The Electric Mistress Flanger/Filter Matrix - Electro Harmonix Electric Mistress

Nothing sounds quite the same. The Electric Mistress flanger is unique and it has been featured on countless recordings since it hit the market in the late 70s. The pedal also defined David Gilmour’s tones between 1977-83. A period many consider to be the peak of Pink Floyd. In this feature we’ll dig deep into the magic and legend of the Electric Mistress.

The Electric Mistress was designed by David Cockerell (Electro Harmonix). The first model appeared in early 1976. David had worked for EMS, where he designed the world’s first multi effect – the Synthi Hi-Fli (used by David Gilmour during the Dark Side of the Moon era 1973-75). Later, with Electro Harmonix, David also designed the Small Stone phaser and Micro Synth, among others, which were both based on the Hi-Fli.


Flanging refers to a tape reel’s flange or rim. The effect dates back to the mid 40’s (Les Paul was one of the first to use it) but it was commonly used in the 60s and 70s by many bands and artists.

Flanging is achieved by playing back a recorded signal from two tape machines operating simultaneously and slowing down one of the playback reels about 20ms while recording onto a third machine. This slight delay caused a flanging effect – a swirly, metallic jet type of sound (listen to Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds). Slowing down even more would produce a chorus effect and ultimately a fast slap back delay.

Flanger pedals hit the market in the mid 70s. The pioneers being the ADA Flanger, Tychobrahe Pedal Flanger, MXR Flanger and the Electro Harmonix Electric Mistress.

None of these actually sound like the tape flanging. They often tend towards a chorus or more defined jet sounds, probably because this is considered more musical or better suited for guitar. The Deco made by Strymon is one of the few that is designed to capture the true tape flanging.

The Electric Mistress

David Gilmour - Electric MistressThe first generation Electric Mistress pedals were produced between 1976-81. These were housed in Big Muff sized boxes powered by two 9V batteries (the 1981 version powered by a single 9V). Graphics and schematics changed over the years but the tone stayed more or less the same.

These early versions are known for their liquidy character and chorusy flanging. They were also known for being very noisy (even when they were switched off) and they had a nasty volume drop when engaged.

Like many of the older Electro Harmonics pedals, vintage Electric Mistress pedals are subject to inconsistent use of parts with varying quality. Two seemingly identical pedals can sound very different. Be aware of this when considering buying a vintage Mistress off EBay.

Check out the Electric Mistress Mystery Page for more details on each model.

The Deluxe Electric Mistress

David Gilmour - Deluxe Electric MistressThe Deluxe Electric Mistress was designed by Electro Harmonix engineer Howard Davis (who also designed the Deluxe Memory Man). It was offered along side the original Mistress between 1978-81 and later reissued in 1999 (to present) presented in a slightly larger box. Graphics and schematics changed over the years but the tone has stayed more or less the same.

The Deluxe is featured a noise filter, making it less noisy than the original Mistress. It has a slightly more jet-like tone, like the MXR, with a hint more mid range and low end.

The current large box Deluxe Electric Mistress has a considerably darker and less transparent tone compared to the original 70s models and the 1999 reissue.

Check out the Electric Mistress Mystery Page for more details on each model.

David Gilmour and the Electric Mistress

David Gilmour must have been one of the first to use the Electric Mistress. At least to the extent that he did. Although not featured on the Animals album, a ’76 green logo V2 (second generation) Electric Mistress can be seen laying on top of his Pete Cornish pedal board during the tour rehearsals at the Olympia Exhibition Hall, London, UK in late 1976.

Pete Cornish performed extensive modifications on the board after the Animals tour, in October 1977, and built the pedal into the board. Although not confirmed it is fair to assume that Cornish modified David’s Mistress pedals to eliminate noise and volume drop.

David Gilmour - Animals pedalboard

David Gilmour’s pedalboard designed by Pete Cornish pictured at the tour rehearsals at Olympia Exhibition Hall in London, UK, in late 1976. A green logo V2 1976 Electric Mistress is seen placed on top of the board, connected via send/returns on the board. The pedal was later built into the board and used for David’s 1978 solo album, The Wall album and tour and Final Cut. Notice also the ram’s head Big Muff to its right.

