All guitarists enjoy being able to add effects to their playing, but for beginners this topic can be very confusing. It is because there are so many different kinds of effects with so many functions in different parts of the song, and different styles and genres; choosing the best for your need and style can be overwhelming. In this article, we will give you some basic information on the effects of Phaser Pedals – One of the most legendary effects in history. This includes;
- What is the effect?
- The Phaser Pedal and how it works.
- Phaser vs Flangers vs Chorus – a disguise
- How to effectively use a Phaser Pedal.
- 7 Best Pedal Phasers in the market with pros and cons. What would be a fit for you?
1. What is the effect?
Have you ever heard someone playing guitar and there come some unique and maybe ‘crazy’ tones that come out of the instrument even though they may use the exact same amp and guitar rig? Yes, it’s because of the effects.
The effects are created by an electronic device that alters the sound of a musical instrument or other audio source. They can offer the player the ability to change the tone and colour of their sound in a way that you’ve never heard before or reproduce the song distinctively to the original version.
The effect can be a pedal or rack. Pedals can be an analog one that has a few certain functions, a foot-controlled device or a digital one that is a multi-function pedal but the sound quality is less compared to the analog. Rack Units have a better sound quality but they cost a quite pretty penny or are too advanced for someone who just has a basic need.
We can categorize effects in different ways but I will classify them on the Modulation Effects or Mods. This is a kind of effect that modifies the sound in a certain way: by adding a time-delayed version of the sound to itself and then varying the size of that delay over time. Mod consists of Wah Wah, Phaser, Flanger, Chorus, Pitch, Octave…
Time-based effects—Reverb, Delay, and Echo
Spectral effects—EQ and Panning
Dynamic effects—Compression and Distortion
- The Phaser Pedal – How it works.
A phaser pedal, or phase shifter, is one of the earliest invented effects and massively popular in the 70s for getting that psychedelic funk sound. Listen to Eddie Van Halen’s “Atomic Punk” to feel the Phaser Effect.
Technically, A phaser will take a dry input sound wave, duplicate and move it into something called an All-pass-filter. This takes some of the frequency and reverses their phase. And when they’re blended back with the original, it creates these peaks and notches in the signal. The Low-Frequency Oscillator (LFO) controls the frequency rather than the delay time of the duplicated wave that makes the phaser sound wavy and doppler-like.
A phaser uses more than an All-pass-filter in a chain that creates different amounts of stages leading to various phased sounds. A digital phaser pedal usually has 4, 8, 10, or 12 stages. Alternatively, an analog phaser usually has fewer phase stage settings.
3. Phaser vs Flanger vs Chorus
Let’s take a look to this video to feel the difference first
You may find it a little bit confusing when getting used to the sound of a phaser and other effects like flanger or chorus. And they are indeed quite similar but the flanger, when the signal is duplicated, one of them is delayed in time very slightly, usually no more than 20 milliseconds. That’s why a flanger gives a more dramatic and complex harmonic on your tone and you can change the intensity of the effect by raising the delay time with a pedal’s knob. Listen to Eddie Van Halen’s opening riff on “Unchained” for a great example of the flanger’s jet plane-like effect.
The chorus effect is similar to a flanger in that it creates two clones of the signal. The difference is that a chorus pedal uses a longer delay between the two signals, which creates a more subtle effect than a flanger or phase shifter
4.How to effectively use Phaser Pedals.
There are many types of phaser pedals with many added functions to suit your need as a basic or an advanced user. But here are some common control modes that are most likely to be found on a Phaser.
Speed/Rate: This knob controls the speed of the LFO that affects the number and position of the all-pass-filter chain. A low rate gives you a little wavy sound effect, but when you turn the knob to the right, you will experience some high-tech doppler-like sound.
Level: or “wet/dry” mode controls the intensity of the effect which applies to the duplicated dry input signal. The more intense this mode, the more squeezing sound you will hear.
Dept: the peak and troughs in the all-pass filter will change when you manipulate this knob.
Feedback: Like the term “feedback”, this mode controls the output signal that is fed back into the input. This can be used as a sub distortion effect to give it a more dramatic and noisy overtone.
There are actually no real rules to using a phaser due to your different styles and needs. The speed knob simply affects the troughs and the peaks in the sound that you hear. Whenever you turn it up too high, the sound will begin to be chaotic. But here are some basic suggestions for you when you are not too familiar to a phaser
If you’re a fan of a vintage sound, the settings with Rate: 3/Depth: 8/ Feedback: 0/ Stage: 4 will suit you the best.
If you’re into more like a modern rock sound, these settings Rate: 7/ Depth: 4/ Feedback: 4/Stages: Between 8 and 10 may please you
Note: These settings are dependent on the available functions on the phaser you purchase and your own experiences.
5. Best Pedal Phaser in the market with pros and cons. What would be a good fit for you?
1. TC Electronic Helix
Since being introduced in 2011, TC Electronic Helix Phaser soon became a hit due to investment in the core foundation features and the ability to add individualized functions for the user’s experience. You will find this phaser not too crowed with function knobs, no stage listed, but there are three modes you can easily switch on the board from Vintage, TonePrint to Smooth. With TonePrint editor, this digital pedal brings you a warm, good-quality sound like an analog one.
