The Phase effect has fallen in and out of popularity through the last few decades. It first gained popularity during the rush of experimentation during the psychedelic era in the 60’s, and can be found on many recordings, such as the Small Face’s Itchycoo Park. Eddie Van Halen popularized it’s use the 80’s, so much so that he still bears his signature on a version of MXR’s Phase 90 pedal. When Grunge came along in the 90’s, the phase pedal found it’s place right alongside the yellow Boss distortion stompboxes. More recently, the likes of Daft Punk brought the phaser effect to electronic music.
Despite it’s distinct sound, it has been in use across many different genres, making the effect surprisingly versatile.
What Is the Phaser effect?
Technically, the phaser effect is a filtering effect. It creates peaks and troughs (hills and valleys) in the frequency spectrum. these peaks and valleys are often modulated, so a phaser effect can be considered modulation as well. This produces the sweeping effect often heard.
Phaser vs. Flanger
The phaser effect differs from the flanger effect from the shape of the frequency waveform, with the peaks and valleys spaced linearly using a delayed version of the same sound. This creates the particular “jet swoosh” sound for flangers.
The Top 3 Phaser Pedals
When we went about choosing the top phaser pedals, we did as we so often do; we review our list of gear of today’s top musicians to see what they use, and rely on their expert opinion in these regards to bring you the top 3 phaser pedals out there today. We’ve also checked out the reviews of these pedals as well to include additional insight from everyday users.
Top Overdrive Pedals – The 2nd Runner Up
Electro-Harmonix Small Stone Phase Shifter
Used by: Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead
Today, Electro-Harmonix mostly only produce the nano version of its pedals, which have not been known to divert too much from the original set.
Get the top phaser pedals from:
Top Overdrive Pedals – 1st Runner Up
Moog MF-103 Moogerfooger 6/12 Stage Phaser
Used by: John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers
While we still only have one of our featured artist’s using this pedal, the reviews have been great for the Moog Stage Phaser. It doesn’t have a long history of use in traditionally prominent phaser songs, so perhaps guitarists just aren’t considering it. Regardless, it is known to have a great range. This just could be the future go-to phase pedal (though it still has miles to go before displacing our #1 phaser pedal!).
Get the top phase pedals from:
The Best of the Top Phaser Pedals
MXR M-101 Phase 90
Used by: Eddie Van Halen, Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, Jonny Buckland of Coldplay, Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters, Slash of Guns N’ Roses, Zakk Wylde, Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins, Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, John Frusicante of Red Hot Chili Peppers (though dropped in favor of the previously listed Moog MF-103)
The MXR M-101 Phase 90 is by far the most popular phaser effect pedal. There is no other phaser pedal so frequently seen the top pedalboards than this.
Even if we were to remove the Eddie Van Halen signature pedal (EVH Phase 90), the true MXR M-101 Phase 90 would still dominate the list. Zakk Wylde also has his own signature version of the Phase 90, though he used the M-101 itself on many tours and recordings.
Besides the signature variations to this pedal, there are still other editions growing out of the popular M-101 model. There are offical vintage replicas, as well as the more advanced Phase 100 pedals, all by MXR as well.
Despite the variety of options based on the classic M-101, it is till that slim orange stompbox that graces the most popular pedalboards today.
(The MXR Phase 90 is produced by Dunlop, so some may now refer to this as the Dunlop Phase 90)
M-101 Phase 90
Get the top phaser pedals from:
Phase 90 Signature variations
Custom Shop Variations
MXR CSP-101CL Custom Shop Script Phase 90 With LED Phaser
MXR CSP-026 Handwired 1974 Vintage Phase 90