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Prince's flanger settings; How you do dat?
#3046059 05/27/20 03:24 AM
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I was digging into some old Prince videos tonight, and during the intro to Sign O The Times, he did something I had heard from him before. He had a number of Boss pedals in front of him, including that old purple flanger, and he hit it for just a moment of two, and it was like the guitar went into orbit! Very cool moment, I thought.
Like I said, I had heard him do that before, but tonight, I wondered how he had the knobs set on that thing to get that wild sound. Anybody know?


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Re: Prince's flanger settings; How you do dat?
picker #3046248 05/28/20 04:26 PM
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Can you post a link to the video? All I found was the "Official" video, which has some nice graphics, but no Prince and no pedals?


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Re: Prince's flanger settings; How you do dat?
picker #3046502 05/30/20 04:42 AM
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HEre's the video. You can hear effect kick in over the long sustained note between around 25 & 30 seconds, and a few other places during the song. You can't see the pedals, but I recall he was using that plastic Boss pedalboard with all the pedals back in that time frame. You can see him kick at them during one of the songs in the Purple Rain movie.

There's a live video opf him doing that song live, and he takes a long solo break at the beginning, and I'd love to find it. Prince was a one heckuva player.

Last edited by picker; 05/30/20 04:51 AM.

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Re: Prince's flanger settings; How you do dat?
picker #3046546 05/30/20 12:56 PM
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The LFO is moving pretty fast, I'm hearing a distinctive swirling sound there. He was probably running a Dirt box into the Flanger to get that extra bit of "gear-grinding" sound. If you have BF-2, I'd start out with the knobs at Noon, and tweak it from there. BTW, brother, I hope you saw my apology in the "Do Not Try This At Home" thread.

Prince, Robert Smith of The Cure, and Billy Duffy of The Cult, are (or were) dedicated Boss pedal users. Smith's approach was to set all his knobs to Noon, except on his DD-2 Digital Delay, IIRC. Duffy likes them because he can always find a replacement if something breaks down on tour.

Edited thought: You can also "tune" a Flanger with the Manual/Delay Time knob. If you've got a BF-2, set all the knobs to Noon to begin with, then strum or pluck on one string, while turning the Manual knob back and forth. Shorter Delay Times generate higher-pitched Flanger effects, longer Delay Times give you slightly lower pitches, and more "throaty" Flanger effects. That one knob is key to a wide range of tones from the little purple Boss box.

Last edited by Winston Psmith; 05/30/20 03:46 PM. Reason: brain cramp

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Re: Prince's flanger settings; How you do dat?
picker #3046769 05/31/20 08:28 PM
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Thanks for your input, Winston, I appreciate it. I don't currently have a flanger pedal, but I'm I think I'm gonna get one after being reminded of that sound on Prince's rig. I may get the Boss pedal, or one similar if I can figure out which ones are.

I did see your apology, bruh, and I thank you for it. We all have our bad memories, and it's no fun being reminded of them. I'm sorry I brought some of yours up for you. Here's hoping we both can make better memories.

Be blessed!


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Re: Prince's flanger settings; How you do dat?
picker #3046857 06/01/20 07:00 AM
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On buying a flanger, I do recommend the Boss for exactly the reason Winston states Billy Duffy uses them, and that Billy & Robert are among my favorite flangeophiles. If it works for all the cool things they did with one, who am I to badmouth the pedal?


That said, that’s not the flanger I own.* I bought the Subdecay Starlight Flanger MKII. Here’s some demo vids:







* It’s not the only one I own, but it was the first, and in certain ways, the most flexible traditional flanger I own. Two others worth a look:






Last edited by Dannyalcatraz; 06/01/20 07:14 PM.

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Re: Prince's flanger settings; How you do dat?
Dannyalcatraz #3046866 06/01/20 01:04 PM
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@Dannyalcatraz - I've been looking for a Starlight Flanger for a while now, one of the few things out there that still tempts me. I'm currently using a Keeley Bubbletron, which is just too much fun! 12 different flavors of Phaser/Flanger/Filter, all in one compact pedal. Also, I only saw the Mr. Black Tunnelworm video when I clicked on the 2nd link? Were there supposed to be two videos?

