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Phasers are a type of effect pedal that can create a variety of sounds. They typically allow you to control the phase and frequency of the signal. This can be used to create effects such as vibrato, tremolo, and chorus.
There are many different types of phasers available in the market today. The most common ones are analog and digital phasers. Analog phasers were popular in the 1970s but have since been replaced by digital phasers which offer more versatility at a lower cost.
In this article we’ll see and review some phaser effect pedal models that despite being very appreciated and well known are as well very cheap and affordable for (almost) any budget.
MODELS IN THIS ARTICLE
- MXR PHASE 90 (about 90$);
- ELECTRO-HARMONIX SMALL STONE (about 80$);
- MOOER NINETY ORANGE (about 60$);
- BEHRINGER VP1 VINTAGE PHASE (about 30$);
- TC ELECTRONIC BLOOD MOON PHASER (about 45$)
1. MXR PHASE 90
The phaser is a modulation effect that has become very popular among musicians since the 70s (also used by Van Halen for his signature sound, from the Eruption solo to to “Ain’t Talkin’bout Love), and people have been using them on several instruments, but the ones that are most frequently paired with this effect are guitars and keyboards.
Even though this is one of the cheaper models on the market, it is definitely very guitarist-friendly: it’s reliable, easy-to-use and delivers a great sound.
This model has a single control knob and (obviously) an on/off switch, just like other MXR pedals: fine and accurate knob response, durable and reliable rugged case that can last a (very) long time and quality switch.
Talking about the sound, when the pedal is turned on, it also adds some volume (a bit, though), and when it comes to the actual effect, it really is astounding: it is responsive to the pick’s dynamics, has a strong body, but it’s also clean (no noise and noticeable feedbacks and other unwanted noises).
- One control (Speed knob) : very easy to use and straightforward;
- Rugged metal casing
- Base made in rubber that is non-slip;
- True bypass
MY PROS AND CONS
- Very easy to use
- It can last a lot of time thanks to that rugged metal enclosure
- The signature sound that you think of when you think about phasers
- Very cheap despite being of a big brand and with a well deserved fame
- Very little customisation possibilities: if you buy this you buy for the signature sound, not for the sound-crafting part
2. ELECTRO-HARMONIX SMALL STONE
The model Electro Harmonix Small Stone is a phaser that need no introduction; simply turn it on and be propelled into a psychedelic, dreamy realm. This tiny but amazing pedal brings back the traditional 70s sound in a major manner. Few yet crucial controls: a switch to change the “color” of the effect and a simple other knob that lets you modulate the rate. This pedal is definitely worth a try if you’re looking for sounds like psychedelia or shoegaze.
This is the perfect phaser if you want one with a vintage sound and few adjustments.
It has just one switch and one potentiometer for maximum simplicity, but it nevertheless offers more variation than, say, the traditional Phase90.
- “Classic” sound;
- 2 Controls: the knob “Rate” (that modify the speed of the effect, acting as a speed control) and the switch “color” (that lets you modify the intensity and the level of the phasing);
- True bypass circuit design
MY PROS AND CONS
- Great psychedelic-like sound at a cheap price;
- It doesn’t change your tone and overall sound (not a lot, at least) thanks to true bypass;
- Small dimensions with a resistent enclosure
- More control than the MXR Phase 90 but not all guitar players are satisfied with so few sound controls
3. MOOER NINETY ORANGE
A phaser is a necessity if you enjoy a trippy sound at some time; however, if your trusted pedalboard is already full and also your wallet does not have much to spare, then the Moeer model “Ninety Orange” is a great solution.
A ton of phasing and psychedelic sounds are made available for a low price, and the compact housing fits neatly on the board.
Yes, the characteristics are not overly exciting, but there is only one effect at a very cheap price: on this model there are two different sound modes: Vintage, which is a little more subdued, and Modern, which is more direct but also slightly louder. This is definitely a good sound-customisation option for experimentation purposes.
The Rate control allows alter the phasing’s speed from a gradual sweep to overt vibrato-like sounds that are otherwise only possible with altered analog delay. Another point to make is that the phaser can occasionally push the entire setup over the limit, causing the higher sound sections to somewhat distort if your amplifier is pushed to the headroom’s edge.
