Phaser is one of the more popular types of audio signal modulation and sounds great on practically any instrument (within reason). A superior phaser pedal will get us an excellent phaser modulation sound in our guitar (or other instruments) tone.
In this article, we'll discuss the top 8 best phaser pedals in the world with a focus on guitar and bass guitar.
The Top 8 Best Phaser Pedals For Guitar And Bass Are:
- MXR Phase 90
- Electro-Harmonix Small Stone
- TC Electronic Helix
- Walrus Audio Lillian
- Source Audio Lunar
- Empress Effects Phaser
- EarthQuaker Devices Grand Orbiter
- Boss PH-3 Phase Shifter
It should go without saying that any “top X” article is subject to bias. I would expect the next person's top 8 to be different from mine but hope there would be plenty of overlap.
That being said, I believe you'd be happy with these pedals if you're after the best phaser for your guitar or bass.
Let's talk about each in greater detail and discuss why they've made this list of the top 8 best phaser pedals for guitar and bass.
Related My New Microphone articles:
• The Ultimate Effects Pedal/Stompbox Buyer’s Guide
• Top 11 Best Guitar/Bass Effects Pedal Brands To Know & Use
What Are Phaser Pedals & How Do They Work?
Phaser pedals are modulation pedals that produce the frequency/EQ-varying effect known as phaser.
The phaser modulation effect produces a series of peaks and troughs across the audio signal’s EQ frequency spectrum. These peaks and troughs vary over time, typically controlled by an LFO (low-frequency oscillator) to create a sweeping effect.
The parameters of the phaser include the speed of the sweeping, the depth of the boosts and cuts, the shape (Q/resonance) of the boosts/cuts, and the wet/dry blend of the effected and non-effected signal.
Like other modulation pedals, phaser pedals generally sound best when placed in-line after the gain, EQ and pitch-shifting effects and before the time-based effects.
Related article: How To Order Guitar/Bass Pedals (Ultimate Signal Flow Guide)
With that being said, let's talk about some phaser pedals!
For a more in-depth article on phaser pedals, check out the following My New Microphone articles:
• What Are Phaser Pedals (Guitar/Bass FX) & How Do They Work?
• Complete Guide To The Phaser Audio Modulation Effect
MXR Phase 90
The MXR Phase 90 is one of the most popular phaser pedals ever to be produced. That's no fluke. This pedal gets the first mention in this article.
The Phase 90 is an instantly recognizable orange box with a small footprint and a single knob. Getting this pedal on your board is easy, and when it comes to using it, the Phase 90 is as straightforward as they come.
A single input, output and on/off footswitch along with a solo knob. What could be simpler?
Adjust the knob to control the speed of the pedal's phaser effect. Turning it clockwise increase the rate, while turning it counterclockwise slows it down.
So what we have with the Phase 90 is an awesome-sounding phaser with a single parameter control. This may seem restrictive, but the sonic quality of the effect makes up for the apparent lack in versatility and then some!
Try out the affordable buffered bypass phaser pedal on guitar, bass and other instruments (even vocals), and you'll be amazed at what comes out of such a simple unit!
Electro-Harmonix Small Stone
Second up is the compact Electro-Harmonix Small Stone.
This nano chassis pedal from EHX gets us the same classic phaser sound that made the original 1970 Small Stone famous in a modernized unit with a smaller footprint.
The classic sound of thick sweeping phase-shifting combined with liquid transparency is what makes the Small Stone one of the best phaser pedals out there.
The pedal has two simple controls:
- Rate knob: adjusts the speed of the phaser sweep.
- Color toggle switch: adjusts the amount of feedback in the phaser circuit.
Toggle the Color switch upward and hear a full and robust phase-shifter effect. Switch it downward and notice the increased pronunciation of the phaser circuit with a hollowing effect.
From Blues to Country to Metal, the simple Small Stone has you covered in terms of superb phase-shifting.
TC Electronic Helix
The TC Electronic Helix is another incredible phaser pedal. This one's even still in production!
This TC phaser pedal has both stereo inputs and outputs to handle and produce beautiful and wide phase-shifted signals. This versatile phaser is well-deserving of a spot on this list.