During the 1977 Animals tour David would use the Electric Mistress together with a (ram’s head) Big Muff on songs like Dogs and Pigs in conjunction with his amp rig consisting of a blend between Hiwatts and Yamaha RA200 rotating speakers.

The Electric Mistress was extensively used on David Gilmour 1978 solo album – notably on Mihalis (rhythms and solo), So Far Away (solo), Short and Sweet (main riff and rhythms), Raise My Rent (solo) and I Can’t Breathe Anymore (rhythms). The album is really an early show case for the pedal and David’s late 70s tones.

Although only briefly used on the recording of The Wall (mostly used as an effect on panned guitars and occasional licks), the Electric Mistress was once again used extensively during the The Wall tour in 1980-81. David had two pedal boards on stage – his main 1976 Pete Cornish board and a mini board, also designed by Cornish, used while performing outside the wall during the second half of the show. Both boards featured an Electric Mistress.

David’s Wall stage setup featured his Hiwatt amps, WEM cabinets and two Yamaha RA200 rotating speaker cabinets. During the 1981 leg of the tour, he also used two Boss CE2 chorus pedals for stereo spread. All this combined with the Electric Mistress. The amount of modulation borders to being ridiculous but it really defined his huge tone for that tour and songs like Mother, Comfortably Numb and Run Like Hell.

David Gilmour - Studio pedals

David’s pedal rack pictured (2015) in his new home studio, Medina, located in Hove UK. Notice the Electric Mistress on the middle shelf to the right. Although looking slightly blueish, the logo is actually green as the mid 70s Electric Mistress pedals.

Final Cut (1983) is perhaps one of the most honest sounding albums in terms of David Gilmour’s guitar tones. Very little studio processing was done to the tracks and the Electric Mistress can be heard throughout – notably on Fletcher Memorial Home (solo) and Not Now John (solo).

David’s exhausting 1994 stage rig did also feature an Electric Mistress. It was built into a custom rack by David’s long-time technician, Phil Taylor. The unit also featured two Boss CE2 and a Demeter Tremulator. It is not known whether David actually used the Mistress during the tour or not – although Pulse and available bootlegs from the tour suggests that he never used it.

Recent pictures from David’s new home recording studio, Medina, in Hove, UK, shows a large collection pedals, including an original Electric Mistress (probably a 1976-78 V2-V4 model).

Check out the David Gilmour Album Gear Guide for complete setups on each album and tour.

Setting up your Electric Mistress tones

Flanging is not a subtle effect and some find it too overwhelming – especially for replicating David Gilmour’s tones. But, that’s pretty much the nature of the effect. Chorus, although sounding slightly different, is a more subtle effect.

When replicating David Gilmour’s tones it’s also important to understand the difference between when he used rotating speakers, the Mistress or both. It may not be that easy to tell the difference but the intro lick on Mihalis is the Mistress alone, while the intro on Raise My Rent is the Yamaha RA-200 rotating speaker. Most of his lead tones on the Is There Anybody Out There live album is both the Mistress and Yamaha.

David Gilmour - Electric Mistress settings

Here’s my favourite settings for each model. I prefer a slightly more jet kind of tone. You may want to adjust this slightly for a more airy Gilmour tone. NOTE that my 1977 Electric Mistress has 50% at noon. The potentiometers vary from model to model.

Like most modulation effects, the tone you get from the Electric Mistress depends on what pickups, amp and other effects you use with it. Brighter amps, like Fender, and low output pickups adds a high end sparkle and a more noticeable swirl.

On darker amps, like a Hiwatt, the Mistress produce a more mellow tone that also blends much better with Big Muffs and fuzz pedals. This combo is naturally the closest to David’s 1977-83 Mistress tones.

Combined with pedals and pickups that has a boosted mid range, like Tube Screamers, Rats and humbuckers, the Mistress appear darker and even a tad boomy, although this combo often works better on smaller amps and typical bedroom setups.

