A Seventies MXR flanger pedal was the first effect in Ed's signal chain from his guitar to the amp, and he used it to provide dramatic, jet-like wooshes on songs like "And the Cradle Will Rock" (on both guitar and electric piano) and "Unchained."
The MXR Flanger was discontinued in the early Eighties, forcing Van Halen fanatics to pay jacked-up vintage prices for an original unit. In the mid Nineties, Jim Dunlop introduced a reissue of the original MXR Flanger to the relief of cash-strapped Halenites, but now they've gone one better with the MXR EVH Flanger, which has earned a thumbs-up from the man himself.
LIKE MXR'S EVH Phase 90, the EVH Flanger is not an exact copy of the original unit but rather an updated version with a special switch that provides access to Van Halen's signature sounds. On the Flanger, the switch engages a preset that duplicates the same manual, width, speed and regeneration settings Ed used on "Unchained" (actually, these are the settings he always used on his flanger). Unlike the original unit and the reissue, the EVH Flanger operates on two nine-volt batteries, although you can also use an optional 18-volt adapter. A red LED lets you know when the flanger is engaged, and a yellow LED beneath the EVH switch lights up when the preset is turned on.
I COMPARED THE EVH Flanger with an original MXR unit, and the two sound virtually indistinguishable. If anything, the EVH unit sounds slightly more aggressive, producing a more dramatic jetlike effect, and that's probably because the 30-year-old electronics in the original are getting a little tired. The EVH switch absolutely nails the "Unchained" sound. Just tune your guitar to drop D, crank your amp all the way up and wail away on those suspended chords.
THE BOTTOM LINE
IF YOUR ONLY goal in life is to duplicate Van Halen's guitar sounds to a tee, the EVH Flanger is essential. Ed's even replaced the vintage unit in his pedalboard with this version. But the EVH Flanger is also a great choice if you're looking to create your own sound, as it provides stellar flanging effects from jet streams to warbling, warped tremolo and bizarro metallic tones. Z