The Best Chorus Pedals On The Market - 2021
Chorus pedals have been around since the mid 70's however they really started to boom in the 80's. That shimmery, tone thickening effect was all the rage and the chorus pedal was right there making it all happen. If anything, the chorus pedals were overused in the 80's, when things changed in the 90's the chorus effect was shelved except for a very special few who picked up the pedal. Kurt Cobain, The Police & The Smiths to name but a few that continued to use it both live and in the studio. Andy Wallace was a producer who was particular fond of the effect and used it in many of the studio recordings he worked on. Including some from Nirvana, arguably the kings of grunge.
Chorus Effects Pedals
Chorus pedals draw quite a divisive picture in the world of guitar effects pedals. Some guitarists love them, they can't live without them and can't help but use them at every chance. While others hate hate hate them. Whether you love them or hate them, they serve a purpose. They sweeten up your tone, it's whether or not you feel your tone needs sweetening. That's the real question.
If you're new to using chorus pedals then we'll start at the beginning. Chorus pedals are part of the modulation pedal family. This family is made up of chorus, flanger, vibe & phaser pedals. Check out our other pages to learn more about these. So what do they do?
All these modulation pedal types effect your tone in different ways. Chorus pedals generally mix your dry signal with a delayed, detuned (slightly) signal. It all sounds very complicated but the resulting sounds can be similar to "Run To You" by Bryan Adams or the famous grunge classic "Come As You Are" by Nirvana.
Chorus pedals will split your guitars signal in two, leaving one unaltered and making alterations to the second. This is the delayed signal we spoke of earlier. This is usually made using a low-frequency oscillator.
Different Types Of Chorus Pedals
Like with many different types of guitar effects pedals, chorus pedals can be purchased with analog components or digital components. While sounding very different, it's not a competition where there is a clear winner. There is no best chorus pedal type. Each type of pedal has strengths and weaknesses that we'll cover below.
Analog chorus pedals are known for their robust signal and warm tone. They give a deeper sound than digital and usually effect the whole frequency range of your tone. This is due to the fact they use physical devices in their circuitry to achieve these effects, unlike their digital counterparts.
Digital chorus pedals are very customisable compared with the analog models. They can usually provide a greater range of sounds and let your tweak even minor details. Making them a far more versatile option. The downside to this approach is that the effect is entirely fabricated. Some purists would argue that this leads to them sounding to processed and synthetic. Although, as time as gone by the digital models available have improved. So much so that they can recreate the sound of analog models very convincingly. They also range in price much more than analog pedals. Meaning you can get digital chorus pedals at a very low price. Which makes them very popular with beginners and those new to the chorus effect.
Where Does A Chorus Pedal Fit In?
First of all, there is no right and wrong place to put pedals. Only better and best places. Using a chorus at the front of your amp may sound great but it can lead to a volume hike when engaged. Which can be quite annoying unless that was your intension. If you're more conventional and are looking to put it in your signal chain we can help. Modulation pedals should be placed before any reverb or delay pedals. This is simply because the chorus pedal will effect your signal, including any effects already applied. Using your chorus after a delay could lead to your delay being compromised or sounding a little off. Well worth playing around with positioning but the general consensus is clear.
Chorus pedals come in all shapes and sized. From micro and mini pedals through to giant ones. These pedals have all types of controls and knobs ranging from a plethora down to just a single knob. However, the most common combination of controls are 3 knobs, depth, level & rate.
Depth manages the chorus warble effect, turn this knob up to intensify the effect.
The level knob will determine how much of the effected signal is mixed with the dry (unaltered) signal. Turn this right up to get a heavily altered end product or very low for a somewhat subtle effect. So depth controls the intensity of the effect, level controls how thick the effect is.
Rate gives you the chance to adjust the speed of the chorus effect. How many rotations the low-frequency oscillator makes in a given time. Resulting in a space like supernatural sound if turned really high.