Top 7 Flanger Pedals – Adding A New Dimension To Your Tone
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Last Updated Nov-14-2018.
Flangers are among the most overt and arguably most intimidating guitar effects we have today. With that said, a decent pedal can really change the way you experience guitar tone. This effect has the power to alter your tone to a point where it is almost psychedelic in nature.
Table Of Contents
- Top 7 Flanger Pedals
- What Is A Flanger Pedal?
- Functions Of A Flanger Pedal
- What Music Genres Are Best For Flanger Use?
- How To Properly Use A Flanger?
- Understanding The Potential
Top 7 Flanger Pedals
|Image||Guitar Pedal / Rating||Summary||Check Price|
|+ -|| Electro-Harmonix Stereo Electric Mistress |
Total of 4.73/5
One of the most impressive combo flangers pedals with plenty to give.
|+ -|| MXR M-117R |
Total of 4.73/5
A pedal that proves that less is more and that simple works.
|+ -|| TC Electronic Vortex Flanger |
Total of 4.83/5
Awesome default performance with more than enough versatility to spice things up.
|+ -|| Boss BF-3 |
Total of 4.78/5
A truly flexible flanger that works surprisingly well in almost any application.
|+ -|| MXR M152 Micro Flanger |
Total of 4.68/5
A true piece of vintage flanger flavor optimized for more modern applications.
|+ -|| Joyo JF-07 Classic Flanger |
Total of 4.63/5
A truly awesome budget solution that brings a rather well balanced performance.
|+ -|| Donner Jet Convolution Flanger |
Total of 4.60/5
One of the more capable cheap flangers you can find right now.
Electro-Harmonix makes some of the best guitar effects pedals on the market, hands down. Most of their popular models are analog, which is why it's a big deal when they decide to go digital. Electro-Harmonix Stereo Electric Mistress belongs to that tiny group of digital pedals made by this brand.
However, it has proven to be a real match even for popular analog flangers out there. With the addition of a built in chorus and a proper stereo output, Electric Mistress is a true multi-tool.
In use, it offers a type of tone that many will have a hard time determining whether it's digital or analog. That's how far Electro-Harmonix took it. At this price, it's too good to ignore.
MXR flangers have been around for a long time, growing a large following over the years. Some models turned out to be better than other, but for the most part, MXR flangers offered solid performance.
One pedal that really sticks out these days is MXR M117R. It is simple, easy to use but ultimately effective if you need a proper flanger. Its spartan designs is what attracts most of the users. In a world of overly complicated effects pedals, a basic model such as M117R is a breath of fresh air.
Especially if it also happens to be one of the best flangers currently available. Those who are after a no nonsense pedal should definitely check this bad boy out.
TC Electronic easily one of the most unorthodox effects companies on the market. Where most have pledged their allegiance to analog designs, TC Electronic shifter their focus almost all the way into digital world.
Their Vortex flanger represents an example of what TC's approach is capable of offering. It is a pedal with plenty of range and a unique amount of versatility. Even on a basic level it packs a heavy punch, with its stereo inputs as well as outputs, and plenty of controls.
But once you add two different flanger modes and TonePrint technology, things get really interesting real fast. If you want something that is capable, but different from the median average, this is the pedal for you.
Boss guitar effects are known for bringing a solid performance at a reasonable price. That would be one way to describe Boss BF-3 flanger.
Where this pedal breaks off from that usual Boss reputation is the amount of versatility it offers to the user. Not only did they pack a whole bunch of modes into this model, but Boss has also made BF-3 compatible with bass guitars.
Then we have the addition of a tap tempo feature that makes syncing the effect with your music borderline effortless. The cherry on top is the performance which is solid all around. Overall, Boss has taken a proven design and made it even better without increasing the price of the unit too much.
MXR effects are bringing back the functional simplicity this brand was known for since ever. Their flanger department has launched a very capable model that goes under the name of M152 Micro flanger.
Packed into a mini chassis, it packs a very decent amount of heat that is easily controlled by the two control knobs. The tone itself is authentic and very reminiscent of what Eddie Van Halen used to do back in the day.
As a matter of fact, he has used a flanger from MXR, which wasn't all that different from M152. With that in mind, it isn't hart to see what makes M152 such a great deal value for the money. It's essentially a great bargain deal.
Joyo is one of the several brands that dominate the affordable market. Their Joyo JF-07 has proven to be one of the best affordable flanger pedalsyou can find right now.
On a first glance, it looks like something that should cost much more. Joyo has paid an equal amount of attention to both the performance and design of JF-07. Underneath the stylish exterior hides a well balanced flanger that offers proper tone to those on a budget.
What makes it so attractive is how much range it brings to the table, as well as how solid it is in general. If you are looking for a good entry level flanger, this might be your best option at the moment
Donner guitar effects are known for a couple of things. Two of the most prominent ones are their small size and performance that punches above its weight class. Donner Jet Convolution fits this bill almost perfectly.
For a cheap flanger, it offers a whole lot of quality in all the right places. Donner has made it super easy to use even for those who are new to this effect. On top of that, instead going with an integrated manual control, they have actually made it a separate mode.
At the end of the day, Donner Jet Convolution flanger is compact, practical, consistent and surprisingly affordable. If you need a solid budget flanger, this pedal is definitely the way to go.
What Is A Flanger Pedal?
Flangers are by far one of the most unique guitar effects you can get. The way they work is by adding small amounts of delay to the source signal, all while altering the delay time as you play. The result is this sweeping, jet engine type effect we associate with flanging. The story behind how flangers came into existence is very interesting. Modern pedals have appeared relatively recently, at least compared to other guitar effects.
