Guitar players love to experiment with their sound by using pedals to introduce cool effects. However, these will only sound good when the suitable type is used at the right time. You also have to nail the appropriate settings. For example, a musician can boost the highs and lows with a wah-wah pedal or produce distortions with an overdrive pedal. They can even make a single guitar sound like several instruments playing in harmony with a chorus pedal. If you have room for one more, then consider adding a flanger pedal to your collection. This doubles the signal and modifies the frequency response to create interesting effects.
- What does a flanger pedal sound like?
- How do you use a flanger pedal?
- Can a flanger pedal sound like a phaser?
- What’s the difference between phaser and flanger pedals?
- Our Best Flanger Pedals Recommendations:
- Best Flanger Pedals Of All Time Ever – TC Electronic Vortex Flanger Pedal
- Best Chorus Flanger Combo Pedal – DigiTech Nautila Digital Chorus Flanger Pedal
- Best Boutique Flanger Pedal – Mini Eleclady Classic Analog Flanger Pedal
- Best Boss Flanger Pedal – Boss BF-3 Flanger Guitar Effects Pedal
- Best Analog Flanger Pedals – Electro-Harmonix Neo Mistress
- Best Flanger Pedals For Acoustic Guitar – EarthQuaker Devices Pyramids Stereo Flanging
- Best Phaser Flanger Pedal – NUX MOD Core DELUXE Chorus/Flanger/Phaser/Rotary
- Best Stereo Flanger Pedal – Electro-Harmonix Stereo Electric Mistress
- Best Tape Flanger Pedal – Catalinbread Zero Point Flanger Guitar Effects Pedal
- Best Vintage Flanger Pedal – Koogo Guitar Flanger Vintage Pedal Classic
- Best Flanger Pedals For Van Halen – MXR EVH117 Flanger Guitar Effects Pedal
- Top Flanger Pedals Conclusion
What does a flanger pedal sound like?
The flanger’s effect is often described as a jet engine sound. Some have also likened it to the whirl of fan blades moving at a good speed. This is a consequence of the way that the circuit has been designed. The pedal plays the signal back along with a copy that has been slowed down by just a little bit. Essentially, you will hear two signals with one echoing the other across the performance on a progressively delayed basis. This produces the standard swooshing electric guitar effect that flanger users love to hear. Check out more information on “what does a flanger pedal do?” here.
How do you use a flanger pedal?
A flanger pedal will usually have four types of frequency control knobs. The first is Rate that allows you to vary the speed of the sweep. The second is Depth that can make the effect subtle or obvious depending on how much you want the sound to deviate from the original signal. The third is the Resonance that affects the height of the sweep. The last is Manual that is responsible for placing the center of the sweep across the frequency range. Some of the best flanger pedal units also have a MODE knob that provides presets for ease of use during a performance.
Can a flanger pedal sound like a phaser?
Phasing effects work by playing back two versions of the same performance with one of them having an altered phase. Given this definition, it can be said that flangers are actually a type of phaser. In particular, flanger pedals make one signal go slower than the other. On the other hand, a phaser pedal uses a filter than modifies the duration of every audio phase. These two can create effects that sound similar at some settings. However, flangers have a more consistent and dramatic effect while electric guitar phases appear to be more random.
What’s the difference between phaser and flanger pedals?
When looking at phaser and flanger pedals, the most glaring difference is the number of controls. We have already described the knobs that tend to be present for controlling flangers. The net effect looks like a comb with multiple crests and throughs. Phasers are much more simple with just one knob to vary the speed in most cases. This actually changes the all-pass filters inside the pedal to various phase lengths. It produces a more subtle Doppler effect that swirls all over the place instead of sticking to a harmonic series. Lastly, flangers produce the effects by changing time delays whereas phasers work by cutting off segments in the frequency spectrum.
