Psychedelic Rock: The Flanger Effect

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


The flanger effect is an iconic component of psychedelic rock. It’s that warbly, ethereal sound that takes you on a trip.

What is the Flanger Effect?

The flanger is an audio effect created by combining two identical signals and slightly delaying one of them. This produces a nasally, psychedelic sounded whooshing effect that is often used in rock and roll productions. While the effect is most commonly associated with electric guitars, it can be used on any type of signal.

How was the Flanger Effect used in Psychedelic Rock?

The flanger effect is an audio effect produced by passing a signal through two parallel filters, which creates a sweeping, whooshing sound. This effect was used extensively in psychedelic rock, particularly in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Many famous psychedelic rock songs make use of the flanger effect, including The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows,” Pink Floyd’s “Money,” and Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” The flanger effect can also be heard in many other genres of music, including electronic music and metal.

What are some examples of the Flanger Effect in Psychedelic Rock?

The flanger is an effects unit that creates a whooshing, jet-like sound. It was first used in the 1960s to give the impression of a second guitar playing in harmony with the first, and quickly became a staple of psychedelic rock. The effect is created by combining the signal from the guitar with a copy of the signal that has been delayed by a few milliseconds. This creates a “swirling” sound that is particularly effective when played over chords.

Some well-known examples of the flanger effect can be heard in The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows,” Pink Floyd’s “On the Run,” and Led Zeppelin’s “Fool in the Rain.” The effect was also used extensively by Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana.

How do you create the Flanger Effect?

The flanger effect is an auditory illusion created when two identical signals are mixed together, but with one signal delayed by a small and gradually changing amount. This produces a combined signal that seems to “swirl” around the original.

The flanger effect was first heard in the early 1960s, when engineers at Les Paul’s studio experimented with tape loops and delay times. The first public use of the effect was on the track “I Feel Free” by Cream, released in 1966. Flanging became popular in psychedelic rock and other genres in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

To create the flanger effect, you need two identical audio signals. One signal is sent through a delay line, which introduces a small amount of delay (typically around 20 milliseconds). The amount of delay is then slowly varied over time, usually between 0 and 10 seconds.

The two signals are then mixed together. The delayed signal will combine with the original signal to create comb filtering, which gives the impression of a “swirling” sound. By varying the amount of delay, you can change the intensity of the flanger effect.

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