What rock guitarist hasn’t stared in awe at Steve Vai’s breathtaking shredding and wished they could play like that?
In addition to practice, it takes the right gear. The Morley Steve Vai Bad Horsie 2 Contour Wah is a signature wah pedal named after one of his iconic songs, so it’s a key element of nailing Steve Vai's tone.
Morley has been making guitar effects since the late ‘60s, reaching fame with their Leslie-emulating tremolo box. They introduced the electro-optical wah-wah in 1974. Around two decades later, they produced the original Bad Horsie pedal, and shortly after that the updated VAI-2 Contour Wah.
It’s a staple in Steve’s rig, and it promises a versatile and powerful sound. But is it a mere gimmick like so many other signature effects or as great as they claim? Read on to find out how good or bad this horsie truly is.
Morley Steve Vai Bad Horsie 2 Contour Wah Sound
If you seek a wah pedal that’s ideal for rock, the Morley VAI-2 Bad Horsie 2 is a top choice. It has an aggressive tone that sweeps distorted signals beautifully. However, it also has a sweet edge when used on a clean channel.
This versatile sonic profile stretches much further due to the two wah-wah modes. The first one is Steve Vai’s carefully crafted favorite wah sound. Then, there’s the contour mode with lets you fine-tune the sweep and level of the effect. You can get anything from a quite mellow “wow” to a sharp “quack” sound.
Overall, the tone is modern and powerful. The Morley Steve Vai Bad Horsie 2 Contour Wah has a high-grade input buffer which normalizes the guitar signal. This means the difference between loud and quiet parts shrinks, and you get a more consistent sound. Therefore, you avoid the common unwanted volume spikes that most wah pedals produce.
Any guitar can sound great through a Morley Steve Vai Bad Horsie 2 Contour Wah. However, if you want to emulate the Steve Vai sound, you’ll want one of his signature Ibanez JEM models. Alternatively, you can use other Superstrat-type guitars with rock-friendly humbuckers.
All in all, this is one of the best wah-wah pedals on the market, especially for rockers and metal guitarists. You can mimic Steve’s lively tone dead-on and tailor your own wah sound with this one pedal.
Morley Steve Vai Bad Horsie 2 Contour Wah Features
The first thing to note is that the Morley Steve Vai Bad Horsie 2 Contour Wah is switchless. You activate the effect when you step on the treadle and bypass it when you step off.
Inside, there’s high-quality circuitry. A Clear Tone buffer circuit ensures a clean signal with even power in wah mode and bypass. The classic Electro-Optical design that Morley is famous for has no pots that could wear out.
A tank-tough cold-rolled steel enclosure makes the VAI-2 very durable. There are two stage-worthy LED indicators and a quick-change battery hatch for great convenience.
As for controls, there’s a footswitch for changing between the two wah modes and two knobs. One controls the volume and the other affects the filter frequency.
- Size: 9.13 x 5.88 x 2.75 inches
- Weight: 3.3 pounds
- Bypass: True Tone buffered bypass
- Powering options: 9-volt battery or 300mA center-negative DC adapter (not included)
For a better idea of how powerful the Morley VAI-2 wah pedal is, you can compare it against similar pedals.
Is Morley Steve Vai Bad Horsie 2 the Best Wah Pedal for Rock Guitarists?
If you want to copy the legend’s signature tone, this is the pedal you want, along with an Ibanez Jemini distortion stompbox. What’s more, you can also dial in your own tone. So it’s like having two excellent wah pedals in one.
Although it’s a formidable wah-wah, the price is very agreeable. This balance is part of what makes the Morley Bad Horsie 2 one of the best wah pedals around.
That concludes this Morley Steve Vai Bad Horsie 2 Contour Wah review. Thank you for reading.
If you’re filling out a new pedalboard, I have many recommendations and reviews of great guitar pedals to help you out.