New Premier Guitar Article: Modulation Nation



UPLOADED: 17th Oct 2018



Modulation Nation: Explore the History & Mystery of Chorus, Phasing & Flanging Effects

Tony’s latest article for America’s finest guitar magazine, Premier Guitar, is out now.


Modulation Nation: Chorus, Phasing, and Flanging

Attempting to condense the history, use, and notable examples of chorus, flanger and phaser effects, into a single magazine article is far from easy for someone who could fill a book writing solely about phaser pedals. However, this turned out to be a labour of love – in the process of researching the article, I remembered and learned a great deal, and put a few misremembered ‘facts’ to bed.

My research led me to many great performance examples, some of which are below: it ended up taking me a very long time to complete, but was an absolute pleasure. I’d still love to get the actual lowdown on what was used as the piano treatment on the title track to Roxy Music’s ‘For Your Pleasure’ (was it an Eventide Instant Phaser or Eno’s VCS3?), or Jimmy Page on John Paul Jones’ electric piano on Led Zeppelin’s ‘No Quarter’ (VCS3, or phaser and VCS3?). The YouTube clip below shows him using the venerable Maestro PS-1A during a live performance.

Roxy Music – For Your Pleasure:

Led Zeppelin – No Quarter (live 1975):

I was able to indulge my affection for the Electro Harmonix Small Stone, used on so many classic recordings from Jean Michel Jarre to Radiohead (the live version of ‘Paranoid Android’ below is fabulous).

Jean Michel Jarre: Oxygene

Radiohead Paranoid Android

The Schulte Compact Phasing A is my favourite phaser pedal, and features on many treasured recordings – the following clips show its versatility from rock to synth classics…

Ritchie Blackmore Solo – Catch the Rainbow Live Germany 1976:

Tangerine Dream – Stratosfear:

Kraftwerk – Autobahn:

You couldn’t write about the history of modulation without discussing the iconic Boss CE-1: the pedal that launched Boss and which, together with the Roland Jazz Chorus amp, was responsible for a whole new guitar sound in the late ’70s/early ’80s.

The Cure – A Forest (Amazing chorus-heavy TV performance from 1979):

The Police – Walking On The Moon:

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Under The Bridge:

Then there’s the Mu-tron Bi-Phase: a firm Soundgas favourite and studio staple from dub to rock…

The Smashing Pumpkins – Rocket:

Lee “Scratch” Perry – Wall Street Version:

Eventide were the first company to produce a dedicated rack phaser, used on many of my personal favourite recordings, including by Jimmy Page while producing Physical Graffiti; both for his guitar (In My Time Of Dying) and for John Bonham’s kit (Kashmir). They later produced the Instant Flanger, used by Tony Visconti for the stunning and distinctive piano sound on David Bowie’s Ashes To Ashes.

Led Zeppelin – In My Time Of Dying:

Led Zeppelin – Kashmir:

David Bowie – Ashes To Ashes:

A great deal more has been left out due to space considerations, so expect a few blog posts on examples that received only brief mentions (including our super-rare pair of ex-Pink Floyd/Britannia Row Gelf Phasers). As ever, I welcome comments, amendments and anecdotes – please use the comments section below or feel free to email me via [email protected].

Below is a taster of the first part of the article (link to the full article is below):

Let’s take a dive into the swirling, shimmering waters of modulation and investigate the evolution of chorus, flanging, and phasing. It’s no exaggeration to suggest that nearly every electric-guitar-based album of the past 40 years—and every hearty pedalboard—features one or more of these classic effects. Their development is integral to the soundtrack of our lives. In charting their history, I’ll cover a mix of classic pedals, vintage studio units, and elusive rarities, giving examples of their use in recorded music.

Modulation Nation: Chorus, Phasing, and Flanging

I’ve had a lifelong fascination with vintage and unusual recording gear and effects, and at Soundgas we specialize in supplying them. So effects are definitely my bag and I could fill this magazine just writing about vintage phaser pedals. But such passions tend to be personal, so inevitably there will be omissions in this article that, for some readers, are glaring, and for that I apologize.

As a certified delay freak, it’s perhaps odd that my favorite of the three modulation effects, phasing, involves no delay at all. And my favorite chorus pedal happens to be a flanger. And my favorite flanger is the Tape Phase Simulator. Confused? Read on…

Modulation Nation: Chorus, Phasing, and Flanging


Tony Miln is the co-founder (& Head Gear Head) of Soundgas. See/hear him in action on Instagram.


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