Sunday, 31 August 2014

Vertex Axis Wah / BBE Ben Wah

I put this on hold because the inductor used has a number of connections and although only 2 of them are being used it may make it difficult to mount on vero.  So I will put it on hold and maybe look at doing a daughterboard for the inductor, or maybe even using a different type like a Fasel which will be easier to mount on the vero board.  If anyone has any inductors they want to try then post info about them and I'll look at the best way to adapt what you have to this layout with possible just a couple of extra links required.  

Update 2: I have changed the layout to incorporate a Fasel inductor for the time being, but will add mods for other inductors as required.


Thanks very much to CodeMonk for all the hard work he put into the degoop and trace.  I think most of you will know this story already.  Basically Vertex have been selling their Axis Wah for $349.99 and it turns out that it's a verbatim $149 BBE Ben Wah which has been gooped and relabelled despite Vertex claiming they were hand made in the USA with custom wound inductors.  They even sell a NOS version which is $50 more, and which has absolutely no NOS components in it, just the same BBE board with a different pot.

So basically it's the modern day Freekish Blues story with the other similarity being that Vertex are another TGP favourite and some people on there with absolutely no self respect will still argue Mason from Vertex's case and not hear a bad word said against him.  Amazing how fanboyism can turn some peoples' brains to mush to the point they refuse to acknowledge the damning evidence staring them in the face.

I love guitar effects, and companies like Vertex and Freekish Blues give the industry a bad name, making it difficult to trust new manufacturers and products on the market for fear that you're being ripped off.  Hopefully when Vertex endorsers like Landau realise what company they are associated with, Vertex will go the same way as Freekish Blue.  Just beware for Mason's next company popping up in a guitar shop near you!

For anyone who would like to see more info about it you can check out this web site where you can see some of the degoop pics along with a hilarious rebuttal from one of Mason's cranially challenged TGP admirers.  Worth a read:

In next weeks episode.  How Vertex's totally gutted and rebuilt (in USA allegedly) Boss volume pedal is in fact a Boss volume pedal with the tuner out components removed [shaking head facepalm smiley required].

Out of respect for the manufacturer who deserves the credit I'll include BBE's marketing first:
Ben Wah is based on a 1967 Class A circuit design that featured the unique Halo inductor. We re-engineered and custom-tuned the Halo inductor and potentiometer to re-create the expressive tones made famous by players like Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn. All components are hand-wired for the ultimate in vintage authenticity

We didn't stop there. Ben Wah adds amazing versatility thanks to its “Harmony” control to help fine tune the Q/peak response. The verdict? Guitar Player Magazine had this to say in a wah roundup article:

...the BBE Wah has the sweetest, most musical voice of the bunch. Its potential to be a first-pick wah for any kind of music earns it an Editors' Pick Award. - Guitar Player Magazine"

and now Vertex's:
The Axis Wah is the finest representation of a 1960's style Wah with a few modern additions. It is designed to produce the most vocal characteristics reminiscent of the classic Wah tones we know and love, yet provide a smooth and rounded top-end that doesn't get too bright. Each unit includes our custom hand-wound HALO inductor, hand-made custom potentiometer, and hand-picked components to give this wah its distinctive voice.

Hmmm sounds similar?

This layout uses a Fasel inductor instead of the Eleca used in the BBE simply because it is more suitable to mount on vero.  If you prefer to use the original Eleca then I will do a separate daughterboard that will take into account the pin arrangement in the Eleca


  1. Sorry missed a note. The Output wire also links to Wah 3. Now added

      Thats the pot the NOS Axis wah uses.
      That is THE ONLY difference between the BBE and the NOS Axis wah.
      (Sorry for the double post)

    2. Thanks for the link Robert

    3. Sorry i'm a bit late on this...
      I don't know if I mentioned this before or not....
      On the Body pot on both wahs (I had an original BBE to compare too), tab 3 is unused.
      Not that it really matters for overall function.

      And new link to that pot:

    Vietnam... er... several weeks back...
    The Vertex Axis = BBE Ben Wah - Bermuda Triangle Axis
    Began reading, 6:01pm
    Finished reading, 6:01am... to the sound of an alarm clock.
    Eyes crusted open in 10 hour old shock
    Late for work...