Our Best Flanger Pedals Recommendations:
Best Flanger Pedals Of All Time Ever – TC Electronic Vortex Flanger Pedal
This Vortex flanger by TC Electronic, our pick for best flanger pedals of all time, has a lot of features to create awesome effects right out of the box. It also allows adventurous musicians to experiment with their sound using the control dials. It is easy to set it up with mono and stereo options for input and the same for output. The pedal provides true bypass when off to guarantee excellent clarity and a lossless signal. It is also possible to use buffered bypass mode if you want to minimize signal degradation for the high frequencies when using long cables.
Adjust the speed, depth, feedback, or delay time in just the right amounts for your needs. You can also try the TonePrint system to program your own effects. There are also built-in modes: the classic pedal flanger and the tape mode are both useful in their own ways depending on the applications. It is possible to create subtle yet pleasing tones or incredible jet swooshing effects. You can use the Vortex to recreate some of the effects by legendary bands that used the same model including RHCP and Metallica.
- True bypass for zero loss
- Four-knob interface ensure versatility
- TonePrint system for programmable effects
- No manual, hard to use
- Noise through the stereo out
Best Chorus Flanger Combo Pedal – DigiTech Nautila Digital Chorus Flanger Pedal
Most pedals have subtle designs but Digitech’s Nautila, our choice for best chorus flanger combo pedal, is different in that it isn’t afraid to mix colors and patterns on its boxes. It certainly catches the eyes but the busy front can make it hard to see the labels. This can be a pain if you are using it for the first time. You should get used to it after a while, though, and perhaps it’s worth the initial learning curve because owners are singing praises for this chorus-flange pedal.
The top switch allows you to choose the mode in an instant. The four dials are for Mix, Drift, Speed/Depth, and Emph/Voices. The Drift knob is particularly interesting as you can choose the type of waveform that you want to apply for one-of-a-kind modulation. The two concentric knobs on the second level makes it possible to enjoy a high level of control by keeping the pedal as small as it is.
- Chorus and flange effects in one box
- Incredible amount of control using knobs
- Stereo in and out
- Hard-wired bypass can be problematic
- Digital pedal has delays when switching modes
Best Boutique Flanger Pedal – Mini Eleclady Classic Analog Flanger Pedal
Mooer’s Eleclady, our top pick for best boutique flanger pedal, is a small and slim pedal that will not take up much of your board. It earns every square inch as well. This is a classic analog flanger that offers that highly sought-after sound of the early rock eras. It can adapt to any change in the settings instantaneously for seamless transitions. Users can select between two filter modes: normal for light sweeps and filter for dramatic effects. Just flip the switch back and forth depending on what you need.
This is a well-built pedal with a full-metal shell that can take a beating. Knobs include rate, color, and range controls. These should be more than enough for most although some might prefer the incredible operational prowess of the Nautila. One thing that buyers will surely appreciate is the low price of this product is currently at $66. If you have been looking for an Electric Mistress clone, then this is a good option for you. It can take you close to the tone of the original and surely punches above its weight.
- Captures the Pink Floyd tone
- Great value for money
- Good entry-level flanger
- Compact design
- Can take a while to nail the settings
- Poor quality control
Best Boss Flanger Pedal – Boss BF-3 Flanger Guitar Effects Pedal
Boss makes some of the best pedals around. It’s only natural to look into what it offers under this category. The Boss BF-3, our choice of best Boss flanger pedal, is a purple box of brilliance. It is the successor to the wildly successful BF-2 which was the brand’s flagship flanger for two decades. It retains many of the features that made the last one so popular including thick stereo sounds. The difference is that this new one has additional modes. The Ultra mode provides a deep flange while the Pan mode pushes the sound from side to side when you are in stereo setup.
The other dials include the Rate, Depth, Resonance, and Manual controls. You can get a lot of interesting sounds by varying each in different modes. Creative users have produced sound effects like explosions, jet streams, and spaceship landings with this one. Boss hasn’t failed at quality control either with the BF-3 lasting many years and making every dollar count. That’s a great thing given the high price of the product. Expect great things when you get your hands on this flanger.
