6 Best Phaser Pedals In 2021 (Mini, Budget & High-End)

Best Phaser Pedals

Phaser pedals are to 70’s guitar what chorus pedals were for 80’s guitar.

They were used on everything in the 70’s, even master tracks.

Don’t believe me?

Just listen to the record “Low” by David Bowie.

Whether you’re looking to add some depth to your funky rhythm guitar sound, nail the outlaw country guitar tone, or emulate laser gun sounds from your favorite sci-fi movie, phaser pedals are an awesome modulation effect that I think is due for a major comeback.

In this article, we’re going to help you pick out the best phaser pedal to add to your pedalboard.

Snapshot: Top 6 Phaser Pedals in 2021

  1. MXR Phase 95Best Mini
  2. Electro Harmonix Small Stone Nano
  3. Boss Phase Shifter (PH-3)
  4. Mooer Ninety Orange PhaserBest Budget Option
  5. Walrus Audio LillianBest High-End Option
  6. TC Electronic HelixBest Overall

Shopping for an Awesome Phaser Pedal

Phaser pedals are a unique type of modulation effect, in that instead of modulating time, pitch, or amplitude, they modulate, as their name suggests, phase. Your guitar signal is split, with one half of the signal getting turned out of phase, which is then modulated in an out with the dry signal to create a whooshing, pulsating effect.

Phase pedals, AKA Phase Shifters, can be a simple in their design as a single knob (usually controlling speed) or as complex as multi-stage, multi-wave, programmable effects boxes. So how do you pick the one that is right for you?

In my opinion, there are two ways to use phaser pedals: as a subtle effect to add depth, or as an over the top, wacky modulation effect that completely changes the way your guitar sounds.

Obviously, there are more ways than this to utilize phaser, but if you start with these two camps of use and decide which you are more likely to utilize in your playing, picking out the best phaser pedal for you becomes much easier. Subtle phasers usually have one or two knobs, while the crazier phasers have more knobs and therefor more sounds.

Because great sounding phaser pedals have been around for over fifty years, iconic circuits have been copied or re-released at budget friendly price ranges. I made sure to include these options in this list.

I also wanted to give a couple of modern pedals a chance, as there are some great manufacturers  that are pushing the envelope for what phasers can do.

The Best Phaser Pedals in 2021

1. MXR Phase 95 – Best Mini Phaser Pedal

MXR M290 Phase 95 Mini Guitar Effects Pedal
  • Combines mixer's most iconic phase circuits in a single mini housing

The Phase 90 and Phase 45 from MXR are two of the best-selling, and hottest debated, phaser pedals ever released. Thankfully, MXR decided to end the feud by combining both circuits into one, miniature pedal at an accessible price point.

Build

The MXR Phase 95 is a miniature phaser pedal that combines both the famed Phase 90 and Phase 45 circuits under one roof. Not only does it combine both of these circuits, but it also gives you the option to choose between the vintage “Script” or modern “Block” versions of each, giving you a total of four phasers in one, small pedal format.

It is an all analog design, features true bypass, and runs on 9V DC power while consuming only 8mA of current, making this a pedal that can squeeze its way into any pedalboard.

Controls

Even though the Phase 95 is doing the job of two iconic phasers, it does so with the same simplicity as its predecessors. There is a single knob for Speed, which is a universal control for the rate of modulation.

The only thing that’s different than the old pedals is the inclusion of a “45/90” button which allows you to choose which circuit you want the pedal to voice, and a “Script” button that lets you choose between the Script or Block versions of each voice.

Sounds

What separates the 90 and 45 circuits is the number of stages they modulate phase through. The 45 is a two-stage phaser, while the 90 is a four-stage phaser. The more stages you introduce, the more complex and thicker the modulation effect.

The Script feature is more subtle, while the Block (or off) mode introduces feedback, similar to a flanger pedal would do, adding a slight oscillation and high-end feedback that makes the phasing more intense. The Phaser 95 does incredible justice to the original circuits and is a great way to have both awesome pedals under one roof.

The phase Script forms of the phase 90 was used by David Gilmour, while the Script Phase 45 is a staple in outlaw country music for thickening up rhythm guitar sounds.

