From the signature lead sound of Eddie Van Halen to the epic riffs of Rush’s Alex Lifeson, the flanger pedal has carved out quite a place for itself in the history books of rock and roll.

While many players look at a flanger pedal as an unnecessary novelty, the fact of the matter is that flangers can unlock a world of new tones that can help you beef up your rhythm playing, breathe new life into otherwise stagnant riffs, and take your solos to the next level.

From light modulation to the roar of a jet engine to truly otherworldly sounds, a flanger is an incredibly versatile pedal that many top guitarists consider their secret weapon.

Today more than ever before, there are tons of fantastic flanger pedals on the market that can help take your playing to the next level. But, with so many amazing specimens on the market, how do you narrow the field and find the best flanger pedal for your style of paying?

Fear not, young Jedi, as today we’ll be taking a deep dive into everything you need to know about flanger effects. We’ll also take a closer look at some of the best flangers available today to help you select the perfect pedal for you.

What is the Best Flanger Pedal?

What exactly is a flanger pedal and what does it do?

A flanger is a modulation pedal that’s capable of achieving an incredibly wide range of different tones.

To create the flange effect, the pedal takes your audio signal and splits it into two identical copies of itself. The first part of your signal is left unaffected, while a slight delay is applied to the second part. The delay time is then varied slightly, which creates an interference pattern. As a result, some frequencies are made louder while others are reduced.

If you take a look at how the sound wave appears visually, you’ll notice that the flange effect makes the sound wave look like a comb, with pronounced peaks and valleys throughout. You’ll often hear flangers described as “comb filters” for this reason. Since the delay time is varied slightly at all times, the resulting sweep of the comb filter generates the signature sweeping sound of a flanger.

The flange effect dates back to the ‘50s when engineers realized they could achieve some unique tones by playing back identical recordings on two tape machines and laying a finger onto the flange of one of the tape reels, which slowed it down slightly. Being as how the flange of the tape real was the key to this new effect, it was given the name “flanger” when effects companies began to develop standalone units.

What makes a great flanger pedal?

In a moment, we’ll cover some of the absolute best flangers you can buy today. Many guitarists will find one of those models is ideal for their playing. But, regardless if you choose one of those flangers, or stake out on your own in search of the perfect pedal, you’ll want to evaluate every flanger you come across based on these criteria.

  1. Achieves a broad range of different flanging effects
  2. Additional effect modules
  3. True bypass wiring
  4. Road ready build quality

Achieves a broad range of different flanging effects

One critical feature to look for is versatility. There are so many different types of flange effects you can create, and they can be applied to your music in such a variety of ways that the last thing you want to do is paint yourself into a corner with a pedal that isn’t versatile enough to allow you to achieve tons of different flange effects.

Flangers are arguably the most versatile modulation effects, allowing you to achieve tones that will often be mistaken for a chorus, auto-wah, or vibrato. Of course, there’s also the classic flanger sounds made famous by Van Halen and Rush.

To achieve the broadest range of tones, it’s helpful to have a flanger that provides plenty of different parameters for you to manipulate. While some high-quality flangers offer as few as two controls, most of the best models available provide four or more. When shopping, look for a pedal that allows you to control manual, speed, width, and regeneration.

As a rule of thumb, a pedal that allows you to control these four parameters will be capable of producing any of the sounds we described above. So, you’ll be able to squeeze significantly more tones out of your flanger than you would with a more utilitarian model.

Additional effect modules

Another feature you may wish to consider is whether or not your flanger pedal can moonlight as a secondary or even tertiary modulation effect.

Since so many modulation effects operate on such similar premises, it’s common to find flanger pedals that allow you to also tap into a chorus or phaser effect in addition to the flanger effect.

Taking chorus and flanger as an example, the only real difference between these two effects is how much delay is applied to the wet signal. With chorus, a longer delay is applied, resulting in the signature sound of the effect. With flanger, the delay time is shorter, and it varies slightly, resulting in the flange effect.

Knowing that it’s easy to see why effects makers often create a pedal that does double duty. If you’re interested in adding other modulation effects to your pedalboard, it may be a wise idea to shop for a flanger that also provides additional effects beyond its primary use.

True bypass wiring

As guitarists become more and more fixated on the search for the perfect tone, true bypass pedals have once again risen to the forefront, quickly establishing themselves as the standard for tone purists.

