Thursday, January 7, 2010

Top Finds of 2009 / Moonphaser

We discovered, got to test, and were introduced to lots of a great gear this past year. In all the years I have been playing music never have I seen so much great quality, great sounding, and such innovative gear. It seemed like everywhere we looked there was another great company just waiting to be discovered. Out of all the killer gear we featured there were a few pieces that stood out, jumped out, and really caught our attention. Now we're not saying anything was better than anything else, or placing anything above or below anything else. After all, it is about preference right? What this month is about is us sharing that gear that was special to us for one reason or another. One of the Top Finds for me personally was Moonphase Guitar Electronics. I came across the Moonphase outfit a few months back while doing some hunting for phase shifters. A few weeks before this we had started getting emails from our readers asking us if we knew of any companies that were building great vintage sounding phasers. So I began to dig, and low and behold there it was, the Moonphaser. It was a handful of great reviews and articles that first caught my attention, then on the Moonphaser website I got hear some pretty damn impressive sound clips. I said to myself, "If this pedal sounds this good through a couple of MP3's it must sound even better up close and personal." The rest is history, I contacted David Cartwright and we worked out a review. From the moment I plugged into this pedal I fell in love with it. What can I say? This is one stunning stompbox.


Moonphase Guitar Electronics
Little Shelford
Cambridge, UK
Builder: David Cartwright
Years in the Game: 8

Analogue Phase Shifter

* Rich Spatial Effect
* Vintage Liquid Tone
* Six-Stage Phasing Circuit
* True Bypass Switching
* LED Power Indication
* LED Phasing Speed Indication
* 8 Seconds per Cycle - 6 Cycles per Second
* Long Internal Battery Life
* 2 Year Warranty
* Handbuilt in England


The Moonphaser's sound is straight up 100% vintage and tone-to-the-bone full of soul. With absolute ease I was able to dial into both the psychedelic and classic rock eras. It is so important (at least for me it is) to have a phase shifter that isn't going to sound robotic or sharp. You have no idea how many phasers I have gone through looking for the right feel, "feel" is the key word here. This six-stage mono phaser will deliver a swimming-swirling, warm yet clear, evenly balanced phase shifting effect that will rival any vintage phase unit. Believe you me, I have been around lots of different great sounding vintage units and this baby can easily hold it's own. The Moonphaser's layout is very simple, one Speed knob, one Depth knob, and that's that. For an extra touch of class both knobs are made of steel and not plastic. Each control is very responsive, accurate, and will cover a lot of ground. I was able to find usable sounds throughout the entire range of both controls, and able to get both classic and modern tones. You can go from intense mind boggling phase shifting and rotary speaker sounds, to airy accents and subtle breathing effects for livening up your sound. The pedal can be powered by both 9V alkaline battery or 9Vdc power supply. The Moonphaser's guts are based around a 70's design, and uses NOS components for an ultimate classic feel. There are two LED's on board, one which indicates the bypassed and active modes, and the other pulsating the phase shifting speed. This makes for easy gigging and dialing in on the fly. Everything is housed in a heavy duty enclosure with simple, straight to the point artwork. The black and grey art design give it a slick look that works for me any day. Last the Moonphaser is true bypass and is designed/hand built in England. It is damn near impossible to find or hear any flaws in this pedal. The Moonphaser is all no frills, and no bull.

It was apparent from the get-go this was no ordinary phase shifter. Even before I plugged it in and turned it on I could see by it's construction that this was going to be a delight to play through. One of the many problems players have with phasers these days is that once they're engaged they can tend to eat away the meat & potatoes of your tone. Your lows disappear, mids become weak, which make all the high frequencies in the phasing effect sound shrill and piercing. This is why vintage units are so appealing, because of their rich'n'full tone. These are the kinds of phase shifters you hear all over classic rock albums. Then again there are a few drawbacks that come with vintage units. Either they aren't made to last, or their designs are inconsistent. This means you never knew if you were gonna get a good unit or a bad one. With the Moonphaser all of these negatives are banished. You get a great sounding, great performing phase shifter that will deliver from stage to stage, and studio to studio. I started out with my main gigging axe and amp, dialed in the cleanest/sweetest guitar tone, and put the Moonphaser to work. First up to bat was my 4x10 Deville and Custom Telecaster. I started out with the pedal's knobs set all the way down and guitar in it's neck pickup. The Moonphaser produced a subtle effect that added just enough phasing to my tone to give it some extra character and depth. The balance between my root tone and phase effect was beautiful. I was stunned at how transparent the pedal was, I flipped back and fourth from on & off and noticed 0% change in my root tone. This makes for great gigging and awesome recording. I went ahead and added in a bit more Depth and got one of the sweetest rhythm guitar tones I've ever heard come from my amp. Usually I'm not too big on using phasers to add body and size to my sound, I'm more of a tremolo or vibe guy when it comes to that. The Moonphaser has changed everything. It actually adds this subtle hint of low frequency that makes your tone stand out a bit more. This is great for those of you who use phasers in your lead tone and need to stand out from the mix. I actually started writing down settings as I was testing the pedal so I could go back and use them, you can never be too short of great sounding tones. Next I flipped into the guitar's bridge pickup, set the Moonphaser's Speed to about 50% and Depth at around 25%. This produced a perfect universal phasing effect that worked great with everything I threw at it. I added in one of my favorite overdrivers to the signal chain which created a world of swirling grit and liquid. One thing is for sure, the Moonphaser is definitely a pedal friendly unit. Many phasers will take over any effect you throw at them, making things either too weak or too harsh. This pedal was able to hold it's own through both cold and hot overdrive settings, screeching lead tones, and even sounded nice combined with fuzz boxes. It was nice to see none of the grit, distortion, or fuzz disappeared into thin air once I added in the Moonphaser. I went back to the clean tone and bumped both the Moonphaser's Speed and Depth knobs up to a good 50%. Again my root tone stayed right on target while the pedal went to work producing it's golden sound. In this setting I was able to reproduce some of the coolest David Gilmour phase shifting effects. If you're a Floyd fan like I am you will absolutely dig this pedal to the fullest. There is a trippy, hallucinogenic, multi-colored vibe to this pedal which makes it the perfect candidate for psychedelic music. That's the thing about a great phaser, you want it to give you visuals when listening to music, that's what kind of an effect the phase shifter is. Even when I jumped everything up to more extreme settings the phase effect stayed usable. Not once did I get a corny, cartoony, or overboard sound from the Moonphaser. I believe it's this pedal's ability to keep your root tone intact that makes it such a usable unit. The sweep of this pedal's phase effect is addicting! You'll find yourself inspired and moved to expand your playing into uncharted areas. If you're looking for a phase shifter that's gonna last, make it easy to deliver the sounds you want it to, and hand you a bit of yesterday's vibe. The Moonphaser is it. It sounds great through clean tones, dirty tones, and mixes well with other effects. To find a studio quality phaser in a stompbox these days is not easy. I'm sure you all know how expensive things can get when searching for the right modulation effects. The Moonphaser easily sits up top of the list of stompboxes that will be hunted down in the years to come, by which I mean this will be a collector's item. I am very excited to see what else David Cartwright comes up with in the future. In fact there is a overdrive/distortion unit in the works from Moonphase Guitar Electronics as we speak. I can only imagine how tuff of a pedal that will be. Until then we will stay patient and continue to fix on this magnificent pedal known as the Moonphaser. "Keep'em coming David we're more than ready for them."


For info on Moonphase Guitar Electronics go to or click the direct link in our sidebar. Make sure to keep an eye out for more from this killer company.

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