|The Story of (a) Wah!
I've got Dave Brock's old Coloursound Wah/Fuzz/Swell pedal. It was used on Space Ritual
- on Space Is Deep, for one. And you know the Roadhawks version of You Shouldn't Do
That (also an extra track on the CD reissues of Space Ritual) - that's it right there at the
beginning. This is the story of how it fell into my clutches...
As a minor, and somewhat non-Hawkwind postscript to this, I managed to compare the Coloursound
pedal side-by-side with my Vox wah (v847). The Vox is a mid 90's reissue of the classic 60's pedal as
used by Jimi Hendrix - and the reason I originally bought the Vox instead of a Crybaby was for that
midrange quack. Well, the Coloursound has the quack too, but where the Vox ends, the Coloursound
keeps going. It has a longer travel than the Vox, i.e. the pedal sweeps a broader range of frequencies,
and the extra is mostly on the treble end of the sweep. The amount of boost for any given frequency
is about the same for the Vox and the Coloursound. The Coloursound is a clear winner. Plus it has
fuzz (front fontswitch -see photos above- toggles this on and off, but you can't alter the amount of
fuzz and there's no equalisation). It's a great vintage fuzz sound and I know where I've heard it before:
where the guitar suddenly kicks in in Kadu Flyer, and gives that whole song a kick up the arse. One of
the best moments on Astounding Sounds IMHO...
There is a footswitch at the back of the pedal too, and this one toggles between the wah effect and
swell (i.e. the same as a volume pedal). You can have fuzz on or off with either of these. So all told,
the combinations are 1. no effect (use swell setting with pedal all the way down, that is, flat to the
floor). 2. just swell (!) - same as 1, but move the pedal up and down 3. just wah. 4. just fuzz (front
footswitch on, pedal flat to the floor). 5. fuzz plus swell - same as 4, but moving the pedal. 6. fuzz
plus wah. This is probably what you hear a lot of on Space Ritual, I think the wah solo on Lord of
Light is this setting. You have to be careful with it because it really shrieks, and made even my little
Pignose practice amp feed back at the lowest imaginable volumes. The wife loves it.
|The Captain onstage at the Lund
Festival, Sweden, in 1975. The
Coloursound pedal is visible in the
bottom-right hand corner...
|HEAR DAVE BROCK'S OLD WAH PEDAL
Click on this link to hear a rough 2-minute demo in MP3 format,which was recorded using Dave
Brock's old Coloursound wah/fuzz/swell pedal.
I have a programme from the 1977 Quark tour, which was the first time I'd seen Hawkwind. There is a photo
in the programme of them on stage, and the Captain's effects pedals are clearly visible. One of them looks
exactly like a Coloursound Phaser identical to one that I used to have. This was probably the best musical
effect I've ever had, but it died a long time ago.
Then, one day (June 25th 2001) Hawkwind did a band chat on IRC. (See Mission Control website for details
of IRC.) I am Mooongluum in the following edited highlights:
HAWKPERSON: Dave here any quick questions?
MOOONGLUUM: hi dave do you still have coloursound phaser u
used on quark tour, i'll give you £100 for it
HAWKPERSON: It doesn't work but £100 would be ok
MOOONGLUUM: thanks...send chq to Hawkwind merchandising
HAWKPERSON: Yes, colour sound thing still working
MOOONGLUUM: i'll send cash for coloursound thank you
So I sent him a cheque for 100 quid, and he sent the pedal back to meâ
€¦except that it wasn't a phaser, but the aforementioned
Upon checking it out, I discovered only the Fuzz effect still worked.
Slightly disappointing, but given that Mr. Brock had signed the pedal for
me, I was still happy. I posted photos of it to the Yahoo Hawkwind
group. Then I got an email from Keith Kniveton, a.k.a. Captain Bl@ck,
Hawkwind's keyboard player. An edited transcript of the resulting
exchange of emails follows:
KEITH: Just thought you might like to know: Ron used this on his bass a few times, and he asked me to
modify it (for whatever reason!!). I disconnected the swell pot (if I remember correctly) - this would have
been about three years ago, so if you are wondering why it may not work as standard, there's your answer.