  3. Uhhh, great mark, not i need to get another wah enclosure.......sigh....
    Effects Builder Problems...
    but seriously, this sounds great, and will be great to have another wah. i still have to finish/fix the vox grey, but this will be the next wah i make. i didn't hear of the history of the vertex axis, but that's ridiculous. i don't get why companies have to be so shady when it comes to effects and lie like this. i think vertex should get the same punishment as fuller, a swift kick in the nuts. lol

    1. johns,

      it was a true epic.. lies, war, love, heartbreak, good, evil... I hear Miramax is optioning the film rights.

    2. haha heath. definitely would be better then some of the garbage put out lately. btw, i have no idea why my name comes out as johns, my name isn't even john....

  4. What's up with JustNick's videos?

  5. A comment posted on Simon Gotthelf Gear Demos page on YouTube. Mason changes his story like most people change their socks, and one of his fanboys (Bill Wilkie) going on all the negative comments and calling them liars. Haha. Sounds like someone has spent a bit of money with Mason and has a severe case of Buyers Stockholm Syndrome.

    Vertex Effects

    We’ve made it very clear in our responses that we share a PCB with the BBE Wah, however we do source our components, assemble and load with our own components, use our wave soldering machine, wind our own inductors, match the transistors for a narrow gain range, and source pots that have a custom “S” taper with a 100K value. If you own an Axis Wah and are unhappy with it, you’re welcome to come reach out to us.

    1. Awesome response from KickTheDog Band:

      Thank you for your response. I'm hoping you will address these additional questions.

      Why did you reveal you used unpopulated BBE PCBs only after a Axis Wah was 'degooped' and that fact was revealed? Why have the more recent Axis Wahs been sent out with the BBE Logo section of the board ground off?

      Mason Marangella (Desperado on TGP and HugeRacksInc), owner of Vertex Effects, made the following statements on Huge Racks on July 24:
      "The only thing the Axis Wah shares with Barcus Berry's is the unloaded PCB."
      "Our pots are all custom made for us ...."
      "The Axis Wah enclosures are sourced and powder coated in California."
      "For the Axis Wah, we source our own components ..."
      "The Halo inductor is hand-wound, in house, one at a time. We make our own inductor kits (not a pre-made Halo inductor)"

      Those statements raise the following questions:
      Why do you use a competitor's PCB?
      How is it you procure your competitor's unpopulated PCB?
      If you have an expensive wave soldering machine for volume production, don't you have the ability to produce your own PCBs for simple wah circuit?

      If you "source your own components" and "assemble and load with your own components" in California, can you explain why the following components are an exact match for the components of the BBE made in China? The values, brand and appearance are all identical. Even the pot has the same Asian manufacturer. Also, the enclosure, wire, and even the Asian battery are identical to BBE's product. Here is a list of some of the components in the Vertex Axis that are identical to the Chinese made BBE Ben Wah:
      - Identical enclosure
      - Identical circuit board
      - Identical pots (x2)
      - Identical wire
      - Identical wiring style and zip ties
      - Identical shrink tubing
      - Identical soldering pattern on flipside of board
      - Identical cosmetics of inductor (100% from every angle) Inductors usually vary widely in appearance.
      - Identical res/cap part values (so far)
      - Identical res/cap part types (so far)
      - Identical jacks and nuts/washers
      - Identical rubber feet and screws
      - Identical 9V battery(!)
      Pretty big list of coincidences considering the BBE Ben Wah is made in China while you claim yours is "handcrafted in California." Pictures of the PCB, enclosure, pots, and components clearly demonstrating these facts are shown here:


    2. On the NOS version of the Axis Wah you had stated that you use "hand-picked NOS components" (that seems to have now been removed from your website replaced with "NOS voicing"). What "hand picked NOS components" are in the Axis NOS wah?

      David McLaren, Executive Vice President and Paul Gagon Vice President of Technology (and designer of the BBE Wah) of BBE Sound Inc have both made statements on the Vertex issue-
      Dave stated, "we've supplied wahs to a company called Vertex Systems."
      Paul stated, "From the pictures you sent me it's very clear that what you have here is our BBE BenWah pedal with goop all over the PCB and repackaged as a Vertex unit."
      Will Vertex please address BBE's statements?