The Helix sounds incredible right out of the box and can be dialled in to sound absolutely perfect in your specific rig. Its compact form factor makes it an easy fit on most pedalboards.
There are 4 knobs to control the phaser circuit of the Helix:
- Speed: controls the rate of the sweeping/LFO.
- Feedback: controls the amount of feedback in the phaser circuit, thereby adjusting the resonance of the phase-shift.
- Depth: controls the range in which the phaser will sweep.
- Mix: mixes the direct signal with the phase-shifted signal at the output.
Like all TC pedals, the Helix is true bypass for optimal clarity when the pedal is turned off. However, if you require a buffer to prevent high-end loss, the pedal has an optional buffered bypass switch.
This pedal has TC's proprietary TonePrint technology built into its design. Design customizable phaser effects from scratch with free TonePrint Editor or download from the community. Upload these tones wirelessly via a smartphone or hardwired via the built-in USB connector.
Walrus Audio Lillian
Up next is the Walrus Audio Lillian: a superb phaser from a superb boutique manufacturer.
Walrus Audio's Lilian is a true bypass, all-analog multi-stage phaser pedal. This versatile unit offers the wonderful whirling and whooshing sound of a classic analog phaser with plenty of functionality.
The Lillian has a small footprint, quiet switching and durable build quality. It's a solid choice for any pedalboard.
The pedal also features smart momentary switching, allowing for latching and momentary switching on the same footswitch. Hold it down, and you'll trigger momentary engagement. Tap the footswitch, and it will latch.
Let's have a look at Lillian's controls:
- Rate knob: set the speed at which the LFO sweeps the phaser.
- Width knob: controls the frequency range that the filters sweep through.
- Feedback knob: determines how much of your phase-shifted signal gets sent back through the filter stages, thereby controlling resonance/intensity.
- D-P-V knob: blend between dry/direct (D), phase-shifted (P) and vibrato (V) effects.
- Stages switch: toggles between a 4 (warm) and 6-stage (complex) phaser.
So the Walrus Audio Lillian offers both phaser and vibrato effects will continuous blending of the dry, phase-shifted and vibrato-affected signals. Dial in the D-P-V knob to find your perfect mix.
Whether you choose to add in some vibrato or not, the Lillian is a top performer when it comes to phaser pedals!
Source Audio Lunar
The Source Audio Lunar is another excellent and versatile phaser pedal.
The Lunar is an awesome 3-in-1 stereo phase-shift modulation pedal. It offers a thumping uni-vibe effect (Vibe mode), a classic resonant 4-stage phaser (Classic mode), and a highly animated 8-stage phaser (Multi mode). These modes are selectable via the 3-way toggle on the face of the pedal.
Control each of the modulation modes with the LFO-shaping Shape knob. Adjust the modulator continuously between a smooth sine wave and a choppy square wave.
We can also adjust the phase-shifting circuit's depth, speed, and resonance (feedback) via the controls that share the parameter names.
We can save up to 3 presets in Preset Mode. Save a different preset to each of the three toggle switch positions and recall them by toggling the switch. The parameters of each preset will be defined by their saved value, regardless of the knob positions.
We can also sync the phase modulation rate of the Lunar with Source Audio’s External Tap Tempo switch. Tap out the tempo and set beat divisions (quarter, eighth, triplet, and 16th) with the Speed knob.
Plug in an expression pedal to have even more control over the phase-shifting circuit. Don't be confused by the 3.5mm control input. It will accept expression pedals!
This pedal is also compatible with Source Audio's proprietary Hot Hand 3 Universal Wireless Effects Controller. Wear this wireless ring on your picking hand, and the pedal will sync up to your hand movements.
Source Audio's Lunar is part of the One Series of pedals. It gets even more powerful when we couple it with the company's Neuro Hub app.
Neuro Hub offers an extensive list of additional phaser, flanger, and chorus algorithms that can be downloaded directly to the pedal. The program also provides additional parameter controls for the Lunar pedal, including centre frequency, output level, tremolo, low retain, parametric EQ, advanced routing, and more.
On top of that, Neuro Hub allows for full MIDI compatibility. We can control the additional parameters via an external MIDI controller, save up to 128 presets, and sync up to a master MIDI clock with ease.