- Long-lasting pedal
- Easy to use
- Fantastic tone and effects
- High price for brand new pieces
- Some complain of overprocessing
Best Analog Flanger Pedals – Electro-Harmonix Neo Mistress
Here is another Mistress clone by respected brand Electro-Harmonix and our choice for best analog flanger pedal. It captures the original lush tone well so it’s a decent option for those looking for that classic pedal. This one is able to adjust the harmonic sweep to give the use a variety of tonal density to choose from. Players can go on filter matrix mode to freeze the flanger sweep and use manual control instead. It has a true bypass configuration for crystal clarity. It can be powered by a battery but a 9V AC adapter is available.
Users love the compact design of this pedal. Despite the size, it is able to provide excellent sound quality, responsiveness, versatility, and effects. However, it only has two dials: Rate and Feedback. These two can create impressive effects by themselves but advanced users may find them lacking. It would have been nice to include another dial for the width of the time delay for that extra fine tweak. If you are not concerned with this, then you should be okay with the Neo Mistress.
- Classic flanger sound
- True Bypass
- Filter matrix mode
- Npisy when turned on
- Limited controls to shape tone
Best Flanger Pedals For Acoustic Guitar – EarthQuaker Devices Pyramids Stereo Flanging
If you have plenty of space on your board, then you might want to look into this flanging pedal from Earthquaker Devices – our pick for best flanger pedals for acoustic guitar. It’s almost double the size of slim pedals but it does justify this bulk by offering a tremendous amount of control. You can shape the tone any way you want with dials for everything that you can ask for: Rate, Width, Mix, Feedback, Modify, and Manual. It also has plenty of presets and modes to suit any kind of situation.
Unlike most pedals, this one has all the I/O ports up top with stereo possible on both ends. There are two switches at the bottom. The left footswitch is for activating the pedal while the right footswitch acts as tap tempo control mechanism in some modes. It is an incredible feat of digital signal processing that caters to the most experienced and technical musicians out there. Those who have been waiting for flanger with advanced controls and impressive versatility have found their match.
- An incredible amount of control
- Robust and versatile flanger
- Programmable presets
- Takes a while to get used to
- Very high price
Best Phaser Flanger Pedal – NUX MOD Core DELUXE Chorus/Flanger/Phaser/Rotary
NUX offers the Mode Core Deluxe, our choice for best phaser flanger pedal, for anyone who wants to use multiple effects without purchasing a boatload of pedals. This low-cost unit combines a chorus, a phaser, a flanger, a rotary guitar effect, and more. Use the knob to select the effect and turn the other Rate, Depth, and Tweak knob to get the right blend. A switch at the top allows users to rely on the Tone Lock function which allows one preset for ease of recall.
This unit features a new 32-bit digital signal processing and 24-bit analog to digital conversion at 44.1 KHz. The input and output ports allow stereo sound with optimized routing. This features a true bypass for signal clarity when not in use. An LED indicator shows activity in the middle. This has a USB port at the top near the power port which lets users update the effects on this pedal. Some users heard hiss and noise when engaged. The flanger effect is very good, although the tremolo could be deeper.
- great value for money
- 8 modulation effects, 3 modes
- USB update for effects
- build quality issues
- some hiss and noise
Best Stereo Flanger Pedal – Electro-Harmonix Stereo Electric Mistress
The original Mistress effects pedal was iconic. Although it is no longer around, many continue to yearn for its precious tone and pedal manufacturers are happy to oblige. This Stereo Electric Mistress from Electro-Harmonix, our choice for best stereo flanger pedal, captures the sound quite well for nostalgic fans. If you have been trying to get that elusive Pink Floyd tone, then this is a great option to try along with the other Mistress pedals on the market today. Its retro styling is certainly a nice touch, as is the durable die-cast chassis.
