Flanger vs Phaser – Understanding the Key Differences

By Jodie Chiffey | Pedals

Last Updated on

Guitar players work with melodies, notes, and chord progressions to produce songs. They also have an arsenal of audio effects for adding creativity to their productions. The most commonly used audio effects – modulation effects help in adding dimensions, movement, and colors to your sounds.

Flanging and Phasing are two popular modulation effects, and as a guitar enthusiast, you may find different Flanger and Phaser medals on the market. Nevertheless, the Flanger vs Phaser debate is all over guitar forums and blogs, and many guitarists are still confused about the actual impact of both the modulation effects.

In this post, our guitar experts will take on the Flanger vs Phaser comparison, and help you understand the basic differences between both modulation effects. We’ll also discuss a few top-rated Flanger and Phaser pedals on the market without diving too deep into their electronic aspect. Read on to understand the modulation effects in detail.

What is modulation?

Before we move on the detailed comparison of Flanger and Phaser effects, it’s important that you first understand what modulation means.

When you talk about distortion or overdrive, the concept is pretty simple. As you continue to maximize gain at the preamp stage, you sound more and more metal, and as you continue to maximize gain at the post-amp stage, you can easily overpower the drummer.

When you apply modulation effects, there’s a specific impact on your tone. Nevertheless, understanding what is actually happening to your signal can provide you with better control over your set-up. An input signal that doesn’t change is known as a “dry” signal, while an input signal that is altered is known as a “wet” signal.

In the case of modulation effects, a clone of the dry signal travels through a series of filters and Is fed back to the dry signal to produce the effect. Mostly all modulation effects are closely related to psychedelic music.

Flanger vs. Phaser – How are the two modulation effects different?

guitars

Flanger

A Flanger pedal produces one of the most addictive and simple modulation effects in the guitar world. A Flanger picks a signal, copies it, and then add a little delay to one of the clones. Subsequently, it also alters the delay time (by about 20 seconds) while you’re playing your guitar. The result – a sound as loud as a powerful jet engine flying over your head as several crests and troughs are formed in the sonic spectrum. Flanging is also referred to as comb filtering since the effect resembles the structure of a comb.

Flanging was first introduced by the Beetles engineer Ken Townsend while working at the Abby Studio. At that time, the Flanging effect was produced by playing two clones of the same material on repeat on different decks, and constantly altering the speed of one of the decks.

The artificial Flanging you derive from pedals is much more flexible than Flanging using the original tape. Flanging pedals help you gain more control over harmonic overtones, the penetration of the effect, and the rate at which the effect takes place.

Phaser

Just like the Flanger, the Phaser effect also clones the signal, modifies it by phase shifting one of the clones, and then couples both signals back. However, the main difference here is that a Phaser produces a Doppler effect.

Phasing is subtler and milder than Flanging. The shifting takes place in a more smeared way and is not connected to any harmonic series. It is more swirly, thick, and dazed. In simpler words, it feels like a pedal being moved back and forth is a very systematic and steady motion. From John Petrucci to Jimi Hendrix, all leading guitarists around the world are using Phasing pedals.

The thin line of difference between a Flanger and Phaser

The line between a Flanger and Phaser is blurry, and both effects are capable of sounding alike. The reason why many guitarists get confused between a Phaser and Flanges is that a Phaser also comes with a core sweeping function. However, the sweeping effect observed in both the cases is somewhat different. On the one hand, Flangers achieve their sweep by modifying the delay time, whereas Phasers use filters that obstruct different portions in the frequency range. Therefore, Phases are more predictable and reliable than Flangers.

Flanger vs. Phaser – A quick comparison

Modulation Effect

Delay

Description

Flanging

>1m to 5m

Great frequency cancellation and depth. Frequency markings are harmonically space across the frequency band.

Phasing

None

Cancels a variety of frequencies to produce the effect. Frequency makings are evenly placed across the frequency band.

 Now that you know the key differences between a Flanger and Phaser pedal, let’s look at the top 3 Flanger and Phaser pedals on the market. Our guitar experts explored the market and picked these best-selling Flanger and Phaser pedal models based on the reviews and ratings of existing customers. Not only this, but they also tested the products to ensure they’re worthy of the praise.

Best Flanger pedals on the market

MXR M152 Micro

General specifications:

Dimensions

8 x 3 x 3 inches

Weight

1 lb.