      So you are asking musicians to accept the following;
      Vertex somehow bought a competitor's unpopulated PCB board, and populated it with components that Vertex sourced that just happen to match the BBE's components exactly.
      Vertex uses an enclosure made in California, that just happens to match the BBE Chinese enclosure in every way (color, texture, size, shape, tooling marks,etc...).
      The Halo Inductor handmade by Mason Marangella just happens to look exactly like the BBE Halo Inductor.
      Your custom made pot, has the same manufacturer and appearance as BBE's Chinese pot.
      The executives at BBE are wrong or not telling the truth.

      That's a lot to swallow when it seems very plausible to accept that Vertex simply bought BBE wahs as a dealer for $62, changed a couple cosmetic items, maybe rolled the pot gear tooth back a notch, gooped the board to hide the fact it was a BBE, and sold it for $349.

      Finally, you state to contact Vertex if I am unhappy with my Vertex Axis. Since you are posting here, what remedy are you offering consumers who are unhappy with their Vertex Axis Wahs? Are you offering money back or an exchange?

      Thank you.

    3. Hahaha... I'd pack, change my name and get a one way flight if all that was directed at me...

      Liars are the worst. And I include bullshit marketing dribble in the 'liar' camp too.. 'NOS voicing'?? what the F is that?!... It's always good to seem them fall on their sword though....

    4. I felt a little bad for Slope. So trusting, so ignorant, so lied to... I think Mason really led him on and had him thinking they might run off to Tahiti together. Instead, Slope is left at home with lies, embarrassment for having defended Mason so mindlessly, and a broken heart - while Mason heads off to Tahiti (or wherever) with some other dude.

    5. Why did I click on that gearpage link......

      Like an effin' mystery novel that you can't put down...I'm still only on the 56th page - had to stop and eat, play guitar, use the facilities. A weekend shot to heck. But entertaining nonetheless.

    6. [quote] In next weeks episode. How Vertex's totally gutted and rebuilt (in USA allegedly) Boss volume pedal is in fact a Boss volume pedal with the tuner out components removed [/quote]

      and i thought you were joking until i went and looked, and there it is - the same boss vol as mine, but with a nasty badge crudely riveted on it, it's a f-ing disgrace!

    7. It certainly is. Here's another new low for Mason in a message posted on BBE's page on Facebook from what I assume must be from a private message, because even Mason wouldn't have been stupid enough to say this publicly:

      "I've run into this a few times in the past, but I'm not able to defend it publicly because of a non-disclosure agreement that I signed when I designed that wah for BBE back in 2006. I pay a licensing fee to Barcus Berry (BBE) for the rights to use my own design (this wasn't always the case, but their lawyers thought it would be an easy way to make some extra dough). Although we both use the same PCB, I have my own enclosures made, buy my own components, and assemble the entire Wah by hand. BBE is doing everything in China. Originally the Wah was supposed to be a part of a higher end USA made line (which is part of why I agreed to do it), but they ended up slashing most of the ideas that I had and really bastardized the component choices to make it cheap. They don't grade any components, and just buy off the shelf inductors, etc. on theirs, but still follow all of my procedures for assembly and lay-out etc. If you look at the Wah itself they have logos and silk screens on everything, mine do not and are solid colors with no silk screening or emblems on the footpad."

      BBE's response:
      The BBE Ben Wah was designed by our VP of engineering (Paul Gagon). The information that has circulated around the internet regarding our involvement with Vertex in the design of the Ben Wah is incorrect. If you want to confirm the authenticity of Mr. Gagons reply on the Gear Page forum, you can contact him directly at


      The man has absolutely no shame at all.

  6. Somehow, I likw when things like this happen :)

    I'm fed to the teeth of arguing with mojo-nos fanboys, whose ears "clearly" tells mojo components from china crap components, woods on guitar, tropical fish caps from ceramic multilayer, and so on.

    So, when things like this happen (Breakish, Axis, and many others that will sooner or leter be known), I just crack a smile.

    I had an argue with a guy in a spsnish forum, because he told that he could clearly "hear" the differences in a les paul, if using a mullard cap or an orange drop....... with the pots at maximum XDDDDDDDDDDDDDD.

