to be an entirely uncomplicated process. The battery recess is let into the top of the chassis and is externally accessible. The device may also be powered from the mains using a transformer that provides a minimum of 9V and a maximum of 18V DC.


The special mat fitted beneath the pedal cannot go without mention. It reacts to pressure and switches the effect on as soon as it senses the weight of the guitarist's foot. The mat is also available as a separate item that can also be fitted to existing pedals (Test 3/'97). We think this is a great idea. The device also features two selector switches which are located beside the pedal. These are labelled "Tone Zone" and "Quake". There is also a footswitch which does not switch the effect on and off as these things usually do, but selects one of the two sound modes, "Classic" and "Modern". In "Classic" mode the Silver Machine works like a conventional wah-wah and only the effect signal is output, whereas the "Modern" setting allows the effect signal to be mixed with the input.


How is the actual "Wah-wah" effect created? Essentially this involves a tunable filter, similar to that in a parametric equaliser. Usually the band width (Q factor) and frequency range of the filter are fixed but, with the Silver Machine , they can be adjusted by means of the two selector switches. The "Tone Zone" switch selects one of three frequency ranges, as shown in the table below, where the first value corresponds to the pedal being fully depressed while the second refers to the highest possible position.

Position Tone Zone


1. 198 Hz 3.34 kHz
2. 362 Hz 3.34 kHz
3. 420 Hz 2.32 kHz
The "Quake" selector has four positions and controls the intensity of the effect. As the number of the setting is increased, so is the intensity of the resulting sound. The effect is not produced by a "throttle", as in the Cry-Baby or the Vox, or optically, as in the Morley. In this case it is achieved by means of a high-precision filter. It is notable that this method keeps the noise level very low.


The first position of the "Tone Zone" selector offers the widest frequency spectrum and goes so deep that the amp really starts to growl satisfyingly when the pedal is fully depressed.

I like the second selection best for distorted lead guitar sounds. It kicks in at 362 Hz. Depending on where you set the "Quake" factor, you can create a variety of results that sound like a cross between a wah-wah effect and a phaser. The overtones change with every millimetre that the pedal is moved. In the lower regions the sound can be terrifically reminiscent of ZZ Top or Dire Straits on "Money for Nothing" and, in comparison to the Cry-Baby, they are at once more extreme and yet cleaner. At the higher end the sound gets more piercing. It can really scream.

Position three of the "Tone Zone" switch is especially good for clean, funky wah-wah sounds because the frequency spectrum is the narrowest and restricts itself to the middle tones which are most important for this type of music.

Robby Mildenburger

Model Silver Machine
Manufacturer Musician Sound Design, Cologne
Purpose Wah wah pedal
Elements Pedal, Tone Zone, Quake, Select Mode footswitch.
Connections In, Out, power input 9-18 V DC.
Weight 1.7 kg.
Features Precision filter, mixer fader, signal to noise ratio, pressure sensitive mat for turning on and off, Bypass switch
Price DM 440

Fachblatt 5/98

General Assessment

The Silver Machine has its own character and is in no way comparable to other wah-wah pedals. The multitude of different sound combinations that can be achieved with the various selectors enables everyone to create their own personal wah-wah sound.

Because of this variety of sound possibilities and the low-noise characteristics, the device is also ideal for use in the studio. The manufacturer also offers additional custom features (such as a "Boost" function) to supply a distinctive sound for every individual.

The Silver Machine
The interior of the Silver Machine. Instead of a potentiometer the sound is adjusted using a mixing desk fader.

Other Musician Sound Design products