Spec Summary

  • Effect Type: Phase Shifter
  • Signal: Analog
  • Power Requirements: 9V DC (8mA)
  • Dimensions: 1.2 x 1.5 x 3.63”
  • Features: Phase 45 and 90, Script and Block modes

Mini pedal with four classic phasers inside

Final Thoughts on the MXR Phase 95

There is no better place to start when talking about phaser pedals than the MXR line, and the Phase 95 does a fantastic job of paying tribute to both vintage and modern phasers that MXR made famous. It also comes in at under $100 new, making it a near budget-friendly option for most. In my opinion, you can skip the vintage boxes and go straight for this re-issue.

2. Electro Harmonix Small Stone Nano

Next on our list is another re-issue of a classic phaser pedal, this time from the folks at Electro Harmonix. The Small Stone has long been favored for its warm, lush, and subtle phasing effect that played well with funk guitars. Now, this classic circuit has been faithfully recreated with a smaller footprint.

Build

This all analog phaser is simple in its design and features true bypass switching, with some newer models featuring buffered bypass. While the original Small Stone wasn’t that small, measuring in at about the size of two standard foot pedals, the new Nano Small Stone is just smaller than a standard foot pedal. The enclosure is of die-cast construction, meaning it can go on a professional’s touring rig and runs on 9V DC power.

Controls

Part of what makes this effect so iconic is it’s simple control layout. There is a single knob for Speed, similar to the MXR Phase 90, and a Color control that introduces feedback. The vintage units had an issue with the Speed control having zero taper until you hit 4 o’clock, at which point the speed would instantly ramp up.

The good thing about the newer units is that this issue has been fixed and the usable range is much more dynamic.

Sounds

While the Small Stone and Phase 90 are often compared thanks to their nearly identical control layout, they don’t sound the same. The Small Stone has a drippy, warbly characteristic to it similar to that of a univibe pedal. What really separates this pedal apart is the “Color” switch.

In the down position, the phaser effect is subdued and mild, but with the switch up, the effect is much more intense and colorful, almost like a filter effect.

Spec Summary

  • Effect Type: Phase Shifter
  • Signal: Analog
  • Power Requirements: 9V DC (10mA)
  • Dimensions: 4.5 x 2.75 x 2.1”
  • Features: True Bypass, Color Control

A simple, classic phaser with some colorful tones hidden within

Final Thoughts on the Electro Harmonix Small Stone

One of the perks and drawbacks of my job is that I get to research awesome pedals. This is one that I would like to own, as it is a classic and simple effect that still manages to have hidden sounds that inspire. It’s a great example of timeless phaser that is perfectly voiced for the electric guitar.

3. Boss Phase Shifter (PH-3)

If you like the phasers, but “Subtle” doesn’t exist in your vocabulary, then you need to start your search for the perfect phaser pedal with the PH-3 from Boss. This pedal can get you classic phaser effects, but it’s meant to be experimented with and pushed to the limit.

Build

Boss Phase Shifter pedals have been around since the 70’s and have gone through multiple iterations, starting out as a simple two knob pedal. The PH-3 is the most complex and powerful phaser in a compact form from Boss to date. It comes in the classic Boss stompbox enclosure and has the same neon green paint as its predecessors, so don’t get it confused with vintage circuits.

It has Buffered bypass, Mono In/Out, has more stages than any other pedal on this list, and can be connected to an expression pedal for further control over the modulation rate.

Controls

The PH-3 has some unique controls that we haven’t seen yet on this list. The typical Rate and Depth are present, but then there are the more elusive Resonance and Stage controls.

Resonance introduces feedback, creating more low and high end throb similar to what you hear in a univibe. The Stage control lets you choose how many stages of phase shifting occur, giving you more and more complex sounds as you go up in the number of stages. While most phasers sit at 2, 4, or maybe 6 stages, the PH-3 goes all the way up to 12 stages and beyond into unidirectional phasing.

Boss gives you the ability to control the rate in two different ways with this pedal. You can do so with the Tap Tempo function, or with an external expression pedal to change the rate on the fly.