    Funny enough, this very guy sold me his Marshall 8100 Valvestate head for €100, because was "pure unusable crap" Sontimes this fanboys get an use :P


    1. I was once told not to snip the ends of my strings at the headstock as 'the vibrations run through the string and make your tone better' ?!?!?!....

    2. man, i remember when i was a kid i bought ernieball slinky bass strings. i put them on, and they sounded like crap, all i heard was a clanking sound. i brought my bass into the store and said they sound like shit, all i hear is a clinking sound. they guys said, hand to god, no lie "that's the slinky sound of slinky's." i literally tore them off and threw them at the guy, and got something else. the funny and sad thing is, as i learned more i realized that the action was off with the new strings, as they were too low. i haven't used ernieball bass strings since, but i do have my companies of choice, now. i'm still too embarrassed to get them to even try.

  7. So if everything else is identical, IT MUST BE THE GOOP!!! That's the Mojo Magic!

    What the hell is it 'cos I need some for my builds? Dragon snot, Yeti spit, Centaur jizz?

    Oh crap, it's just hot-glue.

  8. mark we are all so wrong...when vertex puts the screws on that wah box, they put a spell in it as well...a spell to jimi hendrix's fingers...that's why its better than anything else. they also sent some money for the kids to a school...

    money that took from some other kids who just wanted a wah and by a "mistake" they bought the most expensive out there...but who cares!!! fuck man! diy for ever! diy do cares...

    i read the hole threat and i almost lose my mind...

    by the way i've build a SHO , but all components are made in a place deep in china where an ancient god took his first steps...
    that's why a choose to sell it 1500 euros.

    1. "all components are made in a place deep in china where an ancient god took his first steps..."

      That's EXACTLY why I buy parts from China. Sun Wukong, yo! My pedals got MONKEY POWER!

  9. Hi doe anyone know of a supplier of Fasel inductors in the UK?

    1. Not sure about the UK, but there is a few from international sellers on eBay, and Banzai sells them

  10. Any chance of a version of the layout with the Whipple inductor?

    I've had one that has needed a home for years now.

    1. Yes, do you have a datasheet or can you send me a pic showing the layout and let me know dimensions?

    2. I don't have a data sheet but the website says The Whipple is compatible with many different wah pedals: Crybaby, Vox, Fulltone, Meastro, Teese, Budda, and more.

    3. Ok, so I took some photos of the Whipple. There are five pins. I believe only pins 1 and 8 are important. The other three are for stability only. Here is the description from the site:

      "Take a good look at it. And look at the bottom. You will see some pins and numbers. These numbers will help you to attach the correct pins. The numbers read 1, 8, then 4, 5. 1 and 8 are the hot pins, these are the ones that need to be attached to the circuit. 4 and 5 do not serve any electrical function. If you have a board that has holes in it to accommodate all the pins you can solder them as a mechanical attachment. In most cases 4 and 5 can simply be bend down and out of the way. There is also a pin that is part of the clamp that holds everything together. That pin can be bent out the way also."


    4. Just noticed one minor error in the last pic. I numbered the vero wrong. Not that it will make any difference, but just thought I'd mention it.

      PIC has:

      5 4
      8 1

      But is SHOULD BE:

      4 5
      1 8

    5. That's brilliant, thanks mate

    6. Hey Mark, I don't have any photos yet, but if anyone wants to use the Eleca Halo inductor that Banzai and others sell, it can fit with just a few mods. You will have to add an extra row to both the top and the RHS of the existing vero layout, then get your halo inductor, rotate it 45 degrees and the 8 pins will fit in standard vero pitch. So it will sit on the vero like a diamond shape. The LHS corner of the halo will sit over the 10k resistor and should be positioned just above the top lead of the 10n cap. And the bottom corner of the halo should sit just over the empty hole above the 220n cap on the bottom right of the board. Only 2 of the 8 pins are actually wired to the inductor, so just choose the right rotation to get it right then a cut or two to existing tracks should sort it out. I will try and get a photo of what I mean up sometime tomorrow.