Supreme functionality and high-end sonic quality make the Source Audio Lunar one of the best phaser pedals out there.
Empress Effects Phaser
The big green Empress Effects Phaser is a great choice for the tweakers among us. It's got tons of functionality.
The Empress Effects Phaser is in a league of its own. It utilizes a unique VCA-based (voltage-controlled amplifier) design to achieve an incredibly high signal-to-noise ratio (104 dB). It also offers a 2-stage, 4-stage and a proprietary 3-stage phaser setting.
This phaser pedal has an all-analog signal path with a digital microprocessor. It offers that pure analog sound with all the functionality of a highly versatile digital pedal.
The pedal can produce the classic jet sound of a phaser. It can also be set to achieve the auto-wah of an envelope filter or to output a massive vibrato/uni-vibe effect.
Regardless of the phase-shifting style, the Empress Phaser offers a great deal of controllability. Use an external expression pedal control or control voltage source, an external tap footswitch, external audio control or MIDI to affect the pedal parameters in real-time.
We can set the Phaser to an envelope filter or audio-triggered sweep. We can also program rhythms of modulation or control the modulation manually. The options available are plentiful!
The Empress Effects Phaser has 3 modes of operation, selectable via the Mode toggle switch. Let's discuss each of these modes along with the other controls available on the body of the pedal:
- Mode switch: switched between the 3 modes of operation.
- Tap: speed is set by tapping in a tempo with the tap stomp switch.
- Knob: speed of the phaser is set with the speed knob and the speed range switch.
- Auto: the effect parameters are changed based on the envelope of the input signal (how you're playing).
- Speed range/attack switch: alters the range of speeds that are controlled via the Speed/Ratio|Sensitivity knob.
- Stages switch: selects the number of all-pass poles between 2, 3 or 4-stages.
- Resonance switch: selects the amount of feedback applied, creating resonant peaks in between valleys. Choose the amount of resonance between little, no or lots.
- Expression switch: selects which knob will be controlled by a connected expression pedal. Choose between speed, none or width.
- Blend knob: controls the mix between the original signal and the phase-shifted signal.
- Speed/Ratio knob: controls speed in Knob mode or ratio in Tap mode.
- Alt Sensitivity knob: controls the sensitivity of the envelope detector in Auto mode.
- Width knob: determines how far the phase shift varies from the center position.
- Alt Release knob: adjusts the release time of the envelope.
- Waveform knob: changes the built-in LFO between 8 different waveforms.
- Alt Submode knob: changes the Phaser control between 8 different submodes.
- Gain knob: adjusts the output gain (up to 6dB of boost is available).
So without getting too into the details of the Phaser, we can see how powerful it is. Consider that the pedal is also MIDI compatible (via 1/4-inch jack), and we can understand just how controllable this versatile pedal is.
Whatever kind of phaser effect you're after, the Empress Effects will get you it and much more. For that, this pedal gets a spot on this list!
EarthQuaker Devices Grand Orbiter
EarthQuaker has been steadily rising in popularity since its inception. The company's EarthQuaker Devices Grand Orbiter is but one reason why the brand is so successful.
The Grand Orbiter is a 100% analog true-bypass Phaser/Vibrato pedal. Each unit is made by hand in the EarthQuaker Devices shop in Ohio.
The highly versatile 4-stage phaser circuit of the Grand Orbiter is based on OTAs (operational transconductance amplifiers).
This pedal features 3 main ranges of modulation: slow, fast and no modulation. Therefore, we can use it as a stationary resonant filter or as a typical phaser.
We can also set up the Grand Orbiter as a true pitch vibrato. “Vibrato” mode removes the dry signal, and the Depth control acts as a volume control.
Let's have a look at the controls of the Grand Orbiter in more detail:
- Sweep knob: controls the frequency peak of the sweep.
- Rate switch: changes the range of the speed control.
- Rate 1 is slow mode.
- Rate 2 is LFO kill to use the Orbiter as a fixed resonant filter.
- Rate 3 is fast mode.
- Rate knob: controls the speed of the LFO.
- Depth knob: controls the amount of phase effect mixed with dry signal. In “Vibrato” mode, this acts as a volume control.