True bypass refers to the way that the pedal is wired. With a true bypass pedal, when the effect is bypassed, your signal travels in a straight line from the pedal’s input to its output. When wired this way, your guitar tone remains completely unchanged when your effect isn’t engaged. This ensures that the tone that leaves your guitar is the same tone that makes it to your amp.

The alternative to this is a buffered bypass pedal. With a buffered pedal, your signal enters a buffering section that’s essentially a type of preamp. The buffer amplifies your signal before sending it through the effect engine and out to the rest of your pedals, and ultimately to your amplifier.

Buffered pedals correct two of the issues that guitarists have with true bypass pedals. First, true bypass pedals produce a slight, yet audible “popping” noise when they’re turned on or off. Also, they don’t perform optimally when you run an extremely wrong guitar cable (think 30’ or longer.)

While this sounds great so far, buffered bypass pedals have one major drawback: Whether your pedal is on or off, your guitar’s signal is always running through the buffer before traveling out to your amp. No matter how well made the pedal is, it will always color your tone slightly.

If you’ve spent your hard earned money on a great guitar and amp, the last thing you want is for your pedals to compromise your tone in any way. So, if you’re serious about crafting the best tone possible, look for a pedal that offers true bypass wiring.

Road ready build quality

The last thing you’ll want to consider is how well the pedal is built. It may seem like a no-brainer because guitarists obviously want equipment that’s built to last, but you’d be surprised by the number of guitarists who are constantly replacing inferior pedals because they tried to save money by purchasing a pedal of mediocre build quality.

Finding a pedal that’s built to last is easy. When you’re trying out the different options, look for a pedal that provides heavy-duty, high-quality components, such as surface mount jacks, smooth and effective potentiometers, and heavy duty mini switches and foot switches.

Lastly, make sure that the pedal features a solid metal case. Most pedals are made from aluminum or an aluminum alloy, but many of the more affordable models use plastic for part or all of the pedal’s case. Wherever possible, try and avoid pedals made of plastic.

By taking the time to select a pedal that’s built to stand the test of time, you can rest assured that the pedal you choose will serve you well for many years to come.

Flanger Pedal Reviews – Our Top 5 Recommendations

Earthquaker Devices Pyramids Stereo Flanger

Best Overall

What Makes It Special?

Hands down the most versatile flanger on the market, the Pyramids from Earthquaker Devices provides eight different flanger modes, five user-defined presets, and tap tempo with subdivision. An ultra quiet footswitch allows for standard or momentary operation of this top of the line flanger that’s handmade in Akron, Ohio

  • Eight different flanger modes
  • User presets
  • Tap tempo
  • Stereo I/O

Comparing this flanger to other competitors is a lot like bringing a knife to a gunfight. With features you won’t find on other flangers, such as user presets and tap tempo with multiple note subdivisions, the Pyramids flanger provides the most room for guitarists to stretch their legs and unlock previously unthinkable tones you simply can’t achieve with other pedals.

This pedal provides eight different flanging modes, and five presets which can be accessed from the front of the pedal with a knob. The Pyramids pedal provides controls for manual, rate, width, mix as well as a feedback control and subdivision control. A second footswitch allows you to engage tap tempo, or tap into call momentary operation effects that aren’t usually possible.

What Customers Like

  • Tons of different effect modes
  • Tap tempo
  • User presets

What Customers Dislike

  • Very expensive
  • May be overkill for players looking for a basic flanger

DigiTech Nautila Chorus/Flanger

Best For the Price

What Makes It Special?

A high-end yet affordable modulator that provides beautiful sounding flange as well as chorus effects, the Nautila offers stereo I/O, concentric control knobs, and rich and effective modulation effects that sound much more expensive than they are.

  • Chorus and flange effects
  • Concentric knobs to save space
  • Stereo I/O
  • Drift knob allows players to blend three waveform types

Providing the functionality of two popular modulation effects in one stompbox isn’t anything new, but it’s virtually unheard of to find a pedal that provides multiple studio-quality effects in a tiny, pedalboard-friendly housing. Add to that the fact that the Nautila will set you back less than $100 and you have a serious winner on your hands.

This diminutive pedal features a mini switch to toggle between chorus and flanger, and controls for mix, speed, depth, emphasis, and voices. There’s also a drift control that allows you to blend different waveforms to create some truly unique tones. The Nautila also features stereo I/O and beautiful, eye-catching graphics that are sure to turn heads.