- Controls: A knob (“Speed”, for adjusting… the speed of the pedal) and a switch that allows you to change the mode between “Vintage” or “Modern”;
- Status LED (On/Off);
- True Bypass;
MY PROS AND CONS
- The vintage and modern modes are well made and make some great sounds;
- Small and good for crowded effecs pedalboards;
- True Bypass
- Again, not so many custom settings but still a great sound for your guitar playing
4. BEHRINGER VP1 VINTAGE PHASER
Behringer pedals are something that some players hesitantly purchase: despite having a good sound and an exceptional hey are as well inexpensively made (plastic) stompboxes with their electronics mounted primarily on circuit boards, making them gain the reputation of quite fragile effects models. However, the Behringer VP1 Vintage Phaser is fairly durable and composed of metal rather than plastic, an exception in Behringer’s catalogue.
With just one volume knob and one switch for the Tone, the operation is straightforward. The pedal appears to be from E.H.X, however when it is opened, it is obvious that this is not the case. The sole distinction between E.H.X. and other products is that every component is actually soldered to a circuit board. Once the circuit is plugged in, you’ll notice how silent it is. This is because a sensor circuit has been used in this location. There is absolutely no hum or noise here, and noise and feedbacks are almost always also far away.
How does that sound, though? I’ll keep this brief because it sounds good.
Okay, so it’s not E.H.X., but it’s significantly less expensive, phases a lot, and with a bit of patience, it almost sounds like a chorus. However, you don’t purchase a phaser for something like that. In my opinion, this instrument is excellent for usage in virtually every musical genre and costs a fraction of what you would pay at a rival.
- Great and classic-sounding three-dimensional phaser effect;
- 2 Controls: a knob named “Rate” (for controlling the speed of the stompbox phasing, allowing you to go from a fast rotary Speaker Cab to a Jet Plane-like sound) and a switch for controlling the Tone (named, well, “Tone”);
- Hard-Wire Bypass (that means that it doesn’t affect the tone in a dramatic way, actually it is very similar to a true bypass design but only with a fancier name);
- Status LED for signaling when it’s ON or OFF
MY PROS AND CONS
- The good sound and affordability of Behringer and the (so far) only model with a metal housing, a combo that is almost unique for Behringer itself;
- Good sound and a lot of control for the speed;
- True bypa… ops, “Hard-wire” bypass;
- Status LED for checking whether it’s On or OFF;
- Nothing at this price range, feedback noises may occur sometimes but it’s very rare (at least from my tests with distortions and other effect pedals)
5. TC ELECTRONIC BLOOD MOON PHASER
Without compromising on quality, the TC Electronic Blood Moon Phaser is suitable for beginners or those who cannot afford to pay more. Its controls let you customize the sound you want, and the metallic coatings give it sturdiness and a premium feel.
This pedal was made with excellent manufacturing quality. The jacks are well manufactured, the switch for activation is quiet, the pots are easily accessible, and the metal case is sturdy and reusable to create a “home” pedal.
The phaser effect on this pedal, which costs 49 euros, is unexpectedly high-quality and gives the guitarist access to a variety of tones. When the pedal is turned on, a little hiss can be heard, but nothing out of the ordinary or spectacular.
The lack of an access door for changing the 9V battery is a drawback of the chorus pedal in this range that I neglected to mention. In order to use a 9V battery, you actually have to open the entire casing by removing the four side screws.
By the way, TC Electronic really is spoiling guitarists with this line of affordable pedals, which might be bad for Boss and other rival companies. The simple fact that all these pedals are easily selling like hotcakes is hardly surprising.
- Analogue vintage design;
- 3 Controls: Rate (for the speed of the effect), Depth (for adjusting the level and the amount of it) and Feedback (for give to it a more “3D feeling” and add even more “wrapping” feeling to the phase sound, yes it’s not a big deal reading that but it’s hard to describe it using some words);
- True bypass;
MY PROS AND CONS
- You can customize the sound in a lot more ways (in fact this is the most customisable model between this list of low-priced phasers);
- It is decently clear thanks to true bypass and won’t add a lot of unwanted frequencies to your sound
- Durable housing
- It boosts volume, and that can sometimes be hard to manage especially while playing live