Adding a new dimension to your sound with a chorus pedal
If you’re a fan of alternative rock, you’ll likely have heard of the chorus pedal, or at the very least heard it being used in some classic tracks from bands like The Cure, U2, The Police, and (probably most famously) on Nirvana’s ‘Come As You Are’.
How does a chorus pedal work?
The clue is in the name when it comes to describing what a chorus pedal actually does. A chorus effect used in a pedal format as we have come to know, splits a guitar signal in two and repeats one half the input signal in very close intervals, and adds delay and vibrato effect to that half whilst leaving the other unaltered. This effectively makes the line/riff/vocal you’re performing sound like multiple voices – or a chorus of instruments. The interesting part is where you get to change how those two signals interact with each other, which is usually done through “Depth” and “Rate” settings. The depth will increase the intensity of the chorus, or in guitar terms, make it sound as if there is more than one guitar being played. Adjusting the rate will dictate whether the repeated signal (or delay) is played closer or farther apart from the original.
Can I have an example of a chorus sound?
You sure can! Here’s Nirvana’s ”Come As You Are” – probably the most well-known song which utilises a chorus pedal – the Small Clone to be exact.
The Best Chorus Pedals
So your next question is probably going to be “What are the best chorus pedals?”. Well, here’s our top 5 chorus pedals perfect for professional recording, touring and of course sculpting some sweet tones!
In my humble opinion, there are a select few that stand out from all the others, but the first on my list would have to be the Electro Harmonix Nano Clone – an updated version of the coveted Small Clone pedal, which was widely used throughout the grunge years, especially after Mr. Cobain decided to make good use of it. You may have trouble finding an original Small clone as they can fetch quite a high price on the 2nd hand market, but fear not! Purists out there will be happy to know that the Nano Clone delivers the same sultry sweet analogue chorus tones of its bigger brother, it simply comes in a smaller, hardier and space saving package! When it comes to finding the best chorus pedal for your needs, you should start here. There is only one Rate knob to turn, making it simple to use, which makes it a great option for those who want to be able to change the effect on stage. Add lush tones to your sound anywhere in the chain and power it with a 9v power supply or battery. The Electro Harmonix Nano Clone chorus pedal should definitely be on your must try list!
For those who want a larger range of control over their chorus sound (and completely indestructible packaging), the Strymon Ola dBucket Chorus and Vibrato pedal is a great option. In what seems like a short time, Strymon have become the new heavy weights in the guitar effects pedal world appearing on professional pedalboards across all genres. They’re reliable, look great and above all sound absolutely amazing. Again, this offers a lot more control over your tone as you have three chorus modes to choose from in the form of chorus, multi, and vibrato. Chorus gives you the traditional chorus single delay line sound, the Multi effect gives you three individual dBucket delay sections per channel usually only available in studio quality rack mounted units whereas the Vibrato offers a classic vibrato stomp sound full of sparkling shimmering twang.
But the control doesn’t stop there. The mode switch allows you to choose between Norm, Envelope and Ramp mode and you also have control over Speed, Mix, Ramp/Env, Tone, and Depth controls too. Exceptional audio quality, connectivity options and gorgeous tones – well worth checking out.
Boss have been making professional quality guitar and bass pedals for decades, so it’s no surprise that their CH1 Chorus Pedal has become an industry standard due to ease of use, range of tone and construction quality. You get a huge array of tone modification options allowing you to take your signal and mix it with delayed and pitch-modified versions of itself without any unwanted feedback and you can even hook it up to dual amps allowing you to vary the sound between the two and create your very own atmospheric effect at multiple locations – perfect for those who play live and want to add an extra dimension to their live sound. It’s simple to use with four knobs – Effect Level, EQ, Rate and Depth, it’s powered by 9V battery or power supply and it comes with Boss’ 5 year warranty once you register your pedal!
For analogue tone purists out there, I’d recommend checking out the Jim Dunlop MXR Analog Chorus pedal. This nifty little pedal uses the coveted “bucket-brigade” circuitry which gives you that lush chorus sound which simply cannot be achieved with a digital device. Whether you want to bust out Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’ or Metallica’s ‘Welcome Home (sanitarium)’ this pedal is perfect for all genres and styles. The cool thing about this pedal is the fact Eddie Van Halen, Slash and The Vaccines have it on their pedalboard – a pretty good endorsement indeed. The 5 controls allow you to sculpt your tone to your needs and change up level, rate, depth and low and high frequency cuts so you have plenty of options.
This pedal may be cheap and cheerful, clocking in at under £30, but don’t be fooled by the modest price tag. This is a mean, monster of a pedal that is an easy to use, no messing about option that stands up to the heavyweights in the chorus pedal world. The DR. Tone CHR101 analog is a versatile chorus pedal that offers two tone shaping controls in the form of Rate and Depth, offering the user the opportunity to tweak the chorus sound and achieve some sumptuous tones. Add a subtle dimension to your playing or go all out and increase the rate and depth to its full potential for some psychedelic freak outs. If you want a low cost option that can be powered via battery or 9V power supply, something that won’t let you down and is constructed with touring and longevity in mind – the DR. Tone CHR101 should be your first point of call.
Take a look at a complete selection of Chorus pedals on the Dawsons website.