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MXR ZW90 Wylde Phase MXRZW90 Wylde Phase

This classic vintage phaser promises to inject some grind into your tone, with a little help from Ozzy Osbourne’s former lead guitarist, Zakk Wylde!

Words: Tim Slater

Last month Playmusic reviewed the MXR Custom ‘78 Badass Distortion and M234 Analogue Chorus, two classic ‘meat and potatoes’ stomp boxes whose circuitry backs up those big vintage style tones with subtle modern upgrades that help to improve both pedals’ performance.

MXR also does big business with


SRP £139.00

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JHS Ltd T:


01132 865 381

its range of vintage reissue pedals that capture the evocative look and sound of the original MXR effects from the 1970s and the new ZW90 Wylde Phase is closely based on the MXR Phase 90 but with an added twist courtesy of its place among the massive heap of signature effects endorsed by Zakk Wylde, the impressively hirsute and fleet- fingered former Ozzy Osbourne lead guitarist and current leader of US metal band Black Label Society. Wylde’s take-no-prisoners stance

is reflected in his signature phaser’s battered industrial appearance. Compared to the standard bright orange MXR Phase 90, the ZW90 has a distressed steel shell topped off by a faux-aged screen print that simulates the appearance of a pedal that’s seen more than its fair share of on-stage action. It definitely looks great on your pedal board and being such a compact design it won’t take up too much room in your rig, either.

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Phase and means Performance-wise this is about as lo-tech as it gets: the phasing rate is controlled by the single large rotary knob on the top and a bright red LED indicates when the effect is on; not that you’d have much trouble distinguishing your dry signal from the rich and very powerful sounding phasing effects. Phasing isn’t a widely used effect these days but before chorus pedals first appeared on the market guitarists would often use phasing to enhance their playing with atmospheric swirling modulations. Check out virtually any pre-1977 Rush LP and you’ll find Alex Lifeson’s tone swimming in an abundance of lush phasing, plus Eddie Van Halen famously used an MXR Phase 90 on his 1978 instrumental tour de force, Eruption. At higher modulation rates the phasing isn’t really useful for anything beyond a pulsating

psychedelic burble but slower speeds place the phasing effects less obtrusively into your mix. Zakk Wylde himself positions the rate control around 9 o’clock for a very slow phase that nevertheless adds a dramatic sweep to power chords and high-energy flurries of single notes. However, this phaser doesn’t really do ‘subtle’ and its ear-pricking presence can quickly begin to wear thin after a while. The thick phasing effects don’t sound a million miles away from a vintage Uni-Vibe (another pedal offered by MXR’s owners, Jim Dunlop) but the ZW90 phaser doesn’t really work as a chorus substitute, sounding rather too heavy and dark. Used sparingly, the ZW90’s dramatic wobble virtually guarantees that it will always provide a welcome injection of vintage phasing whenever you need a little extra something to help give your guitar tone a real kick. PM


There is virtually no difference in sound between the ZW90 and the standard MXR Phase 90 pedal and the Zakk Wylde phaser costs around a tenner extra. Still, if you prefer the distressed look of the Zakk Wylde phaser there is no reason why you shouldn’t go for it. Not an essential purchase, perhaps, but still one that will justify its place in your set up by delivering some of the meatiest sounding phasing effects you’re ever likely to hear.

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