Phasers… a strange and wonderful would only matched by chorus pedals. I’ve had a few phasers, MXR, EXH, but I was never really happy with the tonality or the limits. The PH-3 offers some great advantages but also some major drawbacks. Let us begin with the positive…
The PH-3 has a wonderful selection of phasers beginning with a 4 step landing all the way to a 12 step. Added to that you also have a step filter type effect and a rise and fall option. These multiple options might seem great but you’ll quickly see that only a handful actually sound as good as they should.
The standard Phase90 MXR pedal is based on a 4 stage filter and is the common pedal used by many of the greats. As a result the pedal has given phasers a very specific tone to have to match. The setting on this phaser sounds similar but for whatever reason has a severe signal drop. The result is a useless setting unless you’re willing to take the drop or run a boost immediately after. One setting down..
I find I tend to use the 12 stage setting most. No signal drop, and a lush phaser sound, more modern and more progressive. The fall and rise are also wonderful especially if you enjoy playing funk. It’s really the 4 stage that burns my bridges.
Why release a pedal that has the ability to match your competitors but has this terrible drop in signal? Like honestly why? It’s really not cool!
Anyway, aside from one pointless setting this pedal does do the phaser sound well. You’ll here it in full use on Come On Baby when the lead up to the solo occurs, and throughout the solo as well. Mixd in with the panning feature on the Dunlop Tremolo, the pedal really does add some amazing depth and distance in the mix.
I do find that phasers are really a one trick pony for most guitarists now, and probably due to the heavy use in most 80s metal and rock groups (EVH…). I always think of Led Zeppelin’s “The Rover” as a great example of a phaser being used properly. It’s part of the main mix but used in a way that doesn’t overshadow the tone and feeling of the piece. Another great example is the Red Hot Chili Peppers song “Throw Away Your Television”. I tried to do the same for my work, adding rather than overtaking. I hope it comes across that way.
Also, if you’re a Black Key’s fan you’ll want to note this pedal is the one of choice… if you phase that way.