However, it’s also kept some of the basic functions such as speed and depth, which are familiar to a regular phaser, a mix that controls the effect intensity on the dry signal and feedback. The flexibility to create your own unique sound and style and the competitive price on Amazon makes the TC Electronic Helix Phaser an ideal one to put on your list
Helix would be a perfect match for fans of modern rock, rhythm, lead and most basic styles.
+ Wide range of intensity
+ TonePrint editor
+ True Bypass.
+ Warm analog sound quality despite being a digital one
+ Stereo I/O
+We cannot find it
2. MXR M101 Phase 90
Four decades has passed since its introduction in 1974, here is the legendary pedal that you can find in any same-topic blogs and videos. This pedal provides a true, rich, warm, and timeless analog tone with which you can add some drama and speed effects.
Manipulating this Phase 90 is even simpler. A knob operates the speeds from a subtle to a fast, distinctive clean sound. You just need to plug it in, set speed, and get ready to rock. If you are into analog sound quality, this is your one. Otherwise, there is nothing much you can do to alter the tone for your specific and advanced needs.
This pedal is perfect for those who want a true vintage tone or a ready solution that doesn’t require you to think much and easily set up for an urgent performing call.
+ Simple design and set up
+ Excellent Analog Tone
+ Lack of control
This classic masterpiece is ideal for Classic rock, simple setup, modern rock, basic modulation, and analog fans
3. Moog Moogerfooger MF103 12 Stage
So-called “the holy grail of analog phasers”, Moog Moogerfooger MF103 12 Stage has plenty of excellent aspects to win the title. Designed by Bob Moog himself, it integrates a 6-stage/12-stage phaser and a multi-range LFO together, and it’s beyond an analog one. This can be quite sophisticated to be manipulated by a new-in-town host, but it’s worth it if you want to create your own styles.
With a 12-stage mode, you will experience a dynamic sweeping, sci-fi effects that bring a motion, third-dimension-like to the guitar sound. There are three dips – 2/4/6 – in 6-stage mode, while 12-stage has six. This also provides various feedback features that you can easily increase the resonance for the effect. Two knobs in the LFP controls the rate and depth of the pedal. There are also two smaller knobs in the middle that controls the mono input and the stereo output level
+ Clean warm analog quality
+ Diverse in function to create your own styles
+ Great design
4. MXR EVH90 Phase 90
MXR EVH90 Phase 90 is a revised, equivalent updated version of the MXR M101 Phase 90 that once became a legend in the mid-70s and 80s. With the humble function just like the blocky predecessors this version can be effortlessly switched between vintage and modern voicing that is quite promising for an update.
Decorated with a catchy line and grafiti look, this version pedal should be highly considered if you are a fan of Dunlop’s products.
PROS:+ Easily switch between vintage and modern effects.
+ Easy to use with a single knob
+ LED status light.
CONS:+ Lack of control button for those who need to individualize styles
5. Behringer Vintage Phaser VP1
No matter if you are a new-in-town player or an experienced one, Behringer is truly a great option for a good quality product at an affordable price.
Traditionally, there is only a single rate knob and a very cool Tone switch, which lets you flip from wavy sound to some kind of drama jet-engine, chattering robot sound effect. The max intensity on the rate knob may bring some chaos, but the medium level would be pleasant and warm. This has acceptable quality, a strong design with a metal cover, and led status light at an affordable price. This guy is for everyone.
+ True hard-wired bypass for optimal integrity.
+ Quiet switching knob.
+ May suitable for bassists.
6. Walrus Audio Lillian Phaser Pedal
The Walrus Audio Lillian is a splendid option for those who are fans of combining effects. This analog tone is significantly warm and suitable for layering signals.
You can easily choose a 4-stage or 6-stage mode which alters the overall sound effect from warm and tight phasing to a more complex filtered sound.
With the D-P-V knob, you can blend dry, phase, and vibrato sounds effects allowing for diversity in effects needs
And the look, honestly, really impressive.
Walrus Audio Lilian is ideal for Fans of analog pedals and warm sound quality
+ D-P-V knob controls dry, phase, and vibrato
+ Selectable 4 and 6 stage phasing
+ Analog sound quality
+ Easy setting
7. Walrus Audio Vanguard Dual
What makes the Walrus Audio Vanguard Dual to be on the list is the ability to combine two phasers into one that offers you a thick, dual- texture sound with great harmony. The top row of knobs set effects for the first stage which runs separately with the second row.
The more interesting point found is that the user can have the choice of 3 unique modes. The “10-stage Phaser + regen” works like on a Flanger pedal that re-feed the signal into the filter. Next is the 4-stage with pitch and last is the 6-stage with filter.
Another advantage of the Walrus Audio Vanguard Dual is the offer to adjust not only the dry signal that comes to the pedals but also the output signal to individualize your tone
+ Offer a new level of creating your own unique sound with many modes and adjustments.
+ Good sound quality
+ A boutique price pedal