- Phase/Vibrato switch: removes the dry signal to create a vibe/vibrato effect depending on the setting of the other controls.
- Resonance knob: controls the regeneration/feedback of the phased signal.
From stationary and resonant to slow and mellow to fast and swirly, The Grand Orbiter does it all and sounds perfect whilst doing so!
Boss PH-3 Phase Shifter
Last but not least, let's talk about the Boss PH-3 Phase Shifter: one of many awesome pedals from Boss.
The PH-3 packs a versatile and awesome-sounding phase-shifter into a compact pedal. There are arguably 4 different phasers within this single pedal if we count the different stage options the pedal provides (4, 8, 10 or 12-stage).
With superb vintage and modern phasing effects, the Boss PH-3 has us covered on anything phaser-related.
In addition to the 4 stage options, the Stage switch of the PH-3 also offers “Rise” and “Fall” modes for unique unidirectional phasing and a “Step” function whereby filter modifications occur in a non-consecutive manner.
So we get an incredible phaser sound with tones of versatility right off the bat. But there's more!
The pedal offers tap tempo, allowing up to sync up whatever phaser effect we want to the desired tempo.
Boss's PH-3 also has an optional expression jack. Connected an external expression pedal will afford us real-time control over the phaser's rate, filter and tempo parameters.
Speaking of parameters, let's discuss the other 3 knobs we'll find on the PH-3:
- Rate knob: adjusts the speed at which the filter changes.
- Depth knob: adjusts the depth of the filter change.
- Res (Resonance) knob: adjusts the strength of the filter effect.
All in all, the Boss PH-3 is an amazing phaser pedal. It's affordable, durable and delivers multiple incredible phase-shifting effects.
Former Top Phaser Pedal Picks
Here are pedals that used to be on this list and the reasons they are no longer.
Electro-Harmonix Stereo Polyphase (Discontinued)
The Electro-Harmonix Stereo Polyphase (discontinued) was an awesome phaser pedal still worthy of a spot on the list. It was out of production before this article was originally published in 2020.
Here we go, some extra functionality! The EHX Stereo Polyphase is a stereo phaser (hence the name). It utilizes optocouplers in its circuitry to bring forth a smooth, liquid phaser tone and offers plenty of control over its parameters.
Most phasers will utilize a low-frequency oscillator to modulate the phase-shifting circuit up and down the frequency response.
This EHX phaser allows us to toggle between a square or triangle wave LFO, or we can choose to use a fast or slow envelope follower to control the phase shift. In addition to these two modes, the Stereo PolyPhase can be controlled via an expression pedal for even more creativity with the sweeping. These options open up a new world of sonic possibilities with this phaser pedal.
Let's have a look at the controls of the EHX Stereo PolyPhase:
- Feedback knob: controls the amount of the output signal that is fed back into the input of the phase-shifter circuit.
- Gain knob (only active in envelope filter mode): controls the sensitivity of the envelope follower circuit.
- Mode knob: selects the phase-shift mode in which the pedal will operate, between:
- ENV (envelope mode): the phase shifter is controlled by an envelope follower
- LFO (low-frequency oscillator mode): the phase shifter is controlled by a low-frequency oscillator as most phasers are.
- EXP (expression pedal mode): the phase shifter is controlled by an expression pedal (not included).
- Start knob: sets the start point of the phase shifter’s range.
- Stop knob: sets the stop point of the phase shifter’s range.
- Rate knob (only active in LFO mode): controls the speed of modulation by adjusting the frequency of the LFO.
Note that the relative positions of the Start and Stop knobs will determine the range and direction of the phaser sweep.
The pedal offers an Overload LED to visually show us if the envelope detector is overloaded and trying to exceed the maximum amount of phase-shift in the envelope filter mode.
Use the Electro-Harmonix Stereo PolyPhase in mono or stereo. Experiment with the 3 modes and dial in the parameter to suit your specific needs. Whatever you need from a phaser pedal, the PolyPhase will oblige and sound great whilst doing so!