Sounds

This is a great pedal for creating experimental sounds far beyond the typical whooshing or pulsating tones of normal phasers. The PH-3 is quirky and diverse in the sounds you can get, especially when you get into the Fall, Rise, and Step modes.

Fall and Rise are unidirectional, sending the modulations always down or up respectively. The Step mode sends this pedal into synthesizer territory and is unlike any other phaser I’ve ever heard.

Overall the Boss PH Phasers sound thinner, and more digital to my ear, but I think this is a unique sound that lends itself especially well to heavily distorted guitar tones.

Spec Summary

  • Effect Type: Phase Shifter
  • Signal: Digital
  • Power Requirements: 9V DC (40mA)
  • Dimensions: 2-⅞ x 5-⅛ x 2-⅜ 
  • Features: Step/Rise/Fall modes, 4-12 stages, Buffered Bypass, Expression pedal compatible, Tap Tempo

A phaser pedal for the experimental and the adventurous

Final Thoughts on the Boss Phase Shifter PH-3

The Phase Shifter PH-3 from Boss is meant for the experimental, not the traditionalists. It is easily the wackiest pedal to make it on this list and is sure to delight and surprise. My advice would be to pair this with some overdrive to really unlock it’s potential, as well as pair it with a good expression pedal.

4. Mooer Ninety Orange Phaser – Best Budget Phaser Pedal

Mooer Ninety Orange, phaser pedal
  • Versatile phase shifter with a full analog circuit, which produces a warm, deep, rich phasing tone

If you want the classic, warm phaser tones of the 70’s but need to stick to a tight budget, Mooer is here to save the day (as always) with their Ninety Orange Phaser.

Build

Mooer doesn’t try to hide what their pedal is based off of, as the orange color and “Ninety” name suggest. This is a Phase 90 style phaser housed in an affordable, miniature pedal design. Like the original Phase 90, the Ninety Orange is all analog and has true bypass.

What’s most impressive is that it has both a vintage and modern voicing to expand upon what the unit can do.

Controls

The Ninety Orange is a great phaser pedal for beginners because it is simple to use with just one knob for Speed. This controls the rate at which modulation occurs, ranging from super slow to ray-gun fast. There is also a small toggle that lets you choose between Vintage and Modern voicings that also adjust the intensity of the effect.

Sounds

You may be wondering if an inexpensive clone can really sound like a timeless classic. Mooer did a fantastic job of recreating the iconic phaser tones you’ve heard on countless records, providing you with warm modulation. The Vintage and Modern settings are akin to Script and Block style voicings you often associate with MXR’s phasers too.

Spec Summary

  • Effect Type: Phase Shifter
  • Signal: Analog
  • Power Requirements: 9V DC
  • Dimensions: 1.75 x 4.25 x 2.25
  • Features: True Bypass, Vintage/Modern Modes, Mini

Phase 90 on a budget!

Final Thoughts on the Mooer Ninety Orange Phaser

There are a number of different miniature phasers on the market and, unfortunately, most of them are cheap and don’t sound good. Mooer isn’t the least pricey phaser out there, but I think it’s the cheapest one worth buying as it is still built well, easy to use, and sounds great.

5. Walrus Audio Lillian – Best High-End Phaser Pedal

You may have noticed that most of the pedals on this list so far have their roots in circuits that were developed over fifty years ago. Has there been any innovation in phasers lately? Just take a look at the Walrus Audio Lillian.

Build

Just like many of the best phasers for guitar, the Lillian is an all analog, hand-wired design that showcases some impressive features. It is a multi-stage phaser (4 and 6) that also has a blend control (similar to the one found on the Walrus Audio Julia Chorus). It has top mounted jacks for easy integration onto professional pedalboards, is an all metal enclosure, and has a stunning paint job illustrating the character it’s named after.

Controls

The controls on the Lillian are unique, but easy to understand and offer a lot of tonal flexibility. The Rate knob controls the speed of modulation, while the Width controls the frequency range that the LFO sweeps through. The Feedback control determines how much phased signal is re-sent through the filter and can produce sounds that are traditional at lower settings, and almost filer-like at more extreme.

The knob labeled “D-P-V” is the mix/blend control, and stands for Dry, Phase, and Vibrato as you blend in more of the modulated signal. Finally, you can choose to set the Lillian to be a 4 or 6 stage phaser to further alter the voice.

