Posted on20 July 2017 10:58 PM GMT

9 of the Best Phaser Pedals for Your Consideration

Electric GuitarGuitar OwnershipGuitar PedalsEffects PedalsModulation EffectsPhaser+-
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Beyond the various flavours of phasers contained within my Strymon Mobius, I have so far just a single solitary Phaser Pedal to my name - the Mini MXR Phase 95 - which combines the Regular and Script versions of both the iconic MXR Phasers - the 45 and 90.

 

The above featured selection includes some of the most feature-rich Phasers available, as well as some more straightforward vanilla effects. In terms of full-range Phasers, top billing is probably shared by Pigtronix’s Envelope Phaser and Subdecay’s Quasar DLX, with the Empress Phaser and Chase Bliss Wombtone in close company. We also mustn’t overlook the fabulous Dual Phase of Walrus’s Vanguard Phaser, and the smooth lush tones of the Red Witch Deluxe Moon.

 

As before I cover pedals of various prices and sizes, traditional, modern and distinctive, simple and complex. For my money - and as you’ve probably guessed by now, the Chase Bliss Wombtone is next on my wishlist for pedals to acquire, to round out the 3 Chase Bliss pedals I already have. I am also super impressed with the Pigtronix, Subdecay and Empress, but not sure I want so sacrifice that much real estate to a single effect.

 

The EHX Small Stone and TC Electronic Helix round out the selection nicely, both being simple but effective, and the Helix benefiting from TCE’s smart TonePrint technology.

 

NOTE - Pedals are pictured and listed alphabetically by brand, prices are the lowest I could find online for new.

Chase Bliss Wombtone II - £349

This is my next likely acquisition, check out the above exquisite Knobs video for reasons why. Yet another masterpiece of design from Joel Korte - no one puts as wide a feature set into a regular size pedal enclosure. It's not just the sum of the parts, but the how too - the interaction of the different dials and toggles, and the really clever application of dip-switch options along the top face of the pedal. Yes these things are on the pricey side, but they're also kind of priceless really - genuine jewels of the pedal world. If you are into analogue effects, then you should most definitely take Chase Bliss for a trial run - most of those that persevere really love these pedals and would have nothing else.

Electro-Harmonix Small Stone Nano - £67

At the more affordable end of the scale we find the single dial, single toggle switch EHX Small Stone Nano - which produces lush tones in the simplest way possible. The 'Color' toggle gives you two different sonic flavours / voicings, and the Rate dial adjusts the speed of the modulation, that's all there is to this - turn up the dial for more swirly / oscillating sounds.

Empress Phaser - £329

From the simple EHX Small Stone to the marvellous 8 waveform shapes with auto submodes trickery of the Empress Phaser - with 3 different play modes, and 2,3 and 4 phase stage options. Easily one of the most feature-rich phasers available, with huge amounts of tone-sculpting ability. Compared to the Small Stone, this one has 5 dials, and 5 x 3-option toggles. Very slightly on the larger side for my liking, although still fairly compact for what it does. If Empress ever brought out a multi-modulation pedal (a la Mobius), I would definitely go for that, but not sure I want to sacrifice 2 and 1/2 pedals worth of real estate for a single effect type, however feature-rich.

MXR Phase 95 - £114

I bought this one almost as soon as it came out, intrigued to see how great a mini phaser could sound. As stated in the intro it contains both of MXR's most iconic phasers - the 45 and 90, you have two buttons to toggle between 45 and 90 mode, and the second button to toggle on the 'Script' variation. A single Speed dial shapes the tone, with slow syrupy phase counter-clockwise and full on swirl in a clockwise direction. Excellent tone for such a small pedal, and plenty of versatility - everyone should have one!

Pigtronix EP2 Envelope Phaser - £219

The Pigtronix combines the phasing with some clever envelope filter manipulation to achieve slightly more unusual phase tones - truly great for anyone in a funk band! Possibly too much for those looking for more classic / traditional phasing, and in some ways is less versatile than the Empress in pure phasing prowess, although offers a slightly broader tone pallet overall. It is certainly an interesting pedal, possibly more for the studio than playing live.

Red Witch Deluxe Moon Phaser £189

A truly lush, relatively simple and ever so smooth Stereo 'Tremophasing' pedal. Three dials allow you to sculpt the tone - Velocity | Trajectory | Cosmology - the first being the usual Speed / Rate dial all phasers have, Trajectory is in effect 'Waveform', while 'Cosmology' is a six-way mode selector - 3 phase modes, 2 tremophase modes and a single tremolo only mode. For those looking for something a little bit different, yet simple to control and massive sounding - this is your pedal!

Subdecay Quasar DLX - £249

This is another one of Subdecay's flagship pedals - sits nicely alongside the Starlight DLX, but occupies a slightly smaller form factor than that. It features 11 waverform Shapes and a dual-action Speed dial with several modes / ratios. For the phase enthusiast, this is probably your holy grail, and if you can get your hands on the previous purple version, you will find that even more versatile - with 4, 6 and 8 stage phasing options. Subdecay designed the new one to be easier to handle and seem to have drawn a leaf from Strymon in aiming for a more easily reachable sweet spot. The old purple pedal had more textural chops, but could get speaker-bursting nasty too - which is something that has been eliminated from its replacement.

TC Electronic Helix - £95

You can't really go wrong with most TC Electronic pedals - generally very simple to use and dial in a tone, with the added benefit of the immense TonePrint library for more unique tones. A 3-way toggle allows you to select between Vintage, Smooth and TonePrint modes, while 4 dials adjust the tone - Speed | Depth | Feedback | Mix - equally importantly this is a stereo in and out pedal. Quite the different concept versus the above Wombtone, and obviously full digital versus analogue with digital controls - definitely a great option for you board - at a very reasonable price.

Walrus Audio Vanguard Dual Phaser - £239

A slightly different take on a phaser - featuring 2 parallel phasers - a top voicing default 10 stage phaser, and a second voicing selectable at 4, 6 or 10 stages with different carry-through secondary effects - Regen, Pitch and Filter. All the dials are pretty self-explanatory while the Tweak dial adjusts both Pitch and Filter settings depending on what mode you are in. You can employ just a single phaser by turning down the 3 central dials in the top row. You can of course get some lovely warbly and swooshy textures with this pedal if that is your thing, it is of course a relatively large enclosure but really quite feature rich and fairly unique - and it has 4 presets. I currently don't harbour any desires to add more phasers, beyond the Wombtone, but would definitely consider the Vanguard, Quasar DLX and Deluxe Moon. There's also an older regular Subdecay Quasar - which you should grab immediately if ever you see it on Reverb.com - it is unfortunately long since discontinued.

*Addition - Alexander Pedals La Calavera - £189

Stop Press - just came across this one very recently - another amazing phaser pedal at just the right form factor for me. I know I will likely get the Chase Bliss Wombtone, but darn! I really like this one too. Unbelievably versatile and absolutely amazing sounding. Check out the usually amazing Pro Guitar Shop demo - putting the pedal through its paces - with its 3 different modes, you can't go wrong!

Stefan
Posted by Stefan
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