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9 x Orange Means Phaser!

Alexander PedalscmatmodsCoron EffectsMad Professor EffectsMaxonModulationMXRPhaserRetro-SonicRoss EffectsVFE Pedals+-
2019GPX9OrangePhasers700.jpg

This is the second of likely 3 features inspired by my ’Pedal Primary Colour Wheel article’. I already covered off the colour ’Red’, and now we’re onto a fairly obvious category wholly dominated by the MXR Phase 90, its adherents, evolutions and derivations.

 

I own only a single on of the 9 featured here - the Alexander La Calavera, while I also possess a sort of mini version of the MXR Phase 99 AKA the Phase 95. My own favourite phaser is still the Chase Bliss Audio Wombtone, but I own 2 more besides those mentioned - the Boss PH-1R, and the Zvex Vibrophase. In fact in my most recent 12 of the Best Compact Phasers roundup the pedals are a rainbow of different colours with just two orange and two purple actually.

 

For the purposes of this piece I’ve selected all those most obvious ones who match the MXR primary colour hue - some are current and contemporary, while several are vintage discontinued. Note that the VFE Enterprise latterly changed its name to Tractor Beam, and the colour/s followed suit. My good friend Sof of Expresso FX recently acquired the Mad Professor Tiny Orange Phaser - you can’t go wrong with that, and the only compact phaser of note missing from either of my recent phaser listings is the relatively recent Mu-Tron Phasor III.

 

In terms of my own preferences - the ones that holds the most significant appeal for me here are the MXR Phase 99, and the VFE Enterprise / Tractor Beam, while I really don’t need any further phasers in my collection, and I would really want to have a separate tap-tempo footswitch as deployed by the Chase Bliss Wombtone and Red House Electronics / Native Audio Midnight Phaser.

 

There’s certainly plenty of stellar sounding vintage analogue phasers out there - and you can’t go wrong with something like the Maxon PT-9 Pro Plus either - while I like mine to be mostly analogue and accompanied by tap-tempo as mentioned.

 

Pedals are listed in alphabetical order by brand as usual:


Alexander Pedals La Calavera Phaser - $199/£199

As mentioned in the intro I usually prefer my Phasers to be analogue which all are apart from this one with its 3 cool modes - Suave (10 Stage Phase) | Dinamica (Dyanmic Velocity and Attack depending on playing style) | Loco (Phase combined with Ring Modulation). Subdecay does some cool sounding phasers too, but there was something about the tones of this that just totally won my over - a slightly different and pretty unique phaser that sounds amazing!


CMATMods Analog Phaser - $140

A relatively simple 4-stage phaser with 3 controls - Depth | Level | Phase. Chad Matthews makes some great sounding pedals, and this is no exception - very reasonably priced too and assembled as always with premium components.


Coron Phaser 55 (discontinued) - c£190 via Reverb.com

Coron is a now defunct Japanese Effects brand which was very active in the 70's and made a number of well received pedals of that time - including derivations of the MXR Phase 90 which the Phaser 55 essentially is as far as I understand. You get 2 controls Feedback and Speed and these still seem to be very collectible and little used specimens command relatively high prices.


Mad Professor Tiny Orange Phaser - £165

As a through-and-through Björn Juhl fan - I like pretty much everything Mad Professor does, although it doesn't necessarily mean every pedal is my favourite of that type. The Tiny Orange Phaser is one I've not featured on this site before, but it's a great sounding vintage style phaser nonetheless. It features 4 controls - Speed | Mode (Deep > Light) | Resonance | Mix (Dry/Wet).


Maxon PT-9 Pro Plus Phase Shifter (possibly discontinued) - $229

I believe Maxon OEM'd the PT-9 Phaser for Ibanez also at the time, but it is currently only active in the Maxon range - albeit listed as 'Sold Out' right as of this moment. You get 3 controls - Speed | Feedback | Width which is all you need for this vintage style effect - still sounds awesome, and is still in high demand - with specimens in excellent or mint condition getting snapped up very quickly on Reverb.com.


MXR Phase 99 (discontinued) - £139

I actually have the Mini Phase 95 which is a 2-mode Phase 90 and 45 in the same box, while the Phase 99 is two Phase 90's in the same box - which you can either use at 2 different speeds, or combine together for a much deeper and textured phasing effect. You get 5 Controls here P/S (Parallel/Series) | Sync (Uses Speed 1 for both circuits) | Vintage (Vintage Mode / 2 Stage? vs 4-stage of 90), then Speed 1 and Speed 2. These seem to have been discontinued now and there don't seem to be too many about - may be worth tracking one down.


Retro-Sonic Phaser - $175

4-knob phaser based on the MXR Phase 90 Script - with 4 controls - Speed | Depth | Resonance | Level. Certainly a decent proposition, but not sure it necessarily stands out in this crowded space. For sure you get extra controls versus the original source model - and that may be enough to swing the vote for some players.


Ross Phaser (discontinued) - c$150 lightly used on Reverb.com

Ross is best known for its Compressor which is still one of the key benchmarks for that effect. While it also made a number of other well received effects in the late 70's and 80's including this 2-stage 2-control Phaser. The one pictured has the second knob labelled 'Recycle' while the 1978/79 earlier edition had the more sensible 'Intensity' meaning Depth - which is what that knob control. Apparently the circuit changed slightly in the early 80's and the earlier 'Intensity' models are rather more highly regarded, as there seem to have been some issues with some of the later batches. Still a great sounding vintage phaser if you can find one of the right quality at the right price!


VFE Enterprise Phaser (discontinued) - $199 when new

I'm a huge VFE / Peter Rutter fan and have several of his 6-knob / 6-control pedals - in fact 5 to date with a few more on the wishlist. This was originally called the Enterprise Phaser (Star Trek tie-in) and then latterly the Tractor Beam - featuring a typical 6 VFE Controls - Speed | Mix | Centre | Feedback | Stages - 2/3/4 | Mode P/PV/V (Phase/Vibe). VFE pedals always give you more tone-shaping than other comparable pedals, and such is the case here too - a fantastic vintage-inspired circuit with different stage and mode options. Besides the MXR Phase 99 - this is likely the only one I might consider adding to the collection.


Final Thoughts

As mentioned in the intro - I already have 5 phasers in my collection, my current favourite Chase Bliss Audio Wombtone, then the Alexander Pedals La Calavera, Boss PH-1R, MXR Phase 95 and Zvex Vibrophase - so I rightly don't really need any more per se.

 

Yet being the completist I am, I would not mind having an MXR Phase 99 in the collection at some stage along with the VFE Enterprise / Tractor Beam. I also quite like the two Skreddy one-knob phasers, and the Phasor III from Mu-Tron Effects - so there may be further possibilities from those quarters too.

 

As far as I'm aware all of the above featured pedals are fully analogue circuits bar the Alexander Calavera - and all are capable of pretty fantastic phasey tones. I've already made my preferences clear here several times over, for newbies to the genre - surely you should start by looking at the original orange phaser brand - MXR. The Phase 95 is the the perfect combination of standard and script mode 45 & 90 in a single box, while of course you can still get the individual pedals and EVH variations. I personally would try to seek out a Phase 99 - I probably will in any case.

 

I think there's certain mileage in owning a vintage Coron or Ross to - while the latter is a touch over-sized for my taste. I don't think you could go wrong with the Mad Professor or Maxon either either - both have exceptional build-quality - perhaps the extra control on the Tint Orange Phaser swings the vote! All these are viable choices though ...

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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan Karlsson
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