    7. That's great info, thanks Alan

    8. 1st off... Thank you IvIark for the great reading and drama... very entertaining and informative :-) and :facepalm:
      I was in the market for a Vertex volume pedal and glad I read this! Will snag a used BOSS volume pedal now...
      For anyone brave wanting to make this wah wah... I actually built a vero layout of a vox clyde mccoy and added a vero daughter board that has 2 inductors that I can toggle back and forth. One inductor is a whipple and the other one is a tone tank which you can get at 600mz if need be from here -
      Now with this BBE Ben wah... is that other transistor for a buffer?

    9. Yes it has an input buffer

    10. hey mark. i took a look at the bottom of the pcb for this one, and only 2 pins of the inductor are used for the actual circuit, the rest are just for extra stability and aren't needed. in fact i have a halo inductor just like that, which i got from steve at smallbear and he said you remove the ones you don't need if the inductor would be stable without them, just attach the 2 live ones, and you should be good to go. so as long as the layout has the correct connections for the 2 live pins the layout should be workable.

    11. Yes I knew only 2 of the pins were in the circuit, but those pins were slightly off centre and what I don't know until I or someone else tries it, is exactly where those pins end up and whether they are compatible with vero spacing. It will then be an easy job to adapt the links used so it is suitable for any inductor, but I was just waiting for confirmation from anyone buying an Eleca so we can confirm exactly which holes need to be used. As soon as I have that I'll take the HOLD tag off

    12. ahh, i'm not sure about the eleca inductor, just the el rad style and the halo style, which easily fit into the vero spacing.

  11. Built this tonight using an inductor from a crybaby on a little daughter board. Haven't had time to test it. Will report back.

  12. Hi, anyone try this fasel layout? is it verified?

  13. It is verified, I builded it with yellow fasel (mine was measured 600mH). Good sounding wah, great layout. Thanks Mark!

  14. Just built one with a red fasel - sounds great!
    Thanks for posting this layout Mark

  15. Just built this, when i engage the pedal and rock up and back, i get no wah effect?? Help??

    1. is the wah is acting more like a volume pedal, check the 4.7uF cap. usually when a wah acts like a volume pedal the cap off the inductor to ground is bad, or if you've build it, the solder joint is bad. the other thing it could be is a bad inductor.

    2. Checked it, still nothing. The i ductor is a red fasel i took straight out of a working crybaby. I even flipped the negative side of the 4.7uf cap and that still had no effect. Doesnt act like a volume pedal, the pedal engages, cuts a bit of the lows, but when i turn the wah pot nothing happens.

    3. hmmm. i haven't had an issue like that before with any of the wahs i've build. the other thing to check is that the wah pot is in the correct position. when you move the treddle the pot doesn't fully turn, and if it's in the wrong place then you're either going to get nothing really happening or it's just going to be messed up. disconnect the wah pot from the treddle and turn it by hand while the wah is engaged, and see what happens.

      if that find then it's the time to start the typical debugging process. check for bridges and that all your solder joints are good. if you don't find anything a miss during that, check that all your cuts, links, and components are in the correct place and correct values. if you still don't find anything wrong, then you're going to need to break out the audioprobe and find where the signal is getting lost.

  16. Did that too, turned it 100% and nothing. im just going to rip off everything from the circuit board, and start again. Thankyou so much for your help, im glad im not thr only one thats baffled !

  17. I built this recently and it works nice effect. I used a Dunlop Hot Potz II wah pot and the red fasel. I then added a yellow fasel and the Vox L1A (from a Vox V845) inductors and made them selectable via rotary switch for fun, works well. One question though, it makes a popping sound when switching between inductors, can anyone suggest a method of eliminating the popping sound? I don't imagine needing to switch inductors all that often but it would be nice to remove it if possible and learn something in the process. Thanks so much for the layout Mark, I have now built many pedals based on the layouts on this site, it has added a new dimension of understanding and appreciation of my love of music.

  18. I love all the drama. I find it interesting this circuit is 95 percent a dunlop gcb wah . the only difference is the buffer really . There are 300 tube screamer clone makers not getting nailed to a cross.

    1. I think it comes down to what the builder said and did, not so much that it's a clone. To me it's more like JHS not getting nailed to the cross for all the time they say they spent all this time developing a pedal when it's just a copy of something with a few component changes.

  19. would I be able to use the pot from my vox v847 on this build or would I have to buy a specific one?