Original flanging was achieved by running a tape from one spool to the other and slowly desyncing during this process. Naturally, modern flangers don't utilize this method as it would be extremely inefficient. Instead, a good majority of modern models rely on digital technologies to achieve the same. Another attribute of them is their high versatility. They can be forced to sound like other effects, such as a phaser or a chorus. As you could imagine, this has caused quite a bit of confusion among guitar players, especially those who are just getting into guitar effects. If you would like to know more about phasers, check out our dedicated guide for this effect. Despite their chameleon like nature, the most common way flangers are used is to create that psychedelic sweeping effect.
Functions Of A Flanger Pedal
Every type of effects pedals has a more or less specific set of controls. When it comes to flangers, things are fairly simple. There are four main control knobs you will find on almost every pedal from this category. You have the Rate, Depth, Resonance and Manual. Additionally, some pedals offer various modes like the Boss BF-3 we have mentioned above. Let's discuss what each of these knobs does and how they affect your tone respectively.
If we were to represent the sweeping of a flanger as a wave on a graph, rate knob would define the frequency of that wave. Increase in rate leads to much quicker sweeps. This might not be the completely accurate method of representation considering that these sweeps aren't symmetrical, but you get the point. One cool thing about adjusting rate is that it allows you to make your flange really subtle. Since there is definitely such a thing as too much of any effect, mastering the flanger in its most subtle presence is a skill that takes time to develop.
Depth can be the deceptive one out of all available control knobs. What it does is control how intense the flanger will be in your tone. As you add more depth, you will notice several different stages of flanging. From zero to about one third, depending on the pedal, your flanger will sound organic and almost natural. As you increase the depth, it starts to transform into a more synthetic effect with a prominent metallic vibe to it. How much depth you are going to add depends on what kind of music you are playing and naturally, your own taste.
Resonance is a pretty important control on a flanger as it determines how high the sweep is going to go. Together with depth, resonance tends to define the flanger effect. Additionally, almost every pedal has a different sets of values attributed to this control. Some feature a relatively mild range of resonance, while others tend to go pretty wild in this regard. Again, the genre of music you play is often the defining factor when it comes to finding the right resonance value.
Lastly, we have the manual knob. On some pedals it isn't even a knob, but rather a built in function of resonance. What manual control does is to determine the center of the sweep. High manual values tend to be more aggressive and can really deform the tone of your guitar. Lower manual values are far more subtle in this regard, but shift the entire effect of flanging much lower.
What Music Genres Are Best For Flanger Use?
One of the unwritten rules of guitar effects is that just about any effect can be used in just about any genre of music. With that said, some genres work better with certain effects. For flangers, those optimal genres are easily rock and metal. You can find countless examples out there. However, you don't need distortion and face melting riffs to accommodated a good flanger. If you want to check out of the most mind blowing examples being used, check out Small Faces by Itchycoo Park. This song was recorded back in late '60s using that whole desynced tape method we were talking about earlier.
In essence, flangers can be useful anywhere if you use them right. They set to a rather subtle setting won't be noticeable beyond adding a new dimension of sound to your music. Interestingly enough, rarely will you find a song where someone squeezed a flanger for all its worth. Actually, you probably can find a few examples but chances are that none of them will be good. In other words, moderation is the key with this guitar effect.
How To Properly Use A Flanger?
These pedals are a delicate tool that requires some consideration if you want to get the best results. Starting with the placement of the pedal in a signal chain, it is best to chain them near the very end. Usually guitar players put flangers before delay. Attaching a one at the beginning or near the beginning of the chain can have negative effects on the rest of the pedals in the chain.
One reason why you don't see to many new guitar players using flangers these days, is due to the volatile nature of this effect. It is extremely easy to go overboard with it, which can totally ruin the remainder of the mix. Flangers are by far some of the most imposing modulation effects in existence. One notch too far and it no longer complements the tone, but starts to dominate it. Best way to start using this effect is to begin with really subtle increments. As you progress and learn how your pedal reacts, you will find that middle ground fairly quickly.
Understanding The Potential
So far, we might have given you an impression that flangers are like dangerous in some ways. While everything above still stands, you need to understand the value and potential this type of effect brings to the table. We are talking about areal force multiplier here. One that can add a whole lot of range to both your tone and your inspiration. If you read our article carefully, you have probably noticed that we used the world psychedelic a couple of times. As cliche as that might sound, it is the perfect word to describe what flangers can do.
Despite them being characterized as guitar effects most of the time, flangers have found a massive fan base among vocalists and bass guitar players as well. In case of the former, a good flanger can change the tone of a song in a number of ways. Bass guitar applications are every bit as interesting too. Since bass is most often a background instrument in a sense that it doesn't dominate the mix, you can be more aggressive with flanging. The result is underlying heat in a song that otherwise sounds fairly normal.
They key thing to remember about flanger pedals is that experimentation is the key. Every pedal is different in its own way, even though most of them offer similar results. Truly mastering the pedal you have can unlock doors you never knew were there in the first place.
Flanger is by far one of the most unique and interesting effects you can have on your pedalboard. The sheer versatility it brings to the table is too good and important to ignore. Models we have listed above are among the best you can get, but also representative of how the quality of this effect changes as you increase the price tag. Interestingly enough, even the cheapest flangers pack a lot of heat. If you are familiar with modulation effects and want something new and exciting for your pedalboard, do yourself a favor and check out flangers. They're worth it.