Model no.

11152000001

Batteries

1 x 9V

Rating

3.9 out of 5 stars

Price

$89.99

Review

The MXR M152 Micro pedal comes with some great Flanging effects. It comprises a true bypass switch with LED and 2 controls. It is compact and easy to use.

Using the rate knob, you can alter the frequency leading to a signature curvy sound. MXR M152 also comes with a Regeneration Knob that allows you to enhance or reduce the amount of sound getting directed back through the Low-Frequency Oscillator. By modifying the rate and feedback, you can quickly produce the best sweeping and whooshing effect you need.

The bypass footswitch comes in handy to start and stop the Flanging effect as and when you need. The LED display will show whether the bypass is on or off. All in all, the tone produced by MXR M152 Micro is rounded and warm. The product is reasonably priced and reliable.

Pros and cons:

Pros

Cons

Compact and convenient to use and carry

Limited selection of effects

Warm analog sound

Require more depth, resolution, and adjustment

High-quality bypass footswitch with LED

Excellent sound quality

Responsive

Versatile

Donner Jet Convolution

General specifications:

Dimensions

6.6 x 4.7 x 2.6 inches

Weight

0.5 lb.

Model no.

Jet Convolution

Batteries

1 x 9V

Rating

4.1 out of 5 stars

Price

$32

Review:

When it comes to price,Donner Jet Convolution is one of the most affordable Flanger pedals on the market. It is compact, lightweight, and comes with a sturdy build.

The product comes with a Rate Knob that allows you to manage the frequency of the sweeping effect. Not only this, but the Knob is also large and allows you to adjust the frequency easily. The Color Knob supplies substantial feedback and regeneration, while the Range Knob allows you to switch on the fancy effects. Whether you want to try some frenzied metallic effects or the subtle warm natural tones, you can turn the knob and enjoy the effects instantly.

Another interesting feature of this pedal is the Toggle Switch which allows you to switch from the Normal filter to the automatic Low Frequency Oscillator producing an authentic vintage analog sound. The bypass is extremely effective and the LED light displays the bypass status. All in all, Donner Jet Convolution is affordable, versatile, and strong.

Pros and cons:

Pros

Cons

Solid aluminum casing

Some customers have mentioned that the material used to make the knobs is low-quality

Toggle switch to produce an authentic Flanging effect

Large Rate Knob for quick, easy adjustments

Budget-friendly

Adds a sense of warmth to your tone

Joyo JF-07 Classic

General specifications:

Dimensions

4.7 x 3.4 x 1.5 inches

Weight

0.6 lb.

Model no.

JF-07

Batteries

1 x 9V

Rating

3.9 out of 5 stars

Price

$32

Review:

Joyo is not just a Flanger pedal, it’s a product with a classy, vintage look. The best features of Joyo JF-07 Classic are Regeneration, Bypass, Delay, Intuitive Speed Controls, and Width.

Thanks to the Bucket Brigade Device Circuit, the pedal comes with warm sound. So, if you’re looking for an affordable Flanger pedal with incredible features and effects, it’s got to be Joyo JF-07 Classic. If you experiment with the product, you’ll find that it can help you produce a wide range of effects such as chorus tones, harsh metallic notes, soft, and even swift trembling vibrato resonances. The true bypass is effective and can help you produce clear, clean notes as per your requirement. All in all, the Joyo JF-07 Classic is extremely versatile.

Pros and cons:

Pros

Cons

Warm and smooth tones

Some customers have mentioned that the pedal chain is a bit noisy

Elegant look

True bypass

Inexpensive

Great customer reviews

Excellent spacey sounds with a broad tonal range

Best Phaser pedals on the market

Behringer Vintage Phaser VP1

General specifications:

Dimensions

5.59 x 3.07 x 3.39 inches

Weight

0.8 lb.

Model no.

VP 1/B

Batteries

1 x 9V

Rating

4.1 out of 5 stars

Price

$34.99

Review:

Many seasoned guitarists often unknowingly ignore or dismiss an inexpensive Phaser pedal on the market. When it comes to affordability and high-quality products, Behringer poses a threat to several other Phaser pedals on the market.

Behringer Vintage Phaser VP1 produces a broad range of remarkable shifting sounds. It delivers three-dimensional phases and comprises a color switch with dedicated rate controls. Using the Vintage Phaser VP1, you can dial in Authentic tones as well as fizzy rotary effects, unenergetic cries, and theatrical booming sounds. The true bypass provides definitive signal integrity.

