The Best Phaser Pedals
Be it for psychedelic warble, high end shimmer, or for jet plane swoosh, phaser pedals have provided guitarists with a unique voice that has changed the musical landscape.
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Iconic guitarists like Brian May and Eddie Van Halen have put this effect to good use, forever immortalized in tracks that now serve as anthems for many players. Even keyboardists got a piece of the action, with artists like Tony Banks and Billy Joel incorporating the effect into their favorite tracks. But it doesn't stop there because you too can add spice to your riffs and licks by employing a good phaser pedal. This is where we come in with our updated list of the best phaser pedals available.
Things To Consider When Buying a Phaser Shifter Pedal
Stop, Look & Listen
Before buying modulation effects, it is best to at least have a clear idea of how you want to use the effect. Listening to how your favorite artists used phaser is a good starting point, you can also find out which effects they actually use and either get the same one, or an alternative that sounds similar.
While we all want to get the best hand-wired pedals available, our wallets and close relatives may disagree, so it is best to have a reasonable price range before you even consider your options. This will weed out expensive ones that you probably won't end up getting anyway, leaving you with pedals that are actually within your reach.
Simplicity vs Complexity
You have to be honest with yourself, if you're the kind of player who finds himself always tweaking effect parameters, then you'll want one with more knobs and switches, like the Moog MF-103, Pigtronix EP-2 and Strymon Mobius - or else you may end up being disappointed with the usual one knob phasers that are standard in the market. The reverse is true for those who don't really mess with the dials, go for ones with the simplest interface like the Phase 90, Orange Box and Small Stone.
These days, pedals from reputable manufacturers are as durable as they can get, but the more complex a pedal is, the more moving parts there is that can possibly fail. So if you always find yourself jumping on stage and mercilessly stepping on your pedal, you'll want one that can handle the punishment.
The Top 10 Phaser Pedals
|The MXR Phase 90 is out top phaser pedal pick. It was made famous by Eddie Van Halen in his iconic track "Eruption", and it continues to set the standard for other phaser pedals to either follow or try to beat.||See our detailed review below|
|Moog is synonymous to premium build quality and sound, so it's not surprising that many consider the MF-103 to be among the best of the best, us included. This pedal gives you deep control with its 12-stage phaser circuit, and allows for a myriad of sounds that other's simply can't provide.||See our detailed review below|
|The hype behind Strymon products is very real, as evidenced by the many players who stand by their brand. Phaser is just one of the many modulation effects that the Strymon Mobius carries, but it is great sounding enough for the pedal to secure a spot in this list.||See our full review below|
|The Nano Small Stone is a miniaturized version of the original 4-stage phaser pedal thatwas made popular by Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood. It is a great choice for rock and other modern musical styles, and especially appealing for those who want to save on precious pedalboard space.||See the full review below|
|The most complex phaser pedal in the market today, allowing for in-depth control of parameters for guitarists who want total control over the effect.||See the full review below|
|While the brand name may not be familiar, the Red witch Deluxe Moon Phaser usually comes up when guitarists are talking about quality phaser pedals. And the reason is simple, it is compact, easy to use, and more importantly, it sounds nice.||See the full review below|
|The Helix Phaser is easily the most innovative phaser effect pedal in this list. For its compact size, it can give you quite a variety of sounds, which you can achieve via deep settings customization or through downloadable and easy-to-use TonePrint presets.||See the full review below|
|Boss makes an appearance in this list with the versatile and compact PH-3 phaser. This pedal lets you switch between multiple stage circuits that can go from modern to vintage style tones, all of which are packed inside Boss distinct tank tough stompbox form factor.||See the full review below|
|Whirlwind is more popularly known for their DI Box and other pro-audio equipment, but they also have a pedal guitar line, one of which makes it to this list with its good balance of boutique level hand-wired quality and reasonable price tag.||See the full review below|
|A super affordable pedal '60s style vintage phaser sounds and a straightforward single rate knob interface. A tone switch adds versatility by reversing the phase polarity for tremolo like sounds. Great budget friendly phaser!||See the full review below|
Detailed Phaser Pedal Descriptions
MXR Phase 90
The MXR Phase 90 continues to be the most prominent in the market, decades after it was first introduced back in 1974. This goes to show that right at the start, MXR already had the right combination of sound, simplicity and affordability. Up to the present day, it still is the go-to phaser for artists and hobbyists alike, and continues to be the standard that other manufacturers measure up to
As expected, a number of different versions were created to cater to specific guitar styles and music genre, but all of them still owe their existence to the original. Even other manufacturers have tried to improve on the original Phase 90's design, but even then, many still go back to the old classic phasing sound and simplistic single knob variable speed control that this pedal provides.
