• Retro-Sonic Flanger review

    Gilmourish Retro-Sonic Flanger

    The Electric Mistress flanger has always been one of my favourite pedals. It’s unique tone and character is easily recognisable and it has defined many guitarist’s tones. Retro Sonic just recently released the Flanger. Here’s my review. 

    I got a late 90s Deluxe Electric Mistress just about when it was released and it’s been on my stage and recording board ever since. It’s featured on my albums and it’s the one pedal I simply can’t live without. 

    Obviously, the inspiration was David Gilmour and his late 70s and early 80s tones but for me, the Electric Mistress has become my tone and a pedal that define my sounds. 

    The Electric Mistress hit the market in 1976. It never got as iconic as the MXR flanger or some of the others and part of the reason might have been the fact that it had a noticeable volume drop and a lot of noise. There has been some clone during the last decade or so. Some better than others. 

    Retro Sonic’s Flanger is a take on the very early 18V powered Electric Mistress. This is the same model that David Gilmour used on the Animals tour, his 78 solo album, The Wall, Final Cut and last at the recent Rattle That Lock tour, where the Mistress made a triumphant return on Comfortably Numb. 

    The Flanger has the familiar controls for range, rate and colour as well as the filter matrix switch, allowing the flange or sweep to be freezed. The unique feature is a volume control that tackles the volume drop issue and even allowing a bit of boost. 

    The Flanger can be powered on 12V or 18V. The difference is minimal although the 18V has a tad more headroom. 

    Another unique feature is the fact that the Flanger is very quiet. 

    The mid 70s 18V Mistress and the Deluxe (the Mooer E-Lady is a clone of the Deluxe) are really two different pedals. They have some similarities but they each have some unique qualities. The mid 70s 18V has much more of that characteristic liquidy swirl and a lot more top end sparkle. This is what made David Gilmour’s Big Muff tones really cut through like a razor sharp knife. 

    The 18V Mistress is far less dominating than the Deluxe although it can be set up to quite a bit of modulation too. David Gilmour would use fairly moderate setting, allowing the pedal to add just a hint of flanging and that top end sparkle. 

    The Flanger is slightly darker than my original 18V and I’ve seen others comment on this too. It’s not a bad thing and you can’t really compare two original pedals either, as EHX was well known for using different parts in their 70s pedals. 

    The Flanger is a truly faithful take on the original Electric Mistress, with all the mojo and some much needed upgrades. Definitely worth a try if you’re into David Gilmour’s Animals/Wall tones, Andy Summers or just awesome 70s swirl! 

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48 Responsesso far.

  1. Yeph says:

    Hi,

    First of all thanks alot for this beautiful blog.

    I own the EHX Superego plus that has a nice Shine-on-demo on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e40cg6A97QA. I own the E-lady and it really reminds me my Gilmour tones. But the Strymon Moebius has a Preset “Silver flanger” and I think its more close to what I like about Floyd tones.

    Now I have two questions. As the Superego plus is as bulky as the Moebius I was pleased to see that EHX has a new pedal called mod 11 with 11 Modulations and of each type there are two different models, for some even 4 (Phaser). And this time I think the flanger is really great, better than the Superego plus an as small as a tubescreamer. I would really like to know what you think about these 2 flanger models of the Mod 11 (knowing that you own the real ones) which is cheap by the way.

    But one thing haunts me for years and I’ve read your blog over and over for the tone for the Intro-solo of shine-on. It seems as if the tone is played through a “slow machine” or not with a pick. It sounds so smooth. Every time I thought I nailed the sound without any fx or “attack-reducer” I was wrong listening to the original album.

    You wrote that he probably played through one of his two amps without any fx.

    My question in fact is what modern equipment has the same tone and attack? Or if you know a Kemper preset or an Axe FX III Preset that could produce this amp sound.

    Maybe I just overestimate my guitar playing virtuosit? The closest I could get was attacking the strings of a Hendrix-strat (Monterey) (please don’t laugh out loud, it really sounds floydish imho) with my finger tips, not the nails.

    So, thats it and already to much. Sorry for that and thanks again. I bought some good stuff thanks to your reviews.

    Yeph

    • Bjorn says:

      The intro solo on Shine On is a bit of a mystery. He could be using a Strat into a Hiwatt or the Fender Showman that he used for the session, all clean with the volume backed off on the guitar but what he probably did, was to plug the guitar straight into the mixing console. The strip would provide both compression and a bit of grit for the notes to sustain. If you listen closely, you’ll hear that the tone of that solo is different from the second solo that comes in just after the drums. That solo is fairly clean too but it’s got much more power and amp character to it.

  2. Peter Lalande says:

    Bjorn!

    Good Day Eh! from Toronto Canada!

    Cheers!!! To you for your generosity in sharing your hard work and research in attaining a Gilmourish tone!

