Review: Fender Lost Highway Phaser

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Review: Fender Lost Highway Phaser

Words by Mixdown Staff

Fender Music Australia | RRP: $299

Key Features: It’s been a good three years now since Fender embarked on their latest batch of stompboxes, and considering the reception they’ve received from players and publications, it’s fair to say that this relaunch might be their most successful effects endeavour yet.

Decked out in shiny brushed aluminium enclosures and packing modern creature comforts such as top-mounted jacks, secondary modes and switchable signal paths, the range fills the gap between utilitarian and boutique wonderfully, and their washy Lost Highway Phaser serves as a textbook example of just what Fender have set out to achieve with this series. 

Combining four-stage and eight-stage phasing with an impressively modern set of controls, the Lost Highway is capable of plating up all the classic phaser sounds you could ever ask for. An array of seven knobs allows for control over parameters such as Depth, Rate, Feedback and Blend, while a secondary footswitch lets you flick between Slow and Fast phaser modes (as indicated by A and B controls) with ease.

This is a supremely useful feature that, when used effectively (no pun intended), could nullify the need for another modulation effect on your board, and it’s just another example of what makes these new Fender stompboxes worthy of all the hype. 

Another unique addition to the Lost Highway is that of a Sensitivity control, which automatically adjusts between slow and fast modulation rates in accordance to the dynamics of your picking hand – play fast and hard to make things more intense for jagged psych-rock leads, or smooth and slowly to tap into some breezy cosmic slop suitable for ‘70s jazz-funk comping.

On top of those rotary dials, the Lost Highway gives players enhanced control over the subtlety of their phasing effect via a four-stage and eight-stage toggle switch, while a secondary switch lets you flip between Sine and Triangle waveforms to explore more oblique modulated tones. 

The Lost Highway also features a smattering of tempo-synced LEDs to gauge the rate or sensitivity of the effect, while the top of the pedal also presents a switch to illuminate the effect knobs – a nifty feature to suit those playing on darkened stages.

A secondary rocker switch allows you to engage a +3dB boost to overcome potential level sucking from other effects in your chain and a big red Fender amp jewel LED indicates whether the pedal is on or not, while the brushed aluminium maroon enclosure adds a vague aura of vintage class to the unit. 

Mixdown Says: Phaser pedals either tend to be mind-numbingly rudimentary or way too over-sophisticated both in build and operation, and it’s satisfying to see Fender overcome such woes with the Lost Highway. The abundance of controls on offer ensures that this pedal will never disappoint in regards to versatility, and the analogue signal path of the unit results in some pretty impressive vintage and modern tones. 

Whether you want to opt for subtle, gently sweeping movements or wildly exaggerated, brain-sizzling psychedelic tones, the Lost Highway can do both with ease – quite literally with the press of a footswitch – while other unique features, such as the Feedback and Dynamic controls, only help to broaden your sonic horizons even further.

My only gripe with this pedal is the lack of a switch to toggle to line level output to use it with a synth or keyboard, but in reality, that’s not something that’d result in having too many match points deducted. 

Overall: Spacey, slick, funky and undeniably fun all while packing some very cool unique features, Fender’s Lost Highway Phaser is a no-brainer for all kinds of modulated tones.

Find out more about the Lost Highway Phaser via Fender.