What Customers Like

  • Two effects in one
  • Great price
  • Drift knob allows for some cool and unique effects

What Customers Dislike

  • No regeneration control
  • Not ideal for players who already have a chorus pedal

Boss BF-3 Flanger

What Makes It Special?

A favorite of top guitarists for decades, the latest Boss flanger adds two new effect modes, tap tempo, and a footswitch with optional momentary actuation to provide players with one of the most versatile and effective flangers ever made.

  • Four effect modes
  • Tap tempo
  • Momentary or standard actuation
  • Battery or AC power

Piggybacking off the iconic BF-2 flanger, the BF-3 adds a gate/pan and ultra mode to their popular flanger, allowing guitarists to achieve an even broader range of incredible tones with their pedal. The BF-3 is ideal for guitar as well as bass, and it offers a stereo output as well.

The pedal features a concentric control for manual and resonance, as well as controls for depth and rate. A selector knob allows you to toggle between four effect modes: momentary, gate/pan, standard, and ultra. The BF-3 also offers tap tempo, further adding to its cache of impressive features.

What Customers Like

  • Multiple effect modes
  • Tap tempo functionality
  • 5-year warranty

What Customers Dislike

  • No regeneration control
  • Not as warm as some other top flangers

TC Electronic Vortex Flanger

Best for Beginners & Students

What Makes It Special?

With two different effect voicings and TC Electronic’s signature TonePrint app, the Vortex manages to be one of the most unique and versatile flangers on the market despite it’s tiny and portable size. Stereo I/O and true bypass wiring make this pedal an instant winner.

  • TonePrint compatible
  • Two voicings – tape and flanger
  • Stereo I/O
  • True bypass wiring

TC Electronic is well known for being one of the most innovative companies in the effects world, and their Vortex flanger is a testament to that. The brand recently unveiled its revolutionary TonePrint module, which allows players to sync their pedal to a connected device to download amazing tones from top pro guitarists as well as a growing community of TonePrint users.

Beyond this unique and useful feature, the Vortex offers a classic flanger voicing as well as a vintage tape-style voicing, and simple yet effective controls for managing the effect. The Vortex provides controls for speed, depth, feedback, and delay time, and it has stereo inputs and outputs, adding a layer of versatility to this already useful stompbox.

What Customers Like

  • Access to thousands of unique flanger tones
  • Completely transparent when the effect is off
  • Two flanger voicings

What Customers Dislike

  • No regeneration control
  • A bit noisy

Donner Jet Convolution Flanger

Best on a Budget

What Makes It Special?

A no-nonsense flanger at a price any guitarist can afford, the Jet Convolution flanger from Donner offers true bypass wiring, easy to use controls and a tiny nano housing that makes it perfect for placing on your already cramped pedalboard.

  • Rate, color, and range controls
  • True bypass

While the Jet Convolution may lack some of the high-end features and controls that are common with more expensive pedals, it does do a fantastic job of providing a handful of different useful and effective flanger sounds. If you’re looking to add a flanger for occasional use, or just to experiment with, this may be a great option for you.

This tiny pedal features a nano-size housing, controls for rate, color, and range, and two different effect modes. The normal mode behaves like a regular flanger, while the filter mode eliminates the automatic frequency sweep, allowing you to tap into a selection of new and unique flange effects.

What Customers Like

  • Affordable
  • Easy to use

What Customers Dislike

  • Can’t run on batteries and doesn’t include a power supply
  • Lacks some of the controls available on higher-end pedals

6 More Really Good Flanger Pedals

Empress Nebulus Chorus/Flanger/Vibrato

For players looking for a pedal that pulls more than its weight by performing triple duty, the Nebulus from Empress is worth a closer look. This boutique quality pedal carries a high price tag, but if you’re looking to add chorus and vibrato to your rig as well, it can end up being a great value.

The pedal offers a simple interface with controls for mix, rate, depth, and output. There’s also a full complement of mini switches which allow you to select the type of effect, the submode, and the voicing. There’s a fourth switch called “special” which allows you to exact further control over one of the key parameters of the effect.

You can also save up to eight different presets on the pedal. With all of the submodes and voicings, each effect offers a total of nine different configurations for unprecedented versatility. Unfortunately, you can only use one of the effects at a time.

MXR M117R Flanger

When veteran guitarists think of a flanger effect, they think of the M117R. This incredibly versatile flanger is the same model that some of the world’s most iconic rock guitarists have relied on for decades.

