It seems that the craze for the old vintage effects will never die. Now, is this just hype or are these pedals really so good that they beat anything that modern brands have to put out there?
Well, it depends on how you look at it really. Sure, there is probably somewhat of a nostalgia involved but there are also some pretty great pedals from the old days. And, of course, maybe it’s not about being “better” but it’s just that some guitar players prefer this particular sound.
Including some famous musicians, like Rage Against the Machine legend Tom Morello. Among the ton of effects he has in his collection, we can find one of those old pedals – Ibanez DFL Flanger.
Knowing the pedal is from his time, it might be that a guy like Morello is fond of this sound. And knowing that he uses one, it certainly draws our attention to check one out and see what the whole deal is. Shall we dive into it then?
Before we begin, this particular effect is kind of hard to stumble upon since the pedal was produced back in the 1980s. But if you do, it’s certainly an interesting piece of guitar history that is worth checking out.
This flanger, of course, has been highly valued among collectors and is often praised for its performance and the fact that it is actually the first ever flanger pedal to use digital processing. Prior to this one, guitar players usually had to rely on the bulky rack-mounted units.
There are five controls in total on the DFL Flanger – speed, width, regen, delay time, and the delay length mode switch. These are all pretty much the usual knobs and switches to have on a flanger pedal.
Speed is, of course, controlling the speed of the effect. Everything from the slow sweeping “jet engine” type of stuff, all the way to the unbearably crazy fast flanger. The width controls how wide the effect will go – the lowest and the highest point of the frequency wave.
The delay time switch has three modes – short, medium, and long, 4 ms, 8 ms, and 16 ms respectively. With the basic delay time switch, you fine-tune the delay time to the desired level.
The regeneration knob, also known as feedback, controls the amount of the delayed signal in the mix, essentially intensifying the overall flanger effect.
On the left side of the pedal, there’s a small black lever that lifts up the main foot switch and opens up the battery compartment. The DFL is powered by either a standard 9 volt battery or a 9 volt AC adapter.
One more thing that should also be noted is that the casing of the pedal is a really sturdy one, so you don’t have to worry about any potential serious damage to it.
Not to mention that any potential noise is less likely to happen since it’s shielded well. It does seem that it’s even stronger and more durable than the stuff we see today, but we could say that it’s a bit of an overkill.
This being from the 1980s, the design is definitely going to differ from what we’re used to seeing. First, the input and output are placed not on the sides as we’re used to but on the front of the pedal, left and right of the power jack.
Of course, we can see that the looks are different and that the footswitch is not taking the whole width of the pedal. And it’s somehow making it look unique, which might be important to some players who like to have vintage kind of stuff on their pedalboard.
The colors are quite interesting and remind us that this one was clearly made in the 1980s. If you take the well preserved DFL, you can see this particular shade of light green color and the orange pot caps, with the paint scheme kind of reminding us of Pac-Man. Definitely an interesting piece to look at.
One thing’s certain ñ having one of these will definitely make you sound unique. One thing that we can notice is that it adds somewhat of depth to your sound. The controls are responsive and the manual states that there’s an extra wide 8:1 ratio, giving you the option to have some really wide effects.
Overall, it works well both in clean and distorted situations, and can be useful for both rhythms and leads. Anything from bluesy funky stuff, to scorching heavy metal riffs and solos.
On the other hand, it does kind of give out a different impression compared to the flangers you can find today. After all, the pedal was produced way back in the 80s, so it does require some time and patience to get used to.
It would be a lie to say that this was not a great pedal. Works well, has its peculiar and unique tone, and is even a great sight for those vintage aesthetic lovers.
However, we do need to point out that this is an old effect produced in the mid-80s that’s not that easy to find. With this in mind, it’s only obvious that the price isn’t going to be comparable to an average modern flanger.
If you’re a guitar gear collector or are planning to be one, then Ibanez DFL is definitely worth it if you do get your hands on one of these.
Or, if you’re not a collector but just want to have a unique piece of history on your pedalboard – fine, get one.
Just bear in mind that there are many other alternatives out there that are way cheaper. In the end, it’s for you to decide and see what works for you. But it’s definitely an interesting little piece of the guitar gear history and a valuable collectible item.