Tuesday, February 5, 2013

MXR ZW-90 Wylde Phase Review

I picked up the MXR ZW-90 Wylde Phase a couple of months ago. I've never played with a phaser before, even though a lot of my heroes used them. David Gilmour and Eddie Van Halen are two that come to mind. This pedal is a lot of fun, and is stupidly simple to use and get a good sound out of. It's one knob and one switch, and unless you put it in crazy mode it sounds great. While modulations typically lie between distortions and delays, I like this pedal before my dirt. After the dirt pedals, seems to accentuate the phase and make it harsher. But before makes it a bit more subtle and more like a UniVibe type effect, a UniVibe if you don't know is a type of phaser. On top of that there are quite a few "boutique" manufacturers who are making Vibe type pedals using a modified Phase 90 circuit. More on that later.

The first thing I did was try it at 9 O'clock. It was fairly subtle, just a hint of modulation, adding a little bite to solos and chords, think Eruption. When I ramped it up to 11 o'clock and switched to a clean sound I got a pretty good Pink Floyd "Breathe". This is where I think this pedal starts to shine, for faster songs and longer bends I like to kick it up to around 1 o'clock. Anything past this goes into crazy mode. I'm sure someone is using this but it gets a bit much for me. One thing I'm not crazy about is that if your playing through a warm clean sound that is on the edge of breakup, the mid range on this pedal is so pronounced it will kick you into dirtville. Big hard rock and metal distortion? no problem. But cleans? hmmm you might need to play with your settings. OR...

If your handy with a soldering gun, or know someone who is, just look up Phase 90 mods on Google. Seriously, these sound pretty easy. There are apparently several simple mods that people use to get the more subtle sounding "script logo" effect. There are also some "univibe mods" that sound great. Remember I mentioned that there are some boutique builders using modified phase 90 circuits? Seriously, Google is your friend. As of right now I'm not going to attempt any of these, mainly because my pedal is still under warranty and it sounds great. I might try to do the famous R28 mod after the warranty runs out but I haven't decided yet. As of right now it's my go to pedal when I need things to sound cooler.

So why did I choose the Zakk Wylde signature Phase 90? Honestly, I got a good deal on it. It was cheaper than the standard at the time. I've read that the ZW-90 is the standard Phase 90 with a different paint job and I assume that's true. A quick search on the internet will turn up a lot of guys who like the "Script Logo" Phase 90 much better. It is, by comparison, a somewhat more subtle effect. But the guys at Dulop/MXR have said that a lot of people like the more pronounced version of the pedal better and apparently Zakk does too. So it seems there are multiple versions of this same pedal and a quick jump to YouTube will turn up quite a few comparison videos. If you choose the more subtle Script Logo version you may find it works better between your dirt and delays, let your ears decide. I've met Zakk, and he's a great guy. Despite his crazy larger than life image, he's very down to earth and is a much better musician than some people give him credit for. If your in the market for a new modulation and want something simple but versatile, check out a MXR Phase 90 or watch for a good deal and grab the MXR ZW-90 Wylde Phase .

This review was completely unsolicited, I received no compensation for it and all views and opinions are my own.

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