It also helps that the pedal is affordable, making it accessible to both pros and beginners, and with big name artists like Eddie Van Halen tied to this stompbox, it won't be surprising to see this pedal thrive in the market for years to come. If you are looking for an easy to use but great sounding phaser, or you simply want to add subtle phasing to your sound, the MXR Phase 90 is the best way to start.
Moog Moogerfooger MF-103 12-Stage Phaser
The Moogerfooger MF-103 is a stark contrast to the simplicity of the Phase 90, and is truly feature packed. It offers extensive control over the resulting sound with its versatile switchable 6-stage or 12-stage phaser circuit, along with the sweep knob and resonance knob. These knobs work in conjunction with the drive and output level controls to conjure a wide variety of phaser sounds.
In addition to the phaser circuit, Moog added a dedicated LFO section complete with amount and rate knobs. It also has a switchable Lo and Hi filter mode which further expands the sounds you get from the pedal, and since Moog built their reputation around great sounding filters, you can be sure that this LFO section complements the phaser circuit nicely.
The pedal's price and versatility may seem daunting at first but when put to good use, its myriad of features and intuitive controls will help you create unique sonic textures. As usual, features and flexibility come with a hefty price tag, but those who can afford the MF-103 will be rewarded with a great looking and sounding pedal.
Strymon Mobius Multidimensional Modulation
The Strymon Mobius is an interesting addition to this list, especially since it is a multi-effect pedal that happens to have a great sounding phaser. It has 12 different types of modulation which you can easily switch to via a single rotary switch, and features deep editing parameters to help you get the modulation effect you want down to the fine details. Interestingly, even with all these features, Strymon did not compromise on the quality of each effect.
The phaser effect on this unit is driven by the unit's Sharc DSP chip, which allows for incredibly high quality modulation even with the bulk of features that it carries. And while the effect is inspired by vintage phaser sounds, the pedal allows for deep editing of parameters so you can create your own textures. Editing is also hassle free because you can store your settings in one of the units 200 presets.
Finally, Mobius has a wealth of I/O options, for stereo connections, expression pedal control and MIDI. If you're looking for a phaser pedal that can do a whole lot more, then this one is for you.
Electro-Harmonix Nano Small Stone Phase Shifter
Electro-Harmonix' extensive line of pedals cover almost every type of effect in the market today, but it's not just about the numbers because the company built their reputation on the quality of their products, so don't be surprised if you see their brand represented here, and in other lists like this. The Nano Small Stone phaser pedal takes a spot on this list with its great combination of practicality, simplicity and quality.
When it comes to pedal housing, EHX is known for using bulky tank tough designs that can hog quite a lot of space on pedalboards. Thankfully, the company has responded to the demand for smaller pedals, and they did so without compromising quality. The Nano Small Stone is a good example, carrying over the same sound and feel as the original Nano Stone, which was popularly used by Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead on some of their popular tracks.
Sporting a straightforward single rate knob and color switch interface (that lets you change the voicing), implementing this pedal into any rig and getting the tone that you want is quick and easy. If you're looking for a quality compact phaser pedal, then check this one out.
Pigtronix EP2 Envelope Phaser
Pigtronix is a pedal manufacturer who doesn't take the less is more approach, rather they'll pack in as much technology and features needed into their pedals. Case in point is the Pigtronix Phaser, which is probably the most complicated among the pedals featured here. This can be good or bad, depending on what you need. The unit's extensive controls and parameters may seem unnecessary for some, but those who want total control will want nothing less.
For a phaser pedal, it comes packed with controls having five knobs and five switches that let you tweak the resulting phasing sound to your preference. As the name implies, the EP2 Envelop Phaser also comes an envelop filter that complements the phaser effect. It can give you accentuating and sweeping phase sounds with its auto-triggering envelope follower - giving you out of this world sounds that follows your attack and playing style.
Rounding up its features is its LFO switch, which essentially lets the pedal cross over into the realm of synths. The Pigronix EP2 Envelope Phaser is highly recommended for for adventurous tone-smiths.
Red Witch Deluxe Moon Phaser
Red Witch is a small company from New Zealand that builds analog pedals. They may not have as big a name as some on this list, but they still have quite the following, including professional guitarists like Andy Summers and Reeves Gabrels. The Red Witch Deluxe Moon Phaser makes it to this list with its balance of premium build quality and portability.
