History of the Flanger
The flanger pedal originated from studio flanging effects achieved by recording engineers. This process begins with a finished music track recorded simultaneously to two matching tape decks, then replayed with both decks in sync. The two recorders playback heads are then mixed to a third recorder. The engineer slows down one recorder by lightly pressing a finger on the flange of one of the playback reels. The one recorder remains slightly behind the other when the finger is removed. By pressing a finger on the flange of the other deck, the effect sweeps back in the other direction as the decks progress towards being in sync. This process is called “reel flange” and causes the flanging effects.
The first pioneers to use flanging
Les Paul discovered the effect in the late 1940s. Flanging heard in the opening of The Ventures 1962 cover of The Tornados’ “Telstar”, in a rocket launch sound effect. John Lennon asked Abbey Road recording engineer Ken Townsend if there was some way for the Beatles to get the sound of double-tracked vocals without doing the work. In the spring of 1966, Townsend devised Artificial double tracking. It was Lennon who first called the technique “flanging”.
The flanger pedal
The first dedicated flanger pedals appeared in the seventies with the MXR and Electro Harmonix “Electric Mistress”. These pedals came out to replicate the flanging effect without having to bring tape machines out to the gig. This gave guitar players the popular effect but in a convenient pedal size that fit on your pedal board. Other popular flanger pedals are the Boss BF-3 and the MXR EVH117 Van Halen Flanger Pedal.
Players and songs featuring the flanger pedal
Jimi Hendrix “Bold As Love”
Thin Lizzy “The Rocker”
Lenny Kravitz: “Are You Gonna Go My Way“
Van Halen”Unchained”, “Ain’t Talkin’ bout Love”, “Atomic Punk”,
Led Zeppelin “Nobody’s Fault But Mine”
Check out this quick AMS tutorial, from Freddy DeMarco, on how to dial-in your flanger pedal