We sat down with Walrus Audio President Colt Westbrook to learn how WWII pilot Lillian Yonally inspired the name and art for the Lillian Analog Phaser.
During WWII, from 1943-1944, over 1,000 U.S. women volunteered to fly in the military to help in the war effort stateside while millions of men were away fighting. This program was called WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots), and it was the first time the U.S. military allowed women to fly aircraft. At a time when women were falsely considered incapable of most physically challenging tasks, these pilots suited up and took to the skies in nearly every type of military aircraft of the day, including B-26 and B-29 bombers. It was a dangerous undertaking and required the utmost bravery to overcome the perils of 1940s aviation and to break new ground — in the sky — for women everywhere.
"When developing a name for a new pedal, every effect has a correlating, real-world parallel," said Colt Westbrook, president of Walrus Audio. "Delay brings imagery of the expanse. Chorus takes us below the waterline. Phaser evokes whooshing air and planes flying by, mesmerizing spectators. This thought exercise sent us on a deep dive into great historical stories from the U.S. Air Force. In that, we turned over the WASP story and found a lot of gems."
One specific pilot, Lillian Yonally, who was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for her service, inspired the team at Walrus Audio with her story of traversing hazardous skies. "It was inspiring to read how the women were keen to take on the new role as pilots, and how they surpassed all expectations." Westbrook said. From there, the idea of the Walrus Audio Lillian Analog Phaser was born.
As for the pedal itself, the Lillian is a true-bypass, all-analog, multi-stage phaser, which draws inspiration from her effects cousin, the Julia chorus/vibrato. With controls like Rate, Width, Feedback and D-P-V blend, the Lillian is packed with a wide array of analog phaser goodness waiting to be dialed in.
The Stages switch allows the user to select four or six stages, which alters the overall voice of the effect, from warm and tight phasing with four stages, to a more complex filtered sound with six. The D-P-V knob lets you blend between dry, phase shifted, and vibrato sounds allowing for a wide range of control over the intensity and type of effect. Top-mounted input, output, and power jacks, as well as soft-switch relay bypassing, make the Lillian fit well on your board and ensure smooth operation for years to come.
The tale of Lillian and the WASP program brought a story element to the development of the pedal, but the pilot herself inspired much more than great guitar tone. "It was a door-opening realization for the U.S. Air Force, especially in that time," Westbrook said. "Women now fly combat missions for the U.S., and it all started with the brave members of WASP paving the way. They broke the glass ceiling on the advancement of women in the USAF. Lillian was a top pilot from the program, and her service echoes into the opportunities for women today."
You can try out the Lillian Phaser at select Guitar Center stores or shop our collection of Walrus Audio effects here.