STEVE: ...or to put it another way... "old but original" my arse! (lol) Actually, this isn't the pedal I was after
when I first mentioned it to the Captain. He used to have a Coloursound Phaser, which was purple and not as
wide as this wah-fuzz-swell thing, but otherwise just the same. You don't happen to know if he still has
THAT, do you? Cuz I'd give him another £100 for that pedal!
KEITH: The Coloursound wah certainly did work when I had it here - I had some fun with that. I could
always fix it for you if you want to mail it to me - and put it back to standard as well. As I say, Ron used to
use it on his Steinberg bass - this would have been about 1997-9 period. I know Dave has a collection of old
pedals under a bookcase in the studio, and I seem to recall either a small phaser or distortion unit among
them. I can have a look next time I'm over, which will be in a fortnight or so. He certainly used the
Coloursound Wah on early tours, possibly Space Ritual, he's had it for years, and I'm surprised he let it go.
STEVE: Wow, this just gets better! Yeah, Keith, I would love to get the pedal restored. only problem is I'm
leaving the UK (emigrating) at the end of August. I was thinking of taking it to Macari's in Charing Cross
Road - they sell the reissued Coloursound pedals. How long would it realistically take you? And if you
remember, I would love to know if Mr. Brock still has the Coloursound Phaser: it's in the center-spread photo
in the Quark tour programme. Thanks! See you at Canterbury
KEITH: Well I guess a couple of weeks for me to do it - I mean, it's enjoyable, but what with Canterbury
coming up...anyway I'll leave it up to you. I don't have the Quark programme here, and I can't remember the
picture. But I'll check with Dave anyway.
STEVE: That's great - thanks. Where should I send the pedal? I'll enclose a return address in the UK.
KEITH: You may as well send it to this address: <address removed>. No need to stress that's for your eyes
only! As soon as I get it I'll give it the once-over and tell you what I think it needs.
STEVE: Cheers Keith, I posted it today
KEITH: OK, will email when it arrives
KEITH: Pedal arrived today well packed. Will email you of progress.
STEVE: Cheers Keith. Packing is the same supplied by The Captain when he sent it to me. I did think of
auctioning the eggbox off to <a Kollector> on the BOC-L list but no doubt he's already got one with a blue
import sticker on it...
KEITH: Ha Ha Ha!!! I'm surprised Dave had any egg boxes, I thought his chickens had all that sown up.
Perhaps you could sell <a Kollector> the gaffer tape off the bottom (used on stage at Detroit, 1974...)
KEITH: The pedal is fixed and on its way back to you right now. I've converted it back to standard, which is
the way Dave would have used it. Sounds great! Will check out the phaser tomorrow, if he's still got it
STEVE: Brilliant...thanks so much Keith. Can I pay you? If not in money, think of something you need from
the USA cuz I could get it for you after I move there. I will be at Canterbury, will give you a double thumbs
up if the opportunity arises. Then you will know it's me. Ignore the ugly blokes who will be with me.
They're just hairy-arsed Hawkwind fans
KEITH: I'll look out for you, providing we can see through the smoke (memories of Donington here...). Let
me know when you receive it, and that you're happy
STEVE: Hi Keith. Played thru the pedal over the weekend - it's superb! Definitely got a few Space Ritual
moments with it. Thanks a mill for all your help
KEITH: That's really nice to know. I did ask Dave about the phaser, he thought that's what he'd sent you.
Despite further reflection, he can't recall the one you mean. Actually I'd say the one you've got is the real
'Holy Grail' anyway. Try playing 7 by 7 with it and you'll see what I mean... Good luck with the move, by
Well, I did go to Canterbury (August 18th 2001) with some hairy-arsed Hawkwind fans, and I accosted Keith
before Hawkwind had played their set. He turned out to be a really nice bloke (well, I already knew that from
his emails and his kindness in fixing the pedal for me - for which he wouldn't take any money). I asked him
whether Jerry Richards would be playing that night, as Huw Lloyd-Langton had just rejoined, and Keith said
"No, Jerry's not here tonight, and neither is Ron." This seemed portentous but I thought it would be just a bit
too presumptuous to ask for any more than this...
Keith also said "Watch out for the opening number, it's going to be a surprise - something we've not played
live for 20 years!" This prompted a guessing game amongst the hairy-arsed contingent when I relayed it to
them. We all guessed something from Levitation, and what we got was of course, the Fifth Second of
That leads on to a review of the gig, which you can find elsewhere on this site...