The M117R offers controls for manual, width, speed, and regeneration, which provides the perfect canvas for painting a broad tonal picture. This utilitarian pedal features mono input and outputs, and it’s practically bulletproof; many players are using the same M117R they bought in the ‘80s.

Source Audio SA240 Mercury Flanger

Another high-end flanger that provides a ton of unique flange effects, the SA240 is one of the most accessible boutique-quality pedals on the market. This easy to use pedal offers controls for depth, speed, resonance, and delay, and it provides three different flanging modes, including the highly-desired thru-zero flange.

Players who are looking to spend good money on a flanger but still want the most value possible will do well with this pedal, as it offers similar quality and functionality when compared to $250+ pedals for significantly less money.

Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Electric Mistress Flanger

A flanger that’s nearly as iconic as the M117R from MXR, the Electric Mistress is one of the best flangers on the market, and the Deluxe model provides some notable improvements over the original.

The Deluxe Electric Mistress offers controls for color, range, and rate, and a mini switch to select from a standard flange or EH’s proprietary matrix flange, which allows players to take advantage of some truly unique tonal tricks.

The pedal offers a mono input but provides outputs for both the wet and dry signal, which allows players to get more creative with their pedal chain. The Deluxe Electric Mistress is also true bypass, so you won’t need to worry about any unwanted color in your tone.

Mooer E-Lady Flanger

The E-Lady from Mooer is a compact flanger that’s a viable option for players who are looking to take a step up from the lower price range without having to invest a ton of money into a flanger. This compact pedal provides controls for color, range, and rate, and a toggle switch for the two effect modes. A heavy duty footswitch and jacks and a full metal case complete this affordable flanger.

In the normal mode, this pedal captures a surprisingly broad range of flange effects, while the filter mode offers a more dramatic effect that’s perfect for players looking to stretch out into new sonic territory.

Keeley Bubbletron Dynamic Flanger/Phaser

Last but not least, the Keeley Bubbletron is a boutique quality stomp that provides both flanger and phaser effects. Keeley has quickly developed a reputation for producing some of the warmest and responsive stompboxes on the market. It’s easy to see why when you check out the Bubbletron.

The Bubbletron provides three modes: flange, phase, and filter. Controls for depth, feedback, sensitivity, and level allow you to tap into a ton of different flange effects. With the phase mode, the controls are the same except for the feedback knob, which controls the rate of phasing. The filter effect is a random stepped filter that’s perfect if you’re looking to create some truly unique sounds with your flanger.

Unfortunately, you can’t use the effects in combination with each other, but outside of that caveat, the Bubbletron is an awesome pedal that lets you kill three birds with one stompbox.

5 FAQ’s About Flanger Pedals

How to use a flanger pedal?

Since flangers provide so much versatility, learning how to use one effectively is a bit more of a hands-on task than with some other effects. Thankfully, once you get a handle on how the pedal works and how the different parameters affect your tone, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a flanger expert.

We’ll start with one of the most popular sounds a flanger is known for. We call it the “Van Halen Effect.” To dial in Eddie’s signature flanger tones, start by adjusting the controls for manual, speed, and width somewhere around 12 o’clock. Then, turn the regeneration knob up all the way, and there you have it: Eddie’s signature flange.

A flanger can also produce some remarkably chorus-like effects if you dial it in properly. Start with the manual knob at 0, set width around 7 o’clock, speed around 9 o’clock, and keep regeneration at 0 as well. This should provide a remarkably chorus-like effect that you can experiment with from there to dial in the perfect tone for you.

For some truly otherworldly effects that are reminiscent of a jet plane taking off, or a UFO making first contact with earth, turn the speed knob down to 0, and all other knobs as far as they’ll go clockwise. Use that as your baseline and experiment from there to create some seriously freaky and unique tones.

If you’re looking to tap into the signature guitar tone of Queen’s Brian May, a flanger is a great tool to have at your disposal. While many of Brian’s signature flange effects were created on tape in the studio, you can still replicate them with any 4-knob phaser. Start by turning the knobs for manual, width, and regeneration to 12 o’clock, and leave the speed knob slightly lower, around 10 or 11 o’clock. Just like that, you’ll be able to tap into that signature Queen tone.

Your owner’s manual is also an incredibly useful tool for developing your own signature sounds, and most manufacturers spend countless hours fiddling with their pedals to provide some incredible tones which are usually referenced in the owner’s manual. If you’re unsure of where to start, this is usually the best place.

Where do you place a flanger pedal (in the chain)?