The device comes with a sturdy build and high-quality components to ensure durability. The VP1 runs on DC supply or a 9V battery. All in all, Vintage Phaser VP1 is an affordable Phaser pedal suitable for bass guitars.

Pros and cons:

Pros

Cons

True hard-wire bypass for optimum integrity

Some customers have mentioned that the pedal chain is a bit noisy

Suitable for bass guitar players

Dedicated color switch and rate controls

Great sound quality

Compact and easy to use

Versatile and durable

Provides a wide range of effects

TC Electronic Helix

General specifications:

Dimensions

5 x 3 x 3.3 inches

Weight

1 lb.

Model no.

960820001

Batteries

1 x 9V

Rating

4.6 out of 5 stars

Price

$128.98

Review:

TC Electronic Helix is Phaser pedal which can help you take your tone to an all-new level with powerful rustles and a swirly wow factor. It is extremely versatile and provides guitar players with a wide array of phaser tones. The four-knob interface permits extensive tonal fine-tuning. The true bypass provides you with optimum clarity and no high-end loss when the pedal is switched off.

The complete tonal awesomeness provided by the Electronic Helix can help you produce legendary music in different genres such as rock, pop, metal, and indie. Using the Helix Phaser pedal, you can dial in everything vibrant vintage swirls to more massive and bold tones. Overall, the Helix pedal comes with a basic design.  It is indeed one of the most flexible and high-performance Phaser pedals on the market.

Pros and cons:

Pros

Cons

Comes with a wide range of rich Phaser tones

The combination of phased and dry signal can at times sound less than continuous

TonePrint enabled

Buffered, true bypass

Excellent tone-sculpting controls

Sounds great with fuzz

Joyo JF-06 Vintage Phase

General specifications:

Dimensions

4.7 x 2.8 x 2.3 inches

Weight

0.6 lb.

Model no.

JF-06

Batteries

1 x 9V

Rating

4.1 out of 5 stars

Price

$30.45

Product review:

Joyo JF-06 Vintage Pedal is a contemporary clone of the pedal that made Eddie Van Halen music popular. The twirling buzz and divebombs of his customized electric guitars couldn’t have been the same without the intervention of the JF-06. Our experts were pretty satisfied with the Phaser effects provided by JF-06. Nevertheless, there are still some tones that are lacking.

Since Joyo is a Chinese brand, many prospective buyers are unsure about the quality of the components. However, our experts did not come across any issue with the product quality. All in all, the Joyo JF-06 is so affordable that you can even purchase 2 of them and change pre-adjusted settings.

Pros and cons:

Pros

Cons

True bypass hard wiring

Limited Phaser tone available

Versatile

Solid dial controls

Speed feature to replicate the Phaser tones you like

Affordable

Final thoughts on the Flanger vs. Phaser comparison

playing

In simple words, Flanging and Phasing are two distinct modulation effects. Both effects comprise dry and wet signals fused together to produce the modulation effects. However, a Flanger constitutes a delayed signal that produces a classic swishing sound when fed back to join the dry signal. It’s more impactful and effective than a Phaser. So, if you’re looking to add some exciting texture and colors to your tone, then adding some modulation could be a good idea. Whether you’re looking for some clear and clean tones that sparkle or extreme metal grooves, Flangers can do it all. If you’re a beginner guitarist, we recommend starting with a Phaser pedal as phasers are typically easier to operate and affordable.

To sum up the Flanger vs Phaser debate, both effects together come with more power to transform your tone than a variety of other effects jumbled together. Hopefully, we’ve provided you with enough information to help you understand the main differences between Flanger and Phaser effects.

As far as the best Flanger and Phaser medals on the market are concerned, the top 2 picks of our guitar experts at the end of market research and self-testing exercise wereDonner Jet Convolution and TC Electronic Helix. Both modulation pedals have been rated high by existing customers, and our guitar gurus loved the tones they delivered. Not only this, but they also found both the products to be extremely versatile and affordable for beginners as well as novice guitarists.

If you have any questions on Flanging, Phasing, or any of the pedals discussed in the post, you can post your queries in the comment section below. Also, if there are any other guitar-related products you’d like us to compare or review, you can write to us, and we’ll forward your request to our esteemed panel of guitar experts.

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