The Electric Mistress can produce anything from subtle tape-ish flanging to more extreme rotary tones. David Gilmour seemed to prefer something in between. I prefer the Deluxe over the original Mistress. Part because I find the original to be too noisy and thin sounding but I’m also partial to a slightly more jet kind of flanging.

Keep in mind that the original 18V Electric Mistress had differently positioned pots. That means that 50% effect is not always at noon as you’d expect but alternating between 3, 6 and 9 o’clock. See the Electric Mistress Mystery Page for the different pot ranges for each model.

See picture above for my favourite Electric Mistress settings and the featured YouTube shootout clip for Animals, Wall and rotary settings.

Clone that Mistress!

There aren’t that many clones of the Mistress on the market. One of the reasons is that the SAD1024 chip used in the original models is hard to come by in large and affordable quantities.

Some have tried though, with varying success. However, all the quirky little things that one often want to modify or change – noise, tone loss, hardwire bypass etc – are also what makes the mojo and a perfect clone might not be that perfect after all.

David Gilmour - Hartman Analog FlangerOne of the very few clones of the original mid 70s Electric Mistress is the Hartman Analog Flanger. It’s authentic sounding, with the same airy character and they’ve managed to filter most of the noise and fix the volume drop. It also feature true bypass. Like the original, the Hartman sounds great for cleans but a bit thin and sometimes harsh with high gain pedals.

David Gilmour - Mooer ElecLadyThe Mooer ElecLady, although cheap and incredibly small, offer perhaps the most convincing replication of the Electric Mistress tone. It’s closer to the Deluxe, with a distinct jet flanging but it also has some of that airy character of the mid 70s Mistress.

The Donner Jet Convolution is also worth checking out. It’s actually a clone of a clone – the Mooer ElecLady – offered in the same mini pedal format. The price is $30 from China.

David Gilmour - Deluxe Electric Mistress XONot a clone as such but Electro Harmonix recently released the Deluxe Electric Mistress in their smaller case XO series. This upgrade deals with the volume drop and of course the smaller footprint is a bonus. The tone is close to the bigger box Deluxe only more chorusy. It seems that Electro Harmonix are more interested in offering an exhausting range of pedals rather than cloning their own vintage models. The ElecLady is in my opinion a better buy.

In recent years, Electro Harmonix has also released other versions of the Electric Mistress – Stereo Electric Mistress and Neo Mistress. These are spin-off products that has little in common with the original Mistress and Deluxe models.

Please use the comment field below and share your thoughts and experiences with the Electric Mistress!

56 Responsesso far.

  1. Brad Roller says:

    I love, LOVE this article. I have the “green” logo deluxe mistress from the early 80s and it sounds great. I’ve been using it with my tube driver a lot. Sounds great together. I’m very surprised to know that raise my rent is the mistress though…I always thought that was the yamaha for the solo. It’s hard to tell them apart at times. If you listen close to raise my rent and so far away, it sounds like he may have used different settings on the mistress. I personally like the sound of the yamahas in solo more. Like on final cut or dogs. Then again they sound a lot alike and both produce great tones. Again, GREAT article!

    • Bjorn says:

      Thanks! If you listen to those solo ’78 in a headset then the sounds gets easier to tell apart. I love his tones on that album but they are a bit darker and muddier than Animals and Final Cut. The Yahama sounds more chorusy while the Mistress has that slight jet swoosh… Of course, mic placement makes a huge difference for modulation tones.

      • Brad Roller says:

        I’ll have to check them out with headphones. I agree about his solo album being sort of muddier. Personally, the final cut is my favorite because like you’ve said, it’s more honest sounding. Animals is my second favorite.I like his mistress tones but the yamaha has always been my favorite. I just hope he uses his yamahas on his next album and tour!

  2. Debargho says:

    As usual, it’s a wonderful read. Thanks for the article Bjorn :)

  3. Diego says:

    Very nice explanation of the differences. I hoped you would talk about the stereo electric mistress as well, which I own as a part of the EHX Epitome (Pedal that features the Holy Grail, Stereo Electric Mistress and POG).
    What do you think about the Stereo EM?