@picker - There were several versions of the Boss Flanger: the original analog MIJ BF-2, purple w/black knobs, a lighter-colored MIT version with grayish caps on the knobs, the short-lived Hi-Band Flanger (it had shorter Delay Time, thus a higher pitch to the overall Flanger sound) and the current model, the BF-3, which is digital, and has been around for easily 20 years +/-. The RI MXR Flanger is also a good choice, and IIRC, those are still analog, as well. The EVH model has a button, marked "EVH", that defaults to Eddie's "Eruption" setting, no matter how the knobs are set, that's the big feature on it; it's also $20 more than the standard grey model.

The BF-3 has a couple of cool features, including a Momentary setting, which allows you to briefly engage the Flanger by stepping on the pedal, cutting off the effect as soon as you let your foot up off the gas. Here's a decent video of it -



My favorite Flanger settings tend to start with very low Rate/Speed settings, so I can really hear the 'grinding gear' sound. Next, I'll 'tune' the effect by setting the Manual/Delay Time, the Depth, and the Resonance/Feedback. There's a distinct, throaty sound, very close to The Cure's "Primary", that I'm going for.


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Re: Prince's flanger settings; How you do dat?
picker #3046894 06/01/20 03:34 PM
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THe Subdecay pedal sounds like it'll make the soound I want. But, so does THIS, and maybe THIS too. THIS ONE is four knob, which makes it more likely to be similar to the Boss BF-3. What do you guys think of them?
I think the momentary feature you mentioned in the BF-3, Winston, might be what Prince was using. He only kicked the sound in for a short accent, and it went right back off after a few seconds. I like the idea of not having to kick it twice. Being a clumsy old fart, I have to be careful not to trip over my own feet. So, that might be the deciding factor...
EDIT: Did a bit of research on Prince's signal chain, and I think the BF-3 version hadn't been invented yet at the time that video was made. So, it looks like the I'll have to tap dance to get that effect.

Last edited by picker; 06/01/20 04:50 PM.

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Re: Prince's flanger settings; How you do dat?
picker #3046929 06/01/20 07:15 PM
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WPS: editing error on my part- somehow put a space and a capital P at the beginning of the link. blush

The Keeley Bubbletron is indeed another quality pedal!

Last edited by Dannyalcatraz; 06/01/20 07:16 PM.

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Re: Prince's flanger settings; How you do dat?
Dannyalcatraz #3046939 06/01/20 07:47 PM
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Ah, got it, the Zero Point. Interesting idea, but I prefer being having more control, or controls, as it were.

@picker, that first link took me to some site where I had no idea what it was, so I bailed on it. As far as the other two, I've avoided all the Donner/Mooer/Joyo pedals, and the rest of the super-cheap MIC pedals I see all over ScAmazon. OTOH, some of my friends in the EM community have been using them, but they're not getting the kind of abuse they would get as Guitar effects.

In '87, Prince would have been using the BF-2 Flanger, BUT (it's a big 'but') he was also using the legendary Boss VB-2 Vibrato, which also had an Unlatch (Momentary) setting. I could see where sending some VB-2 through a BF-2 would produce some insane tones. Boss had reissued the VB-2 as one of their Waza Craft series, one of very few Boss pedals that I've been tempted by in the last few years. It ain't cheap, you could probably find a used MXR Flanger and a used Boss Flanger for the price of one new VB-2W.

I also knew a Guitarist at the time (mid-80's) who was using his BF-2 as a momentary effect, but he had to do the double-tap to turn it On, then Off again. He also had the LFO Rate set very high, so it sounded more like a Vibrato effect than a Flanger.


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Re: Prince's flanger settings; How you do dat?
picker #3046942 06/01/20 07:53 PM
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In the 70s & 80s my flanger of choice (and remember, there was whole lot less choice back then,) was the EH Electric Mistress. It could get pretty weird, especially since they gave you the option to turn the LFO off & just use it as a super short delay, which, with the feedback turned up gave oodles of metallic clank. I used it so much I really OD'ed on it. Haven't used any flanging since then.


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Re: Prince's flanger settings; How you do dat?
Scott Fraser #3047096 06/02/20 08:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Scott Fraser
In the 70s & 80s my flanger of choice (and remember, there was whole lot less choice back then,) was the EH Electric Mistress. It could get pretty weird, especially since they gave you the option to turn the LFO off & just use it as a super short delay, which, with the feedback turned up gave oodles of metallic clank. I used it so much I really OD'ed on it. Haven't used any flanging since then.

