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I’m constantly surprised at how many people shop for a chorus pedal without actually understanding what they do and how they enhance your sound.
A chorus duplicates what you are playing. Often you will see it being described as “sounding like there are more guitars”.
When you have more than one guitarist, each brings its own tone and tuning and timing to the song. Their guitars will blend and harmonize, creating a tone that is clearly different than one guitar playing by itself.
To a certain degree, the chorus effect sounds similar. A chorus pedal rapidly repeats the note played. There is a little “rate” knob that lets you turn it up for more a more blended sound, or to slow it down for a more exaggerated effect.
Some people compare the chorus sound to the delay. However, it tends to be more harmonic thanks to additional pitch modulation where the delay is primarily a repeating of your note.
Flanger is another similar sound, but is darker, has a shorter delay, and gives the note more tremolo. It also gets this “whooshing” noise going on that can be really noticeable if you listen to a chorus pedal and a Flanger side by side.
However, when a flanger is set at a moderate volume, it can be really hard to tell the difference.
I find a well-adjusted pedal to sound quite “shimmery”. for a more shimmery effect. Ethereal, even.
In the late 1970’s Boss was the first one to come out with a chorus pedal in stompbox form. The CE-1 was huge and unwieldy… and launched what is not one of the top gear companies.
Nirvana is who everyone points to for a great example of the use of chorus in music. But they actually used a flanger to create those sounds. The Police is probably a better example of this style of work in pop music (I like “Walking On The Moon” if you want to hear the effect. The Pretenders “Brass in Pocket” is another great one with the subtle use in the background).
So you can see that even when playing in a full band, it can be a great way to add some depth to a certain element of the song, whether that be the rhythm or a solo piece.
Our Guide To The Top Recommended Chorus Pedals Available in 2017
Ready to got your new accesory headed your way? Choosing one of these picks may get you there quickly!
1. The MXR M234
I know that a lot of my readers could probably argue with me on my choice here, but you cannot argue against the M234 being a solid pedal.
When it comes to subcompact units, I’ve been increasingly dissatisfied with the sound they produce.
It just seems like so much has been lost through the years with each company trying to make a pedal cheaper than the next guy (I’m looking at you, Joyo)
And while these cheaper often last well, I just find that there is something intangible missing from their sound.
This MXR delivers one of the most warm and reverberant tones out there.
For those doing covers or looking for a more “analog” sound, I feel like this one mimics the effects systems of the 70’s and 80’s better than about any other unit out there.
The equalizer knobs give you some additional tonal control not often found in the competition and it enables you to truly customize your sound. Other brands also offer EQ control, but this one seems more accurate than most of the rest.
Plus the presets are really good, meaning it sounds great right out of the box with no finicking.
Even better you don’t get an annoying hiss when you plug it in. The LED is well-lit, making it easy to see if it is on (even for the older geezers)
If you are looking for the best tone in an unbelievably small package, this is a great way to go.
2. Boss CH-1 Stereo
This is typically the top-ranked pedal.
And I understand why.
Not only does it offer the Boss name, it also offers an incredible range of sound.
You could easily argue that it is actually more versatile than the MXR.
It is a favorite for everyone from those doing Korn covers to the rhythm guitarist at our local mega-church who needs to play soft alter calls.
While it doesn’t offer a full-on equalizer, it does offer two knobs that let you cut high and low frequencies to customize the sound.
For those who play a lot of covers, this feature is what makes this pedal so versatile and capable of emulating
The all-metal construction is sure to please.
I feel like it is a little lighter built than the MXR, but that is a purely subjective opinion.
These things hold their resale value like crazy and you can pick them up all over eBay in used condition for near-new prices. So they obviously last forever.
If you are looking for a more versatile unit that isn’t only doing worship music and 80’s covers, the CH-1 should definitely be the one you try.
3. Electro-Harmonix Small Chorus Pedal
This is a really unique box, and I know it tends to get overlooked a lot.
Basically, this box is what Kurt Cobain used.
It is an excellent clone and it is really well designed to deliver that classic sound.
However, they realized that not everyone wants to sound like Nirvana.
So they added an extra range of control in the depth and speed adjustments, and it really gives you the ability to adapt this box to nearly any sound.
The other neat aspect is that the Electro-Harmonix really works well as for bass guitar.
It seems to handle the deeper tones better than about any other unit out there, and the tones you create are absolutely mind-blowing to the audience.
If you love the analog sound, you need to look really closely at this one.
I mean, I love the MXR, but there is a really good chance that if you like the MXR the warm, classic tones of the Electro-Harmonix will blow you out of this water.
I also love how easy it is to find a great tone. So often you have to spend all of your time dodging the bad mixes these pedals put out. On this setup, the bad spots are so few and far between that it just seems to deliver an incredible range of tone no matter where you put it.
The only downside is that you do need a power supply with a 1/8″ jack to run this unit. Keep that in mind.
The key thing to remember as you shop for pedals is that you are going to need to plan to practice with the pedal.
I always encourage musicians who don’t have a lot of experience, to not take on too many pedals at once. You really need to take the time to get decent with each pedal as a stand-alone unit before diving into to mixing and matching.