Chorus, Flange and Phaser are all great effects – but which are the best modulated guitar tones ever?
There are times as a guitarist when, upon hearing an amazing guitar tone, you can’t help but think ‘how did they make it sound like that?’
For me, as a young player, it was often modulation effects that made my jaw drop. The rich, glimmering, whooshy, spacey noises that chorus, flange and phaser could produce seemed like they were from another planet.
In tribute to these amazing effects here are five of the best modulated guitar tones.
Nirvana – Come As You Are
The detuned, watery main riff from ‘Come As You Are’ is instantly recognisable. What was behind it? The distinctive, lush chorus produced by Electro Harmonix’s Small Clone pedal. Combined with Kurt’s guitar tuning (dropped half a step), this resulted in a tone that was lush, yet alien.
Soundgarden – Black Hole Sun
Another of the most famous of all modulated guitar tones to appear in the early ‘90s was the riff from Soundgarden’s ‘Black Hole Sun’. The unique tone has a quality that sits somewhere between a bell and an organ. The latter comes as no surprise, as a Leslie cabinet was used to produce it.
If you’re looking for a similar, vintage vibe, I suspect a Roland Space Chorus might be just the job…
The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Bold As love
It was during the recording of his second album that Hendrix truly started to experiment with effect. Virtuoso that he was, he always seemed to use them in a way that enhanced his creative expression. The outro to ‘Bold As Love’ is a great example. As the phaser/ flange takes over, it sounds like the whole band is heading off into space.
Led Zeppelin – Nobody’s Fault But Mine
The intro to Led Zep’s ‘Nobody’s Fault But Mine’, is just about as lush and shimmering as modulated guitar tones get. Apparently, it was achieved by combining layers of guitars, some of which were run through flangers, some through phasers. So deep, you could swim in it…
The O-Jays – For The Love Of Money
Proof that mod effects are not just for guitarists comes in the form of the O-Jays classic, ‘For The Love Of Money’. Anthony Jackson’s laser-guided funk bass riff may well one of the best bass riffs ever recorded, too. Sampled by countless of artists over the years, the flange added more movement to a bass lick that already swung like a particularly loosely fitted pendulum.
Joe is a contributor for the Dawsons Music blog. Specialising in product reviews and crafting content to help and inspire musicians of all musical backgrounds.