Flanger VS Phaser – What Is The Difference? Understand The Key Points

If you have landed in this page, then that means you were looking for the difference between Flanger and Phaser. Well, lets discuss about this now. Phaser, Chorus and Flanger are the Holy Trinity of guitar pedals, they discovered the immense world of stompboxes or guitar pedals.

Instead of comparing all 3, we are simply going to provide you with the answer to the difference between Flanger and Phaser or let them put it in a cooler way and go with Phaser vs Flanger. 


I admit that it can be tricky to tell the difference. More often than not, I have been confusing one with the other. I was guessing a chorus to be a Flanger and a Flanger to be a Phaser. It happens to the most of us. These are all quite similar and no one is denying that.

Let us first address how they differ from a scientific perspective:

What is Flanging?

Flanging is an effect that is achieved by using differential delays that cause cancellation in the frequency spectrum of the signal. For more details check what is a Flanger pedal and what does it do article.

What is Phasing?

Phasing uses electronic phase-shift networks to generate cancellations in the frequency spectrum of a signal.

Did that help you? Well, for most of you, that probably did not help you, but I am sure someone might appreciate that bit of science.

Well, what is similar between these 2 is that both of them belong to the same family of modulation effects. So, in order to truly understand Flanging and Phaser, we must understand what modulation is?

What is modulation?

Retaking the scientific route, the definition we get is: Modulation is the process of varying one or more properties of a periodic waveform, called the ‘carrier signal,’ with a modulating signal.

I somewhat get it, but the real effect is still pretty blurry. The best way to explain a modulation effect is to think of it this way: A modulation effect takes the signal coming from your guitar and altering it in such a way that it is musical and somewhat symmetrical.

Flanging and Phasing both are modulation effects and with the clarity of what a modulation effect is, we know what these two do. They modify the guitar signal in a way that makes the sound not only be different, but stay musical (that of course, is entirely subjective honestly). Let us discuss Flanger Vs Phaser more in-depth.


Guitarist use Flanger pedal for rock and metal concerts to bring the metallic effects, ranging from the 80's and current times.

Many classic, legendary riffs feature this effect but, at least in my opinion, Barracuda by Heart is the one it is most remembered for. When people compare the sound of a Flanger pedal to that of a jet engine, yeah, it will be a big hit.

Flanger vs Phaser

The origins of the Flanger pedal are debated and I could not find any reliable sources that gave information about who and where it was invented. However, I did read somewhere that Les Paul himself created the effect and I think that is quite fitting. A legend in the guitar community invents a classic, fan-favorite effect.

how FLANGER work?

Enough with the complementaries, how does it work? We discussed the scientific definition, but neither you (I hope) nor I am a scientist. Let’s see if I can explain it better:

  • Flanger takes the original signal and divides it into multiple layers.
  • Then, slightly, it delays them. It delays them by a couple of milliseconds (which can be adjusted but more on that later).
  • As you are playing, this delay is altered over time, which causes the harmonics produced to phase cancel and result in that jet-like sound.


Let’s talk about the Phaser. These two effects are often confused with one another simply because, well, they sound alike. There’s no big brain strategy required here to accept that. They say so alike because the effect is generated in quite a similar way. However, they are different and a trained ear can tell the difference.

Artist use
Phaser for prominent figures of music. Used by many guitarists from all genres, most famously, I would argue its use in the Eruption solo by Eddie Van Halen. Whatever your thoughts are about Van Halen, that counts for a lot.

Unlike Flanger, phaser pedals usually have 1 or 2 controls, namely Rate, that which determines the speed of that ‘swooshing’ and sometimes Depth, which controls the intensity of the effect. Different manufactures offer more controls like, in some, you will find Resonance and Mode. Overall, Rate and Depth are the ones you mainly have to worry about.

how PHASER work?

  • Phasing is a frequency-based phase delay, unlike in Flanging, where there is a time-based time delay.
  • The signal it receives is split into two.
  • The duplicate is taken and put through modulation all-pass filters where its frequency is altered and there is a change in its phase.
  • The original and the duplicate signal are then mixed, thus creating than sweepy, swooshing sound.


So, that brings us to the question: Phaser vs Flanger. Which is better? Of course, neither! They are both ways of artistic expression and one cannot be deemed better than the other without an objective standpoint; music is entirely subjective. Which one is better? Whichever one you prefer. I hope this article was of help and you now understand both these effects better.

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