    • Bjorn says:

      I didn’t include the Stereo and Neo because I don’t think they are representative of the Electric Mistress tone. They’re closer to chorus, which I guess was the intention with the design as well.

    • Hi Diego, I had the same idea for the stereo electric mistress and thought well we got a choice of flanger and/or chorus and also the filter effect can be usefil so its not all bad.
      I will buy the donner just to get in the ball park….alls good though still a handy tool oh and and see what all the fuss is about. dont forget the GE7 can also help with the clean tone if your st.em seems lacking in treble…

  4. Josh says:

    It’s funny that you talk about overwhelming modulation. A friend of mine who is a great guitarist saw my Floyd act once and complained afterward that during the Wall stuff I had too much modulation… Clearly he had never heard the live cuts from that era! To be fair, I was using a non-Deluxe Mistress split between two Hiwatts and an RA200, with one of the Hiwatts having a CE2 in the chain to accentuate the stereo. Wounded great to me. Huge and powerful. That first note of the C Numb solo was ridiculous.

    As for the Mistress, I had mine modded to non-Deluxe specs by Howard Davis and I fully recommend that everyone do the same. Totally changed for the better.

  5. Bern Merchant says:

    Hi Bjorn. I thought I’d chip in and say that the Donner Jet Convolution is great. Unless I ever get my hands on a vintage Mistress, I’m happy with this one, even though it’s a cheapie Chinese clone. It’s also good dialled in for more of a chorus sound – I’m even thinking of getting a 2nd one, and experimenting with setting one for chorus and one for flanging. I’ve also experimented with running it through a Boss LS-2 to get volume and blend control (as per the Mystery page’s mod section). The Jet Convolution is great with dirt too. I highly recommend it!

  6. Ben Ferwerda says:

    Hey Bjorn!

    Great post about The Mistress. I agree that overall the deluxe sounds the most pleasant. I can’t tell for sure, but it looks like the DEM you are using here has an adapter input. Is it a reissue or are you using a more current model? Nonetheless they all sound great in their own way!

    Thanks for the hard work, Bjorn!

    Ben Ferwerda

    • Bjorn says:

      Yes, mine has an adapter. It’s a 1999 reissue. The US models had the power cable but I think they sold them with the adapter in Europe to match the different voltage we have over here.

  7. Reagan says:

    Hi! Great Mistress writeup + demo, it’s just what i have been waiting for! :) After trying all the models (bar the XO EM), i still love the 18V original the most. The issue is the volume drop (fixed by my G2 looper), the massive bass-cut + excessive treble added. Other than that it is the most amazing, liquid sounding flanger!

    • Bjorn says:

      Thanks! Yes, the volume drop is nasty but you can definitely hear the more authentic Gilmour tones with the Muff especially.

  8. Kim Foster says:

    Hi Bjorn
    Firstly what an awesome website!!
    This is my first comment although I’ve been using this site for a couple of years now.
    It has helped me enormously in learning about tone and how to create a “Gilmourish” sound.
    I have been thinking about purchasing a Mooer Electric Lady as I have been getting by with a Boss chorus pedal but after reading this guide I wonder whether I’d be better getting a rotary sim?
    Just thinking this may cover a wider spectrum of David’s sound.
    I just play at home, have a Gilmour Strat, R9 Les Paul and have a Fender Super Champ X2 and Marshall SL5.
    It would be great to get your advice Bjorn.
    Ps, which is the better sim the Lex or the Boss??
    Keep up the great work
    Regards Kim,
    Brisbane Australia

    • Bjorn says:

      Hi Kim! Thanks for posting! Flangers, chorus and rotary are different effects so it depends on what tone you want. Between rotary effects… The Lex is no doubt one of the better sounding rotary sims out there but David always used to blond his rotary cabs with his amps, so the tone he got was much more subtle and chorusy than plugging straight into a Leslie – which the Lex really is. I’d go for the Boss RT20. It’s not the best rotary sim but it nails David’s rotary tones :)

  9. Eric Nyberg says:

    Bjorn et all.
    Last fall I bought an Empress Nebulus modulation pedal and I am very pleased with it. It can do phasing, vibrato-leslie and flanging very well and an added plus (for me at least) is the mix control. It really helps with C-Numb, The Thin Ice and Another Brick In the Wall 1 and 3. Just something you should check out.

