Phaser Pedals

Modulation effects make your guitar parts sound far more intriguing. Phaser pedals are a part of this family, and can really help to expand your sonic palette with chewy, spiralling & warped swirls!

Phaser Pedals

The sound of a phaser pedal is instantly-recognisable. It’s an effect synonymous with psychedelia, with a shimmering and spacey vibe that bubbles on the surface of your tone! Popularised by the likes of Eddie Van Halen and David Gilmour in the ‘70s and ‘80s, there were also plenty of ‘90s alternative rock bands that made use of phaser pedals and their trippy, spinning sounds.

A phaser works by splitting your guitar signal into two, with one being sent through an all-pass filter. This filtered signal is then manipulated via an LFO and mixed with the dry unaffected signal. Phaser pedals are therefore not too dissimilar from chorus or flanger pedals in terms of how they work and how their sound is attained. If you want to find out more about phaser pedals and what they sound like compared to their counterparts in the modulation family, check out our Ultimate Guide to Phaser Pedals!

MXR’s original Phase 90 pedal is arguably the most renowned phaser stompbox out there, first introduced in 1974. However, plenty of alternative brands have formulated their own crazy concoctions! Tone City, Landlord FX and TC Electronic make fantastic affordable phaser pedals, while the likes of KMA Audio Machines, EarthQuaker Devices and Walrus Audio build premium phasers featuring more ‘stages’ and versatile tone-tweaking controls.

Phaser Pedal FAQs

What does a Phaser Pedal do?

Phaser pedals are part of the modulation family of effects, alongside chorus and flanger stompboxes. A phaser pedal colours your guitar tone via signal processing, to create a warped and pulsating vocal-like effect. Because of its abstract sound, many players will use a phaser to excite their guitar tone and accentuate certain parts - think Van Halen’s “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love”.

How does a Phaser Pedal work?

A phaser pedal processes your guitar’s signal. Essentially splitting it into two, one of the signals is left dry while the other has its waveform adjusted and manipulated. This is achieved via an ‘LFO’ (low-frequency oscillator). The frequencies from the affected signal will cancel-out some of the frequencies from the dry signal, causing that distinctively warped and wavy sound that phaser pedals are so known for.

Where does a Phaser Pedal go in my signal chain?

A phaser pedal should be routed through an amplifier's ‘effects loop’ - between its preamp and power amp sections. This results in a balanced and natural sound. Phaser pedals can be connected to an amp’s main input, but this can cause an overly-processed tone with an unwanted boost in volume. Phaser pedals should be placed before any delay or reverb stompboxes in your signal chain. Using a phaser pedal after these effects will colour and potentially hinder the sounds of their ambient trails.

What is the difference between a Flanger and a Phaser?

Both phaser and flanger pedals process your guitar’s signal. Essentially splitting it into two, these stompboxes will leave one of the signals dry and manipulate the sound of the other via an ‘LFO’ (low-frequency oscillator). With a phaser pedal, the frequencies from the affected signal will cancel-out some of the frequencies from the dry signal, causing that distinctively wavy and vocal-like sound that phaser pedals are so known for. A flanger pedal is slightly different as it mixes the dry signal with a delayed signal that sways between 5-25 milliseconds. The delayed signal is then fed back into the chain, which creates harmonic feedback and that iconic jet-engine flanging effect.