The best way to avoid unpleasantries like noise, buzz, feedback, or pedals that behave oddly and don’t sound the way they should is to ensure that your pedal chain is set up properly.

While there are no hard and fast rules for how you should set up your pedal chain, there are a few basic guidelines you’ll want to follow to avoid any issues.

It can be helpful to think of your effects in four different groups. You’ll want to keep these groups in order to keep everything running properly in your signal chain. Start by placing your dynamic and filter effects, then gain effects, then modulation effects, and finally, time-based effects.

Dynamic and filter effects include pedals like a graphic EQ, compressor, volume pedal, wah, or envelope filter. Gain effects are your distortion, overdrive, or fuzz pedals. Modulation effects include most of the effects we’ve mentioned today, like flanger, chorus, phaser, or vibrato. Finally, time-based effects are pedals like reverb and delay.

Feel free to experiment with where you place different pedals in the group (i.e., placing your chorus before your flanger and phaser, or vise versa.) But, always make sure that you keep these four groups in the order we’ve described above.

If you’d rather see for yourself why this order is important, go ahead and place a delay pedal at the very front of your signal chain, and notice all the weird and unpleasant stuff it does as you’re playing.

What are the top flanger pedal brands?

MXR is perhaps the most iconic flanger manufacturer of all time. This brand has produced some of the most iconic effects on the market, and the arrival of Eddie Van Halen, an MXR endorser, really put their pedals on the map. Their M117R is revered as one of the greatest flangers of all time, and they even have an EVH signature model with Eddie’s signature graphics to pay tribute to the legend who put the flange effect on the map.

Boss is another household name when it comes to effects pedals, and their BF-3 flanger is one of the most popular and best sounding on the market. The BF-3’s predecessor, the BF-2, was the go-to flanger for some of the top guitarists in the world for over twenty years. Thankfully, the BF-3 is all that and then some, and it adds some unique new advancements that were absent from the BF-2. Boss pedals are also backed with an industry leading 5-year warranty.

Earthquaker Devices may not have the instant name recognition of MXR or Boss, but this relatively new company has set the effects world aflame with their incredibly versatile, unique, and highly useful effects pedals. Their Pyramids stereo flanger provides tons of parameters for guitarist’s to manipulate, and it even includes tap tempo, which makes this instantly iconic pedal even more useful.

How much does a good flanger pedal typically cost?

Like most effects, flanger pedals run the gamut in terms of price. You’ll be able to find some bargain-priced options for well under $50, while the most expensive high-end flangers usually fall into the $250-300 range.

There are also a ton of pedals that exist in between those two price points – more expensive than the bargain basement types, but significantly cheaper than the super high-end options. Many guitarists find pedals in the $100-150 range to be the sweet spot where tone and functionality intersect with value.

Your needs and how much you’re willing to spend on a flanger will help dictate which pedal is best for you. We recommend playing as many different flangers as possible before making your decision. Who knows, you may find that a flanger at the bottom end of the price spectrum is perfect for what you’re looking for. Then, you can spend the rest of your money on other gear!

Where can I learn more about flanger pedal?

Strymon produces some of the most impressive and sought-after studio quality effects on the market. The company also offers a very informative blog that has tons of info about every type of effect out there. The article above is a fantastic 101-level crash course in the flange effect.

Reverb.com  is best known as a musical instrument marketplace where players can buy and sell their used gear. It’s an incredibly useful site, and it’s a great way to stretch your dollars further as you can score quality gear at affordable prices. Their blog also provides tons of useful information about flangers, like the article we’ve linked above.

Sweetwater is another resource that no savvy guitarist should be without. While they’re best known as a musical instrument retailer, Sweetwater goes above and beyond when it comes to their product pages, providing players with tons of useful information as well as demo recordings and videos of virtually every piece of gear they sell.

If you’re looking to get a better idea of how a particular flanger or any other piece of gear sounds, but you can’t make it to the store to hear it in person, Sweetwater is the next best thing.

Conclusion

When it comes to guitar effects, you’ll have a hard time finding an effect that’s as versatile, musical, or as fun to experiment with as the flanger. With tons of great options to choose from, you should have no problem finding a great flanger for your playing. Now that you’re armed with all the info you need to make a purchase, go find the perfect flanger for your sound!

Do you use a flanger as part of your pedalboard? Sound off in the comments and let our readers know which you like best!

When shopping for a flanger, many guitarists will also shop for other effects, including:

  • Phaser
  • Chorus
  • Uni-Vibe
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