  10. Wyatt Murphy says:

    I’m really happy that the ElecLady did so well, as I got the same results. I have a nice Deluxe EM, and the ElecLady is pretty darn close. The DEM is a little sweeter, but you have to really listen to hear it.

  11. I’ve tweaked with the mooer a lot, but i miss the sweetness of the deluxe mistress. It’s too harsh for me. But i had the chance to put my hands on an 83 Ibanez FL9 wich works perfectly, and with it’s 4 knobs i was able to get the tone i was after. Highly recommend that pedal!

    • Bjorn says:

      The ElecLady can sound pretty bad, at least for David’s tones, if you don’t hit the sweetspot. I’ve found that the range needs to be all the way down and the colour just above 9:00. The rate knob is also very sensitive. I’ve set mine to around 2:30 and it sounds pretty good.

  12. Felipe says:

    First of all, I’d like to congratulate you for this excelent website! I always learn something new whenever I come here!

    I never played original Mistresses but I do have one the earlier Hartmans with the Reticon chips in it. I’m not a Gilmour fan, but I dig early Police and early The Cure (I believe they used a Mistress on their second album, “Seventeen Seconds”).

    My experience with the Hartman Flanger is exactly what you described: it sounds like what I hear on those records, but can’t handle higher gain distortion and powerful pickups – even when using a 12-volt adapter, which was a suggestion from Mr. Hartman himself. Whenever I want to use a flanger with humbuckers I reach for my A/DA Flanger 2009 reissue.


  13. Nate says:

    Thank you for the article! This is actually my first post on here. I love this site! One of my favorite Gilmour tones actually comes from “Dogs”. Around 7 minutes and 30 seconds into the song their is this funky rhythm guitar that comes in on the “and its too late to use the weight you used to need to throw around…” verse.
    So my question, is there a mild flange on that guitar part, the electric mistress? I love the tone but am unsure what exactly I am hearing. Thank you so much!

    • Bjorn says:

      Hi Nate! Thanks for posting! David recorded Dogs with a Telecaster that was split between a Yamaha RA200 rotating speaker and a Hiwatt. He also used a Big Muff for the solos. The part you’re referring to is the Yamaha. As far as I can tell, there’s no Mistress on Animals. Most of David’s guitar work was also recorded before or simultaneously as the Mistress hit the market, so it’s very unlikely that he owned one until very late in ’76 as we can see for the tour rehearsal pictures in December.

  14. Matt says:

    I consistently liked the sound of the Eleclady more than the two vintage pieces:)

    • David says:

      Bjorn….really great post. You should do more comparison videos with in depth observations. I really think it would really help a lot of people. I use the DEM for Gilmour and Summers. Great tone but definitely had a few deficiencies.

      After I sent it to Howard Davis for his full mod treatments? It sounds gorgeous. It has the original tone but does not have the volume drop and plays well with both single coils and humbuckers. Not to mention full bypass, noise reduction and LED! :)

      Thanks again!

  15. Carlos says:

    Hi Riis … still enjoying your record Lullabies … my quetion is: could you suggest me a setup for a gilmourish sounding Hartman flanger?

    • Bjorn says:

      Thanks, Carlos! I don’t own one myself and it’s been a while since I played one. I do remember that having all the controls around 10:00 o’clock (you might want to tweak that slightly) was a good start.

  16. Joaquin Velazquez says:

    Hi Bjorn, i have one doubt. In your video how did you power your green logo mistress?? With two 9v batteries didn’t you? I would assume that. The thing is i’m buying a green mistress myself and i don’t want to use batteries. What’s up with the little plug that is between the IN and OUT jacks?
    Thank you. Greetings from Argentina. Your site is great!

    • Bjorn says:

      Hi Joaquin. Yes, I power mine with two 9V batteries. I’ve never tried to power it with an adapter but I think you can use a mini jack converter for the small hole. Try it… I’m not sure.

