By: Robert Cavuoto
Here is a perfect example of a forgotten and underrated guitar pedal that should be an essential pedal in everyone’s board, the MXR Vintage 1974 Phase 90. If you don’t have one, you’re probably wondering what it does and how it can benefit your playing?
The MXR Phase 90 is most widely known for contributing to the sound of so many legendary players like Eddie Van Halen, Brian May, and Jimmy Page, but many newer players who I have spoken to like Mike Orlando of Adrenaline Mob and Michael Wilton of Queensrÿche told me that the Phase 90 is a staple for them.
I have tried many phase shifting pedals over the years but really recommend the MXR Phase 90 not only because of its great sound but because of its simplicity. The Phase 90 adds a unique swelling body and tone to any song. It accentuates and flavors the sound regardless of the style of music. There aren’t many pedals that I can say that about. I tend to use the slower speed swells for rhythm playing and the faster speeds for leads. The Phase 90 has a nice way of waving and blending music smoothly and consistently. It even has a way of making mistakes less noticeable…well almost. No matter what style of music you play this pedal can give you a full bodied sound with a funky bite. With the knob positioned at 9 o’clock, you can get a really warm swell that adds punch to your playing. When dialing the knob to 5 o’clock, it sounds killer on Malmesteen type of arpeggios.
I love the fact that the pedal only has one knob so I can easily use my foot to dial up the speed between lead and rhythm without fiddling with multiple knobs and settings during a gig.
I prefer using this pedal in the middle of a distortion pedal and an EQ pedal. This pedal sounds best at a lower speed on all my playing (lead or rhythm). Every time my guitar is plugged in, this pedal is on! When it is removed, there is an emptiness in the sound and tone that is quite noticeable
With so many plastic pedals on the market it’s refreshing that MXR continues to make their pedals out of metal. It’s a very quiet pedal with little to no noise even connected in sequence to my other pedals. It works with a battery as well as AC adapter but I always I feel that using a battery is a waste, as it gets drained quickly and not green for the environment. I recommend using the AC power to receive a consistent sound at maximum threshold.
I promise once you try this pedal you will be wondering how you ever lived without it.