At the moment flanger pedals are rather unpopular- maybe because they have been used far too often in the 80s or maybe because of their distinctive sound.
But not all flange effects are equal and depending on the way of use a flange effect can sound quite interesting.
The first flange effects were generated manually by varying the tape speed.
The addition of the wet signal to the dry signal caused phase cancellation.
This interesting effect gave some kind of vividness to the sound and – used pretty subtle- was able to enrich certain song parts.
Like you can read in my article about modulation, the first flanger pedals have been produced in the 70s.
Like a delay, a flanger delays the signal.
But this effect has only a very short delay time of 0.5- 16ms.
By this the delay first is hardly recognizable.
Only the modulation of the delay (say, its extension or shortening) creates the flange effect.
Ideally you could use a flanger to enrich the signal in a subtle way and to add three-dimensionality to the sound (as you can hear on old tape recordings).
Frequently the flanger is used like a chorus for the clean parts of the guitar play.
But it will get really exciting when a flanger modulates an overdriven guitar.
By a subtle setting you can emphasize the overtones and the guitar will sound punchier.
An extreme setting will give you a so- called jet flanger.
The repeat knob in full clockwise position will cause to a loudly audible wet signal. The sound is reminiscent of a jet.
This setting of the repeat knob will also make self-oscillation of the flanger possible and thereby create a sound that is similar to a whale song.
With the originally technique of using a tape recorder one could also create the legendary “through zero” flange effect.
Although both tapes are recorded on the same track you can vary the speed of one of the tapes. The moment, when both tapes are exactly the same speed creates phase cancellation (by phase shifting).
Until than flanger pedals were unable to produce this phenomenon because they reproduced the wet signal delayed.
The first through-zero flanger pedal was the Foxrox Paradox TZF which was able to create the legendary sound of the 60s.
Recently the Strymon Deco, the Chase Bliss Audio Spectre, the Mr. Black Tunnelworm and the Catalinbread Zero Point are worth mentioning.
But of course, many multi effect pedals are also capable to produce this effect.
Classical flanger pedals
Flanger pedals that are based on the analog technique of the 70s are the A/DA Flanger, the MXR Flanger and the Electro Harmonix Electric Mistress.
These pedals are virtually unchanged since their introduction and are prime examples of good flanger pedals.