This boutique pedal usually comes up when guitarists talk about phasers, be it through word of mouth or via online forums. As such, it has risen to a popularity status that makes it look like another mass produced pedal, but it actually is not. The Red Witch Deluxe Moon Phaser has three knobs, one of which, the "Cosmology" knobs is noteworthy because it lets you sweep between phaser and tremolo effect, essentially making this pedal a compact two-in one tremolo-phaser hybrid that allows for sonic flexibility. You can also switch between three phaser settings, two "tremophase" settings and a tremolo setting, further expanding the type of sounds you can get out of this pedal..
Instead of merely reproducing classic phaser sounds, this stompbox has a uniquely warm tonality that sounds pleasing to the ears. If you are looking for a compact phaser that is beyond the simple phasers in the market, the Red Witch Deluxe Moon Phaser is a worthy investment.
TC Electronic Helix Phaser
TC Electronic is known for utilizing innovative features in their pedals, and so far the result has been very impressive, with them gaining the recommendation of virtuosos like Steve Vai, Paul Gilbert and many more. The TonePrint series exemplifies their modern approach to pedal building, these are compact pedals that allow for downloading of presets that change the settings and overall sound of the pedal instantly.
The TC Electronic TonePrint line is is represented by the Helix Phaser, a versatile, fully customizable phaser that can go from Gilmour-style swirls to Van Halen style sweeps. Thanks to the built-in DSP, the pedal gives you access to a lot more than other conventional phasers can offer, and gives you the convenience of loading up artist created TonePrints, which give you the exact same settings and sound that others, including some big name artists, employ on their pedal.
Whether be it smooth and subtle or all out shimmer, this pedal can easily give you what you need. If the front fascia controls and the artist presets are not enough, you can hook up the pedal to your Mac or PC for in-depth customization using the TonePrint Editor software. If you're looking for something compact and versatile, then the TC Electronic Helix Phaser is highly recommended.
Boss PH-3 Phase Shifter
If the guitar pedal market was a crime scene, then Boss have their fingerprints everywhere, and this is all thanks to their incredible build quality, consistency and reliability. As expected, this list would not be complete without Boss, specifically the PH-3 Phase shifter. Interestingly, this effect pedal packs quite a lot of features for its price, going beyond the usual streamlined features found on other Boss pedals.
For its size, this pedal is quite versatile, having three knobs for adjusting basic settings like rate, depth and resonance, and a rotary switch for changing the stage type of the phaser circuit. These knobs can be tweaked to recreate a wide variety of phaser tones, from classic and familiar to modern and personalized. There's even a tap-tempo feature which you can access by pressing on the pedal for 2 seconds.
The Boss PH-3 pedal highlights Boss' ability to combine versatility, with simplicity and affordability, and this is the reason why their pedals continue to sell like hot cakes. Highly recommended if you're looking for a standard sized pedal that can provide a variety of phaser sounds.
Whirlwind Rochester Series Orange Box Phaser
While Whirlwind is indeed known for DI boxes, Michael Laiacona, the president and owner of the company, started out by designing and building guitar pedals. He was the co-founder of the MXR brand and was with them until 1975, when he left to form Whirlwind. As such the company has the know how and experience to build quality pedals, which they did with the Rochester Series.
The Orange Box makes it to this list because of its connection one of the men responsible for the original MXR Phase 90, only this one is hand-wired and reasonably priced. This unit carries over the same swirling phaser tone found on vintage units, with the main difference being the addition of true bypass switching and the ability to be powered via an adapter.
The Whirlwind Rochester Orange Box Phaser may look different, but it is at heart a true classic. Some even comment that they found it to be of much better quality that vintage specimens. If you're looking for a true hand-wired classic sounding phaser that still fits the average budget, then check this one out.
Behringer Vintage Phaser VP1
This list would not be complete without a super affordable phaser pedal, and this spot goes to the Behringer Vintage Phaser VP1. This pedal is essentially a replica of popular phaser circuits from the '60s, but priced to be super affordable. Following traditional designs, it has a straightfoward interface with just one knob that lets you adjust rate. But Behringer added an extra in the form of a Tone switch, which lets you change the polarity of the effect, transforming the phaser effect sound to a more vibrato-like effect. This adds even more value to the Vintage Phaser VP1.
The rate knob lets you go from robot-like psychedelic warbling to the familiar jet-engine sweep, and that's just about it. As expected of the price range, there's nothing really extra special going on, but the pedal doe get the job done nicely, to the point that many have been recommending this pedal as a go-to entry-level unit for those who want to try out the phaser effect.
The tremolo like tones you get when you toggle the tone switch is a good bonus to an already great value pedal. If you're looking for a phaser pedal that won't hurt your budget, then get this one.
If you have any questions, or if you feel there's a great phaser that we should consider including in the top 10 above, then please leave a message in the comments below.
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