This is a chorus and a flanger in one so it provides a compelling package right away. You save money and space on the board with this setup. There are three dials including Rate and separate Depth controls for flanger and chorus. Since the two effects are independent of each other, owners can produce more interesting controls in using them together. The input is mono while the output is stereo with excellent sound. There is a filter matrix mode available for manual sweeps of the flanger.
- independent flanger and chorus can work together
- well-built and nice styling
- filter matrix
- chorus sounds thin
- few customization options
Best Tape Flanger Pedal – Catalinbread Zero Point Flanger Guitar Effects Pedal
Flanging started out as an effect on tape and some are still partial to that kind of sound. This Zero Point pedal by Catalinbread, our pick for best tape flanger pedal, attempts to create this on a guitar effects pedal with a minimalist setup. It is an interesting concept with straight forward results. It has a switch that feels like you are pressing on a tape flange. It is a real-time effect and not a modulation effect that other pedals provide. It accepts mono input and comes out with mono output.
If you are curious about the original flanging sound, then this is a great unit to try. It tries to mimic the sound of multi-track recording with the two tapes being not quite in sync with each other. There are different attributions as to the creator including John Lennon and Les Paul. Whoever started the whole thing, the swooshing sound was engaging enough that it lasted until now with different approaches to get the perfect tone. Listen to the Zero Point’s attempt to hear whether this is the one for you.
- mimics mechanical tape flange sound
- simple and easy to operate
- subtle texture
- one trick pony
- expensive for what it does
Best Vintage Flanger Pedal – Koogo Guitar Flanger Vintage Pedal Classic
Slim pedals are always appreciated in crowded boards. This flanger, our choice for best vintage flanger pedal, is worth the real estate with its vintage sound using analog circuitry. If you like how the older bands were able to produce their unique tones, then you need equipment that can take you where these pioneers explored. This simple flanger is a step in the right direction. It has only three dials for the color, rate and range. A switch at the top toggles between static filtering and normal mode.
This is a high quality pedal with a zinc alloy chassis so it is durable enough to be taken everywhere on gigs. It is also light enough not to weigh you down. Koogo makes decent pedals but it is not one of the top tier brands in the west. Still, it is hard to ignore the offer at such a low price as of writing. It may be small but it has a huge effect. Soloists will love its smoothness and lush tone.
- amazingly low price
- excellent sound
- durable chassis
- compact design
- lesser known brand
- feedback when color turned up
Best Flanger Pedals For Van Halen – MXR EVH117 Flanger Guitar Effects Pedal
And so we come to the last one, this time by MXR. The EVH117, our pick for best flanger pedals for Van Halen, is a squarish pedal that focuses on flanger effects. You will easily identify it on your pedal board with its white body and random black lines. There are four dials for manual, power, speed, and regeneration. Input and output ports can handle mono signals. The power port is located at the top for the 18V AC adapter which you have to purchase searately. It also accepts two 9V batteries at the back.
This pedal uses an original bucket brigade design and has an EVH switch on the left side for an instant tone. This is for those who like the Van Halen tune for Unchained which used an MXR flanger. You don’t have to fiddle with the controls to get it just right as the company already created a preset for you. Step on the switch and you will get the incredible sweeps of the song in a snap. It sounds great and you don’t even have to break a sweat.
- Instant Van Halen tone
- Excellent control mechanisms
- Easy to use
- power cord sold separately
- EVH model more expensive than MXR reissue
Top Flanger Pedals Conclusion
This is a varied list of the best flanger pedal options in the market today. Think about what you want to sound like so that you can pinpoint the right one for you. Some of these have been used by legendary bands so pick up the item that your idols had if you want to. You may also want to start with simple micro flangers to make life easy. Others may opt to go for a multi-functional model to shape your own unique electric guitar tone. There is always something to cater for your needs and your budget. And if you have a specific budget, take a look at our article on the best flangers under $100 as well.