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Anatomy of Guitar Tone: Phase Pedal Before Distortion Pedal

Hi, this is Mark Marshall with and

In this week’s episode of Anatomy of Guitar Tone, I want to talk about using a phaser pedal in front of a distortion pedal.

I did this to simulate a little bit of a cocked wah vibe, and for those of you that don’t know what a cocked wah is, that is when you take your wah wah and you place it on, but you find a fixed position to leave it in. You might sweep until you find what a lot of people would call the sweet spot. Mick Ronson from David Bowie’s band Ziggy Stardust, the Hunky Dory era used to do that, and Frank Zappa is well known for doing that.

What’s cool about using the phaser pedal instead of a wah is it goes through a couple of stages. It doesn’t just stay fixed. I was using this ripple jam pedal. It’s actually called The Ripple. It’s a phase 45 style phaser, and it — that means it goes through two stages of phase.

I like that because it didn’t — the sweep isn’t super broad, and I placed that before this Empress Heavy pedal, which I was using to kind of emulate a little bit of an 80’s kind of JCM800 vibe.

I have the gate on minimal. What settings do I have it on here… I have it on what’s called normal, which just clamps down, but it’s not super aggressive. It’s a very musical gate, I will say, on this pedal.

I didn’t have the gain up too high or anything too fancy about it. I was running into this Headstrong Lil King Reverb.


[guitar, phase on]

[guitar, phase off]

I came about this sound recently when I was writing a cue for a television show, and they were requesting something with a bit of an early to mid-80’s vibe, so I was going for kind of that big guitar sound.

Recently, I had done another video where I talked about the placement of a phaser in your signal chain, and I’m not going to show that example in this video, but you can check out my video where I place the phaser before and after an overdrive to hear how that affects the tonality of a guitar.


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Mark Marshall

Mark Marshall

Mark Marshall is a producer, songwriter, session musician and instructor based in NYC. More at

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