Sounds

The Lillian can provide traditional phaser tones along with unexpected modulation sounds. It is rare that you see a Mix knob on these pedals, and as a result you can turn your phaser into a vibrato pedal as you set the mix closer to 100%. The 4-stage phaser to classic 70’s era phaser, while the 6-stage phaser adds some extra movement that makes the pedal feel fresh.

The Lillian responds well to the guitar’s natural frequency range and can handle distortion well, making it a great effect for any genre.

Spec Summary

  • Effect Type: Phase Shifter
  • Signal: Analog
  • Power Requirements: 9V DC
  • Dimensions: 4.77” x 2.9” x 2.3”
  • Features: True Bypass, Momentary Switch, 4 or 6 Stage Phasing, Wet/Dry Blend

A boutique phaser for old fans and new ones alike

Final Thoughts on the Walrus Audio Lillian

The Lillian from Walrus Audio is a pedal meant for phaser aficionados that want both classic tones, as well as some tasteful modern phaser options. It’s not the wildest pedal on this list by any stretch, but I don’t think that’s what WA were going after. It’s a boutique phaser that will sound great in a wide array of genres, in the studio and on stage.

6. TC Electronic Helix – Best Overall Phaser Pedal

TC Electronic Helix Phaser Pedal
  • Amazing range of high-quality Phaser tones

Picking a “Best Overall” phaser was no easy task, considering that every pedal on this list is one that I would personally be happy to have in front of me, and I’m sure there are those who would defend any of these classics and modern phasers to the bitter end. However, the TC Electronic Helix, though and underdog, does every aspect of phasing perfectly.

Build

Unlike many of the pedals on this list that emulate or re-release classic circuits, the Helix is its own character that TC Electronic created. As with most of their pedals, the Helix is compatible with their TonePrint App, which lets you customize and save your own phasers, as well as select from a bank of phasers designed by professional guitarists. It is a digital pedal with selectable True or Buffered bypass and is the only pedal on this list to have Stereo In/Out.

Controls

You don’t have to use the TonePrint app to get great sounds out of the Helix. The onboard controls allow for a great deal of tone shaping. The Mode switch lets you choose from Vintage, TonePrint, or Smooth voices (more on this shortly). The rest of the controls are ones I have explained before, including Speed, Depth, Feedback, and Mix, making this a very familiar and easy to use pedal.

To learn more about TC Electronic’s Tone Print, watch this video.

Sounds

The Helix can easily deliver vintage style phaser sounds under the Vintage voicing, which sounds like a four-stage phaser. The Smooth voice is where things get interesting, as it adds a filter effect that reminds me of Boss Phasers or a TalkBox effect, as the modulation sounds like it is pronouncing vowels.

The magic lies within the TonePrint app, as there are limitless styles of phasing available for you to choose from, and you can design your own custom phaser with the editor.

Spec Summary

  • Effect Type: Phase Shifter
  • Signal: Digital
  • Power Requirements: 9V DC
  • Dimensions:5 x 3 x 3.3”
  • Features: Mix Control, True or Buffered Bypass, TonePrint, Stereo In/Out

A phaser pedal that you can customize

Final Thoughts on the TC Electronic Helix

The Helix isn’t a pedal that I hear about often and I am quite surprised by this, as I think it is a real sleeper in the phaser department. Having the most features doesn’t automatically make a pedal great, but TC Electronic really thought this one out, making it a pedal to satisfy the purists and the experimental alike.

Great Phasers For Guitar Are Everywhere!

I found it interesting that the pedals that ended up on this list could have done so decade after decade. It’s not that phaser pedals haven’t evolved over the years (they have), but it seems like phasers started off amazing and are still readily available for the everyday player.

Whether you’re listening to prog/alternative rock legends like “Incubus” and “Failure”, David Bowie, or Chris Stapleton, phaser has persisted through the decades while remaining slightly under the radar.

Whatever style of music you listen to, finding the best phaser pedal for your guitar is likely to be a fun experiment, no matter what “phase” you’re in and I hope this article proves to be helpful.

Further Reading: