Introducing the MXR Phase 90
The MXR Phase 90 is a pedal that has been seen on countless pedalboards all around the world. It’s been doing the rounds in the guitar community for over 40 years and it is still a mainstay for guitarists needing a robust and reliable phaser pedal.
The Phase 90 can do everything from a subtle swirl to a fast, laser gun style zapping sound and all things in between. It doesn’t matter if you play funk, rock, pop, soul or metal, you are bound to be able to find something in the Phase 90 that suits your style.
The design of the pedal is simple but striking. A bright orange case and a single knob to control the rate of the effect, there isn’t a lot to learn about using this pedal. It’s simple, to the point and does what it says on the tin. Plugging the pedal in to a clean or distorted amp opens up a world of swirly, phasing guitar tones.
The classic version of the pedal is known as the Script Logo. The words Phase 90 and MXR were written in a leaning, swirly font. This was changed a few years later to a block style logo shortly before MXR declared bankruptcy. In 1984 the brand was resurrected by Jim Dunlop who reissued the classic pedal.
Who Used It?
It’s no surprise that many of the world biggest guitar players have used the Phase 90 are part of their rig over the years. Some have even been awarded signature models such as Eddie Van Halen and Zakk Wylde.
The Eddie Van Halen signature model included the unique EVH stripes artwork and the addition of a small push button to toggle between two distinct tones from the pedal. The classic script era tone and the block logo tone.
Recognised & Notable Users:
- Eddie Van Halen
- David Gilmour
- Jimmy Page
- Zakk Wylde
- Paul Gilbert
How to get the best tone from the MXR Phase 90
Individually, Used as a standalone effect, the Phase 90 can be set to an extreme setting to make your guitar sound turn into a swirling, psychedelic haze. The Phase 90 is often used as a substitute for many players trying to achieve that Jimi Hendrix style UniVibe tone from the 1960s. The swirl of the Phase 90 will get you in the same ballpark.
As part of a rig, Using a Phase 90 subtly can greatly enhance your picking tone while playing lead guitar. Paul Gilbert is noted for this technique which he advises he got from Eddie Van Halen. Setting the Phase 90 on a lower speed will cause the sweep of the effect to happen slower and each time it sweeps around, it will slightly enhance the top end of your tone and bring out your pick attack a little more. This works great when using a Phase 90 as part of a distorted guitar tone or with an overdrive pedal.