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In this part of our effects series, we look at modulation pedals - the different types and where you might have heard them before.
Probably the most common modulation pedal heard on records is the chorus pedal. More often used on a clean guitar tone, it gives the effect of more than one guitar playing at once, and gives a lovely, shimmering effect. You can hear this on countless songs, one of the most famous being 'Message In a Bottle' by The Police. It isn't only used on clean tones however; Zakk Wylde is known to use it while blazing away on his solos.
The phase effect was probably brought to the attention of the masses by players such as Eddie Van Halen, who practically stuck it on and left it there! It's a subtle effect in a lot of cases, but in the intro to Pink Floyd's 'Have A Cigar', you get a true feeling for what this effect can do. A swirly, lush and often psychedelic sound, it's well worth experimenting with.
Tremolo effects go back a long way, and the earliest examples were achieved using the legendary Leslie speaker, extensively by bands such as Pink Floyd. It has the effect of reducing the amplitude of a signal at regular intervals. One famous example is in The Smiths famous track "How Soon Is Now".
The flanger is that crazy, whooshy aeroplane effect you can hear on many records, notably Rage Against The Machine's 'Killing In the Name' and the intro to the Blue Oyster Cult's 'She Sells Sanctuary'. It creates the effect of raising and lowering intensity, and can add a real '3D' effect to your sound.
This is by no means an extensive list, as there are other 'modulation' effects that overlap into the 'filters' category, dealt with in a previous article.
Best thing we can recommend is you come into store and try some out for yourself. You never know, it might take your songwriting in a completely unexpected direction!