MXR Flanger

Whether implemented with surgical precision—such as Edward Van Halen’s jet swooshes on “Unchained”—or slathered on nearly every note (Pat Travers, I’m looking at you), flanging is a formidable effect. Personally, I’ve always given flanging the same respect I give hot red peppers. Used judiciously, both can add a wonderful zing to whatever they’re sprinkled on. But if you use too much, you’ve ruined everything, and, frankly, I start to cry.
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Thankfully, the MXR M-117R Flanger ($250 retail/street N/A), an updated reissue of MXR’s classic ’80s unit, is capable of some subtle, sleight-of-hand textures, as well as some more whacked-out perversions that should make any sonic sicko as giddy as a pre-teen girl. Powered via two 9-volt batteries or the supplied 18-volt adapter, the MXR Flanger is built like a brick—albeit a silvery metal-flake brick that offers Manual, Width, Speed, and Regeneration controls. Running the pedal in front of a Fender Twin Reverb, I was able to conjure everything from a metallic-sounding space-age vibrato to a slow, swirling modulation that was syrupy enough to make you rethink ever using a chorus pedal again. Of course, I was also able to dial-in all of the weird, semi-ring modulation madness that any good flanger delivers, as well as some seriously wrong clanks that sounded like an alien steel-drum ensemble. But the thing about the MXR Flanger is that it does all of the above superbly and quietly. Running in front of my cranked 50-watt Marshall, I was expecting the sounds of a wind tunnel the minute I kicked the pedal on. But thanks to a revamped circuit, which sports a compander, the unit produces a minimal amount of hissy background junk. So if you’re simply looking for another shade of subtle modulation, or an over-the-top noisemaker, or both, the MXR Flanger undoubtedly has your number.