• David Gilmour’s phaser tones

    In this video we’ll look at the MXR Phase 90 phaser and how you can use this single pedal to cover all of David Gilmour’s 1973-75 era phaser and UniVibe tones.

    The MXR Phase 90 was released in 1974. David Gilmour is first seen using one summer 1974 and he would go back and forth between his old UniVibe and the Phase 90 for the 1974-75 leg of the Dark Side of the Moon tour. See the Dark Side of the Moon gear guide for more.

    The Phase 90 seems to have been favoured for most tones and was even left on for most of the set, including for songs like Echoes and all of the new songs they were working on, – Shine On, Have a Cigar, Raving and Drooling (Sheep) and You Gotta Be Crazy (Dogs).

    You can use any phaser although a vintage style 4-stage model will sound more authentic. See the Buyer’s Gear Guide – Modulations for more tips on models.

    I prefer having both phasers and UniVibes before any overdrive and distortion units. It sounds more natural that way. Placing it after dirt pedals makes these pedals sound thin and fizzy.

    Do you use phaser pedals? Which one and for what kind of tones? Let us know!

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10 Responsesso far.

  1. Spencer Landreth says:

    I have the MXR script 90. I’m really digging the tecnique of using it with the Electric Mistress for the Wall tones. The script 90 really gets me closer to Gilmour than any other pedal I have.

    • Bjorn says:

      Did a video on phaser+flanger here

      • Spencer Landreth says:

        Your video is where I learned it! I think half the boutique pedal boom can be attributed to your site! Definitely everything I know about building a pedal chain, I learned from you. Thanks as always, Bjorn!

  2. Arya Boustani says:

    Thanks Bjorn. That 74 reissue sounds really good! For the dirty tone, the tone gets altered so much that the repetition of phasing cycles seem to blend in especially with delay, but I found it becomes a bit too much for my taste, and too obvious repeating textures that in clean solo I always wanted something to vary or change the amount. I then discovered splitting the signal and passing the upstream unaltered to the left channel of the delay, and the out of phase content to the right channel of the delay, then I combine the two channels in the amp (into the two inputs of my Reeves). I found the tone is more complex and I don’t hear as much of the repeated phasing cycles in my face. Of course with the dirt pedal being there, you loose some of the dirt if you send the dirty signal to right and the clean signal to the left of the delay so that wouldn’t be a good idea unless the dirt is subtle like a mild transparent overdrive. I guess someone could potentially create two differently voiced ODs one with phaser and one without and get something special out of it when blending the two in the amp, like the body of a thicker OD that normally looses the top end and attack (like tube screamer kind of pedal), and one with thinner, milder, more transparent OD with lots of top end and attack (like Boss BD-2 or Vick Audio Overdriver). This is also valid for modulating with other mod pedals like chorus or flanger. Most of the time, if that one channel unmodulated blend scenario happen, you can actually increase the amount of modulation to create a more complex textures but without sounding tacky and without loosing the original voice.

    • Bjorn says:

      Thanks for the insights. I’m mostly using the SviSound Techno Phaser which allow for a bit more tweaking and fine tuning of the depth and frequency.

  3. Giuseppe Flore says:

    Gilmour uses these modulations after distortion pedals

    • Bjorn says:

      Yes. I like to have them first.

    • Brad Roller says:

      I feel you can get away with mods after gain if it’s a light drive or transparent. Like the power boost. But In my experience, a phaser doesn’t sound good after heavy gain pedals.

      • Troy says:

        I can’t think of a single recorded use of phaser before high-gain dirt though.

        For certain synthesizer-esque tones like Ernie Isley’s Strat into a Big Muff into a Maestro PS-1A Phase Shifter then DI’d on “That Lady” then phaser after high-gain dirt is just what is required.

        The only example I can think of DG combining a phaser type effect with high gain dirt was the solo of “Time” on “Pulse”. Big Muff through a Uni-Vibe – with a Tube Driver somewhere in the chain.

        Hendrix used high-gain fuzz into Uni-Vibe into cranked Marshall Plexi (kind of lower gain crunch if unaided by fuzzes & fed by a Strat) for things like “Star Spangled Banner” (silicon Fuzz Face) at Woodstock & “Machine Gun” on “Band of Gypsys” (later version Roger Mayer Axis Fuzz in a Fuzz Face enclosure).

        What seems a better alternative for those who don’t like phaser after high-gain dirt is rather than putting the phaser before – or not using phaser at all when using high-gain dirt – is to place a lower-gain dirt without a mid-hump (so no un-modded Tube Screamers) after the Uni-Vibe clone or phaser.

        So high-gain dirt (Fuzz Face or Muff type) > phaser or Uni-Vibe clone > overdrive set for lower gain. BK Butler Tube Driver or Effectrode Blackbird – on the classic channel – are my preferred units for this).

        Phaser type effects before high-gain dirt can produce undesirable sonic side-effects too so for some they may be no better than phasers or vibes used after high-gain dirt . The solution that I propose above can be just the ticket using these tones together. Three of my Effectrodes – Mercury fuzz > Tube-Vibe > Blackbird (on classic/blue channel) – are perfect for this.

        Muff clone > low-resonance phaser or Uni-Vibe clone > Butler Tube Driver (or you could try a Boss BD-2 as Bjorn often suggests) will make a usable tone too.

        • Bjorn says:

          I don’t agree. I always use UniVibes, RotoVibe and phasers before dirt and I never have any issues with unwanted frequencies. My experience is that they blend much better but it’s obviously the combination between the phaser, dirt pedal and amp. I’m sure if you used the “wrong” amp and dirt pedal in this combo, the phaser would sound horrible as it would if placed after. Keep in mind too that Van Halen always had his Phaser 90 and MXR Flanger going into a cranked Marshall. I think you can find that approach on countless rock recordings of the late 70s and 80s… not to mention Zakk Wylde’s current tones.

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