  17. KEITH says:

    I found that with each setting that one seems to sound better than the other, but I he original definitely got much thinner when the Muff was introduced. The Mooer sounded very good, but I think the major difference between the Mooer, and the deluxe, is board space, and the Mooer did sound great clean, but IMO , I’ll be sticking with my deluxe, and probably get a Mooer for my own shoot out, and may use it for recording cleans. To sum up, I think overall, the Deluxe wins. However, the other two have strong points that sound better at certain settings, but the Deluxe when bested, isn’t far behind. Very good article,

    Thanks Bjorn, KEITH

    • Bjorn says:

      Thanks Keith! I think they all have different qualities. Personally, I like the Deluxe better too but although the original Mistress sounds thin, there’s something about that tone that’s instant late 70s Gilmour :) I would assume that his was modded.

  18. James Kerr says:

    Hi Bjorn, I have a 1999 Electric Mistress Deluxe version 4 with the round power cord. The problem is that the bushing that holds the cord in place is missing and I can’t seem to find one. I even called Electro-Harmonix tech support and they had no idea where I could get a replacement. Do you have any idea where I can buy one? Thanks!

    • Bjorn says:

      I have no idea, to be honest. Check out the Electric Mistress Mystery Page and maybe they can help :)

      • KEITH says:

        If by bushing you mean the black nylon bushing that surrounds the cord, and your cord is just sitting loosely in the hole in the metal box, you should be able to pick them nne up at any electronics supply house. Take the pedal with you, as they use two measurements, the hole, as well as the guage of cord. You might even find one at Radio Shack, but I’d check for local suppliers that cater to techs. I have a ton of them, but don’t they’re the right size. I think you should be able to find one in no time at all!

        Good luck, KEITH

  19. Hi Bjorn, an interesting article and alternative ways around getting a simular sound without owning an original. I also bought a stereo electric mistress but I get what you said about it not being a true flanger more a chorus effect. Still I can get a donner and have some fun without breaking the bank…thanks For the

  20. Chris Steenson says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    I wouldn’t totally write off the Deluxe Mistress XO quite yet; when I first bought mine as a more convenient version of my large box 2000 Deluxe Electric Mistress is was slightly disappointed by the more chorusey tone; but I found an internal trim-pot that I think controlled the delay time on the flange, because now it sounds almost indistinguishable from the large box model (It does roll off a little of the high-end compared to the large box, which I’m a little annoyed at)

    The only problem with adjusting the trim pots is that you’re probably going to void the warranty if you want to try it out. I did think it made a huge difference to how it sounded (Mind you, the only reason I didn’t buy a Hartman Analog Flanger as a smaller boxed 9V Electric Mistress was because I can’t find one for sale in the UK)

  21. Hi Bjorn. Have you tried the tc electronic Vortex flanger? They reckon it can sound like a Hartman/ mistress. If it can, with a tone print library too. Might be a good buy. I need a flanger.

    • Bjorn says:

      Hi Howard, you can tweak it for a decent Mistress tone using the tone print. I don’t own one so I can’t describe it in detail but I managed to get very close when I tried it :)

  22. Hi Bjorn

    Great article – only problem is I now own a 1980 Deluxe Mistress and a Donner Jet Convolution
    skint now but great sounds

  23. Ed says:

    I got one of the old ones like Gilmour with the drop out fix mod, any serious bidders? lol! ;)

  24. Vincent Morel says:

    Would be great to try the new Source Audio Mercury Flanger to see if we could achieve Gilmour Flange tone… Probably in fact but who knows!

  25. Gabriel says:

    Hello! Between a original Electric Mistress and a clone which you do you think is a better buy? If it is a clone, which?

    • Bjorn says:

      The Mooer ElecLady is definitely your best buy. The price should fit any budget and it sounds really good. The current Mistress offered by EHX doesn’t sound like the old ones and buying a vintage unit off EBay is risky business… you never know what you get. Those old EHX units doesn’t stand the test of time very well.

Hey! How about a comment on this post?