The Many Phasers of Electro-Harmonix

I love phasers. They can add so much flavor and color to guitars, bass, keyboards and vocals, or anything you run through them. I also love Electro-Harmonix pedals, so naturally, I want to talk about EHX phasers. Few pedal companies have a legacy as rich as EHX. They’ve given us so many gems in every stompbox category, and phasers are no exception. Whether you want full control over every parameter, combined with stereo capability, or an idiot-proof pedal with one knob, there is something in the Electro-Harmonix phaser family for you. Let’s go on a whirly journey and check out the phasers of Electro-Harmonix.

Small Stone

If you’re anything like me, there may be a few pieces of gear you’ve bought more than once. You played it, loved it, sold it for some reason, and when you came to your senses, bought it again. The piece of gear I’ve bought more than anything else is the Small Stone. One of the first pedals I ever had, I sent it to AnalogMan to have it modified to fix the volume loss, as older versions tend to have this issue. I loved it, but sold it because I was sure I needed to try something else. I’m happy to say I currently own one—again modded by AnalogMan—and it even has the old EHX wooden box, with which I’m obsessed. The single Rate knob and Color switch are all I need, and to my ears, there’s nothing like the sweet sound of the Small Stone with the color switch engaged. The rich, luscious, and deep phasing adds so much flavor to chords, arpeggios, and solos, and I absolutely love it combined with some reverb. I could play clean for days with that combination. I love that it has one knob, one switch, and is housed in a large metal enclosure. I love everything about it. There are several versions of the Small Stone, and they mostly do the same thing, with the differences being that some of them have true bypass and some don’t. EHX currently produces the Nano Small Stone, which I also purchased. It’s a great pedal, but the only one I really use is the original big box version. It does everything from slow, subtle whooshes to wild ray gun sounds, and it will never leave my pedalboard again.

Bad Stone

The Bad Stone stepped things up a couple notches with the addition of Feedback and Manual Shift knobs, allowing for greater overall control of the phase tone. Whereas the Small Stone is a four-stage phaser, the Bad Stone is a six-stage phaser. The Manual Shift function lets you freeze the phase tone, adding another dimension of sound of which the simpler Small Stone is not capable. A toggle switch lets you choose between standard phasing and manual modes, giving you the best of both worlds. Like the Small Stone, the Bad Stone is available in Nano form, so you can have the glory of the Bad Stone on your board without taking up too much space or spending much money. Even if you have another phaser, the Bad Stone is worth checking out just for the Manual Shift mode, as it offers some unique sounds you won’t be able to find anywhere else.

Flanger Hoax

With its expansive control set and ability to do wild phaser and flanger sounds, the Flanger Hoax is no joke. If you’re one of those players who loves tweaking knobs—and the Small Stone and Bad Stone just aren’t going to do it for you—the Flanger Hoax has everything you need and more. Two phase modes—fixed and swept—can be merged with a modulator section, as well controls for blend and feedback, to create a ton of phasing textures. The Swept Phaser section has its own set of controls, allowing you to tailor the sound even further. The Flanger Hoax also features direct, blended, and effect outputs, so you can incorporate it into your stereo setup or mixing board. If you only use phaser on one song in your set, this is probably a bit much for you. This pedal is for the sonic adventurer who doesn’t mind devoting time to learning how to harness the power it possesses.

Stereo Polyphase

If the Flanger Hoax is too much for you, but you still need more control than the Stones can offer you, the Stereo Polyphase may just be the ticket. Feedback, gain, and rate knobs allow for basic phase sculpting, while start and stop knobs allow you to choose the range of the phasing. Another knob allows you to choose between envelope, LFO, and expression pedal modes, with a toggle switch that chooses between different settings for the envelope and LFO modes. And since stereo is in the name, you know you’ll be able to create lush sonic landscapes by plugging into two amplifiers. You can also use an expression pedal with it, making this a very versatile phaser. Sadly, the Stereo Polyphase has been discontinued, but there are plenty available on the used market . . . for now.

The Worm

The Worm is a unique analog multi-modulation pedal. It features wah, phaser, tremolo and vibrato modes, and you can select between auto and manual or expression pedal modes. Featuring a simple control set with range and rate knobs, it’s easy to dial in some no-nonsense phase tones. This is a great option for the player who wants some phaser options, but not too much. The rate and range controls, combined with the ability to use an expression pedal, give you some flexibility, but it there isn’t a learning curve like there is with the PolyPhase or Flanger Hoax. Add in the other effect types, and you’ve got yourself a modulation pedal that will cover a lot of tonal territory when you need it to. The Worm is available in both XO and old-school big box variations, and like the PolyPhase, it requires 24 volts for power, so you’ll probably want to use the provided EHX adapter.

Now that you’re caught up on the phaser offerings of EHX, which one is right for you? If you’re after sweet, simple whoosh that can add color to Gilmour-esque solos and make clean chords sound mystical, the Small Stone will get you that and more. The Bad Stone can do sounds akin to the Small Stone, and with its manual shift capability, you have another dimension of phase that can take your playing in a different direction when you decide it’s time to go there. The Flanger Hoax is a wild beast waiting to be tamed by only the bravest of stompbox explorers. Some guitarists don’t have the patience for that many knobs, but it may be just what you’re looking for. Plus, you’ve gotta love that big metal box. The Stereo Polyphase could be the sweet spot for you if you need a lot of control but nothing too esoteric, and you obviously get bonus points for using a pedal that has been discontinued. Lastly, The Worm is a terrific choice if you don’t need anything wild and crazy, but just want to do a little phasing here and there. Also, it’s named The Worm, so there’s that. Whatever EHX phaser you decide to use, I hope it brings you as much joy as my Small Stone has brought me, and I hope you never let it go.

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