Moog Moogerfooger MF-103 12-Stage (Discontinued)
Moog Moogerfooger MF103 12 Stage (discontinued) is, unfortunately, another discontinued pedal. It's a shame since it sounds so great as a phaser. It, too, was out of production before this article was originally published in 2020
The MF-103 effect pedal is a direct descendant of Moog's modular-type synthesizers effects. It sounds incredible on guitar as well as on any other sound source.
This Moog pedal is made with two complete modular designs:
- A 12-stage phaser with controllable resonance.
- A wide-range LFO to control the sweeping of the phaser.
Each module is versatile and offers plenty of options for user-defined settings.
The control parameters of the LFO are:
- Amount rotary control: adjusts the amount by which the LFO output varies the phaser sweep.
- Lo-Hi rocker switch: chooses between the low LFO range (0.01Hz to 2.5Hz) and the high LFO range (1.0Hz to 250Hz).
- Rate rotary control: varies the LFO’s frequency over a 250:1 range.
The control parameters of the Phaser are:
- Sweep rotary control: moves the phaser frequency response over a six-octave range.
- 6-stage/12-stage rocker switch: chooses between a 6-stage and 12-stage phaser.
- Resonance rotary control: adjusts the height and sharpness of the peaks of the phaser frequency response.
The control parameters of the overall pedal are:
- Drive rotary control: adjusts the gain of the audio input to the phaser.
- Output Level rotary control: balances the phaser signals with the bypassed signal.
To further improve the functionality of this pedal, the MF-103 has multiple CV/expression pedal inputs and outputs. Each parameter can be controlled via external controls by using this I/O. These 1/4-inch jacks also allow for modular interconnectivity between other Moogerfooger analog effects.
Referred to as the “Holy Grail of analog phase”, the all-analog Moogerfooger MF-103 offers rich sweeps, deep swirls, and a bi-phase effect unmatched by its peers. If you can get your hands on one of these pedals, I say go for it!
Fender Lost Highway (Discontinued)
The Fender Lost Highway Phaser (discontinued) was a fantastic stompbox from one of the most legendary guitar manufacturing companies. This pedal was featured in this article from 2020 (original publishing year) to 2023.
Fender's Lost Highway Phaser is a straightforward and powerful phaser unit. This analog pedal sounds fantastic and is easily adjustable to get the phaser sound we need.
The Lost Highway offers 2 modes (fast and slow), both selectable via the right footswitch (as opposed to the bypass footswitch). Each mode has its own controls on the face of the analog pedal, so there's no need to scroll through hidden menus to find the parameters you're looking for.
The Slow more offers slow, moody phase-shifting, while the Fast mode gives us rapid and warped modulation.
Let's have a look at the adjustable parameters of this awesome phaser pedal:
- Rate 1: adjusts the speed of the modulation when the pedal is in Slow mode.
- Depth 1: adjusts the intensity of the phaser when the pedal is in Slow mode.
- Rate 2: adjusts the speed of the modulation when the pedal is in Fast mode.
- Depth 2: adjusts the intensity of the phaser when the pedal is in Fast mode.
- Blend: adjusts the Wet/Dry mix of your instrument’s signal and the Lost Highway’s modulated signal. 50% gets us the classic phase-shifting effect. At 100%, the pedal will produce harmonic vibrato. At 0%, the pedal has no modulation effect.
- Feedback: adjusts the amount of resonance of the Phased signal.
- Wave Type Switch: toggle between sine and triangle-shaped modulation.
- Phase Stage Switch: toggle between 4 and 8-stage phasing.
- Sensitivity: a dynamic feature of the Lost Highway. It adjusts the threshold for the pedal's dynamically controlled rate. Softer playing will keep the pedal in Slow mode while harder playing will bring up the speed of the phase-shifting, effectively crossing the pedal into Fast mode. Turn the Sensitivity control fully counter-clockwise to disable this feature.
The Lost Highway also has a Boost switch that, when engaged, boosts the output by 3 dB.
This highly functional and durable pedal combines vintage analog circuitry and sound with modern controllability that allows us to dial in the exact sound we want. It's a superb phaser pedal that's certainly worth a mention in this article!
Choosing the right effects pedals for your applications and budget can be a challenging task. For this reason, I've created My New Microphone's Comprehensive Effects Pedal Buyer's Guide. Check it out for help in determining your next pedal/stompbox purchase.