The RI versions of the Electric Mistress have that option, except for the compact Neo Mistress. FWIW, Robert Fripp was apparently a big fan of that sound, way back. You really owe it to yourself to try out the Keeley Bubbletron. Two words; Dynamic Flanging . . .


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Re: Prince's flanger settings; How you do dat?
picker #3047815 06/06/20 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by picker
THe Subdecay pedal sounds like it'll make the soound I want. But, so does THIS, and maybe THIS too. THIS ONE is four knob, which makes it more likely to be similar to the Boss BF-3. What do you guys think of them?
I think the momentary feature you mentioned in the BF-3, Winston, might be what Prince was using. He only kicked the sound in for a short accent, and it went right back off after a few seconds. I like the idea of not having to kick it twice. Being a clumsy old fart, I have to be careful not to trip over my own feet. So, that might be the deciding factor...
EDIT: Did a bit of research on Prince's signal chain, and I think the BF-3 version hadn't been invented yet at the time that video was made. So, it looks like the I'll have to tap dance to get that effect.

Why not go for the Boss BF-3? Seems like it'll very easily let you do exactly what you cite liking in that Prince performance and more, it has that Momentary Mode option for the footswitch, you can get them new or used NOW- AND you could also very easily and quickly replace it if lost, stolen, or sold, even if you were out on the road traveling between gigs (it'll happen again). It sounds great and is likely very dependable and roadworthy! It's got stereo outs (stereo flanging sounds amazing), AND it even has separate instrument-specific optimized Guitar and Bass inputs.

You could even score a used/vintage Boss BF-2 Flanger if you wanted to- the same one that Prince was using, I believe- and maybe for even less; those are all-analog, the BF-3 is digital, that may or may not be important to you. Though I think that between those two, I'd go with the BF-3 for the useful added features and options.

Now, whichever flanger you get swept away with, two things about the sound of the effects in that recorded clip:

- I believe that along with the Flanger and the overdrive or distortion that Winston pointed out above, there is also some echo, delay effect after the Flanger; and probably nothing fancy, not specifically tape-this or drum-that, I'd imagine that just about any halfway decent sounding delay would do just fine. The few echo repeats- maybe even only one repeat- really accents and emphasizes that Flanger sweep and makes it sound like it's 'swirling', as the flanger-sweep that the notes played are going through is also being heard alongside the point in that sweep of the echo-repeats; follow me? It adds a perceived quasi three-dimensional depth, even in mono.

- Having the 'Resonance', 'Feedback', or 'Regeneration' (commonly used terms for the same thing) fairly high, most likely at least at "Noon" or higher, will accentuate the flanging sweep and that jet-plane, orbital "swoosh". Especially with a little echo following! Think that "going into orbit" sound, Van Halen's "And the Cradle Will Rock" and "Unchained"...

Whichever source of swoosh, woosh, wiggle 'n' warble you go with, let us know what you get and how you like it; keep us posted!


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Re: Prince's flanger settings; How you do dat?
Caevan O'Shite #3047985 06/08/20 01:23 PM
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Some good points there, Caevan!

One thought is that Prince was very likely still using a Boss DM-2 or DM-3 Analog Delay in his rig, which would have a much smoother "roll-off" than the earliest Boss Digital Delays, like the DD-2. The DM-3 had a Direct Out jack, which would have given a faux 3-d effect; not exactly Stereo Delay, just a split signal.

I had a BF-2 for a long time, and got to A/B it with the BF-3 when it came out: FWIW, the BF-3 was very close, but somehow not quite there for me? I'm not an Analog snob, by any means, just something lacking in the overall tone.

Couple of tips: Phasers in particular LOVE overtones and harmonics, and a bit of Overdrive will give them a lot to work with. Heavy Distortion into a slow Flanger can sound like you're playing a Chain Saw. Another thing to remember is that EVH got a lot of his sound by running his Mod FX into an overdriven Amp, like a Mod -> OD signal chain. Try a mild OD after your favorite Phaser or Flanger, see if that gives you the sound you want?


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