    Having watched your review on the Retro-Sonic Flanger & Electro Harmonix Big Muff Green Russian; I was curious to know if you you have tried the; EHX Big Muff Tri re-issue or EHX Big Muff Ram’s Head re-Issue with the Retro- Sonic Flanger or the Mooer Elec Lady?

    Under the impression, were using a; Reeves Custom 50, 2 Celestion Vintage 30’s’, Seymour Duncan SSL-5 in the bridge of a Strat!

    In your own opinion; which combination of re-issue Muff & Flange will give you that classic 1978 David Gilmour Solo Album sound?

    I don’t expect the answer for free; but an offer of J.P. Wiser’s Deluxe Canadian Rye Whisky would be rewarded to solve this Enigmatic Rubik’s cube!

    Regards!

    Pete

  3. Brian Deren says:

    Hi Bjorn, how does this compare to the Hartman? I was disappointed with the Moer though it was great for Wall and Final cut-era, but wasn’t nearly as warm, the Hartman just oozes analog warmth and goodness, especially for Andy Summers and Lifeson stuff…thanks!

  4. Andrew says:

    Hey Bjorn

    Awesome site. Like everyone here, I’ve learnt so much over the years reading the reviews and comments. Anyway, I really love the song you play in the Retro Sonic video but am not familiar with all of Gilmour’s art and wanted to ask if its a cover or an original? Also, I bought the Buffalo M1 based on the second song demonstrated in that review and its a killer pedal, so quiet. I’ve been meaning to ask what that second M1 song is for ages. Cheers

    • Bjorn says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Andrew! The song used in the Retro Sound clip is a snippet I recorded. So that’s an original. The second song in the M1 clip is Pink Floyd’s Marooned off Division Bell.

  5. Gary says:

    I’ve had the Retro Sonic for some time now and have 2 original Electric Mistress units in my collection. I’ve never played another flanger that I liked more than my 18v Mistress. I’m really loving the Retro Sonic. It’s becoming my main flanger.

  6. KEITH says:

    Hey Bjorn, I found the recent posts widget. I went to the desktop site, and since the blog doesn’t ever show anything under that heading on the mobile site I tried that first, and Viola! There it was. I now realize how much I’ve been missing by using only the mobile site, and
    Will now do my Gilmourish activities on my PC as often as possible. The desktop site seems to have much more information!!!
    Peace Brother, KEITH

    • Bjorn says:

      It’s the same site but the mobile version doesn’t have all the extra widgets so you need to dig a little deeper :)

  7. KEITH says:

    Hey Bjorn, it looks as though I’m the only person who’s posted on the past 2 or 3 weeks, so I figured I’d keep you busy, haha! Is the site still getting the hots, but just a slow period of posting? Since I assume lots of readers will see this, you guys step up and ask some questions, or make some suggestions, or comments about your rigs. Bjorn is certainly a very busy man, but please show your interest in Gilmourish, as that’s what will keep Bjorn interested in making the sacrifices of his time that are necessary to keep this wealth of information going! Thank you for the wonderful years you’ve spent teaching us to think, and giving us information we wouldn’t find anywhere else.
    You ever faithful Padawan, Keith ????

    • Bjorn says:

      Thanks for posting Keith! Fear not, the site gets around 150 comments each week but people comment on all posts, so I guess I’m the only one who sees all the comments in my admin interface. Still, you can see all comments in the recent comments widget. Thanks!

      • KEITH says:

        I thought that may be the case, as O have been going back through older articles and reviews, and I do look at the dates of the most recent posts, but did not know there was a recent posts widget. Where would I find that? I use the mobile site pretty much 100% of the time, and don’t see a heading for that .
        Thanks for the quick reply, KEITH

      • Phil B says:

        Damn 150 is a lot … I wondered if there is a way to seperate questions to you/the community from basic comments as an option (drop down menu or tick box) when posting or replying.
        The point would be to automatically let through any replies to posts that aren’t questions, so you don’t have to monitor them. Questions still would go through you, so you don’t miss them and can reply one by one. I think it would make it easier for you and one doesn’t have to wait for a normal comment to go through moderation. The risk of course is people posting mean comments/replies, that no one wants to read … but I like to think this community is reasonable and has good intentions :)

        btw … you mentioned the recent comments widget on the bottom of the page. I can see the last 12 replies/comments right now. Is there a way to extend that or view all recent comments by a site user? I sometimes couldn’t find my question, likely answered by you then, because you answered more than 12 questions and I forgot, where I posted it. See what I mean? :P

        Just a few thoughts and ideas by me, so if you keep it as it is, all good ;)

        Cheers as always,
        Phil

  8. KEITH says:

    Hey Bjorn, this is off subject, but I figured you’d see it sooner here. I notice you’ve been using vintage 30s for awhile. I always used the 25 watt Greenbacks, (20 watts in older amps), and wondered if you’d ever tried them with a Hylight design amp? I’m thinking of getting a couple to try with my Reeves. What are your thoughts? I know they’re a completely different sounding g speaker than the vintage 30s, but I don’t have any experience with the 30s.
    Thanks, KEITH

    • Bjorn says:

      I use the Laney 2×12″ cab loaded with V30s with all of my amps. Including the Reeves. It sounds a lot tighter and slightly darker than the Fanes. Less headroom too but that’s what I’m looking for. It sounds awesome with the Lionheart and it makes the Reeves sound a bit closer to a Marshall, while still maintaining the headroom and character of the Hiwatt/Reeves. I would guess that 25w Greenbacks would sound somewhat similar. Perhaps less headroom but that obviously down to the settings as well. With the V30s I can get a really nice Towsend growl, with a tighter low end than the Fanes.

