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Ibanez CF7 floor effect unit chorus / flanger
Audio sample: Flanger with a guitar
Audio sample: synthesizer with flanger

The flanger (from English flange , flange , projecting edge) is an effect in electronic music that is used to influence the sound and is used for sound effects .


With the flanger, the input signal is first divided into two signal branches, which are fed to a mixer with a time delay. The time delay is continuously varied over a small range (approx. 1 to 20 milliseconds), which results in small fluctuations in the pitch up and down. The superimposition of the unchanged original signal results in interferences ( comb filter effect ) which “wander” due to the varying time delay and thus ensure a dynamic sound image. The sound impression is often described as synthetic, psychedelic or "spacey".

The strength of the feedback, i.e. the portion of the effect that is processed again, can usually be finely adjusted and has a great influence on the sound.

Since the mid-1970s, flangers (as well as sound-related phasers ) have been used by electric guitarists , but also by drummers as part of their rigs . Basically all electroacoustic signals can be influenced with the flanging effect, for example also singing in varieties of experimental music. In genres such as techno and house , the effect is used more often to vary the sound of their repetitive patterns; in current pop music , the flanging effect can occasionally be heard in the crash cymbals of the drums.

Classic flanging with tape machines

The flanger effect was used in music productions in the 1950s, before the age of transistors. He was best known through the musician and inventor Les Paul , who experimented with tape machines running at the same time. His approach was to let two machines play identical recordings and mix them; If the speed of rotation of a sound reel is mechanically influenced by briefly slowing down or accelerating it with the finger on the edge (flange), there are differences in runtime and pitch compared to the other tape recorder, resulting in the typical flanger sound. The reciprocal overtaking and overtaking, or the temporal crossing of the two identical sound signals, is the basis of the classic flanger sound, which is mainly described as soft, airy, non-metallic. The comb filter notches sweep over a large frequency spectrum; at the time of crossing the sound colorations are particularly intense. Examples of such temporally crossing flangers are Itchycoo Park (1967) from Small Faces or Mexico (1972) from Les Humphries Singers .

Electronic flanger

The flanging effect has been generated electronically since the late 1970s. The time delay was initially achieved using analog bucket chains , which, however, had a negative effect on the noise behavior. Today digital delay lines using random access memory are common.

Difference between classic and electronic flanging

The sound of a tape flanger cannot be produced with a simple electronic flanger, because the modulated signal of electronic devices can inevitably only sound after the original signal. After braking, it cannot be accelerated again to such an extent that it catches up with the original signal, let alone overtakes it. In order to enable electronic transit time modulation at all, the delay is always at least about 5 milliseconds, because the smaller the delay, the less leeway the modulation has; With zero delay, it is no longer possible at all, as sound information from the future would be required to accelerate a current signal. This can only be electronically simulated with two electronic devices (or two modules in one housing); only their delayed signals are used, so that one can cross the other over time. As with classic flanging using two tape machines, this method can only be used in post-production.


The unwanted distortion effect, which can be clearly heard with MP3 at a low bit rate (up to about 160 kbit / s), is also called flanging ; the lower the bit rate and the worse the encoder , the clearer it is.

The flanging effect can also be used to create a pseudo stereo signal by phase-shifting the initial time delays for the left and right channels . See also phasing


  • Thomas Sandmann: Effects and Dynamics. 7th edition, PPV-Verlag 2008, ISBN 978-3-932275-57-9
  • Hubert Henle: The recording studio manual. 5th edition, GC Carstensen, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-910098-19-3
  • Michael Ebner: Manual of PA technology. 1st edition, Elektor-Verlag, Aachen 2002, ISBN 3-89576-114-1
  • Thomas Görne: Sound engineering. Fachbuchverlag Leipzig in Carl Hanser Verlag, Munich et al. 2006, ISBN 3-446-40198-9 .

Web links

  • (Link no longer available) Guitar Effects Online Museum