Our guest at this LA Ravel is legendary composer, inventor, and guitarist, Del Casher. Not only is he a composer of orchestral music, he is the inventor of the wah-wah pedal! Del has performed with everyone from Lawrence Welk to Frank Zappa.
Del Casher is an American guitarist, composer, and inventor. His many creations include the wah-wah pedal, which significantly influenced the development of rock and roll guitar style. He also devised the Ecco-Fonic tape delay and was the first to introduce the Roland Guitar Synthesizer for the Roland Corporation.
After Del graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, he moved to Hollywood and, at the urging of his father, inquired with Lawrence Welk about performing as the guitar and banjo soloist on the Lawrence Welk TV show. At that time, he also toured with popular RCA recording artists “The Three Suns.” While touring in Japan, he premiered his newly prototyped invention, the “Ecco-Fonic,” a tape echo device that was portable and could create echo effects that were previously possible only in the studio. At that time he became friends with Ikutaro Kakehashi, who was the founder of the Roland Music Corporation of Japan, and who would later invite Del back to Japan to introduce the first Roland guitar synthesizer.
In Hollywood, Del became a much sought-after studio guitarist, and appeared in movies such as “Roustabout” starring Elvis Presley. Elvis liked Del’s guitar playing so much he invited him to join his friends for future engagements. Del’s work in Hollywood ran the gamut of styles. A typical week might include his regular gig with Gene Autry’s Melody Ranch TV show, recording with Frank Sinatra or Sonny and Cher, then sitting in with Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention at the Whisky A-Go-Go
As a guitarist and consultant for Vox, Del and often performed with the Vox Amplifonic Big Band in California. Through his relationship with Vox engineers, he discovered that their new variable tone control midrange booster created a “wah” sound similar to a trumpet or harmonica. Del immediately asked the engineering team to prototype that circuit into a Vox organ volume pedal. This enabled him to play his guitar while moving the pedal, and thus the wah-wah pedal was born. The sound caught the ear of Addams Family composer Vic Mizzy, who then used Del’s talents on several film and TV scores.
Following in his composer father’s footsteps, Del is an accomplished composer and producer. NBC4 Nightly News in Los Angeles featured his theme and multi-tracked guitar performance, which ran for 18 years. He produced, arranged, and performed on over 200 shows as Music Director for the children’s TV show “The New Zoo Revue.” He has composed a classical work in three movements: “Americana Suite for Orchestra” and is also the producer of several Japanese anime television programs in English.
Del continues to be active with his post-production company, AMI Productions in Burbank, offering a variety of services, including anime, voice-over, audio production, music layback, ADR, and Foley.