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Most of us won’t have a phaser on all the time, but at the right moment, their impact can be killer. Reverb’s Dan Orkin counts down the ‘shifters that shift the most units…


From Steve Hacket and Jimi Hendrix, to Van Halen and Johnny Greenwood, guitarists of all stripes have used modulation eff ects to add something diff erent to their guitar sounds. Over the next few months we’ll be turning our gaze into the varied denizens of the modulation realm, and today we’re kicking off with undulating fun of phaser (or phase shifter) pedals.

For those who aren’t familiar with the concept of a phase shifter, the basic recipe involves splitting an audio signal into two, filtering one of the signals through a set of all-pass filters, and then recombining them in a way that alternately cancels the phase at diff erent points of the frequency spectrum. Most phaser pedals use a low-frequency oscillator to modulate the aff ected signal and vary how out-of-phase it is with the original, unaff ected signal, and it’s the motion of this process that gives the phaser its characteristic warbling sound.

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