      • KEITH says:

        That sounds like what I’m looking for! I want a little more speaker break-up, and the Thames have to make your ears bleed to get any breakup at all, and I just can’t play that loud at home.
        Thanks buddy, KEITH

  9. Chad from Dallas says:

    Bjorn,

    Thanks for the great review. I was wondering how this one compares to the Foxgear. I bought one a while back and found it to be ok, but am wanting something that sounds closer to the original.

    Thanks,
    Chad

  10. fab says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    It seems that you enjoyed it so did the Retro Sonic earn a “Gilmourish Pick”?

  11. mikem says:

    Hi Bjorn

    Awesome review. Have you tried this pedal with an PC-2A ? I own the retrosonic and i can’t get it to play nicely at all with any effectrode pedal and I am wondering if it is something to do with the center positive power polarity.. anyway.. Ive seen it posted elsewhere a similar problem that i have and I was wondering if you experienced this at all.. but really strange clock noise (Whistling?) from the pedal when engaged with a PC-2A in the chain.. very unfortunate because i can’t go on without my PC-2A… Just curious and thanks for the great reviews

    -Mike

  12. Brad Roller says:

    My goodness, some of y’all need to READ the review lol sounds great Bjorn. Great playing too btw! Sounds similar to my old Hartman but man my Hartman would get a bit too “spikey” at times with distortions. Sounded great but I always had to alter the tone control on my muff to compensate. I really like my mooer but I’m gonna have to buy this one…my Hartman broke years ago and although a little bright with distortions, had a much more beautiful liquidy clear character the mooer doesn’t have. THIS pedal seems to capture that. So glad to see this review, I knew when I seen the colors of the pedal on your board what was coming ;)

    • Bjorn says:

      The Flanger is a bit darker than I expected. At least compared to my 18V 1976 model but it’s easier to blend with a Muff I think. There’s also a trim pot inside that I haven’t explored yet, which apparently makes the pedal brighter. I’m really surprised by this one and personally I think it sounds better than the Hartman. No volume drop and very little noise too.

  13. Dale Schmitt says:

    Just wondering how would you compare this to the Mooer Elec Lady? LOL! Just kidding! Read it in the review.

    But as always Bjorn, great review and awesome tones! You convinced me to buy one and try side by side against my Hartman.

    Keep up the great work and playing!

  14. Francesco says:

    Listened to the tones, and they seem very very interesting…but how does the retro-sonic compares to the mooer elec-lady?

    • Bjorn says:

      Explained in the review. The Mooer is a clone of the Deluxe.

      • KEITH says:

        I wonder how many times you’ll have to answer that question? I can’t believe how many people obviously just listen to the clip without reading the review, and description. In some cases it can be forgiven, but the amount of stupidity amazes me!! Anyway, great review Bjorn, can’t wait to get the huge Deluxe off my board, thanks as usual.
        All the best to you and yours, KEITH

  15. Gabriele says:

    Hi Bjorn, how would you compare this to the Mooer Elec Lady? Great job as usual!

  16. Robert Mosack says:

    Thanks for the review, Bjorn. I’m a sucker for the Mistress clones. bought this one right after it came out, and I finally received the LongAmp Roxanne a couple weeks ago (ordered months ago). Add those to the Mooer and Hartman. I haven’t done a proper A-B comparison yet, but initially, I think the Roxanne is a bit more subtle than the Retro-Sonic, which is m6 favorite.

  17. Seppo says:

    Hi Bjorn, how does this compare to the Mooer Eleclady?

    • Bjorn says:

      As explained in the review, the Deluxe and Mooer are darker, with a more noticeable jet type of flanging. The Retro Sonic and the early 70s Mistress are brighter, with a more liquidy swirl.

  18. Richard D Salazar says:

    The sound is amazing. You are spot on.

  19. Gary says:

    This has been on my radar for some time now. I’ve used 2 early Electric Mistress units extensively for years, the 18v being my favorite. Wanted to hear a proper demo first but it’s safe to say this unit has that desirable quality to it. Going to give this one a go. On a side note I use a Lehle Parallel L as a mixer with my Mistress. Getting the “proper” mix has been important to achieving the tone in my head.

  20. arya boustani says:

    Wow! Perfect sound! Thanks Bjorn for making this and sharing with us. You are awesome!!!

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